Suzanne and Shakta at Happily Ever Now training
I am a clinical social worker with a Master’s from Columbia University, as well as a certified yoga teacher. I began doing yoga and meditation twenty years ago, first with Hatha and then Kundalini Yoga. That was when my practice shifted and felt much deeper and spiritual. I also did Post-Graduate Training for five years at the School of the Healing Arts which was all about energy work/chakras and extensive meditation. In 2013, I spent three months in India in an Ashram in 2013. That experience was incredibly life-transforming, and has become a way of life for me so that each morning I have a disciplined yoga and meditation practice.
My daily practice is a very sacred, precious time for me and really sets my day, every day, in a deeply loving and meaningful way. My practice has helped to retrain my mind. I am much more present, positive, fears have been replaced with gratitude and I feel a level of inner peace, freedom and joy, which is my authentic true self.
A few years ago, I was searching to find a Yoga Certification Program that was as deep and authentic as my experience in India was, and I found it in Radiant Child Yoga.
When I first heard the concept of “Differently-Abled” in Radiant Child Yoga, I was blown away by the way it honors ALL ways of doing things. Then when Shakta and Allison said; “What can these children teach me? I have so much to learn from them.”, I immediately felt inspired. It was a WOW moment for me – this language sounded respectful, kind. compassionate, hopeful and positive.
I was recently asked to consult on a case involving a six-year-old boy, Jackson, who has been in treatment for two years to no avail. As per the Therapist, his symptoms and behaviors have not improved. He was hyperactive, unable to focus on tasks, very distracted, often in an anxious frame of mind. He was put on several medications, again to no avail. Nothing was working. Both parents work long hours, and he had a pretty hectic life.
I tuned in prior to my first session using Ong, Namo, Guru Dev, Namo, as we do in Kundalini Yoga. After I introduced myself to Jackson and we briefly spoke, we sat on the floor and immediately connected. He was drawn to my energy in a very playful but not hyper way, in a trusting way. Focusing on his vestibular and proprioceptive systems (for balance and grounding), we started doing the washing machine movement, and then I wrapped Jackson in a bundle roll wrap which he loved. Then we did balance poses together: Eagle pose and Tree Pose. In between each pose we did Balloon Breath.
When we did the SA TA NA MA meditation, I sensed a calming that came over Jackson, and I wanted to see if he noticed it too. I asked if he noticed the shift in his energy, and to describe what it felt like. He joyfully smiled and said: “I like this–let’s do more!” We did the meditation a few more times and then moved to the wall. Jackson put his legs up on the wall with his feet flat. I put a stuffed animal on his feet for balance, and he closed his eyes and lied there still for a few minutes. Then he did Bridge pose lying on the ground. These poses were grounding because of the pressure they gave to the proprioceptors in the body. They seemed really effective in stabilizing his mood.
I then had him go into a long, deep relaxation. To end, we did the Kundalini yoga ending song, Longtime Sunshine. And after that, he came right over to me and hugged me.
I assessed that the reason why Jackson was not responding to psychotropic medications is because his behavior was not necessarily chemical—he was responding in a negative way to the dynamics of what was going on at home, and the lack of attention he’s getting. Jackson had learned that negative attention is better than no attention at all. After the yoga, I asked him read a page from a book he was reading and summarize it for me. Jackson was calm, attentive and was able to concentrate and in a comprehensive, concrete way explained what he read point by point. The therapist and his mother were amazed and delighted with the result, and they’ve asked me to continue with Jackson, and speak with the psycho-pharmacologist as well.
I am finding the Radiant Child philosophy and tools to be making my work so much more meaningful. This particular case is just a microcosm of what’s going on in our culture with how psychiatry diagnoses and treat our children.
If I can make a difference in one child’s life, my hope is that it can start shifting the way clinicians approach their work when it comes to children. Let’s keep the “wave” going!