Turning Shit into Fertilizer by Azita Nahai

– I think the best way to describe me, or even just being here is like, “I’m here ’cause I’ve been there, “and that’s the reason I do my work.” I don’t know if there’s a
single person alive today who isn’t struggling with pain in some way, shape, or form. If they are then I want
what they’re having because it doesn’t exist. I spent a good six years in my 20s imprisoned in an abusive relationship, and dealing with the carnal
blows, and the mental anguish, and the emotional terror of a boyfriend. I was completely disconnected
from myself and from my life, and family, and really
from anything that fed me. Honestly, with help of family and friends, who I had been disconnected from, I was able to get help, of course. How do we get help? That’s when we finally breakdown, and my breakdown was the suicide plan. ‘Cause how do you run
from and escape such pain? For me, the only way
to escape the pain was to come up with a plan to
completely just end my life. Yet I believe that the first step to healing our pain is accepting it, and our acceptance comes with a surrender. Where I think my suicide
plan was a resistance, was like an avoidance, was an, “I can’t do this anymore.” Thank goodness I had
support to go and get help. When I went and got help, I was put into an amazing treatment center,
two treatment centers. I spent about nine weeks inpatient. Here in the states, it’s
an inpatient recovery place where I was placed in the trauma track for post traumatic stress
for being and abuse survivor, and I ran the gamut of
different healing modalities, and all of them unbelievably effective. Everything from talk therapy, 12-step, group work, EMDR, equine
therapy with horses, you name it. I left treatment and my background is I was already a researcher,
I was already a therapist, and I was already working in the world of human development and psychology. When I came out of treatment, I was like, “Okay, great, I get it. “I was an abuse victim, and
now I’m an abuse survivor.” I went and wrote a masters thesis on it, and it completely intellectualized it. I’m like, I got it. I get why we lose ourselves in pain, and find our addictions
as ways to numb it. I figured it out, and then I went and I sat on a kundalini yoga mat. As I went and I sat on
the kundalini yoga mat, it was within seconds,
these tears of emotion started coming up. Here I was thinking I thought
I had just done so much of my healing, like, “What
the fuck is all this?” My work now is all based
on my decades of research of where I took trauma survivors who had attributed a good
amount of their healing to their kundalini yoga practice. They had all come into their lives again. They were able to connect
with people again. They were able to have
intimate relationships. They were able to have a different sense of self-perception for themselves, and overall were feeling more gratitude. I was one of those people, so when I had started to
experience this I my own recovery, it was really important for me to be like, “Well is there anybody else out there?” When we get traumatized, meaning
any sort of life disruption that happens to us, that shakes the way we come to make meaning of our lives, it affects the brain, and a
part of the brain shuts down. One particular part of
the brain that shuts down is called Broca’s area. Okay, who gives a shit? Broca’s area is the language center, the place we turn to when we
want to actually put words to our experiences. When someone says, “Oh my God,
you’re going through pain. “Go talk to someone.” Talking isn’t enough. We can’t talk our way out of it, so what I bring in with
this kundalini yoga piece, was, “No, no guys, we have
to get into our bodies.” Trauma completely disconnects
us from our bodies, and trauma is energy that’s
been left in our body after we’ve been sucker punched by life. The hallmark of kundalini
yoga is the breath, and our breath is the gateway
into our nervous system, and to actually beginning
to connect and to feel. I look at it as really the
greatest and easiest way to come back to our senses, because most of us walk around numb. We have to because we’re so
afraid to feel the pain of life. What kundalini does,
it’s a really gentle way of accessing our body again, on our terms. What I love about kundalini yoga, is you don’t have to be
a hard bodied athlete. You don’t have to be this human pretzel, or like this crazy ashram
visiting, meditating yogi. All you need is your
breath, and a beating heart and some curiosity. We teach them through breath
just to be able to access these caverns of pain
that they’ve been denying. You slowly start to begin to feel again. I think we’re so afraid to feel. I mean all of us walk around
with these fine masks. You know we walk around,
and that’s what keeps us in the most amount of pain, is that any kind of
pain, any kind of trauma, it’s so lonely. We put on these fine masks. You run into someone and they’re like, “Hey, how are you?” “Oh my God I’m fine. “How are you doing?” “Fine, my family fine. “Me and my husband, we’re great, fine.” What does fine mean? Fucked up, insecure,
neurotic, and emotional. I honestly believe in my
Trauma to Dharma work, my hope with people is
that they take their pain, and the turn it into
purpose by realizing that, what is Dharma? It’s you living you, in perfectly you. Fully embracing all of who you are, and recognizing who you are is that missing piece in this world. If you can ultimately heal,
your healing has ripple effects. Your healing actually
offers hope to other people, and so we’re here to serve each other. We’re here to help each other. The two pillars of life is
connection and movement. We cannot live without
connecting to each other, and without connecting to ourselves, and without connecting to whatever your version of spirit is. We cannot survive without moving. Keep moving. I actually believe that
the mind was designed to be a servant to the body,
but we’ve allowed it to be… It’s like giving a four
year old keys to the car to some degree. I actually think the only
way to handle the mind is through the body. That’s why if somebody is depressed, meaning they’re barely even
connecting to their breath, and so their mind is
sluggish too, and heavy. we offer them a more fired up breath. You’ll notice people will
do like breath of fire. (sniffs loudly) We offer them that as a way
to sort of come back to life. The mind follows the breath. If someone is unbelievably anxious, the opposite side of the spectrum, we offer them a cooling breath, like inhale through the left nostril. Calming and cooling, and the breath slows
down the nervous system, which ultimately slows down the mind, and the crazy thoughts that spin. The beauty of the breath
is that it gives us space between ourselves and our thoughts. Then when we’ve got that space, and we’re actually able to recognize and witness our thoughts, then we’re able to say, wait if I’m paying attention to this, if I’m witnessing this,
then I’m not my thoughts. I’m not those addictive tendencies. I’m not that negative thought train. I’m the one paying attention. From there we can access
the greatest tool we have is choice, which is to
choose to see it differently. I think the best way to control
our anxiety and our fear is what I call the God pause. It’s literally what I say to
myself a million time a day because I’m still trying
to crack this nut, and that is, “Where are my feet? “Take a breath.” Because what does anxiety do? Anxiety future trips, or
catastrophizes this event, something that hasn’t happened, or it might be spinning about what was, and it can’t fix. Whether it’s depression or anxiety, it’s staling us from
the only thing we have, which is the present. So much of our pain and our traumas take tyranny over the
present, and the only way back into the present, to be
able to manage an anxious mind, or even a depressive state is
through being in the present, and that’s through the breath. My thing is always,
(sniffs) take a deep breath. Where are my feet? Oh my goodness, my feet are here. I’m here now, I’m not
there, and I’m not there.

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