Everyone Was Coming Off Psych Meds In Yoga Class Tonight

10483306_10203263186093284_9187530179595185087_oCal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Recreation Center, Studio 2, 5:25pm Wednesday night. Restorative Yoga Class taught by me. Three students: two staff members, and one participant who is staff and a student.

I ask, “I am a Yoga therapist. I bring Yoga into the medical community. My passion is yoga and mental health. Anyone have anything significant going on they’d like addressed during this session, physical or emotional or mental or spiritual? It’s a small class, so we can tailor it.”

Girl in the middle says, “I’m coming off anti-depressants after a decade. I am having brain zaps. I’m getting through it but it’s been crazy.” She was describing detoxing.

The guy on her right says, “I wrote a book about my experience coming off anti-depressants. It took months to feel better.” He turns to the girl in the middle and says, “We should talk after class.”

There is a global movement: coming off psych meds. It’s hip.

There’s a place for medication, right? Sometimes it’s forced on people. I’m not sure if that’s right, ethically. I take medication daily. I fear the-coming-off. I question if I could appreciate life’s turbulent environment without defiantly losing my mind. (I couldn’t stop myself when I was younger. It was defiance for justice. I was enraged and uneducated. I had no alternative then. It seemed like the right – the only thing to do.)

There’s no long-term research on the medication that I take. My life has been shortened already, I am convinced: kidney and thyroid dysfunction after ten years of using prescribed lithium carbonate. I consider coming off the current drug more and more frequently, – I consider it only briefly, each time… wondering if I trust the support around me… if I could handle “it”…  I always, so far, decide I am doing alright for now. My life span might be shorter because I take medication, but the quality of my life right now is really good. I’m alive. My sister is not. My dad’s not well.

This free .pdf,  Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Of Psychiatric Drugs, written by Will Hall, could offer more info on how to stop using psych meds wisely – for you or those you love.

My student tonight, Brian A. Schultz, has a program, The 90 Day Happiness Project, a holistic approach for those suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression, including a cookbook, mindfulness audio tracks, and more. Get it on Amazon.

A life coach, Brian came up and thanked me after class. “I want to know about your book,” I said.”I wrote a book, but it’s a program. I was on anti-depressants from the age of 12 until I was 21,” Brian said. “I came off cold turkey. I wouldn’t recommend it.”  His program describes how he lives well now in recovery. “My program is a lot like this class. Mindfulness is a big part of my program.”

All three participants were spacey, relaxed and joyful when class ended tonight. Yay!

I kept thinking, What are the chances that two out of three students in Restorative Yoga tonight have had the same experience? I told them to KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT.

I felt like I was in the flow, offering Yoga therapy tonight, out loud for mental health… I also felt like it would really, truly be possible to write my own book. Would you read it? What would you want to read about?

Peace AUM

On Seclusion: Do nothing

Along with silence and mindful breathing, seclusion is accessible, often overlooked and under-appreciated medicine. Different than isolation, seclusion is a foundational practice for sages and artists, called The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People.

Einstein, Kafka, Tesla, Picasso all lived creative, productive lives with the help of seclusion.

Seeking shelter in these times – for rest, contemplation, space for creative pursuits – is a radical, necessary, pacifying and appropriate act to maintain mental stability and resilience.

What are you creating that could use a boost – family? career? An extraordinary relationship? A personal paradigm shift? A healing lifestyle? Consider secluding to write, rest, dream, zone out and tune in. Don’t worry about looking lazy! With so much pressure to produce in this industrialized culture, resting may be the antidote for the Atomic Age – the period of history following the first artificial, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. This science-fiction-turned-reality ushered in profound changes in sociopolitical thinking, lifestyle, the course of technology development and our health. Slow it down.

My meditation practice has changed this year. I fell in love and now live with my partner. I also altered my business, so my daily rhythm is not as controllable as it once was. When I lived alone, I could easily sit and meditate for hours a day. What bliss!!! I have voluntarily exchanged some of my idealistic meditation sadhana (spiritual practice) – ideal in an ashram setting, which my home had been, living alone so long – with a relationship sadhana, and a kitchen sadhana, a puppy sadhana (we just adopted a Maltipoo!) and a seclusion sadhana. Empathic, I need alone time to recharge. I love the quiet, shaded house while my love is away. I love our bed, where I write and rest. I love listening to the windchimes and working at my own pace.

“Cabin fever:” seclusion may have reached a peak and it might be time to shift to more public activity – to participate. This could be as brief as a trip to the store to buy apples. Making a phone call might be plenty, or open the way to more overt activity. Facebook? To participate or not to participate? A weekly meeting with a consistent group of people (a class or self-help group, for example) and one-on-one time with trusted friends are two healthy social scenarios. I appreciate 12 Step recovery groups – consistent group meetings with a repetitive, predictable format ease stress for me.

Practicing mindful seclusion is encouraged to avoid burning out either end – with either too much participation or from too much seclusion. Trust yourself that you will know the difference.

My spiritual practice includes approaching, with wisdom, an indulgence in quietude and in good company as I feel ready – without pressure or rushing, guilt-free.

Clarity comes with calmness. Calmness comes with quietude. Quietude results from seclusion. As monks, poets and artists: do what might look like nothing – a simple, effective reset for better health.

Come participate in healthy seclusion in a small group setting Saturday, July 15 at Grateful Spirit Yoga in Atascadero. Register at http://www.brookewestyoga.com/workshops

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What This Scorpio Full Moon Was Like For Me

Everybody was talking about it. Death, rebirth, veil between the worlds thin, ask for your big wishes because the others on the far side of the veil are waiting to help you.

When I was sick – I mean, out-of-the-hospital sick, and for those next years – I mean, like, eight, ten years – I was not fit to work any normal, 40-hour per week job. Sometimes I had to isolate because of social anxiety and debilitating depression. I had to leave places early, without saying goodbye. I whittled my activities down so I could hang out with myself, in my head, undisturbed, for as long as possible.

Today, my life is blessed with activities and friends, self-help and mysticism. I am charged by the feeling I get when I serve, and helping those who want to participate or receive.

I stopped and talked to this homeless guy after dropping of my computer for repair downtown at the Apple store. Calm, quiet, blonde, blue-eyed, Rasta hat hiding dreadlocks. I asked if I could ask him a question. He was cheered and said, “Yes.” I told hime I was a psychiatric survivor. He said, “Oh, cool.” Not exactly the response I expected, but I had his attention.

I asked him what his life was like and what he needed – showers? No, he can get that. Laundry? No, he can find that. Food? No, CalFresh takes care of that. What’s that? Food stamps. Oh, yeah. It’d been so long since I’d been on food stamps, I forgot what they called it. So, what did he need? A job.

Something meaningful. A purpose.

People experiencing spiritual emergence and emergency can’t work like we think of work. Lots of rest is needed, lots of breaks. Lots of contemplation, lots of snacks, lots of enjoyment. How do we bring folks like this, like I was, into the circle? They’re part of the chain, though invisible. They’re kind, if you are, usually. We all want to be heard and respected.

When I asked his name, he sat up tall, stuck out his hand and said his first, middle and last names. I shook his hand and told hime mine. He said, “I’ve heard of you.”

I could see the magic in his eyes, the knowing. It gave me energy. I left him on his bench by Barnes and Noble, cheered.

Twenty minutes later, the chakra in my right hand, where we had exchanged energy, was open, a clear wheel of pure light energy. It felt like a portal to the stars.

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Yoga Therapy Suggestions for a Frantic Mom

My private Yoga Therapy practice has taken off in the last six months, thank God. I get to help people doing what I do very well: sharing experiences, resources and the Light of Yoga. In the process of consulting with prospective clients, I ask a lot of questions, filtering, curiously, listening for compatibility. I am learning a ton – about boundaries, my scope of practice, who I can actually help with Yoga therapy and meditation… and that I have a trove of supportive tools that I would like to share, as a survivor and as a holistic healer. I share what I can in hour-ish-long calls and I follow up, because I care deeply about our community.

I received an email from a very worried, almost frantic single mom whose ten year old son is experiencing extreme combativeness and rage. He has turned tables over at school, he is bored and probably very bright. His father has addiction issues, parents separated.  He lives with his mom and toddler sister at his grandmother’s house. They’ve moved a lot,changed schools. One of his school therapists has suggested Oppositional Defiance Disorder as a diagnosis, stating that, for a boy with no history of trauma, he sure is acting out. Excuse me? No trauma? Are we… talking about the same kid? Yeah, but we are observing from totally different angles, listening for different things.

I suggested that his mother use critical thinking concerning her son and the system’s rejection of his cries for understanding. She was heartbreakingly worried about her boy, and financially strapped, and exhausted. I offered her hope, thank God. I would like to share some of what might have helped her through the next few weeks while she waited to hear about being hired for a new job that would offer more stability and choices for care.

Dear A,

Nice to talk with you – R is fortunate that you care so much for him!

Suggestions:
  • Alateen – looks like ages 13-18 but keep it in mind. http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/try-an-alateen-chat-meeting
  • Weighted blankets/swaddling/tucking him in /deep pressure/gentle stroking
  • http://www.exercisebuddy.com Created for but not limited to children with autism, may be helpful since it’s on a device and he responds to that. Reward him for five minutes in the morning, perhaps? Get him moving regualrly, ten minutes per day and have him notice how he feels before he starts and after so he has direct experience of the results. 
  • Martial Arts
  • Swim and other “free” activities without structure
  • Finding the right teacher(s) that he resonates with
  • Remembering that R isn’t wrong, he is maybe perfectly right in a world full of wrong; his self-soothing techniques of humming and hugging are appropriate. Consider avoiding using touch as punishment or reward but possibly as a short-term soothing technique for three minutes each evening, for example.
  • Practice your own five minute daily meditation. Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom. This may be the most difficult suggestion of all! He’ll model you, though. The effects will be noticeable. You might not mention that you are doing it at first. Try morning or evening or both – try evening after everyone is in bed. Meditation may refer to a moving meditation, like a sun salutation or Energization Exercises. R might respond to this video more – quick and cool Australian surfer guy adapting the Energization in less than three minutes. Morning or morning and night might be good.
  • deep breathing before sleep, six or twelve breaths
  • alternate nostril breathing
  • Humming Breath as Yogic Science for Stress Relief:
  • Quiet Time and Transcendental Meditation in Schools:
Tulsi Bagnoli teaches Transcendental Meditation. I am not sure how much it costs (I think it’s a one-time payment) or if she teaches to children (she probably does) but you might reach out to her. yogawithtulsi@gmail.com
Everyone responds differently to different people, different styles of Yoga and meditation. Keep trying!
I know what you are going through is exhausting for you. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts. If other resources come to mind, I will send them along, as well.
Her inspired, gorgeous, gracious reply:
Hi Brooke,

Thank you so much for all the resources and suggestions you have sent.  I am looking into all of these things – slowly but surely.  I also appreciate your encouragement to listen to myself – my gut, my thoughts and instincts – in doing what is best for R and help him find balance in an out-of-balance world.  
I think I will know any day now (or, at most, sometime in the next 2 weeks) if I got that job in town.  Because it’s really going to shape our immediate future – my decisions and commitments.  If I get the job, I’d like to talk with you more and seriously about committing to a practice with you, which would extend into a larger lifestyle practice.  If not, I would still like to consider meeting for a session or two, but I would need to do more research on your various recommendations to decide where we would need the most guidance.
And, last, I need to follow through on my own mental health.  These last three years have been tremendously stressful for me – and a large part of that is I’ve lost my quiet center.  Not having my own space, being under another’s roof, has been a real challenge, as I haven’t been able to completely relax, completely let down, the way one does in their own home.  And I kept putting the effort off, thinking my own space is just around the corner – and, in a way, it is.  But the inner turmoil has gotten so loud that it’s hard to hear my inner self – to hear my own thoughts – and make those big decisions. And, right now, I do need to find my quiet core, so I can help guide my son to find his.
So, these next couple weeks, as I wait for that phone call or email, as I stand at this crossroad and look out on these variable life paths, I am going to practice some quiet meditation, through yoga and exercise – and I will do those deep breaths.  And when I have a bit of clarity, or at least news, I will contact you.  Please know that I understand that your schedule may change during these next weeks as well, so I will understand if your availability changes while I take time to figure things out.  No worries.
I very much appreciate the time and thought that you have given to me and my family.  You have given me so much think about, as well as a feeling of hope and wellness.
Thank you again,
A
Keep listening.
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# EmergingProud #InternationalSpiritualEmergenceNetwork

#EmergingProud is an international campaign bringing voice and awareness to the awakening of consciousness, and Divine aspects of extreme states. Healing is brought to the world through these extraordinary – or ordinary – experiences. LSD, near-death experiences, psychosis, kundalini, channeling, shamanic crisis, past life experience – all these and more can lead to changes in personal character, unitive consciousness, spiritual emergence, psychological and social renewal. Awaken to your gifts. Katie Mottram, you acclaimed me! #gratitude #internationalspiritualemergencenetwork #meditate safely #aum

Read my essay-poem in the campaign here!

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Peace!

Retreat To Contextualize Your Spiritual Emergence Saturday, April 1, 2017

There is a movement happening among people who are creating context for their transformative experiences that are unable to be categorized in any other way except for “spiritual emergence.”

Stan Grof categorized Spiritual Emergence experiences in this way:

  • Shamanic Crisis
  • Kundalini Awakening
  • Past Life Experience
  • Near Death Experience
  • Episodes of Unitive Consciousness
  • Psychic Opening
  • Possession States or Experiences with the Paranormal
  • Psychological Renewal Through return to the Center (True Nature)
  • UFO Encounters and Abductions
  • Channeling or Communication with Spirit Guides
  • Drug Addiction and Alcoholism

Anything that awakens you to your gifts, life’s purpose, gives your life a richer meaning or changes your character may fall under the category of spiritual emergence (SE). We might all have these types of experiences as part of the human condition. Some command more attention, effort and processing to integrate.

My life is full of such moments. Some paranormal experiences (deja-vu, seeing auras, trusting an inner knowing, even when it’s challenging) and crises (death of my sister, recognizing that college was a bad fit) catalyze(d) a shift of perspective for me, illuminating my connection to a Supreme Source and my place in the matrix of God and life.

I seek appropriate settings and fellowship – targeted resources to support my unique part of the journey. These needs change over time. For example, I have become very particular about the company I keep,to maintain an evolution of consciousness that supports the remarkable psychological changes that I am continually integrating as a spiritual seeker.

I choose to live in a way that is healthy, serves my community and contributes to peace in the world.

Saturday’s retreat at Crows End in Squire Canyon will fulfill my need for nature, good company, optional silence, healthy food shared, contemplative potential and my joy in serving those who seek deep transformation. Authenticity without animosity is rare these days.

Please join us in being the change. I hope the day that I have planned will fulfill a need for the emerging spiritual expression of participants.

Please register under the Work With Me/ Workshops tab on this website to join us.

Brooke Labyrinth

Thank you to Kyle Buller at settingsunwellness.com and Michelle A. Hobart at becomingsacredspace.com for the inspiration behind this blog.

AUM

I Was Interviewed by Bob Banner and Hopedance: My Recovery, Spiritual Emergence and Healing Voices Film

Ten years ago, I was so grateful to Bob Banner for the work that he has done sharing alternative news with our community that I began spending some time with him. Unfortunately, at that time, I was moving into a psychosis that landed me, not in the hospital but in the county jail (because of a plumbing issue). We were both traumatized by this experience and have come around to understanding, forgiveness and promotion of one another’s work. Follows are some very personal explanations of who I am and what I do, prompted by his curious and caring questions. I hope that you enjoy my answers, learn a little about me and will attend the viewing that Bob and I are sponsoring of Healing Voices , documentary on psychosis and recovery on February 27, 6pm, at the San Luis Obispo Public Library Community Room on Palm street, downtown. $6 – $10 donation.

Remember, psychosis can occur for many reasons: traumatic stress, post-partum, use of psychedelic drugs, because of inflammatory disorders like lupus… and are not just associated with mental health diagnoses. Psychosis may be temporary and often marks the beginning of a healer’s – a hero’s – journey.

http://www.hopedance.org/home/awakenings/3016-interview-with-brooke-west

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