Kundalini, Part 2
January 27, 2017 - Uncategorized - 0 Comments
Kundalini, Part 2
In “The Energies of Men,”William James offers this bit of wisdom: “Everyone is familiar with the phenomenon of feeling more or less alive on different days.” While this statement is true for everyone, it is especially important for people in early recovery. The symptoms of post acute withdrawal can leave people feeling less alive as they begin treatment. In our mindfulness groups at the residential facilities at His House, when there are newcomers I try to lead them in gentle breathing meditations. We start by checking in. I ask the members of the group how much experience they have with yoga and meditation, and I ask them to share how they are doing on three levels: physical, mental, and emotional. Sometimes, the simple act of slowing down to check in on these different levels of functioning can be enough to improve one’s condition. After the check-in, we do several minutes of long, deep breathing through the nose. For many clients, this brief moment of long, deep breathing marks the first time they have paid conscious attention to their breathing.
When the group at Merito includes no first-timers, I guide them a little deeper in meditation. We still do the check-in the same way, but after the check-in, we do a breathing meditation that involves deeper breathing, many times through the mouth. Deep breathing through the mouth can be a good outlet for emotional release, but it also helps people get to a deeper level of consciousness than the everyday ego-mind. As the clients go deeper into their breathing meditation, I remind them that their natural state is one of well-being, and that they are powerful beings created in God’s image. For clients who suffer from anxiety or even diagnosed anxiety disorders, I emphasize breathing deeper into the belly. If the anxiety persists or even intensifies while the clients are breathing in this way, I let them know that they are safe and that they are free to switch to long, deep breathing through the nose. In this way, the clients remain in control of their own experiences.
James continues his reflection with something I like to keep in mind when working with the men at Merito House: “Everyone knows on any given day that there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of the day do not call forth, but which he might display if these were greater.” As the clients emerge from a deep breathing meditation, many say things like “I had no idea I could feel this way without drugs,” or “my mind went blank, but I feel great!” Whatever the clients’ experiences are, we validate and process them after the meditation. Most clients say they feel deeply relaxed and rested. As for the James quote, deep breathing meditations offer people a moment of silence, where they get beyond the patterns of everyday life and thought and get to the deeper levels of the psyche. In a way, these moments spent in this deep, quiet place are like taking a short break from life. People look to take breaks when they are worn down, when they need to hit “reset,” because the day has become too automatic and too stressful. If the break works as planned, it can change a person’s perspective toward the day. This is my intention when I lead groups for His House: offer the clients a short break that can energize them and change their perspectives just a little bit.
David L. Smith, Ph.D., M.F.T.T.
James, W. (1907). The Energies of Men.