Monday November 19, 2018
The moon entered into bold, take charge and self-confident Aires yesterday at 7:56 am. I started this week with looking forward to time off to rejuvenate, rest, go within and spend more time doing yoga and meditation. 2018 has been an intense year for many and especially so for me too. The fires continue to rage through California and the air quality is the worst in the entire world. I am ever so grateful for a warm home and a sweet community I call home here in Santa Cruz County. My neighbors are coming together to discuss creating an emergency disaster team and plan. I am gifted with inside time to write and go inward because the air quality is poor for walking the parks and beaches which I love to do in the fall.
I want to write how Kundalini Yoga (as taught by Yogi Bhajan) has profoundly affected my life and my personal recovery. How it continues to sustain me and the individuals in my spiritual community through these difficult times .
Housecleaning the Kundalini Yoga way.
Sunday I was blessed with participating in the Kundalini Yoga Rebirthing Series "Housecleaning 1" led by Shanti Ardas Kaur at DiviniTree. I learned that Shanti Ardas was born under the Cancer sun only one day before my most beloved Nonna Cristina. Nonna Christina was one of my early beloved maternal nurturing figures. I have done the rebirthing series with Charanpal and her hubby Ghansham over the last two years. I always experience huge releases and transformations with each Kriya. The Rebirthing Series as taught by Yogi Bhajan is believed to actually clear lifetimes and generations of trauma and karma. Now, who doesn’t want that ?
My intent is to be my absolute best at everything I do. I am human and I have my shortcomings. Mindfulness is the act of simply being present. Being present for myself is essential as a psychotherapist, a partner/wife, a mother and a neighbor and a friend.
My intent is to write my memoir (Stega Rosa ) and this blog is the start. As I carve out time for my personal writing, I plan to share some of my writings that seem appropriate for this community. I am consistently creating a balance of work, play, yoga meditation, family life and the creative process of writing and painting. However, the last few on this list tend to fall to the way side. I can bring my worlds together and be my authentic creative intuitive self. So, this blog can be a place to keep my creative juicing active.
My intent is to touch other people who also suffer with grief, depression, anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and/or other mental, emotional and physical disorders. I will share my personal and professional experience as much as my inner strength, light and wisdom. I do this in my personal life and in my work as a therapist, as a social worker, as an activist and of course by simply being Antonia. I hope this will give hope and inspiration to others, so that they know that they are not alone.
Each morning I approach the day as a brand-new experience: untethered from my wounded past. My wounded soul and spirit give me strength and resilience, And I cannot deny that I am healing too. I am human. Each day I receive the gift of a new opportunity to do things different, or continue to do what is working. I need inspiration every day of my life: especially when I feel paralyzed: by old memories and the anticipation of the future.
Time to take action!
At 5 am my wife changed the music on the computer from Ra Ma Das to Jap Ji Sahib when she was getting ready for work. Jap Ji Sahib is a sacred poem that was written by Guru Nanak. It is a song we sing in Kundalini Yoga to begin our morning practice. It is considered a powerful tool for yoking individual consciousness to divine consciousness.
As a Pisces with a Libra moon, I have a difficult time with the human and physical plane. Meditating and being still always is a challenge for me. Seven years ago in the week of my 52nd birthday I was forced to slow down (more about that later).
When I was a young child, I could sit and dream for hours; it was my safe place. I walked the streets of Detroit dreaming and thinking of anything but reality. At 13 I started doing marijuana, and that took me further into the world of dreams and illusions. I entered recovery at the age of 27. I stopped smoking pot and my brain went crazy with racing thoughts. Even with 32 and a half years (the majority of this time) has been spent in clean and sober recovery years my racing mind is still like a train going 100 miles a minute. My relapses over the years I have renamed/reframed as humbling Spiritual awakenings.
The mind is a dangerous place to stay. I am consistently replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations: after nearly 33 years of recovery and personal growth, clean and sober with out mind altering chemicals it is getting easier and easier.
I realize now, with deep love and compassion for myself that smoking pot in my early years, as well as my relapses were a habitual way of survival. Most of my relapses occurred in a state of disassociation and amnesia. I hate the jargon of some twelve step folks who insist that you didn't do it right: not enough meetings, not enough self less service, not working the steps well enough. This is punitive and wrong. When I first went into treatment in 1986 I heard an alarming statistic which was later confirmed again in the advanced Chemical Dependency training 1990-'92 the UCSC extension. The statistic were stated as: The fact is 1/3 of folks attempting sobriety will clean and and sober from there first or second attempt, 1/3 will relapse and and 1/3 will die or become very mentally ill due to their chemical dependency. I believe the relapse rate among cannabis dependency and addiction to be alarming high. Simply because cannabis dependency has less obvious adverse consequences. Most of us don't die or severe life death experiences like with hard rugs and alcohol. Marijuana is subtle and seductive: its much easier to me complacent.
Also for people with a history of trauma and child and sexual abuse and/or growing up in a chemical dependent/dysfunctional household we now know have a much higher rate of chemical dependency. So when folks with a complex history attempt sobriety relapse is also a big risk: especially when the pandora box of the past is revealed to quickly. These are often considered trauma neurons of the brain being activated. I will speak more about Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS) later and how PAWS can occur even with long term sobriety. For many people with a complex trauma history smoking pot, using chemicals, including alcohol was a way of survival and for many it even saved their life from painful events and memories that was unbearable to face and feel.
I am not an alcoholic, but I believe for my own spiritual growth and higher consciousness my sobriety requires complete abstinence. My sobriety has given me the opportunity to be aware and conscious. Today I meditate to cleanse my mind of these racing thoughts. Sometimes meditation will even quiet my mind. It always calms my nervous system and forces me to pause, it nurtures my dreams. I am learning that setting time aside to meditate and do my yoga is devotion for my soul. It is essential for my mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
I was inspired by a lecture by Yogi Bhajan, and what affected me deeply was ‘the one thing in life I can control is my breath.’: Change, focus and regulate it through Kriya’s and meditations. They have an immediate effect on my mood, my attitude and my energy. ‘Change your breath, change your mind, change your life.’ Here are a few links:
Left to my own devices.
This morning after listening to Jap Ji for an hour and falling back to sleep in between the 30 minute prayer; I realized how profoundly I have a choice. I could stay in bed and wallow in the thoughts that will inevitably lead to self aversion and sadness. But oh no, not with this moon in Aires pull! So in sweet desperation, I made a choice to to say Yes, not listen to the shatter in my mind, to get up and write more of my story. This was my liberating morning folks. First things first, which is prayer and meditation. I sat alone with the Jap Ji book for the first time ever, a gift for my 59th birthday from my first and beloved yoga teacher Naomi Charanpal Kaur.
I have resisted reciting this prayer/poem alone, but I have been listening along with my spiritual community. My Catholic upbringing caused a resistance to any organized religion. I always felt skeptical about people following Guru’s and such . . .. it’s funny how the very thing we judge shows up later as our own biggest teacher.
Once again, left to my own devises, I suffer, so I am learning to take direction. Since I found Kundalini Yoga in late 2014, the practice and self-discipline has been profoundly changing my life. I have experienced a deep personal growth. My anxiety and sadness have been eased. Kundalini Yoga is the Yoga of Awakening. This practice has enabled me to implement and sustain compassion with myself and others. I am now able to shift my thoughts and moods more rapidly and can shift from my mind to my heart. As a result, I have more periods of contentment, joy, peace and serenity. To be responsible in my ‘response’ rather than in reaction. This is why I want to write and journal my experience.
The syllables of Jap Ji Sahib (which is in the sacred language of Gurmukhi) are dense and fast, so doing this alone has been my challenge. This morning after listening to the chant alone, I was able to break through a mental barrier. I believe it has helped that I started listening to the chant in the morning a few weeks ago. So, it would inspire me . . . It worked! I got up, read along to Snatam Kaur’s version of the poem.
I read the English translation, as I lost my place in the stanza’s. Then, I was too busy in my ego mind reading the translation and interpretations. I braked myself down as I realized that the point is to chant and/or listen and feel the frequency of the words and their meaning. So, the last 15 mins I sat meditating while listening to Jap Ji.
Last July, I was gifted (via a raffle at The Women’s Summer Kundalini Camp in Middleton CA) the book Original Light: The Morning Practice of Kundalini Yoga by Snatam Kaur. The universe is tapping on my shoulder about my morning practice. Snatam Kaur states in her introduction: “In 1992, Yogi Bhajan offered the Aquarian Sadhana to help us householders thrive and remain balanced in the world with ever increasing information, technology, and the sources of stress and pressure. He knew we all would need a sense of connection and love not only with-in ourselves, but also with-in our larger communities. “
Many people are suffering. My son is suffering and I don’t know how to relieve it. I am suffering holding all of my memories inside of me. I know my true identity and purpose in this lifetime is to speak my truth and share my story.
I have had an emotionally intuitive and at times immersed and codependent relationship with my son, siblings, my relatives and ancestors. This is true with many other past intimate and not so intimate relationships. I want to clear all my karma in this life time. While my personal recovery and Alanon/ACA work has taught me to keep the focus on myself. To take responsibility for my own reactions and maintain boundaries. Still we are empathic human beings: suffering is an internal and external universal suffering. Pema Chodron taught me this years ago.
When my son suffers I suffer. When I suffer, he suffers. He has a Pisces Moon and he was born under a Cancer sun; he’s a very sensitive man. I love the meditation of loving kindness: I breath-in suffering and breath out love and compassion. I so want to share the lessons and teachings I have learned in my life, and my spiritual mentors and teachers. I want to share my process with you all and especially with my son. My first-born son, has recently become severely disabled, after back surgery. Ten hours after the surgery he experienced a severely herniated disk, which left him paralyzed from the waist down and needed a second surgery. Today he is walking 6000 steps a day and he is starting to feel: slowly and painfully. His recovery is slow, methodical and tedious.
I want to tell my son (and everyone reading this): Do not be afraid of the 'God' consciousness in Kundalini Yoga, do not be afraid of 'God' consciousness in the 12 steps and of all 12 step programs. The twelve steps have saved thousands of lives. It saves and continues to save my life from active addiction. I find refuge in The Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and Dysfunctional family’s program.
Simply put, the language of the ACA literature depicts the feelings and experiences so many of us have gone through when growing up in a this dysfunctional family. It gives a voice to what was unspeakable. As kid’s we often learned to not trust, not feel and certainly not talk about our feelings. As a Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist for over 26 years I know firsthand that no one is exempt from traumatic experiences and suffering. I want to speak to the pessimist and to the sometimes non-believer in me, and to any other atheist who is resistant to either the12 step programs or to Kundalini Yoga because of the presence of a God/Goddess/Great Spirit/Creator Consciousness.I must be patient with myself and others must be patient with themselves. We humans have strong resistance and opinions. “Patience pays” said Yogi Bhajan and “If we don’t have patience: we are bound to be a patient. “Kundalini Yoga is not a substitute for psychotherapy, consultations with other colleagues or my own personal twelve step recovery. However, it is a beautiful addition to my daily practice. It has given me a practice which I never had before since I was too fragmented to do anything consistently. Today I know that it is the daily devotion itself that is significant. I am committed to daily mindfulness and loving kindness with myself and others. Prayer and meditation helps to keep me centered and balanced in my personal and professional life. This is just one of the powerful modalities which are rooted in science and have been proven to be effective for emotional self-regulation and mental health and vitality. Most recently the Kirtan Kriya has been studied and endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation.</p>
<p>This is my experience and I encourage you to find your own modalities for emotional self-regulation. Some of us take a swim, a walk on the beach, go to the gym, run, . . . or do other forms of Yoga and meditation. The point is to do it! Do something and be committed to it. Be devoted to your practice, be devoted to your soul; you are your own soulmate! Emotional self-regulation is significant for periods between psychotherapy sessions. Especially when working on trauma, acute grief and past emotional memories. This is why before we clinicians start EMDR with clients we need to feel confident that people have strong resources in place to support them between sessions. As a psychotherapist, I hold space for so many lovely people in my practice. I am continuously humbled, gifted and honored, to witness my client’s personal and collective lives.
If you take one step toward the Guru, The Guru takes a million steps toward you.
Bhai Burdas Gurudas Ji, Amrit Kirtan
The eleventh step in the Twelve Step Program of MarijuanaAnonymous changed this Guru to God. I always had an aversion to the word God and Guru until I could create my own understanding of the Power greater than myself ,some 32 plus years ago now. I let go of that old patriarchal concept of a punishing critical God. Sometimes for me a power greater than myself is a tree, the ocean, my heart, my breath, the moon or a God/Goddess . . .the Great Spirit. The point is it is my own experience or understanding. I stop resisting and move from ego to grace. I certainly do not understand this force inside me that keeps my heart beating, yet I experience it. I feel a sense of grace when I surrender and accept to this power. My life and relationships with others are easier. I have the opportunity to respond (my responsibility) to situations and people from my heart instead from my old emotionally charged triggers. When I have triggers I know they have everything to do with me, that is my responsibility. I have them less and less as a result of the devotion to my spritual practice. The point is devout ourselves to our/your Heart and Your Soul: to your own personal spiritual awakening. It is the only the heart and soul we have been gifted with in this lifetime.
Find a space in your life to slow down and mediate. Sometimes I was only able to do three minutes and that a start. Just start, be devoted and do your best to keep it up. If you miss a day do it the next day.Please remember to ALWAYS Be gentle, loving and patient with yourself. Your heart and soul is sacred.
I am graced by your presence in my life and thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Antonia Teresa (Joti Gian Kaur).