Below are several of the practices I integrate into recovery. We can use some or all based on what calls to you.
My approach to Recovery Coaching is collaborative. I believe it’s important for you to define for yourself what it means to successfully find recovery and live in that place.
You decide for yourself what changes will be most meaningful to you, and then we work together to figure out how you would like to be supported. You have the ultimate authority over choosing the supports you want, and I help by asking questions, helping set goals, connecting you with resources, and offering and providing support, guidance, experience and expertise.
As a Coach, I also draw on tools such as Motivational Interviewing and goal-setting, which can also serve as the glue that holds together other services we may integrate into your recovery lifestyle.
I teach many forms of meditation such as Mindfulness, Meta Meditation (loving-kindness), Mantra Meditation and a specific form of insight meditation known as Two-Way Prayer. I can teach these in groups or one-on-one.
In Mindfulness Meditation, we use the breath as an anchor. Rather than simply saying, "Focus on your breathing," I give detailed prompts to help you become deeply aware of many aspects of your breath.
Many people who have reported difficulty with meditation in general have reported that these detailed prompts help them to actually feel their breath and focus on it. If we work together one-on-one, I can speak to you beforehand and possibly tailor the prompts to accommodate your natural breathing pattern.
Once the meditator gets the hang of the breath, we add in a count. You’ll learn to gently bring yourself back to the breath and the count whenever you find yourself losing focus (don't worry, everyone loses focus, it's part of the practice).
After a regular practice of meditation—and sometimes, immediately after one session—people experience numerous physical, physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits.
Some of the most common benefits are feeling calm, refreshed, energized, more emotionally stable and less emotionally reactive.
Some people feel a deeper sense of connection to themselves, others, and the environment, or to their own respective conception of a higher power.
A quick Google search will reveal all of the scientific and spiritual benefits of meditation— there are far too many to list here.
Chakra Work and Chakra Chanting
The human body has seven main chakras that are energy centers. They run from the tailbone up through the spine and the crown of the head. By name, they are known as the root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras. Each chakra relates to different parts of the body, personality, and mind. There are numerous techniques one can employ when working with the chakras in order to open, activate, balance and heal them.
There are many techniques when working with certain chakras, but my favorite is chakra chanting. Different sounds vibrate at different points in the body, and specific sounds vibrate at different chakra points. By chanting into the chakras people can have powerful experiences to aid them in all aspects of their lives.
Pranayama is a Sanskrit word. Prana means "breath" or "life energy." Yama means "technique" or "exercise." The ancient practitioners of these exercises came to the understanding that the body has a series of nadis—essentially, energy channels‑running through it. The main energy channel is the Shashumna, which runs parallel to the Central Nervous System, but there are many other nadis that run throughout the body. The air we breathe, for example, is the primary external source of prana, or life energy. By manipulating our breathing by using specific techniques, we can alter our state of consciousness in both subtle and profound ways, naturally and safely.
The three foundational breathing techniques most commonly used are Ujjayi (ocean breath), Alternate Nostril Breathing, and Breath of Fire.
Ujjayi uses a slight constriction at the back of the throat to create a vibration in the roof of the mouth. The vibration travels to the brainstem and hits the Vagus Nerve, which runs down the neck and spine, through the intestines, and up to the heart.
Ujjayi breathing has been known to reduce blood pressure and promote healthy sleep and digestion. I have also seen Ujjayi help treat everyday stress, depression, anxiety, chronic migraines and aid in the treatment of addiction and other mental illnesses.
Alternate Nostril Breathing is exactly what it sounds like. By alternating the breath through the nostrils in a specific pattern, we bring our body and mind into balance by balancing our natural sleep wake cycles or “circadian rhythms.” You may have noticed that at different points throughout the day you breathe more clearly through one nostril than the other. These patterns of breath reflect the circadian rhythms which are influenced by the Parasympathetic (responsible for the rest and digest response) and Sympathetic (responsible for the fight, flight, freeze or fold response) Nervous Systems. By practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing, we are using these same pathways influenced by the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) and SNS (sympathetic nervous system) to influence the PNS and SNS. In doing so, we can achieve a state of calm alertness. During and after this practice, people have reported feeling pleasant tingles along the pathways of breath, increased focus and feelings of calm.
Breath of Fire is the most stimulating of these Pranayama breathing techniques. Because most of us don't breathe fully or deeply in our everyday lives, we rarely fully empty our lungs. Because of this, there is a reservoir of carbon dioxide (CO2) gathered at the base of the lungs. Breath of Fire forces that excess store of CO2 out, making room for more oxygen to enter in. Sometimes, this can produce a slight feeling of euphoria. It also increases heart rate in the moment, but ultimately serves to lower it overall, much like with normal exercise. Also, as with like normal exercise, it increases body heat in the moment and lung capacity overall. It strengthens the core, oxygenates the blood and detoxifies the mucous linings of the respiratory system. It pumps cerebral spinal fluid up the spine, bathing the hemispheres of the brain. It also has many emotional, psychological and spiritual benefits. It combats depression and anxiety, and people report increased energy, stamina, clarity and stress release after practice. Some people say colors appear brighter.
Yoga Nidra is another Sanskrit term. “Nidra” means “sleep,” so this is literally a practice of yogic sleep that induces the hypnogogic or half awake/half asleep state. This is another form of meditation I have seen work on people who had reported having serious difficulty practicing other forms of meditation.
In order to practice, you first create a “Sankalpa,” or an intention. You never need to tell anyone your Sankalpa—you may be instructed to silently state it to yourself and the universe one to several times during Yoga Nidra. In this subconscious state, your mind is more open to receiving your Sankalpa. If there is something you have had trouble manifesting in your life or something you would like the universe to help you with, you can ask for it here.
The actual practice involves laying down, stating the Sankalpa at various timed intervals, and shifting your attention to specific parts of the body as part of a specifically tailored sequence. This specific shifting of awareness is called a “rotation of consciousness” that produces a “hypnogogic state,” and that’s where the magic happens.
The process of Yoga Nidra turns the mind and the ego off and allows the body to do what it naturally knows how to do, in order to heal itself. I have seen people arise awake and refreshed with glowing smiles. I have seen aid in the treatment of chronic migraines by lessening frequency, severity and response to triggers.
I am certified in Kripalu, a term that translates to “self-compassion.” It is a great style of yoga for beginners to practice. In working with the body, one of the greatest things one can achieve is the state of self-compassion. All of our bodies are different, and each one contains the wisdom to know what it needs, which is why there are many “right” ways to do any given pose. I also teach Hatha and Vinyasa. Most of my classes are a fusion of various elements of yin yoga, restorative yoga, power yoga, kundalini , and various pranayama practices.
“Seeking Safety” is a very structured format for Stage 1 trauma treatment, which means that the actual trauma is not discussed and we do not re-open the wound.
This is not psychoanalysis. Rather, we focus on the “here and now” by teaching coping skills to manage trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Use Disorders (SUDS).
Seeking Safety is a program that was designed to treat people with co-occurring SUD and PTSD, and has been proven successful both individually and when both disorders co-occur.
I stick closely to a workbook that can be used for group or individual sessions, and, after the session, I can offer additional services. It is important for everyone's safety that when doing Seeking Safety we stick to the book and do not deviate from the format.
The goal of Seeking Safety is just that: to create and increase safety by teaching coping skills and educating individuals about trauma, PTSD and SUD.