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|In Consultation - Page 2|
When she has that image or the word peace in her heart's mind (60 percent of the cells in our heart are identical to the cells in our brain), here's how I lead it: "Inhale while you extend your arms out in front of your solar plexus (your abdomen) for the count of 4. Hold the breath for 4 counts and see that soothing image, or think the word peace in your heart's mind, your mind's heart. Exhale through the nostrils for a count of 6, drawing your hands to your solar plexus." We might repeat the gesture and breath 3 times, and then do another 3 rounds, but this time, drawing the hands to the heart. While holding the breath, I might verbalize a mantra like "I am that." This is the English translation of the Sanskrit Tat tvam asi. When I use it, I'm suggesting that there's no separation between that image of serenity and peace and the client herself.
Once your client is settled and relaxed, you can introduce a breath like stairstep breath (anuloma karma) to clear away the tensions of the day. This involves short sips of breath to fill the lungs, followed by a long slow exhale. You can add a brief 4-count retention, during which you guide your client to envision an image for calm strength, or silently to repeat a calming, soothing, or self-empowering phrase. I resist the impulse to provide the phrase, but I work with my client to allow the affirmation (sankalpa) to arise from the calm state of mind—his natural state of being when the accumulated tensions have been dissolved with his breathing practice. The coaching may come in helping him revise his phrase from future to present tense. So, for example, instead of "May I be calm and clear-minded," he might say, "I am calm and clear-minded." Or if his chaotic mind resists what sounds false in that moment, you might inquire if the phrase "clarity breathes through me now," feels more authentic.
Many clients and students come to therapy or to yoga class in bodies they've disowned. Life has taught them that it's safer to live from the neck up. Without saying "It's safe here" (because the mind might argue against such a notion), the therapist can create, with a few yogic strategies, a sanctuary of safety where clients can begin to sense their bodies again and reoccupy the disowned parts of themselves. Therapists who can teach their clients techniques to self-soothe and manage their moods aren't only empowering them to take control of their lives, but creating a firm alliance and a haven for recovery.
One of the greatest gifts yoga offers someone absorbed in depression, or mulling over a story yet again, is the opportunity to be present to pure sensation. In that moment, the story doesn't exist. Yogic practices absorb the mind in sensation, providing a window into moments of tranquility, when the identification with victimhood or the fusing with the mood is dropped. There's neither resistance nor striving. The fog of depression dissolves, even if fleetingly at first, in the light of the present moment. And you can give your client a glimpse of this feeling of well-being right in the consultation room.
Amy Weintraub, M.F.A, E.R.Y.T, the author of Yoga for Depression, leads LifeForce Yoga Practitioner trainings for mental health professionals around the world. Contact: email@example.com; www.yogaforde pression.com. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you'll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.