Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa – Interview @ Wellness Day 2011
Gurmukh is an internationally recognized expert on Kundalini Yoga and meditation. It was our honor to hear her speak on the topic of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation as they relate to Wellness in the Treatment of Addiction.
Please bookmark our YouTube Channel and keep checking back here often. Many innovative minds in the recovery world were interviewed at this year’s event and footage is being rolled out gradually over the coming weeks to the greater community.
Transcripts and links to the remainder of Gurmukh’s interview are available below:
QUESTION 01 – Tell us a little about you and what you do? (link to video)
My name is Gurmukh in Sanskrit, which is a very ancient language in India. It means one who takes thousands of people across the world’s ocean. So that’s basically my destiny. Everybody has name and their name gives them their destiny so I will be taking people across the world ocean. That’s what I do.
QUESTION 02 – How did you get in to the field of recovery? (link to video)
I was addictive but I didn’t know I was because in the 60’s everyone was. And when we took LSD and we took lots of stuff we just thought we were doing it to find god and we didn’t think anything was wrong with us. I still don’t think anything was wrong with us we just did it and then I found this path when I was 27years old after 6 or 7 years of this. And I look back on it I can see how I had certain patterns and through the grace of God they got broken and then I saw through the technology of Kundalini yoga and mediation how it could take people out of addiction. But just when you are out of addiction your brain still doesn’t work very well. You are still fuzzy wuzzy because it takes 7 years to get the drugs out of your system and Kundalini yoga could align you much faster and give you direction and keep you from falling back on old patterns you have to have a pattern of life and if you don’t have this pattern what is going to replace it and that is where Kundalini yoga and meditation transformed me and now other people
QUESTION 03 – What do you think are some of the more important innovations or new knowledge in the field of treatment? (link to video)
I think bringing yoga meditation and good food in. So much after an AA meeting everyone goes out and puffs away and eats donuts and drinks coffee. Now that’s a first step. They are not using. They had to jump to something but coffee donuts and cigarettes isn’t going to do it either. You can become diabetic. You have to go in steps. Some place like ONE80 gives them the grounds and the means to create a menu that’s tasty and good and helps them to detox their body of the drugs so they don’t even want it. We ran a rehab center back in the 70’ss. And it was an amazing center. I ended up in Tucson. And we used all the yogi technology. We used cold water and hydrotherapy, juices with herbs and lots of yoga and all kinds of things to take them though the withdrawal and then to replace that which brought them to that place. I think giving them good food that is probably one of the biggest new things and one80 does it. You can’t just give them ham and ribs and think they are going to get well because it just poisons them. There are a lot of things that can keep a person not only off but also healthy and happy.
QUESTION 04 – What wellness activities do you incorporate in to your treatment on clients? (link to video)
Once again diet. Also we like to align ourselves with 12 step and make sure they have all those needs met like a support system and a sponsor. And then we talk to them about eating foods that will rebuild them. Things that grow under the ground and low to the ground ie: more vegetables to alkaline the body. That’s really important and then often times I will have them fill out a form and I ask them what is going on with their lives and I come up with a specific 11 minute meditation that can help them get over a heart break, help them with anger or fear. These can help them with any condition. The neat thing is that have to do it for 40 days. There is a victory when you do something for 40 days. You can’t explain it until you have done it. It’s courageous, it creates new habits, self discipline. If you miss on the 35th day, then day 36th is day number one again. And there is something about repitition that can change the mindset. It is a simple 11 minutes like that. I think being with people is very important. People that are on the same page. I think the 12 steps is one of the most honorable things that has happened on the planet in the last 500 years. More and more people are getting the 11th step and they say ‘ok there has to be something more’ and they come and often times they find yoga because that gives them the spiritual aspect and then they want to teach it. Always turning around and helping others that are worse off than you are. That is why being a sponsor is so important. We go in to many rehab centers, prisons, runaway kids shelters, anywhere that people are longing back for themselves and because yoga is the breath that is our comminality.
QUESTION 05 – How does your recovery impact the way you work? (link to video)
I know that my happiness is helping people but not being a martyr. I met a lot of people that are martyrs. Their lives are going to the dogs, they are unhealthy. They are just surviving so they can help the world. That’s not it either. It has to be a full circle of self-love. People ask me “you travel all over the world on and off airplanes how do you do it?” I take care of myself because I like to take care of myself and I know if I take care of myself I have more energy to take care of other people. It’s like a full circle. Its like if you have a car and you got to take kids to school. You are not going to let your car be totally filthy dirty not having get it checked out get in accidents so it’s a big tin of junk. You take care of it so you can drive other people around. You take care of your car so you can take care of other people.
QUESTION 06 What do you believe are some holistic ways that can beneficially supplement more traditional ways of treatment for addiction towards a positive outcome? (link to video)
I think an important part is Sava or what one80 is doing now with helping other people and I think having the program with Gettlove is really really good. I’ve been involved with many different centers in LA for many years now. they can really become self serving and they can really become an occupation for people. They just hop from one rehab to another and somebody pays for it. I’ve always said the people who have the hardest life on this planet are trust babies because they never have to pay the rent. And some of the greatest people were people that were orphaned off the streets, people that had to go through a lot to become a whole person. So I think denying them the opportunity to serve out side of self-serving is so important. I think its one of the biggest keys for healing. My teacher would say, if you are hungry go find someone hungrier than you. If you are depressed than go find someone more depressed than you. I often send people to Gettlove or go down and collect socks for the homeless lets do this project. We have a million projects going on. Raising money for India and the orphanages. And people that are really bummed out about they go do it and they get a job or their relationships get resolved. But these people that are just about themselves and their addiction, I don’t think it works. Live for each other not at each other.
QUESTION 07 – What do you think abut the role of nutrition in early recovery? (link to video)
It is so so important. The poor liver is crying the kidney is. All the organs. That is why we always use a lot of beets. We do beet juice and ginger and lots of ayurvedic herbs to help and try save their body from acidity which is what alcolohism and drugs do back to alkaline which makes you feel whole and here it makes you feel not all shaky and out of sorts. And when we use to detox people in Tucson through hydrotherapy and water, half cold water and through juices and through lots and lots of massage and lots of yoga and lots of breath. Many went through it and did not have the withdrawals that other people would have in regular institutions such as with heroin and we didn’t do methadone or anything. They really went cold turkey. But because we had such a modality of how we were doing it and the love and it wasn’t in a hospital setting. It was in a cozy setting out in the desert. At one point in the 70’s we had the highest rate of getting off and staying off because we offered them another way to live. Another real way to live. But if these people that are so longing to belong such as myself had just continues my narcissistic life. I would be alive be today. I would have gotten back on drugs and overdosed.
QUESTION 08 – What are your thoughts on incorporating a better understanding a better understanding of wellness as it relates to the treatment of addiction within the field of treatment professionals? (link to video)
I think little by little it is happening. I think its happening in the medical world even though they don’t want to because they are so bought out by all their marketing and sponsorship and everything else and all the junk food and everything from McDonalds. It is such a joke. McDonalds serves poison and gives kids cancer and then they have a kid’s cancer hospital. I’m just praying that people starting in the medical world, starting in the rehab world and the therapy world, start taking care of themselves. Its like, if you have a diesel and you put in regular gas. The car just doesn’t work right! How can we think if we are eating McDonalds or hamburgers and it has steroids and hormones and growth hormones that we are going to stay well? People are starting to put 2 and 2 together and even in medicine and I think little by little we are going to advance and I saw it here today at the open house at one80. All these people interested in changed modalities, because of what they have seen in the past. We went from shock treatment to where we are now. How about talking? How about feeding people organic whole and live food grown in your area? Those are the four elements and then, “bang” you are alive and well because you are doing what people used to do before you could fly in blueberries from New Zealand!
QUESTION 09 – What do you think are the most important wellness related components for a clients recovery and why? (link to video)
I think in an environment where people can love that person unconditionally. Where punishment is not part of it or guilt. I think being able to talk, read, learn to meditate, be given really good food and walking. I think learning to practice and praying, finding a bigger course than yourself. All that stuff is so important to become whole again And to know that for some people, they may go in and out for a bunch of times and it may not be until they are 50 years old, maybe 20 or maybe their first time they enter a rehab that it works. And for the people working in the rehab to be not attached to outcome. To know they are there to serve. And if a person leaves and goes back ,your arms are still open for them again. Because sometime, somewhere with prayers, before they take their last breath, and that separation, that gap between their mind and their soul will become one.
QUESTINON 10 – What are some exercises you use in your practice to promote healing from damage due to drug and alcohol abuse? (link to video)
Well I think a really good one that we teach internationally now because it is so easy for people to do, is to just take your hands like this and press your thumb and index finger really strong, five pounds of pressure and then your thumb and your middle finger and your thumb and your ring finger and your thumb and your baby finger and then go back and do the index and so on. First is a sound. You just close your eyes and you say “saaa” second is “taa” third is “naa” fourth is “maa”and then go back to the index finger and you would do that 26 times or 54 times or 108 times. Say you’re in a meeting and you start getting all frustrated and angry and you’re going to lose it and your mind is thinking “I need something” Just do it underneath the table. No one even needs to know you are doing it. Even if you don’t say it out loud. Or when you are home every morning, it sets your day because it balances the four regions of your brain. 26 times can do it. Or lets just say happy hour is coming and you get a little like that (makes an anxious face). You just sit there and do it. At your car, your desk, in other words you have got to nip it in the bud. When the mind starts scrolling you got to nip it in the bud. I’ve taught so many people this and I’ve watched it work every time.