This is part two of a guest post written by Fred Haas, a recovery coach from Texas. His post presents information about the use of Kundalini yoga as a resource for recovery from addiction.
Kundalini yoga can be part of the core strategy in a recovery plan or it can be an added tool to supplement and enhance 12-step recovery. Last week in the first part of this blog, Fred provided background information on Kundalini and Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. This week is the second part of the article that provides information on Kundalini yoga and addiction recovery, Kundalini yoga meditation, Kundalini yoga Kriyas and additional resources for further exploration of the topic.
Kundalini Yoga as a treatment modality
Kundalini Yoga began as a treatment modality when 3HO ashram staff members in Washington, D.C. took in two heroin addicts and fed them. 3HO was an ashram founded by Yogi Bhajan. 3HO stands for Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization. 3HO started offering recovery services by keeping these heroin addicts in a controlled environment for two weeks and put them into a program that centered on Kundalini Yoga and meditation. Both of these male addicts experienced an amazing transformation.
SuperHealth, the country’s first alternative health center for the treatment of addictions in Tucson, Arizona was created from this Washington DC experience. SuperHealth developed into a systematized program with customized treatment plans for behavioral addictions including stress, substance abuse, other unhealthy habits and emotional disorders. The program included three Kundalini Yoga and meditation classes each day, providing a specific detoxification and rehabilitation diet complete with fresh juices, vitamins, an herbal regime, therapeutic massages, humanology sessions (applied psychology from the perspective of Kundalini Yoga) and individual, family and spiritual counseling.
SuperHealth earned the prestigious western medical accolade of accreditation from JCAHO, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in 1978 and eventually received its highest commendation. SuperHealth distinguished itself as being in the top 10% of all treatment programs throughout the United States in 1978.
From these pioneering efforts of the Kundalini yoga community, yoga and meditation began to be incorporated into mainstream treatment facilities. Today, it is increasingly more common for yoga and meditation to be integrated into treatment programs in hospitals, sober living houses and county treatment centers. From the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California to programs in prisons, yoga classes are presented as either electives or mandatory therapeutic experiences. Kundalini Yoga advances the spiritual quest that Alcoholics Anonymous finds integral to recovery so it serves as a good supplement to the 12 steps.
In 2004, a lifelong goal of Yogi Bhajan, that his teachings to be brought back to India, became a reality. The Punjab government invited SuperHealth to conduct a 90 day pilot project for drug users in Amritsar, India. In October of that year, with a team of professional volunteers, the program opened to serve ten clients. The experience profoundly changed their lives.
Kundalini Yoga Meditation
In addition to the general benefits associated with meditation (remaining calm and centered, achieving peace of mind, self-discipline, increasing self-esteem, greater awareness and higher consciousness), each Kundalini yoga meditation creates a specific effect. Examples of specific effects that are created by Kundalini yoga meditations that help people in recovery include a meditation to shield us from negativity or a meditation to free us from guilt, blame, shame, resentment and bitterness.
The Medical Meditation for Habituation (also called the Meditation to Break Addiction) is one of the best meditations to specifically promote recovery from drug dependence. This is a quote from the book Sadhana Guidelines for Kundalini Yoga by Gurucharan Singh that serves as the commentary for this meditation.
“The pressure exerted by the thumbs triggers a rhythmic reflex current into the central brain. This current activates the brain area directly underneath the stem of the pineal gland. It is an imbalance in this area that makes mental and physical addictions seemingly unbreakable. In modern culture, the imbalance is pandemic. If we are not addicted to smoking, eating, drinking or drugs, then we are addicted subconsciously to acceptance, advancement, rejection, emotional love, etc. All these lead us to insecure and neurotic behavior patterns. The imbalance in this pineal area upsets the radiance of the pineal gland itself. It is this pulsating radiance that regulates the pituitary gland. Since the pituitary regulates the rest of the glandular system, the entire body and mind go out of balance. This meditation corrects the problem. It is excellent for everyone but particularly effective for rehabilitation efforts in drug dependence, mental illness, and phobic conditions.”
We can change our destiny by changing our habits
The effects of meditation are mastered when they are established as part of a Sadhana, which translates to ‘daily practice’. This ‘daily practice’ develops a life promoting habit. Humans are habitual creatures so we can actually change our destiny by changing our habits. According to yogic science, the human mind works in cycles. We can use various cycles to help replace unwanted patterns of behavior (mental or emotional habits), with new, more positive ones when we commit to a particular meditation or kriya for a specific time. It takes 40 days to change a habit. It takes 90 days to confirm the habit. In 120 days, the new habit is who you are. In 1000 days, you have mastered the new habit.
A duration of practice that lasts 40 days lets the meditation provoke your subconscious (mind) to release any thoughts and emotional patterns that hinder you. A good meditation will break your old patterns, put in a seed for a new pattern, and clear the subconscious.
The length of the Sadhana meditation has an associated affect. Three (3) minutes affects the electromagnetic field and blood circulation. Eleven (11) minutes affects the nerves and glandular system. Twenty two (22) minutes balances the three minds (Negative, Positive and Neutral) and they begin to work together. Thirty one to thirty three (31-33) minutes affects all the cells, the rhythms of the body, and the layers of the mind’s projections. Sixty two to sixty six (62-66) minutes alters the ‘grey matter’ of the brain – subconscious and outer-projection are integrated. Two and a half (2.5) hours alters the psyche in relation with the surrounding magnetic field to firmly hold the subconscious mind in a new pattern.
In Kundalini yoga, a kriya is an exercise or group of exercises that have a specific purpose. It is a technique that produces an altered state of consciousness. Practicing a kriya launches a succession of mental and physical changes that affect the body, mind and spirit.
Choosing a kriya to support the recovery process is simplified because each kriya makes a claim to its specific effect. Examples of kriyas that can apply to recovery are the kriya for conquering sleep, the kriya for conquering depression, the kriya for liver detox, the kriya to get rid of anger and fear, or the kriya to be rid of internal anger.
Additional resources pertaining to Kundalini Yoga and Recovery for further exploration:
• http://super-health.net • A reprint from their website: Super-health is on the cutting edge of breaking habits and addictive behavior. It is at the forefront of yogic therapeutic technology that is precise and proven effective. The system addresses alcohol, drugs, smoking, food issues, co-dependency, gambling, work, and computers. It also includes stress, depression, fatigue and anxiety.
• http://www.wholeselfrecovery.com • A reprint from their website: The Whole Self Recovery Program facilitates journeys of healing and rejuvenation that purify, strengthen and merge the body, mind, heart and spirit. Whole Self Recovery offers an alternative to those who seek something other than the traditional recovery program styles as well as something alternative to the most popular 12 step programs. The program immerses the individual in a lifestyle where optimum physical, mental and spiritual health can be achieved and maintained using Kundalini Yoga, Acupuncture, Chiropractics, Ayurveda, Cleansing, Psychology, Addiction Counseling, massage, numerology and other elective therapies.
• http://www.totalhealthrecoveryprogram.com/ • A reprint from their website: Total Health Recovery Program is a world class international holistic drug and alcohol residential-like treatment center and rehab program using master healers and innovative diagnostic and treatment technology to treat drug and alcohol clients. Total Health Recovery Program uses Kundalini Yoga and meditations because it has thousands of exercises available to the practitioner. It is one of the most powerful of all yogas. It is great for releasing stress.
• http://www.kundaliniyoga.org/kyt11.html • Reprint from their website: Food, diet, weight loss, eating disorders, and other addictive substances and behaviors-whatever our specific issue, every day we are all confronted with what to put in our mouths and how the decisions we make affect our well-being. My approach is to use our addictive tendencies as a path to empowerment. In the process we can claim “the gifts from the garbage.”
• Yogi Bhajan – An Effective Approach to Addictive Behavior http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auFInq0nMPc
• Yogi Bhajan -Yogic Approach to Addictive Behavior • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fip6PzUMc4
• Carolyn Cowan – Addiction: Understanding the Addictive Mind • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZbCLwxSL3c&feature=related
• Carolyn Cowan – Kundalini Meditations: Healing Addictions • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyjJ2U-L3CE&feature=related
• This article present treating the Chemically Dependent as a Resurrection Process By Sadhu Singh Khalsa LISW, MSW http://www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=2350
This blog was written by Fred Haas is a recovery and empathic coach in Texas and current president of Recovery Coaches International. For more information on Kundalini Yoga as a resource for recovery from addiction, please contact Fred Haas at his web site: http://www.fredhaascoaching.com/ or by email at: Fred.Haas@sbcglobal.net