A recent study has found that repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is effective in treating depression. The results showed that the majority of patients experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, with some even achieving complete remission. Read More.

Yoga and Addiction

Therapist, Yogi, and Reiki Master Lisa Shaefer, LSW, LICDC-CS, RYT-200 from Carve Your Own Path, here in Copley, discusses yoga and addiction with nurse anesthetist Nick Angelis, MSN, CRNA. There’s a continuum in mental health between simple movement and posh inpatient rehab retreat facilities. As we continue to delve deep into spiritual topics on Ascend Health Show at the Wadsworth Community Television studio, common threads emerge. You’ll recall our last guest, Sonic Shaman, today’s energy practitioner, or, for our next show, a Christian trauma counselor from our friends at Renew Counseling Ministries.

Yoga and Addiction

There are plenty of yoga studios in Fairlawn, Akron, and for that matter plenty of rehab facilities, like our friends Safe Harbor in Norton. Lisa and Nick talk about practical movement tips anyone can use to help center themselves and understand their behavior. What do you think? Transcript below.

I’m one of the owners of Ascend Health Center and I’m a nurse anesthetist and today we have Lisa Schaefer who is with carve your own path she’s a therapist she’s a licensed independent chemical dependency counselor she is a Reiki master and she’s a yogi welcome to the show

thank you Nick thanks for having me here

did I say all the things

you said all the things perfectly yes

if I should have written those down but that’s fine
that’s okay so we’re going to talk about
yoga and addiction which don’t really
have much to do with each other but
we’ll try to make it fit and do some
segues and analogies and Transitions
and see how it goes but starting with a
topic of addiction
there’s a troubled teen industry that
we’re both familiar with it’s probably
billions of dollars in the US hey my
kids acting up here’s some money fix
them so why can’t we just send troubled
people to rehab centers and call it a
day because I mean they call my clinic
all the time telling me hey if anybody
needs to go to Florida or to remote
places in Ohio just send them in we’ll
fix them so why yoga
so that’s a really interesting question
and I will do my very best to interweave
and show how they’re very connected
because what we know about the research
right now is that addiction comes from
disconnect so when we are looking for
connection we want to bring in the
family we want to bring in parents and
bring about that connection for
everybody and then with the individual
we want them to connect to their
intuition and not have to feel as though
they need to seek outside of themselves
to find Comfort to find peace even to
find connection that makes sense so it’s
more of empowering I know when we first
start our Clinic I had the idea that it
would almost be an ER for mental health
and we still can be that for pain where
if patients have a flare-up of
fibromyalgia they’ll call and schedule
an appointment and we’ll do a ketamine
infusion but then I quickly realized
that for mental health
it doesn’t work that way it can’t be
like hey this is a bad day can I come in
and get fixed that I mean it sounds
great from like a business standpoint we
were talking before the show about how
Insurance Works where the whole system
is meant to keep patients coming back
and back and each time we build their
insurance and this is never-ending
promise of incremental Improvement until
their benefits run out or something but
instead with yoga you’re saying it’s
something that the patient themselves
can control it’s an inward thing yeah
and I think you know bringing up
medication medication is appropriate at
times and some people absolutely need
medication to help manage whatever their
symptomology is however if you have a
person who’s depressed and they’re
continuing to do behaviors that keep
them in that depressed state they can
take as much Wellbutrin or what other
medication that they’re taking and it’s
only going to offer so much relief
whereas when we go Inward and we look
get what are those triggers or we look
at what are the things that I’m not
doing for self-care so you know halts
hungry angry lonely tired is very
known within the addiction world of you
know I’m checking these things off to
make sure you know what am I not giving
my body that it needs and so have you
had water today and you know maybe it’s
you’re dehydrated or maybe you haven’t
eaten and you know maybe you’re tired
because you didn’t sleep well the night
before and you know goodness sakes if we
have at least three of those things of
you know then we’re feeling disconnected
from ourselves and from other people
especially and you know those famous
Snicker commercials right where it was
like you’re acting kind of out of sorts
so you know eat something but you know
doing those basic things again honoring
your intuition and honoring you know
what your body needs and doing the
things that aren’t always the easy fixes
or aren’t always the easiest
thing to do especially when we talk
about like setting boundaries with
people and setting boundaries with that
impulse control
well that makes sense because that’s
something I’ve had to tell my patients
that hey there’s a few ways that we can
probably help you I doubt any of them
are easy and I doubt any of them are
instantaneous and usually if it is
instantaneous it also doesn’t last long
because you know one of the things we do
are ketamine infusions and there’s cases
where a patient has one infusion and
everything changes and that’s actually
when we’re the most like no actually you
really need to follow this up with
therapy because a whole identity change
when you have all these subconscious
behaviors that sometimes try to protect
your brain from trauma like this is
something that we have to explore not
just okay I’m better thank you Jesus
let’s go because speaking of the whole
uh so last night I went to this church
meeting it’s like a marriage conference
and they’re talking about there’s a
Bible verse that says let not the sun go
down on your anger and like oops that’s
true but sometimes you’re not going to
solve it late at night when you’re tired
and angry and in the morning it’s
usually it’s like oh that wasn’t as big
of a deal
so even with the drinking water like you
can’t get into trouble while you’re just
stopping to drink water you know you
can’t text someone something you
shouldn’t while you’re also drinking
because you’ll get water on your phone
and it’s just going to be a mess yeah
and I think you know looking at
unfortunately our culture which is that
you know keeping up with the Joneses you
know that that drives this addictive
nature and the need for immediate
gratification well there is zero
mindfulness in any of that so if I’m
always planning for the next thing I’m
not sitting here tapping into my body
using My Five Senses you know
um seeing the things that are around me
hearing the things that are within the
scope of my environment you know what
can I smell how does how do the clothes
on my body feel you know we get up every
day and I’m sure you probably had some
thoughts about the outfit that you chose
to wear today but you know do we pick
things with intention you know because
we like the way that it feels against
our skin or it’s a comfort item you know
one of the things that I love about
working from home is I have my therapy
blanket over my legs you know so that I
can kind of wrap up when I’m chilly and
you know regulate my own temperature in
those moments and so again like what are
the intentions and how do we tap into
our five senses and yoga is the perfect
place for that to happen in and on your
mat okay that makes sense so in some
ways is it almost like a healthy
regression to Childhood so my
three-year-old niece she’ll she used to
just cry and scream like toddlers do but
my brother and sister-in-law are very
wise and they taught her like stop for a
minute think of what you need so she’ll
get tired and then she’ll be
blanky and so she’ll get her blanket and
she’ll start calling with it and she’ll
think I can see her like mine working
like do I need something else
to see be and they’ll give her a
pacifier and she’s fine yeah so I’m like
oh I I need to do this yeah and and I
think that’s a really great example as
well because at a very early age she’s
being taught how to identify her
feelings how to identify what she needs
as being told you don’t have anything to
cry about
um you know you can’t cry because you’re
a boy or you’re out in public and you
know kind of making a mess at Target
because that’s the Barbie or the toy
that you want and now you’re having a
meltdown about why you can’t have what
you want yeah well it’s really good so
we should like distribute blankets to
everyone yeah is it so is it more the
philosophy of yoga or the movement that
you think helps the most I mean I know
it’s all intertwined like yeah it is all
intertwined and I and I don’t think that
I could pick out one or the other
because when we’re looking at trauma and
how it’s stored in the body then when we
are in movement we’re releasing those
synapses those stored memories and so
that we can release it
um and that’s not to say that like for
example somebody who does then have an
autoimmune disorder like fibromyalgia
which they’ll have flare-ups and you
know it’s again kind of having that
intuition of what helps my body and then
when I do have these
increase in symptoms what can I do
that’s going to give me the most relief
right and that makes sense because we do
a lot of pain management and some of
nurse anesthetists and it’s difficult
because you know medical director’s
psychiatrists my nurse practitioners is
trained in Psychiatry so we think well
how are we going to do this if this is
just a pain problem and there’s no
mental health related but what we found
is probably about 75 percent of those
patients actually don’t treat their pain
I’ll start with a ketamine infusion
which is a lot like EMDR where it forces
you to see trauma it rips away any
facade that you have in your life and
then a lot of anxiety and depression
will manifest and we realize no we need
to work on this that if we can prevent
you from catastrophizing your pain if
know how to react to it and your whole
body doesn’t go in Red Alert as soon as
you feel twins of pain then you’re
actually much better off and obviously
that the treatment’s also shorter and a
little bit easier if we’re giving
smaller dosages and if we’re like no we
Must Destroy every fiber of pain in your
body and so I’ve had patients where like
you know what this hasn’t helped my pain
but I’m actually good like my anxiety
that I didn’t even know I had is better
my depression is better so let me work
on this and then I’ll let you know if I
need to come back to deal with the pain
yeah and I think that kind of
recognizing the Bittersweet in that that
we’re all going to experience pain
physically pain emotionally and how do
we walk through that because even people
who are recovering opiate addicts who
have a very low tolerance for pain
afterwards like how do you cope with
that when you stub your toe and it feels
like you really broke your foot and I
don’t want to diminish that experience
from someone but how do we talk
ourselves through that experience so
that it doesn’t become a trigger to Old
behaviors right and that is something
that works for everyone because I’ve
done some talk with churches about do
you need Jesus or xanax which is a
really fascinating tangent that we won’t
quite go down today but a lot of times
that’s the feeling of like this hurts so
bad what can I do or this is so
overwhelming and it is easy to like
reach out for a pill or reach out for
substance especially if your brain
already has an ingrained that okay
here’s a stimulation here’s the way I
deal with it but what you’re saying is
if you have a philosophy of let me
understand these feelings and deal with
them and just sit with them for a minute
then you’re less likely to just react
and immediately try to take the pain
away regardless of the consequence yeah
because cravings and triggers pass
know they don’t last a long time if we
don’t feed into the thought processes
that are part of that right so that’s
where you know DBT CBT EMDR those kinds
of therapeutic modalities can kind of come
in and help redesign the way that we think about
um our experiences and then how that
trauma kind of comes back up when we are
so that curve your own path how do you
make that decision because I know you
guys have a lot of different modalities
that’s why we like to work together but
and part of this is what you were saying
about even the patients they have to
realize okay there is going to be some
work involved
um so how do you go down that path of
okay let’s start with CBT or we really
need to work on this trauma through EMDR
and for some of our viewers like well
that’s a lot of acronyms I’ve never
heard before so maybe a little bit more
basic of like how do you start yeah it’s
you know we have our profiles online
we’re on a mental health match
Psychology today and so you know someone
who’s choosing a therapy can kind of
read and see what we’re about they can
visit our website and then you know
through our consultation you know I
try to tell and encourage people that
you know they’re coming to me as a
resource not to be the expert on their
life and that’s something that I’ve held
very true
um ever since I’ve started you know
being a therapist is that no one can be
an expert on your life but you and so
that’s really where the empowerment
comes in and meeting people where they
are just because they’ve called and
they’ve made the appointment and done
the assessment doesn’t always
necessarily mean that they’re really
ready to kind of dig in deep to do the
work too and so it’s kind of really just
chipping and peeling away those layers
of defense mechanisms that have kept
them safe but continue to keep them sick
that makes a lot of sense because
we’ll do the TMS or sometimes the
bravado ketamine for addiction but in
many cases we tell the patient like no I
this is a deep problem and we need to
chip away at this slowly instead of
starting this medication right away
let’s do some therapy get more of an
insight into what’s going on because
unless the patients themselves can
really figure out what am I feeling and
how can I explain this to someone it’s
almost like we’re veterinarians trying
to like okay the cat meow that way so
this must be the problem and we have to
treat it that way and especially with
complex disorders it can get very
confusing very quickly that way yeah and
I’ll share an example with you I had a
person who had as many of my clients do
some pretty significant trauma history
and had decided to go on a journey in
the car and did did not expect to
encounter some like bad weather and so
in this experience where they had no
control they needed to get to their
destination they were feeling anxiety
and some triggers of their PTSD coming
up and through our sessions they had been
practicing tapping and so per their
reports you know they said well I tried
that tapping thing that you told me
about and it didn’t work and and here’s
what I say to that is that you didn’t
increase your anxiety you actually were
so focused on tapping that you weren’t
being triggered by the environment and
so while it didn’t make it a zero
because you were still kind of fighting
the bear in that moment it did work
because you didn’t get worse it didn’t
escalate to a full-blown panic attack
and so when we’re talking to a lot of
people who are in early recovery again
getting them to identify that the quick
fixes aren’t there like we have to
meditate, um, consistently it doesn’t have to be hours
and hours and hours at a time but if we
do five minutes a day every day the
neural Pathways in our brain change over
time and it gets easier and easier so
maybe you do want to do it longer and
longer because you find the Peace of the
relief to be so much more comforting
than the chaos of the triggers and the
trauma right so instead of being
continually stimulated even if you think
oh this is lame or this isn’t working or
this is boring that’s still a very
healthy thing for your brain to feel
yeah there’s a study that said that
today’s teens have as things have
anxiety levels as high as what they saw
in asylums a few Generations ago the
part that is because we expect that we
can control Our Lives because so much
today compared to Generations ago you
can control like I was at Cedar Point
last week and I didn’t have my phone and
I was trying to find my family and I was
like this is uh I don’t get upset easily
or it takes a lot to Rattle me and I
wasn’t angry or worried about the con
this reminds me back in the day when I
was a kid and you didn’t have a cell
phone you just have to like look around
and find the people you came with but
even that experience was like I haven’t
felt this for a while where like I just
don’t know where the people are that I
came with yeah so we think we have life
under control and then all of a sudden
there’s a crack in our perfect sphere of
how life is supposed to be and we just
go to Pieces it’s funny that you say
that because I actually was lost as a
little kid at Cedar Point at age eight
where where I definitely did not have
cell phones at that point in time so
like I did what I was taught to go to
you know the lost and found and you know
got reconnected with my family and so
yeah we have lived through these
experiences where we haven’t had
everything at the tip of our fingers and
we don’t need to always have everything
at the tip of our fingers because there
are systems in place that will offer
support right yeah that’s a good point I
mean that probably would have just gone
and ridden the Scrambler a couple times
but you’re probably a better kid than I was

yeah I also wandered off a lot but this
isn’t supposed to be my own personal
therapy session so yeah we’ll get back
on topic but you know and I think that
that’s you know something to kind of
bring about is that you know something
that small would be very unraveling for
you know a lot of the people that we
treat and that we see come into our
agencies because they weren’t taught
like your niece how to identify feelings
and self-soothe and I think that that’s
the biggest thing because the people
that I see boredom and lack of productivity means
they can’t rest they can’t restore
because they’re so worried about
um those thought processes that kind of
come in when they have those down
moments where
um to let the thought go and you know
this idea that you know meditation and
even yoga means that I’ve cleared all of
the cobwebs all the thoughts you know I
have zero thoughts and that’s not the
intention the intention is to honor it
acknowledge it maybe kind of be curious
about where that comes from and Let It Go
so I had a patient yesterday who was
talking about inner restlessness and I
was like well the problem is I’ll start
to exercise but I’ll get really tired
like my nervous system is so wired that
I can’t get rid of it by exercising but
it’s always with me something like yoga
or meditation might be helpful in that
case yeah and one of the things and I
don’t know if you’ve seen this as well
one of the newer pieces of
um trauma research that’s showing is
that when people do like high intensity
workouts because our nervous system
doesn’t know the difference well is this
trauma or is this just me being excited
it reacts the same way and so again for
some of those people this calm down this
slow down effect is more appropriate to
get them to tap into their
parasympathetic nervous system
right yeah there’s a lot of our patients
we can call it anxiety or depression or
fibromyalgia but for some of them the
root cause is just a nervous system
mismatch or the parasympathetic nervous
system that’s supposed to let you do
rest and eat and digest and the
sympathetic which is supposed to go out
and you have a spear in your stab a
saber-toothed tiger just it’s a little
bit to my analogy earlier like being
like a kid again but it’s almost like a
prehistoric thing where this makes a lot
of sense if you have an acute stress and
your brain is really excited and that it
deals with the issue and it’s gone but
not in today’s world where it’s like
okay I still have to pay the mortgage
this month and it’s a chronic stress
that there isn’t really relief from yeah
and you know when we are devoting at
least 40 hours of our work life to
outside of the home for many people even
for even for people who do get to work
at home you’re committed to doing
something during that time right and you
know by the time you come home and eat
and and find connection with the people
that you live with or the people in your
you know that can be mundane for some
people because they don’t find the
Gratitude out of those experiences and
look for the nuances of change within
each of those experiences right
so what is the first step then in
meditating and again I have a lot of
fascinating guests on the show all the
time so I have a Pentecostal background
so for me there’s plenty of Psalms about
meditating on the Lord clearing your
mind focusing on him the Eastern
mysticism there’s a lot of other ideas
of how exactly we clear our minds but
for everyone the faith process is one
has to be genuine I mean that’s
something that I’m sure you’ve noticed
in your work and I’ve noticed in mind
that a spiritual facade or a let’s just
add some generic spirituality yeah the
word holistic and a few other buzzwords
and then you’re set like that’s it just
doesn’t work even a little bit so what’s
like the first step to kind of clear
your mind or Center yourself yeah
um I love that question and
um the thing that I’ve learned from my
meditation teacher is that you should be
comfortable when you meditate because
again it’s going to let us open up and
kind of give and receive in that process
so a lot of people think that they have
to be very stoic and sitting in a you
know very
stiff and rigid form and you really
don’t like my favorite way to meditate
is laying down on the ground with a
bunch of bolsters and pillows and
blankets around me where I’m very much
tucked in and have this relaxation
around me one minute a day is all that
you really need to start that Journey
it’s ten breaths okay you know five if
you’re able to hold and exhale
um a little bit longer which some people
because of you know
disorders they might not be able to but
being able to inhale and exhale and
extending the exhale longer than the
inhale again Taps into the
parasympathetic nervous system so we’re
getting that down regulation in those
moments so set your timer on your phone
or whatever device you know that you’re
working with and just breathe for one
minute and see how you feel
and that makes a lot of sense because
what I was saying about different
religious beliefs it’s that same thing
with Comfort if you’re like I kind of
feel like this isn’t what I believe or
like it’s not going to work because then
you’re because I’ve seen people who’ve
done that like navat Christians going to
like an acupuncturist and they’re like
well I really don’t believe in this but
nothing else has helped I was like well
you have to be in the right mindset
before you try anything like you have to
be in I think the young kids these days
would say it’s a Vibe with it I just
made myself sound a lot older than I am
well and I think it goes back to what
you were saying at the beginning of the
episode is that you know we look to a
interventions as a way to heal when we
are really the vessels to heal ourselves
and we can do that through breath
through movement and sometimes with the
help of medication but if we start with
ourselves a lot of people would be very
surprised at the power that they have to

right well it makes sense because I
tell patients like well I can do a lot
of this for you but you’re gonna have to
see my face all the time or you can do a
lot of this work and then my patients
are doing the best they’ll come in maybe
once a month for sprovado which is the
nasal spray ketamine or they’ll come in
every two months and it’s enough to
check in make sure everything’s fine but
then they’re doing the rest of the work
and it’s a really good balance where
it’s completely in their control it’s
not oh no I really have to go back there
or at that time of the week where I have
to go for my appointment appointment but
getting there again it is but the other
question would have was what about
active addiction because those are cases
where it’s not okay just do some yoga
and you’ll be fine that’s when we have
to use all of our resources how to
prevent that from becoming too much or
we’re so focused it becomes this uh okay
every single feeling I feel I have to
report it I have to talk to my therapist
I have to do all this work and then they
get exhausted and relapse
yeah I think that that’s where
having an opportunity to be vulnerable
is really critical because in active
addiction that’s trauma any person who
has lived in active addiction that’s a
whole trauma cycle that doesn’t even count
as what got you to that point right and
so we’re talking about all of these
little T’s in these Big T’s that we need
to look at and address why do we say yes
to using substances as opposed to no
because your typical person can manage
throughout the day without turning to a
substance to down regulate and that’s
not to say that we all don’t have our
own vices right and so then where is
that moderation factor in that and
you know at least in our culture we have
this abstinence only ideal and maybe
that works for some people and maybe
that’s not the case for other people
maybe they can find a way to moderate at
least alcohol use where, um, in other European countries you know
they when you get down to the root of
why you’re picking up alcohol as a way
to cope, um, maybe that’s not the way that you
cope anymore and so you can do things
differently absolutely that’s great so
if anyone wants to reach you how do they
do that if they need to schedule an
appointment or just see all everything
that you all offer over there so you’re
going to go to CarveMyPath.org
and you can schedule online for Reiki
sessions and sign up for our yoga classes
and you can send an informational email
requesting information about yoga Reiki
we also offer art therapy with Jenna and
we have all three of us have a different
view of holistic Services great and then
for us it’s AscendHealthCenter.com we
have Psychiatry therapy we offer trans magnetic stimulation,
Spravato™, ketamine but like we’re just
saying sometimes you need some high-tech
solution and sometimes you just need to
breathe and pay attention to it so
thanks for joining us today

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