Pranayama (control of prana or life force energy via the breath), is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, and as such has very ancient healing roots. However, the more modern version of therapeutic breathwork was born in the 1960s out of LSD research. When the government banned LSD, Stanislov Grof turned his attention to something that couldn’t be outlawed: breathing. Grof went on to trademark “Holotropic Breathwork“, a non-drug alternative to reaching altered states of consciousness.
Today, there are numerous styles of therapeutic breathwork. At the core, all breathwork therapy has benefits similar to other “psychedelic therapies” (such as Ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, and LSD) in that, as oxygen builds up in the blood, the breather experiences a mild sort of trip with the aim of promoting transcendental, ecstatic, religious or mystical peak experiences. Types of experiences usually fall into one or more of several categories: sensory, biographic, perinatal, and yogic sleep states.
Continue reading What is Breathwork Therapy?
This is the fourth article in the series, “The 12 Healing Tools“. These articles outline the things that I have found most useful in my journey to overcome childhood trauma and abuse, drug addiction, and debilitating depression.
At the end of 2003, I hit rock bottom – again. Looking back, I think it would be appropriate to say that I had a nervous breakdown. The stresses of a bad relationship, living a life not authentic to who I was, working long hours at a high stress job, my past drug abuse, and undiagnosed PTSD all took their toll. But, as many of you know, once you hit bottom, the only way out is UP. So once again, I pulled myself together to find a way out.
I had been practicing yoga and going to Buddhist meditation classes for about a year after this breakdown when I decided to go on an elimination diet. My gut was totally messed up and I was hearing a buzz about how going gluten free could fix that. So for two weeks, I ate all veggies and rice. When I introduced bread again, I thought I was going to die. The stomach pains and racing heart were unreal! I had my answer and stayed entirely gluten-free after that.
Continue reading How Changing My Diet Changed My Life
I’ve noticed since I moved back to Pennsylvania that I’m experiencing a TON of pain in my hips and low back. I’ve been sitting more and walking less because it rained pretty much all summer (and now it’s freezing). And as my teaching gigs have decreased, I haven’t been doing as much yoga either. I’m sure there are also some trauma and emotional issues involved, but I’ll save that for another post.
Anyway… Since I generally turn to my yoga practices for healing, I started experimenting with more psoas stretches to see if they might alleviate some of the pain in my hips and low back. (The psoas attaches to the torso to the legs starting in the lumbar spine, through the hips and inner thighs which led me to believe I might be experiencing tension in my psoas.) I was also surprised to learn that a tensed psoas influences the operation of the vagus nerve, which means when your psoas stays tensed, you stay in the fight or flight system! Well I’m happy to report, that in a short amount of time, these practices really seem to be helping. I usually do them first thing in the morning; however, if I’ve been sitting a lot and I notice that painful sensation coming back, I’ll take a few minutes to stretch again – up to three times a day. So here are the asanas that have been working best for me. I make sure to practice full yogic breathing as I hold the postures for about 1 minute on each side.
Continue reading Low Back Pain and the Psoas
Here’s a good article on a series of studies, that examined the importance of specific mindfulness skills in the creative process. https://www.mindful.org/does-meditation-boost-creativity/
You can also try playing this music in the background while you create. It really seems to get things flowing more freely for me!
This article was written in 2017, but may be even more relevant now, at the end of 2018, as the insanity of this administration intensifies.
“You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.” — Anais Nin
From a very young age, I turned to art as a way to process and sometimes escape the world around me. Art provided a space for me to create the kind of life I dreamed of: horses and unicorns, happy families, and all things cute and pretty. There were no arguments, no angry faces, no fear in the world I drew on my paper. Coloring absorbed my mind and passed the time.
As I moved into my teenage years, art gave me a way to express all of the emotions I was overflowing with and overwhelmed by on a daily basis. I continued to color even then because I found it so relaxing.
Continue reading How Art Can Save Your Soul
Here is a great article on how a COMT enzyme malfunction can present and what you can do about it: https://ndnr.com/pediatrics/move-over-mthfr/
Check this out: Research is being conducted on probiotics’ impact on the gut-brain axis and how these supplements can alter your mood. Research in pigs was the first to find a connection between levels of gut bacteria and stress hormones, and a study of mice demonstrated a relationship between the gut microbiome and anxiety. Sometime in the near future, we may better understand how specific ‘psychobiotic’ supplements can help boost mood and impact symptoms of depression.
Read the full article here: https://ubiome.com/blog/post/can-psychobiotics-actually-alter-mood/
I have to say that 2018 was one of the most difficult years I’ve had in some time. My depression and anxiety were at a level I haven’t experienced in over a decade!
And at every turn I was forced to ask, “Who Am I?” Who am I when I’m not being a ‘graphic designer’? Who am I without the identity of a ‘yoga instructor’? Who am I as I relate to my significant other and as an identity outside this relationship? Who am I as a mother? As a grandmother? As a friend? Who am I in relation to it All?
Continue reading Reflections on 2018