Alternate Nostril Breathing is a simple, yet powerful, technique for centering and grounding yourself.
You breathe in one nostril and breathe out the other 10 times and then switch nostrils.
This is the hand position you use. The index and middle fingers are placed on your forehead, between your eyebrows – a location that is called your ‘third eye’. Your ring and pinky finger press one nostril, and your thumb alternately presses the other.
There are variations of alternate nostril breathing that you can find in books and on the internet. I am only going to present the one that I was taught and that I use.
Sit in a comfortable position; feet flat on the floor.
Place your right hand (you can use whichever hand you feel most comfortable using) on your nose, in the position shown above.
Close the left nostril with your ring and pinky finger and inhale through your right nostril.
Inhale deeply, and then cover your right nostril with your thumb and exhale slowly through your left nostril.
Switch back and cover your left nostril again in order to inhale through your right nostril and repeat this whole process 10 times.
After the 10th exhalation from your left nostril, instead of switching nostrils, now inhale through this same nostril while keeping your thumb pressed on your right nostril.
You are now beginning 10 inhalations through your left nostril and exhalations through your right nostril.
Try this for a week and see how you feel. It won’t take more than a few minutes to do. This is a great way to begin a meditation practice. Let me know how it goes!
Please watch this video before reading the rest of this post.
Do you often wonder what someone else’s ‘angle’ is, finding it difficult during a conversation to take things at face value? Or maybe you just feel lonely, not liked by many people. Perhaps there was some past trauma that has left you hypervigilant and unable to move forward. How often do we ‘look’ for things and ultimately find them? What is the likelihood of seeing something that we are not looking for?
I have worked with many people that count their personal slights; they look at and report on the number of times they have been ‘betrayed’. Often times, there is unhealed trauma that keeps perpetuating itself in various ways that appear to be unrelated to the original event(s). One is left with unrelenting sense of ungroundedness; fears, insecurities and inability to take risks due to a fundamental sense of lack of safety.
As in the video above, how often do you ‘count’ the number of times someone has wronged you; or how many times you have been hurt? The bigger question is, though, how often have you missed the ‘moon-walking bear’? How many times has a kind gesture gone unnoticed; an invitation to lunch left unanswered?
The root chakra – located at the base of the spine is the energetic center that holds our most basic survival needs: physical safety; financial stability; shelter. When our root chakra is clear, we feel stable, grounded, safe. We are able to venture out and take risks. When there are blockages, or ‘sanskaras’ – imprints left in our bodies from past experiences that impacted our basic sense of safety or stability – then we become, or remain, ungrounded, insecure or fearful. We may have physical problems in the general area of the root chakra or emotional problems stemming from the lack of groundedness such as depression or anxiety. The events that lead to PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – could also cause a disruption in the root chakra, especially if the individual is not able to or does not have the opportunity to process the trauma.
Talking about the past in therapy is a wonderful way of working through past trauma. It is a forum to work through difficult social interactions and the full range of emotional issues that stem from them. There are specific cognitive- behavioral interventions that help an individual move past their specific life events in order to live happier healthier lives. However, sometimes an individual can get stuck with the whirlpool of talking about their problems and remaining unable to move beyond this.
Sound healing can be a tool to help an individual move to the next level in their psychotherapy; give them that extra ‘oomph’ or insight into themselves that helps them along in their growth. Using toning; tuning forks and other sound healing tools – in meditation or with a sound healing practitioner – can help an individual heal and move forward.
A while back, the church I attend announced that it planned on raising 1.5 million dollars through it’s parishioners in order to give the church a makeover. My spouse immediately said ‘I’m going to get involved!’ and I thought to myself that this would be a waste of money as the church would never raise the needed money.
More recently, Marianne Williamson – an ‘internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer’ – announced she will be running for congress in her district in California. I love Marianne; I’ve read many of her books, attended her lectures; and think that it would be great if she could be elected to Congress. But then I thought: ‘she won’t get elected’; ‘the general public won’t go for her’. I read some of her website, there were some parts in her FAQ’s that I felt were a little awkward; so again, I pondered that maybe she was putting energy into a losing battle; ‘she’ll feel bad if she loses’. I read some of the comments, and already there were some haters posting ridiculous statements.
Sometimes I look at the comments section of Youtube videos, or of articles that I read and there are always haters commenting, no matter what the topic – sometimes important, divisive topics; and at other times quite innocuous topics. A few years back, I had posted a Youtube video that I had taken while on an airplane whose wings were being ‘de-iced’. I put the video to music and posted it. It was innocuous enough for me that I could post it, I wasn’t putting something dear to me online – but still, there were hater comments. I’ve wondered about the haters that have time to post toxic commentaries online, and I wonder who they are in their ‘real’ lives. But then, I don’t really have to look too far, because I have my own little hater.
The church placed this fundraising thermometer with their goal amount. I was embarrassed for the church, that they would set themselves up for such a major disappointment. As the weeks passed, slowly but surely the red marker kept rising. Eventually, and this didn’t take a long time either, it reached it’s goal and then surpassed it. I was stunned, and I felt it was a lesson learned. The church benefited by having many people who were like my spouse – they took the leap of faith and put their money where their mouth is.
I don’t know if Marianne Williamson will win, nobody knows that. But she is taking that leap and doing what she feels called to do. It is a major leap, that won’t be easy – but what is life, if not for the leaps?
All of these negative thoughts I have – about the church’s inability to raise money; how they’ll embarass themselves; how Marianne will be disappointed to have put herself out there – are comments that I make to myself. My projections. I am my own little hater. Statements that are preemptive strikes to any action that I may desire to take. ‘this is stupid’ ‘people won’t understand’ ‘nobody would buy that’ ‘it’s not good enough’ ‘I’m not an artist’ ‘I don’t know enough’.
Do you have a little hater? How does your little hater stop you in your tracks; slow you down; make you doubt yourself?
Working with music and sound in therapeutic ways is something that I am feeling called to do. In doing this work, I have to bring in all of me. I do have something to offer despite being imperfect. As this blog evolves; as I evolve – I hope that you will be able to get something that you could use for your own personal growth and healing.
Just being playful, really, I don’t really know if this band or the lyricist was thinking about chakras when they wrote this, but in listening to the lyrics I found it to be a fun association and a way of beginning a discussion about chakras.
The word ‘chakra’ is Sanskrit for ‘wheel’ or ‘spinning’. There are varying levels of energy vortices within our bodies that supply us with vitality. C.W. Leadbeater wrote about chakras in the early 1900’s, and he stated that the physical body needs 3 things to be alive: 1) food 2) air and 3 ) vitality – energy that comes from Universal Life Force, or prana. The chakras are energy centers that process this vitality that we both take in and give out.
Abraham Maslow wrote about ‘hierarchy of needs’ which describe a human beings’ motivation which influences action. There are similarities between the chakras and the hierarchy of needs. The need for safety and basic needs being met comes first; followed by need for friendship and intimacy and followed by more spiritual needs and need for self-actualization.
The hierarchy of needs theory postulates that the fulfilment of these needs goes in one direction: Safety and basic needs first, then comes social and lastly, self-actualization and spiritual needs. The assumption is that you are not going to pursue higher-level needs if your basic needs are not met. Often, in chakra work, the goal has been to ‘rise above’ the first 3 chakras connected to physical and social needs and develop the more esoteric ‘higher level’ chakras such as the intuitive ‘third eye’ and the spiritual ‘crown chakra’. All of the chakras however are important to acknowledge and work on. The chakra energetic system is a ‘two way street’, there is both an energy flow up from root to crown, as well as an energy flow down the chakras, from crown to root. Our sense of safety and financial stability definitely enables us to more easily develop a social and spiritual life. On the other hand, our spiritual life, our value system, our sense of compassion and sense of purpose also greatly support and influence the choices that we make to increase our sense of safety and who we align ourselves with in relationships and friendships.
Our experiences throughout life are recorded energetically in our chakras. Our life events impact the openness and the energetic spin of our chakras: We feel perpetually unsafe; our heart is closed to loving kindness; we don’t speak our true mind.
This brings me back to the song at the top of this page. ‘talk about your troubles and you never learn’. When the chakras’ energy is not aligned due to past events; talking about it does not change the energetic spin of the chakra. Talking about it can even become a negative mantra: repeating over and over the negative events that you have found traumatizing without making any behavioral changes. Others repeatedly try to avoid talking about critical events, that despite the avoidance, keep ‘leaking’ out into their behavior or emotional state.
This is where alternative healing techniques that work directly with the chakras energetically become helpful.
The work that I do individually with clients is to facilitate entering into an altered state of awareness. Initially, I use tuning forks in Reiki hand positions to help in relaxation as well as using the actual sound vibrations to as a way to remove blocks and work energetically on the chakras- a form of chakra massage. Energetic blocks are released. Insights or memories that were previously inaccesible become known. This is not the end, only the beginning. To be continued…
The chakras are represented by the seven colors of the rainbow: red – orange – yellow – green – blue – indigo – violet. As one goes up the ‘shushumna’ through the chakras, there is an increasing energy level, an increasing vibration just as the colors of the rainbow increase in their vibration as they move from red to violet.
Categorizing the above colors and sounds into 7 elements is essentially creating artificial boundaries and limiting what is really an infinitely vast spectrum of light and sound. It is a simplified way of conceptualizing the energy work that is being done and it is intended to help develop a beginning understanding of sound healing.
All your experiences in life are stored energetically in your body. Memories can be triggered through one of the 5 senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, or auditory. The impact of life events can alter our energetic power centers – our chakras. Our heart closes; our mind does not learn new things; our sense of safety is perpetually awry. We can have an intellectual understanding of our past life events (through therapy, or self-help groups and other forms of healing), but often times, these experiences remain ‘stuck’ within our bodies – the energetic misalignment of chakras remains the same.
I like to call the soundwork that I do ‘chakra massage’. It does not involve an actual physical massage, but rather an energetic massage through the use of the monochord and energy work through my hands.