After Trauma Recovery Is Possible

After Trauma, Recovery Is Possible

By Gabrielle Pullen

After a trauma or a life-threatening event, it is common to have upsetting memories of what happened, to have trouble sleeping, to feel jumpy, or to lose interest in things. Depending on the severity of each individual experience, these reactions may not go away on their own, or they may even get worse through time.

Imagine someone’s growing up, as we all have, in a society where we are trained to hold the value of human life as sacred. Imagine then feeling a personal calling to defend that country, enlisting because the country was under attack. Imagine being trained to be part of a fine-tuned machine whose goal is to eliminate the perceived threat. Imagine going to war, seeing things no human eyes should ever have to witness firsthand. Imagine the confusion of coming back stateside, of trying to let go of those images and the feelings that must accompany them. Imagine returning home, trying to pick up a normal life.

Now there is a psychospiritual approach to helping our wounded soldiers heal from that very trauma. It was originally developed by Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist who did the preliminary studies with soldiers experiencing combat-related post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD) at Walter Reed Army Hospital Center in Washington, DC.

He coined the term “Integrative Restoration” for his work, or iRest for short. It integrates principles drawn from Buddhism, yoga, and psychotherapy. It incorporates self-care with an emphasis on unconditional acceptance and compassion to foster a safe environment for heartfelt sharing. It offers stress-management skills drawn from Buddhist and yoga principles and the deep, healing, restful relaxation of Yoga Nidra meditation.

The success of the original project in Washington has led to further studies being organized in conjunction with the military to continue to establish the relevancy of the iRest protocol for mental, physical, and spiritual healing. Thanks to Richard Miller’s work, iRest is now an offering at Walter Reed Army Hospital Center. But that’s not the end of the story.

This grassroots movement has gained the attention throughout North America of other sites, where it is being recognized as an up-and-coming treatment for all kinds of trauma. It is being used to train people for stress resiliency all over the country. On the California coast near Sebastopol, it’s being used among the homeless. In Chicago, it’s being used to help inner-city kids develop the resolve to escape the drug culture of the street. In Florida, it’s being used with battered women and as a means of dealing with chronic pain.

Locally, on May 30 in Nevada City, a workshop will be offered for women, or men, who have experienced abuse. It’s a start in regaining the self-esteem that is obliterated by years of submission to the behavior of others. Having personally experienced this kind of devastation, I can attest to the difficulty of recovery. I am happy to share that I feel privileged to offer my successful experience of returning from the brink of such despair. I am 15 years out of my third and final experience with physical abuse. I am about to celebrate 10 years in a healthy relationship.

Having also had the privilege of training to be a teacher of iRest, I have channeled my 20 years of experience with meditation into this vehicle for successful change. I will also be offering a second series of six classes for veterans in June. Teaching the first series was a profound experience for me. These guys have shared things with me I cannot begin to comprehend. Yet, the beauty of it is that they have the right to speak because they have been there. If I can help them release even one-tenth of the emotions they hold constantly in check, imagine how powerful their voices will be.

Call instructor Gabrielle Pullen directly at 530-263-3323 or visit for more information.