By Kaylie-Ann Flannigan
In the basement of Brookline Booksmith, Becky Thompson, Professor and Chair of Sociology at Simmons College, shared her words, poetry, and gratitude alongside other members of the community.
A lone blue candle stood on a table as Ryûmon Hilda Guttierez Baldoquin, a Zen priest, began the book-signing event with a blessing.
“I wanted you to come here so I can celebrate you,” Thompson said as she started to thank individual people who have helped her and her book “Survivors on the Yoga Mat” become what it is today. She made them stand for applause and praise. She then thanked groups of people, including the Dorchester YMCA, the Simmons community, the recovery community, and the Yogis at the event.
Thompson explained that the book began when she was in yoga training.
“The book began when I co-led a workshop on trauma at a yoga teacher training, in part because I witnessed that many of us who were becoming teachers were whispering about what we were dealing with—depression, dissociation, addictions. I was concerned about what it means that “trauma” seemed to be in one corner, “yoga” in the other, without room for intersection,” said Thompson.
She discussed her journey in healing and her yoga practice. She made the metaphor about opening consciousness as the average mind is usually on floor 10 of 36, but with meditation and yoga, the mind has the ability to climb the stairs of consciousness to unleash the full potential of floor 36.
“This book is about yoga for the people,” Thompson said moments before she finished talking.
“Survivors on the Yoga Mat” is a collection of short essays that examine how yoga helps people heal from sudden trauma (accidents, disasters) and developmental trauma (sexual abuse, racism, incest, incarceration). It chronicles the challenges and promises of early yoga, what makes survivors special, what long-term healing looks like and why many survivors become activists in the name of humanitarian struggles, according to Thompson.
The event was well-attended, with about 80 people, filling up most of the basement of the Brookline Booksmith.
“I thought it was really great. Becky’s just a beautiful person,” said Simmons student Kelsey Byther.
There were many people waiting in line for their books to be signed by Thompson.
The book is available for purchase at Brookline Booksmith as well as online, alongside her other books.