Kundalini Yoga for Depression and Addiction

Many addictions start in the teens as an attempt to escape from uncomfortable feelings. Since drugs have a numbing effect some addicts show a lack of emotional maturity stemming from a ‘freezing’ of their emotional development from this time.

Yoga postures and deep breathing allow feelings to flow again. For those that are ready to rehabilitate (re-habit themselves) Kundalini yoga is a very effective tool. Ironically there is usually a lot of resistance to a regular yoga practice because as blocks are released so are the subconscious, irrational fears that put them there in the first place.

An addict may have to reach ‘rock bottom’ before they are open to change. This means they have to pass through their depression to rediscover the life impulse that was suppressed in childhood.

Since low self-esteem is often the trigger and maintainer of addiction this is where the particular package of yoga, mantra and meditation can be so helpful.

Society’s message is that we are somehow incomplete and need to add more things to our lives. The yogic message is that you are complete as you are. We have just lost touch with our deeper self. Healing is a process of remembering who you really are. This is initiated and maintained by what you stop doing (stopping drinking, smoking, drugs, eating unhealthy food, going to bed too late etc.)

The 5 Reasons for Any Disease

We are made up of 5 Tattwas or Elements; earth, water, fire, air and ether which correspond with wilfulness/lust, greed, anger, pride and attachment. The elements are responsible for projecting our passions and our attitudes. We cannot escape the primal drives evoked by the passions, they are a big part of what makes us human, but we can channel them for positive ends. This is called turning emotion into devotion. In David Shannoff Khalsa’s book Kundalini Yoga for complex psychiatric disorders (p326) he writes “When any of these five factors (passions) is excessive or inappropriately expressed, there is a consequence in the mind. This consequence is eventually expressed in the body in the form of what we call disease. Therefore, the diseases that we commonly acknowledge today are all actually symptomatic of an imbalance in a previous or current state of consciousness, which can include the karmas of a previous lifetime. On a spiritual plane, there is a purpose and a destiny, or fate for each individual soul. These symptomatic diseases are learning experiences for that host individual.”

The 5 Levels of Healing

The 5 Levels of Healing

There are 5 levels to healing and though healing on one level can trigger healing on another it helps to be aware of their differences. The most profound healing happens when all levels are addressed.

(1) Healing at the earth and mineral level. This includes remembering our soul nature and healing the split between mind and soul. Calling on the universal soul through the Guru or whatever other name you give to focusing your intention to let the soul speak to the mind is relevant here. This is where the most stubborn resistance to healing is usually found.

Ultimately the soul does not need to be healed, untouched as it is by all the changes we go through, calmly waiting for us to come back to our original unborn state of complete wholeness. However the separation we all feel from this state of wholeness and the longing we have to return to it is the method to get there! The other levels have limitations in this regard.

(2) Healing at the organic (water) level including diet, herbs and management of energy. Many of the ways we try to manage our energy through alternative medicine falls into this category.

(3) Healing at the animal level (fire), including replacing bad habits with good ones, what Yogi Bhajan called ‘demoting ’ and ‘promoting’ habits. Our dharma and discipline is what counts in training the mind. Sometimes, some of us may feel the need to call on friends, family or counselling/psychotherapy for help, which is natural, but this inevitably involves transference and it is worth remembering; ‘discipline is your best friend’(YB)

(4) Healing at the human level, healing through your touch and your presence. This includes the recognition that we all have a wound and that the wounds of love need love to heal them. Sangat (a spiritual community) is important in this regard and provides an uplifting and non-judgemental holding space.

(5) Healing through balance; for example, overcoming cycles of stress and exhaustion. The autonomic nervous system is central in this. As mentioned our stress levels are determined by what in our external environment we place importance on. Ultimately we are continually choosing ‘Who am I? and Who do I choose to be? in relationship to everyone and everything. The way we talk to ourselves and those around us and how we interpret incoming messages puts the word and listening at the centre. Mantra and shabd (the sound that cuts the ego) clean the mind to establish a new vibration so that we relate to ourselves and our environment in compassionate and effective ways. Sacred sound is the highest form of healing.

An interesting thing to note here is that there are many claims made for healing at the 2nd level through holistic health practitioners. Thankfully most people don’t expect to be completely healed by visiting a health practitioner and in general there are usually two outcomes; the most stubborn health issue/s (usually one or two) don’t ever completely resolve however long you have treatment for and however many practitioners you try. Despite this because the flow of energy improves so does your overall energy and some other symptoms. So, for example you feel less tired, your digestion and sleep improve and you feel better overall even though the original complaint, that bugs you the most, does not ever really resolve. These are often issues that run in a family, and so run deep in the genes (in other words at soul level). Some people therefore conclude that holistic medicine does not work. For others they are happy to enjoy the often unexpected benefits of other things improving.