Blog / Category_holistic health

sleepy meditations this week...

*yawn* ever since day light savings time, it's been a struggle for me to get enough sleep. I'm getting an ok amount (it's not like I'm not sleeping) but I wake up in the morning wishing I could drift back to sleep for another hour or so... ah well, like anything else, this too shall pass.

I've been meditating all week long and I'm grateful for it because it's been a full and busy week. meditating is helping me to remember to stay present to what is real in this moment instead of day dreaming or having fantasies about some future point, worrying about some future point, reliving some past moment or the worst which is just the negative mind stream thinking that gets caught up in cant's and shoulds and all that other really not fun stuff.

Sometimes I choose to go into a mind stream of thinking and I'm purposely choosing to do it. I notice, for example, that my idealist mind really enjoys visualizing and fantasizing about dreams that I have - about scenes and scenarios that I'd like to see played out in real life one day. I notice, too, that when I have these kinds of thoughts (that I'm choosing to have) that I can still understand the suffering that can arise from them. What I mean by that is that I can find a kind of suffering when I notice that I'm "not there yet." I'll give an example. I can walk into a room and see a vision of possibility for it - the colors, the way the furniture can be. I can see what I'd like to do to the room to change it and make it function better for have some character or whatever. This is a blessing and a gift and I'm grateful for it. The "curse" part is that until I see that the room looks the way I see it in my head, I can find myself in a place of frustration at times because I want to do work to make it happen. That's not bad, honestly, because I think it's motivating. The part that becomes suffering is if I spend a lot of time wishing that it was there. I have to remind myself that things take time. Making a baby takes 40 weeks so getting some renovation done takes whatever time it takes. It also depends on things like ability to do construction or money to hire someone to do it.

I am honest when I say that sometimes it is frustrating, for example, to walk around this old old house that I live in and see it in the state that it is in and compare it with the dream of how I see it in my head. It is frustrating ONLY when I tell myself that it is somehow not happening fast enough. That, I believe, is the "wanting mind" that these wise people talk about. That is when meditation and mindfulness is really helpful to stop the wanting part of the mind in mid-thought and go, "Oh there you are again! Hello! I see you." And then accept it and bow to it. Resistance is futile.

These books that I'm reading for class say that it doesn't matter how many thoughts we spin out to having, it's the moments of waking up to realize that is what we are doing that is the nugget of meditational insight. Each time we wake up and go, "OH! I just did it again! I just found myself worrying about a what if over this house plan that I have," we are doing just that: waking up.

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meditation - and other things

well, it certainly is difficult to maintain a blog when you have a full life going on! LOL (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

I've been keeping to my commitment of meditating daily. Some mornings I don't have as much time as others but I make sure to sit every fucking day. That's my promise to myself. (oops, sorry for the swear words. they come out every now and then!) I mean to say that I AM DOING THIS, which is why I'm being so emphatic as to swear about it. I should shout at the mountain top or something to get the point across.

The other morning I was thinking about this idea of watching myself in a way similar to when I was a new mom. I used to sit with these babies and just fill myself up with them. Looking at their faces and watching them breathe and be. Such little miracles and I was so curious to learn more about them. I've been sitting with myself in a similar fashion. If something comes up, I'm not trying to knock it down or shush it. I am looking at it with curiosity.

I've also been really digging the body scanning as a way to tune into my body. Boy does that ever help for those of us who can get lost in imaginations and dreams. I realize for several years now I haven't really been very grounded. I have big dreams and goals and I really love imagining them. I somehow manage to be very productive, too, so I guess I can't really say that I'm not grounded. I think I mean to say that I find myself sometimes in my head more than I am in my heart or in my body, if that makes sense. Anyway, the body scanning is a way to FEEL your toes all the way up to your head and back down. It's a great way to relax whatever feels tense, too.

So I've been watching myself with loving curiosity. I'm having fun naming what is going on and then letting it be and getting back to my breath. It's like a game and I'm enjoying the game.

I'm nearly finished with Radical Acceptance. That is a good good book. Highly recommend it people! I still have to do a lot of the guided meditations in the book so that will be great to go back to.

This morning's meditation was very short because I overslept. (still not used to this damed daylight savings time stuff.) Oops, there - I swore again. I did only about 10-15 minutes and set the intention to practice mindful awareness throughout the day. Well, I was trying to get too many things done at once and on top of it, I have a nearly 12 year old and an almost 14 year old that have PLENTY of things to say to me and ask me in the course of oh, about 10 minutes. I don't know why I set out to get anything done and should vow to come back to reality and a life when the young one goes off to college. :-) So in meditation, we learn to have single-minded focus and attention and in my daily life, I find myself seriously multi-tasking with my own life and my kid's needs. OY! I started finding myself becoming very frustrated when I endured the 10 minute long retelling of a dream without any point and which took so long because of the pauses, ums and other grammatical breaks in the story.

I stood up and noted that my stomach was growling so it was time for a juice.

I took and cut up a pineapple,
peeled 4 CA oranges
and 1 meyers lemon (goddess, I LOVE these things)
and then I juiced them
I got about 50 oz plus of juice out of them
then I juiced a big bunch of kale
2 stalks of celery
2 stalks of fennel

I made more than 64 oz of juice and I shared it with my 2 kids. I had about 32 oz myself. Delicious and felt so good. I talked with my son a bit about my need to be able to have A THOUGHT AND SEE IT THROUGH TO ITS CONCLUSION in the form of doing some work or getting something done without 100 interruptions. We were joking as we were talking as we always do and I love how my kids and I communicate. Especially my son. He and I are mutually sarcastic and it makes me laugh so much.

The kids had their lunch and went out to walk the dogs. *WHEW* I had a breath of silence in the house. What a treat. I took that time to relax and deep breathe and remind myself that no matter what interruptions come, I'm going to just invite them in to tea, like Tara Brach says... :-)

The afternoon went a whole lot more smoothly. I even got an hour of yoga in which made everything oh so blissful. I went off to an appt I had in town and the person I was meeting was late. At first I was wishing I brought something to do because I loathe waiting for people to grace me with their presence. But instead, I thought, "Oh yes! I can sit and meditate in this quiet room until the dude is ready." So I sat in a firm chair with my legs uncrossed and my arms at my legs. I breathed in a few times and relaxed and I just noticed. I had many wonderful sensations in my body and I noticed how I wanted them to continue. I told myself "FEELING" and just watched them dissolve, thanking the experience.

I noticed the classical music on the radio. I noticed my thoughts. I sat with my eyes closed for maybe about 10 minutes and then decided to open them and sit mindfully in this room. I looked at all the posters and pictures on the wall. I noticed the fabric on each chair and the cracks in the plastered/wall papered wall. I noticed the drawing someone did on the white board as they were presumably waiting like I was. I noticed the carpet and the window and what was going on outside. I felt a part of this room, like I belonged here because I was there. I wondered briefly about the many people that were in that room and what stories the walls would say, if they could. I then went back to the music and the feeling of the breath in my body. It was the easiest wait in the world and it didn't seem to matter how long it took for dude man to come in to find me. I actually thought he could take as long as he wanted.

I came home after a good meeting and decided to make myself a salad for dinner. (Oh yes, I grabbed a lemon laura bar after my yoga as I was racing off to my appt. I was so hungry after yoga!)

The salad I made had:
mesclun greens
steamed broccoli
sliced tempeh
dulse
kim chee
radish sprouts
parsley pesto
olives
1/4 avocado

I also took a capful of wheat-free tamari and poured it over the salad in lieu of dressing.

I LOVE salads like this. So many delicious tastes and very filling. I made up a duplicate salad to take with me tomorrow night for a dinner that I have to go to (where I know there will be nothing much for me to eat.) I ate this salad with much joy and gratitude and thoughts of my good friend Gina. She and I eat salads like this whenever we get together and I'm so looking forward to more time with her to eat more salads like this. For a moment, I was picturing myself talking to her, telling her to try this pesto and these olives and then I remembered my intention for mindfulness. I said, "PLANNING" and "THINKING" in my head and then took a deep breath and went back to the reality of just eating and enjoying the flavors.

And that, my friends, is the update today. Oh, I suppose I should say that I ate a piece of "paleo" brownies after dinner because they were there and looked good. I laugh at any recipe with the word "paleo" in front of it because I imagine our paleolithic ancestors driving SUVs and being soccer moms, making "paleo" brownies and other silliness for their paleolithic soccer playing, iPOD wearing children. This is so ridiculous! Let's call it gluten free brownies! Paleolithic people were not eating brownies and pastries and cupcakes and ice cream! AAAAAACK! They were NOT BAKING! But I'm seriously digressing here. I ate a gluten free brownie with carob chips and sweetened with maple syrup. It was yummy and I'm glad they are gone now (even though I was the one that made them!) :-) That was my dessert and I ate it with as much joy and gratitude as I did the salad.

Peace out my friends,
Linda

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Thursday's meditation

"Freedom comes when we are not in anxiety about non-perfection." This morning I woke up early (well, I got to sleep LATE - I woke up at a decent hour.) I peed and then went to sit back on my bed. I took 3 deep inhalations/exhalations and then scanned over my body, from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet and then back up again. I scan from the inside. In other words, I'm not checking my body as an observer, I'm sensing my body from the inside - what does my hair feel like, my scalp my eyes, my nose, my mouth and neck, my spine, my shoulders, etc. all the way down to my toenails. I want to savor the feeling of this body. It's also a great way to really feel when things are tense and they almost instantly relax when these body parts are given this much attention. I do this all the way down and then all the way up. This is also a practice in patience because this takes a small bit of time to do this fully. Then I take some deep full breaths - I enjoy relaxing by doing the anjali breath that I learned in yoga class (hopefully I'm spelling that correctly) - this is the breath where you sort of constrict the breath in a way and let the air pass through slowly. I'll have to look it up and write a better description of it but it sort of sounds like a small wave of an ocean and it is very calming. I let my breathing go into its natural rhythm and then deliberately envisions my mind going into my heart. My friend Kayla told me something once and I loved it so much that I wrote it on my cafe wall in calligraphy: "THINK WITH YOUR HEART AND LOVE WITH YOUR MIND."
I loved this saying so much I wrote it on my kitchen cupboards...
I imagine that means that I use my heart for thinking. Buddhists sometimes refer to the mind as residing in the heart so that's what I pictured this morning. With my "heart mind" open, I was watching my breath and I had the thought that in a way, this is kind of like watching your baby breathing when it is newly born. I had a little smile on my face. I think I'm on a good track here. I'm seeking intimacy with myself: self trust, self love, self worth, self respect, etc. All those good things. Best to have a kick ass relationship with oneself, right? Otherwise, how would it happen externally? I want to love without holding back. I want to relax so I can enjoy this life. So I held this place of watching my belly from my heart mind. My eyes were closed - I was just feeling my belly rise and fall in breath. Whatever thoughts came in, I named them gently and smiled to them, inviting them in and then watching them dissolve. Then an image came into my mind and my whole self wanted to focus on it. I did for quite a long time. This is actually what I'm very good at - visualization. I can focus on this kind of stuff and do shamanic journey work extremely well. No thoughts or emotions or anything seems to take over when I'm doing this and it is a kind of one-pointedness focusing that I really enjoy. Probably because when I'm not doing this I seem to hold about 4 or 5 thoughts at once sometimes (plus songs!) LOL So I let myself stay with this image and I sort of filled myself up with it. When I was ready, I let the image wash away like a wave, I went back to noticing my breath and continued on to watch it rise and fall and name whatever was coming up. So was it a success? I suppose it was. I didn't judge anything that was happening and I didn't try to resist anything that was coming to me. I absolutely chose to focus on that image and so I suppose in a way, this is what Tara Brach is talking about in her Radical Acceptance. We can deny what is in front of us, fight it, say that we dont want it. "IF ONLY I could sit and really be quiet in my mind, I'd be a much happier person." "I need the right meditation pillow and then I'll be all set to do this." "I used to be able to do this better than I can now." These are all examples of the wanting mind. The IF ONLY mind. Brach writes "Freedom comes when we are not in anxiety about non-perfection." MMMMmmmm, I'll write that again:
  • "Freedom comes when we are not in anxiety about non-perfection."
I'm enjoying that book Radical Acceptance. I recommend it highly. I'm off to live my day full of intention and mindfulness. I wish the same for you. all love, Linda
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Wednesday's meditation

wednesday I had an enormously busy day so I only got to do 10 minutes of meditation in the morning. I sat on my bed and took a few deep breaths. I then scanned over my body from the top of my head to the tips of my toes and then back up again, relaxing whatever needed to be relaxed along the way. I relaxed into breathing and then noticed whatever thoughts were popping up (and music) - I named them gently and let them be. I was getting in a good groove of this and then realized that I had to get a move on to get to my appts on time. Quite possibly, it was a really successful meditation because it was so short.

I set the intention for mindfulness for the rest of my day. And I was pretty successful. I definitely feel more in my body when I'm mindful (as opposed to feeling in my head with lots of swirling thoughts and TO DO lists, etc.)

Wednesday was a day full of support and friendship. I even ended the day with a 2 hour conversation with an old friend. It was a very nourishing day. I found the familiar desire to cling to such a day in my mind, wanting to hold onto all the conversations and memories because I cherish them so much. I bowed to them and smiled thanking all of the day and went to bed.

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Tuesday's morning meditation

I woke up very early this morning (well, early for me) because this nose of mine. I've been stuffed up for a month - it's been so dry. I think I might go to make an appt with the ND because it's lasted so long but I'm not really sure she'd have more for me to do than I'm already doing. I think I just need the season to change already... After going pee, I sat back on the bed and decided to do my morning meditation. I really enjoyed calming my body with relaxing breaths and really getting the sensations of the body and breathing. I realize how much I'm in my head a lot of the days and this is a very nice experience. Kornfield talks about meditation as a way of truly becoming intimate with ourselves and with what is - with all life itself. I get that very clearly and feel grateful for it. There were plenty of thoughts and again MUSIC! I didn't realize how much music I have in my head! What a multi-tasker I am! LOL If thoughts became distracting, I gave them a name: REMEMBERING or FANTASY or PLANNING and then went back to the breath. What's nice about morning meditations is that there aren't a lot of emotions getting in the way so it really is just a way to notice thoughts and get back to belly. I'm making the commitment to do meditation at night to see what happens - if there is a difference because the day's experience will be at a close... After some time (not exactly sure how much - 20 minutes, maybe 1/2 hour) I noticed that I was getting sleepy. This was interesting and nice. I hadn't wanted to get up so early and I was also happy that I could get sleepy once I had gotten up. That hasn't happened in a long while for me. I attributed it to feeling so relaxed and letting my mind NOT get caught up in various thoughts or plans, as is the case for me in the morning. (My mind will typically go into a great turning of things to do and intentions for the day and then I'm awake no matter how much sleep I've gotten.) Again, I'm carrying the intention of keeping mindful throughout the day - all with compassion and non-judgment. And this is a very good intention to keep with me as I walk into Town Meeting and hear the many opinions and arguments and see how they may or may not trigger things in me. :-) In the video yesterday, Tara Brach mentioned that the Buddha once said, "People with strong opinions just go around bothering each other." I giggled at this and think it's a perfect way to end this post. Particularly knowing what I'll be walking into in a few minutes here... :-)
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Monday's meditation

I forgot to post on Monday's meditation!

I had a really interesting time noticing thoughts. Again, there was about 1000 going on at once it seemed. (OK, exaggerating) and I still remained OK in just noticing, not evaluating or judging. My mind felt pretty floaty and so, staying in my body, resting in the breath seemed a challenge. A challenge to stay focused. But I kept going on and brought awareness to my body and the surroundings. I was actually grateful to hear sounds because it helped to bring me back to center more than my breath.

I kept the intention to carry with me mindfulness and non-judgment throughout the day.

I read about 75 pages of Radical Acceptance and also finished watching the 4 hour 37 minute video from Tara Brach for class. It was a long video and helpful. I tended to like Jack Kornfield's more simplistic approach. It helped me a whole lot more. I tend not to need all the stories that Tara tells, nor do I need to be made aware of all the paradoxes of meditation - very confusing. I prefer to know what to do simply and practice that. Still, it is an interesting read. It's funny though - the stories are nice but distracting and sort of remind me of how the mind works anyway - getting us distracted. I wondered how incredibly short Tara's book would be if she just kept to the practice and left the stories out. :-) Just an interesting observation.

The day went by pretty well. I was more aware of how my thoughts lead to emotional triggers and charges in my body. Being mindful and saying, "I see you!" to whatever sprang up was very good.

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wow - love this!

someone just wrote this on another site I was on: “Meditation is an essential travel partner on your journey of personal transformation. Meditation connects you with your soul,and this connection gives you access to your intuition, your heartfelt desires, your integrity, and the inspiration to create a life you love.” ~ Sarah McLean ♥
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meditation

I've been doing meditation on and off (ok sometimes more off than on) for the past 13 years. I remember the first time I sat and tried to watch my breath - it was maddening! Another time I sat with people to meditate and I wanted to run out of the room screaming. I thought I was not cut out for this at all. For years I sat and I'm not really know what I'm doing but doing it anyway because I know it is good for me. Some days have been better than others and still I persist. I also take days off. :-) I'm signed up to take the meditation class at GCU in a couple weeks and with the syllabus up, I'm getting a head start. (I'm getting a head start because my final project class is also happening and I want to be able to do as much of the meditation class so I can focus on the final project.) I'm watching all these videos and reading these books on meditation. You know what they start out saying? We are not geared towards meditation at all. Not wired for it. THIS is why it is called a "practice." What a relief! I know for sure I can do this now because I'm not the only freak of nature that can't sit quietly with my breath!! Part of what is required for the class is to meditate: "You are required to do a daily meditation practice 15 - 60 min in length. You are responsible for keeping a journal, with a least three entries per week on your experience. Each entry should be 1-2 pages (300-600 words) for a total of 3- 6 pages (900 - 1200 words)." I thought: perfect! I'll write on the blog here whatever the experiences are... Why didn't I do this for all the classes I've had thus far? Hmm... I've had so many classes that have had journal requirements and I kept them all secret and separate... Oh well, no better time than the present! HA! (that's a meditation joke.) I sat this morning for about an hour. I'm using the breath as the anchor point for coming back to center. I did the full scanning of my body, relaxing whatever tensions I was experiencing. I scanned the external environment, too - hearing the dogs, the kids, the cars. Hearing my stuffing nose in this dry dry room. Being with each and every sound and feeling, one at a time, and as when the wave of each experience subsided, I went back to the breath. After some period the thoughts came in. Here's what I noticed: I have a lot of thoughts! Songs too. I seem to have a playlist of songs that go on in my head. I heard once that our minds can handle multiple thoughts at once and I'm really getting that I've got a lot of competing thoughts going on. It's amazing to notice! It was actually difficult at first to honor and bow to only one thought or feeling at a time. I would give it a simple name like "STORY" or "REMEMBERING" or "PLANNING" and then would bow to it and go back to the breath. The thoughts were actually easier to stop and get back to the breath than the feelings. Some feelings I was unsure to just name and breath into or if I might want to delve more deeply. It was a good practice because I held no judgment for what was happening, nor did I evaluate or try to hold too many things at once. If too many thoughts came in at once, I went back to the breath. At some point, I felt a nice opening in the heart center. The place where the mind is, according to Buddhists. WIth a bit of expansiveness, I felt a loving gratitude for a lot of things - for everything. I so enjoy this feeling. I knew that it would come and go just like everything else so I bowed to it and just let it be for however long it would be. I had a nice sense of loving gratitude for the strong mind that I have. What a nice feeling that was. I can say honestly that I've battled with my own thoughts in my past and so it's nice to be friends with my mind even for an hour. :-) I ended the practice and then went into my prayers and intentions for the day. It is said that meditation is a pausing of life in order to achieve great intimacy with oneself and for this hour, that is what I felt. I thanked the Great Mother, the Great Father and the Great Mystery for all that is and then went about my morning. I am spending the day with myself pretty similarly. When thoughts come in, I label them and keep going. When emotions come in, I label them and bow to them. This is how I'm working to becoming my best friend. Unconditional love baby - that's what it is all about. Peace out, Linda

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Yoga as Medicine vs. Drugs as Medicine

Week 10: What are the major differences between yoga as medicine and drugs as medicine?

by Linda K. Wooliever

Let me begin by saying that it was difficult initially to compare/contrast yoga with drug therapy. Yoga is a body/mind/spirit-centered approach to tuning into oneself in order to become healthier physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Yoga can be seen as a tool to strengthen the body, make muscles more flexible and help a person keep good balance and posture. We learned this in previous chapters of McCall’s book. Drug therapy is about suppressing a symptom or killing cells within a body in order to alleviate pain in the short term or help get rid of some unwanted bacteria, virus or tumoro within the body.

When I thought about how I wanted to answer this question, I thought I would look up what I could on yoga as medicine and compare it to research done on drug therapy. Since the chapter was written on Stress Relief for Chapter 3, I decided to pick a specific kind of drug that is used to treat depression and/or anxiety for patients (since chronic stress can lead to depression and anxiety): Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs.) I’m using a scenario of a man seeking help for chronic anxiety in hopes that I can show how a relatively curious person with a desire to help himself can use “scientific medicine” and “holistic medicine” together for his benefit.

Drugs as Medicine

Let’s say a person walks in to their doctor’s office with a chronic anxiety problem. The MD will assess him, the nurse will take his vital signs and the doctor probably would recommend that the person seek professional help from a psychiatrist or a psychologist after having ruled out any physical problem that he might otherwise have had that could lead to feeling anxious (i.e. heart disorder, breathing disorder, etc.) by way of blood tests and other diagnostic tests. In this scenario, the person gets a clean bill of physical health and takes the advice to seek help with a counselor to determine a possible diagnosis from them. After some testing and talking with the counselor, it is determined that this problem is serious enough that it is affecting this man’s quality of life but maybe not to the degree of a serious compulsion or disorder. The man has been suffering on his own long enough and this counselor would like to see this person feel better so she might prescribe counseling sessions in order to teach the person coping skills for his panic and anxiety and to help speed him along in his wellness, she might offer the use of an SSRIs drug as a therapy to help the man feel better in his body and function better in the world.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a feel good hormone that is found in the body (tissues, blood, brain, intestines and central nervous system.) It helps the muscles and affects the mood, particularly when it is low in the body, a person can feel depression and anxiety.

The man agrees that he needs to learn new coping skills and agrees to take on the counseling. He also takes the information about the drug that the counselor recommended and said he wants to research it for himself and think whether or not it might be a right medicine to take for him. He schedules another appointment and then goes home to think about his options. He decides to look up SSRIs on the internet and see what information he can find. He sees that “SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Changing the balance of serotonin seems to help brain cells send and receive chemical messages, which in turn boosts mood. SSRIs are called selective because they seem to primarily affect serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.” (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ssris/MH00066) He reads about the various forms of SSRIs, their generic names and their more common names, like Prozac and Zoloft, etc.) He reads about the common side affects and sees the recommendations for what types to use and how to get off the drug slowly when the time comes so as to keep himself from having a manic episode. He also sees what other drugs and herbs may contraindicate the drugs efficacy as well as less common drug side effects or problems such as serotonin syndrome (too much serotonin) and suicide in some.

What he doesn’t see are case studies that show how SSRIs can cause bone density loss in patients and an increased risk of fractures. And another study showed an increased risk of bleeding, particularly in the elderly. These studies seem to indicate that dosage is key to administering SSRIs so that the patient has minimal adverse or common side effects.

For this man, the list of common side effects of nausea, diarrhea, nervousness, weight gain, drowsiness and insomnia are enough potential risks that he decides he doesn’t want to add to his feelings of anxiety, by feeling worse in these ways but figures he will keep this on hand and try other things first. If all else fails, he’ll have a drug to change his brain chemistry and he’d work out the dosage when the time came. He also noticed one of the herbs not to take with SSRIs (St. Johns Wort) is used by some to help with elevating the mood. He promises to look into the herb in the same way he looked up SSRIs.

Yoga as Medicine

The man attends his counseling and realizes he has a lot of chronic stress that he doesn’t seem to know how to alleviate. The counselor recommends he find something to help him be more aware of what is happening in his body so that he can realize his triggers. While at work, he serendipitously stumbles across a flyer near the kitchen advertising a local yoga class. It is aptly named, “Got stress? Get Yoga.” He decides to call and see if he can try out a class or two without committing to a full schedule. The teacher agrees and he plans to attend a class.

When he gets to the class, the instructor asks who is new to yoga. He raises his hand and the teacher then gives her introduction on how the class is taught and the expectations of the class in general. She states that yoga can be very beneficial for relieving stress naturally and will focus on breathing and asanas (poses) that will help give people good tools to use in their daily lives. She leads the students through the class and for the hour and a half, the man realizes he is feeling a little bit better than when he came in. He decides to come back and see if that was just a fluke.

What he is doing is increasing his body awareness in the poses he is doing, he’s learning breathing skills to help activate his parasympathetic nervous system (which helps him to relax and restore his brain and body) and he’s slowing down his mind in order to stay centered and present. He doesn’t really realize that all this is going on inside his brain and body, he’s just feeling better little by little. The sensation is infectious and after time and by experience, he sees how he feels better when he starts out his day with some meditation and ends the day with some light asana practice.

He continues on with yoga classes to see this experiment through a little longer. Over time, he learns about meditation, dietary and herb choices that also benefit him greatly. These things, he finds, are adding to his health and not subtracting to it with terrible side effects. He is learning to relax from and in his daily life. He continues on with his counseling and joins a support group to help him feel connected and supported with his emotional needs. He’s learning how to express his emotions fully and is learning how to detach from them, too. He finds that the progression of improvement is small but steady and he’s gaining awareness of himself that he didn’t have before. He feels a sense of gratitude to try to improve his health naturally first before utilizing chemicals but he acknowledges that having the drug there as a safety net helped him to try other things first. He still has anxiety but he has more coping mechanisms to approach it and more understanding and compassion for himself because his yoga practice has helped him learn how to take really good care of himself. He has even come to a place, over time, of appreciation for this anxiety as his teacher and as a way to open doors to him that he wouldn’t have done if everything was status quo. He realizes he is more than his anxiety. He is a whole person with lots of emotions and experiences. Yoga postures have shown him how he’s carried himself and how he sits in his car and at work and how awful it feels. The longer he works at himself, the more he wants to give back to others. His feelings of anxiety and fears seem to dissolve and the life in front of him appears more fulfilling and meaningful.

Yoga as medicine is more WHOLE-some, meaning that it has the potential to reach a whole person. Drugs as medicine is really missing the boat on treating the whole self. It is designed with one function in mind and many times causes more harm than good.

References

McCall, T., (2007.) Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing. Bantam Books, NY.

Tsapakis, E., Gamie, Z., Tran, G., Adshead, S., Lampard, A., Mantalaris, A., & Tsiridis, E. (2012). The adverse skeletal effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. European Psychiatry: The Journal Of The Association Of European Psychiatrists, 27(3), 156-169.

de Abajo, F. (2011). Effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on platelet function: mechanisms, clinical outcomes and implications for use in elderly patients. Drugs & Aging, 28(5), 345-367.

Edwards, J.G. (1992). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. BMJ. June 27; 304(6843): 1644–1646.

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