M O R E    A B O U T    L Y N N

Lynn Romeo

If you are wondering about who I really am, here is a little more detail.

It has taken me until my midlife to even begin to answer the eternal ‘Who am I?’ question. One thing I am now sure of is that we carry our own answers within us and that embracing life’s challenges and joys is what puts us on the path that is right for us, no matter how many twists and turns and dead ends that path presents. After many years of personal and professional experience I can also say with certainty that yoga is one of the few things that can give us a complete kit for our journey. This is why yoga is now the main vehicle I use in my work with people.

Since 2003 I have loved living and eating organically in a waterside suburb of Hobart, with my partner, our two children and our exuberant dogs. Connections with Melbourne, our birthplace, are still strong and we ply back and forth across Bass Strait regularly. I am always in awe of the clarity that awaits when I return home to Hobart and this island state. I haven’t always felt this alive, light and balanced and I thank yoga for bringing me to this sense of wholeness. It’s no surprise that yoga, which is the ancient Sanskrit word for ‘union’, aligns our mind, body and emotions so that we can tap into our true essence or spirit.

After leaving high school in the 70’s I did two years of medicine at Melbourne’s Monash University which started my life-long quest to de-mystify Western medicine, even though it turned out not to be the right path for me. I then worked in residential and domestic settings with people with disabilities, older people, teenagers, children and families – all of whom taught me lot about myself and about maintaining dignity and inner power in the face of challenging circumstances, bodies and minds. Their tenacity and spirit ignited my passion for a life working towards opportunities for each and every human being to express their full potential. Imagine a world where there is no fear, violence, anxiety, criticism, impatience, intolerance, domination or judgement to thwart or block our innate wonderful qualities. Backpacking and working around England and Europe showed me glimpses of where and how this is possible, in the midst of the exact opposite.

I returned to Australia and to university to complete a degree in social work and an honours thesis looking at how people with an intellectual disability viewed the process of ‘de-institutionalisation’. This certainly honed up my typing as well as research skills ... and yes I did type it on a type-writer and thought I was ultra modern, paying for someone to ‘word-process’ the final version! Social work training laid the tentative beginnings of a path between my head, my heart and my groundedness. I became involved in consulting, research and advocacy around empowerment, self-advocacy and decision-making for people with disabilities in Victoria and in northeast USA. I also taught residential workers in TAFE – discovering an absolute love for teaching and presentation.

In my late twenties I suffered a series of illnesses and gave up a heavy nicotine habit. It was then that two little seeds germinated within my heaviness and I dragged myself into my first yoga class. These seeds had been lying dormant for years. One was passed on by a psychology lecturer, who gave our medicine class a very brief taste of relaxation and the other by a social work supervisor who gave me some gentle hints about using the diaphragm to breathe more deeply. I had always avoided sport and physical education, thus reinforcing my lack of co-ordination and fitness. In these yoga classes I found, for the first time in my life, that I could gradually learn to move my body in useful ways and experience my senses more clearly and fully. I could, even just for fleeting moments, switch off my busy mind and lighten the fogginess I discovered was veiling and mystifying my feelings. All at once, it seemed, I could wake up and face the day without having to haul myself into it.  After three years of feeling these genuine and long-lasting changes to my relationship with my body, my mind, my mood and outlook, I couldn’t help but become a yoga teacher. I completed the intensive 14 month yoga teacher training course with Gita International Yoga in Melbourne in 1991 and have been teaching and continuing to learn through post-graduate courses ever since.

It is such a blessing that I had yoga in my life before I started parenting. Mothering is the most wonderful and important thing I have ever done. No matter how prepared we think we are, though, parenting is perhaps the most challenging job we will ever do. It holds up a mirror to what is deep within us, including our shadows, whether we are used to facing them or not. In an effort to deal with my particular struggles, I added another balancing force to my life ... writing. I wrote, initially for myself and then for others who were grappling with the issues that come up as we turn our lives inside out to be there for our children, striving for some ideal of motherhood and parenting consciously. There is so much to learn from the challenges and the contradictions we face as we try to keep ourselves balanced with things like yoga, but see ourselves slipping into negative patterns in between our uplifted moments. It was these tensions that spawned a series of articles, many published in magazines and newsletters and some available here on this website ... writings from the furnace of family life.

I had our children in my mid to late thirties. As a mature-age mum, it’s not surprising that my mid-life surges started when my children were relatively young. Yoga and walking through the highs and lows of the Derwent Estuary helped enormously, as did writing. It became clear that much of my mid-life irritation was the surfacing effects of some trauma that had remained hidden in me, and to me, since my childhood. I have no doubt that it is my yoga practice that helped this come to the surface and made sure it did so only when I was deeply ready. This is why you will hear me say ‘Yoga is a drip by drip miracle’. It has been like climbing a mountain, but finally finding the right mountain. I feel liberated as if I have released a heavy boulder that I had been unconsciously carrying within me, not knowing how much it had been weighing me down.

I now pursue an ongoing interest in the world-wide and renewed focus on trauma. It is a paradigm shift which is revolutionising many areas of our human services – psychiatry, psychology, social work, youth work, education, mental health, healing and support for war veterans, refugees and survivors of sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, neglect, abandonment, addictions and so on. More and more we are asking ‘what happened to us?’ rather than ‘what is wrong with us?’  We are seeing how our bodies, our minds and our emotional make-up can carry the impacts of past difficulties, large and small, and that these are the causes of most of our personal, trans-generational and social problems.

This focus on trauma led me to Boston, to the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute where teams of social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and yoga teachers, headed by Boston University Professor of Psychiatry, Bessel van der Kolk, have been offering programs for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and researching the before and after effects.  We now have a fast-growing body of brain research and other scientific evidence for the distilled wisdom behind those yoga practices that ensure a combination of conscious movement, gentle focus on breath, bringing our awareness into the present moment and into our body. Since completing the Trauma Center ‘Trauma Sensitive Yoga’ course and being affirmed and inspired by their ongoing work, I have developed a series of workshops for yoga teachers of all traditions and human service professions and support workers from all fields. I have been offering these around Tasmania and Victoria since 2012.

So these days, if you’re looking for me, you will find me in a yoga class (either as teacher or student), on our decking doing my morning yoga, or walking and meditating on river-side rocks with our dog, in the kitchen cooking ‘slow’ food, on the sidelines at my son or daughter’s soccer matches or concerts, at one of my partner’s work gatherings, at a conference or in a workshop ... or perhaps at my desk, at the computer or on the phone planning, writing, reading and researching creative ways to gently bring yoga to more people who are seeking to feel whole.