How Yoga & Meditation Can INCREASE Stress (PC013)

Welcome to Trauma Tuesday.  Did you know that over 30 million adults in the United States have tried yoga.  Many people are turning to the ancient practice as a way to relax, thinking it will help them manage stress.  Yet the public and many medical doctors are unaware that yoga and meditation can actually increase stress.  Surprising, no?  I found this out the hard way.

Over 20 years ago, I began meditative and yogic practices thinking it would help me relax.  Although I had chronic depression and anxiety, I wasn’t being medically treated and like many depressed people I thought this was just the way I was and I had to just learn to cope with it.  I was unaware that locked in my mind and body were repressed memories of severe childhood ritual abuse.

When I practiced yoga or chi gung, I would find myself getting more and more agitated for apparently no reason.  Sometimes the practice would make me feel kind of queasy or just plain uncomfortable, like I was going to jump out of my skin.  Often, I was relieved when I finished.  I usually felt much better at the end.  I wasn’t sure if the practice made me feel better or it I was just relieved that I could stop.  If I was in an hour class, I would watch the clock, anticipating the relief when it was over.

When I first started studying chi gung, my teacher told me that these types of practices (yoga, chi gung, and other somatic practices) can bring up stuff.  I got what he was saying, but feeling internal pressure during practice didn’t feel like “my stuff” was coming up.  I thought my stuff would have a label or a story when it came up.  I didn’t sense the connection.  I didn’t know why practice made me so uncomfortable, but I did know that I sensed it was important to continue despite my discomfort.  It was hard to do my practice, but I was dedicated.  One of the tricks I used to help me practice every day was to practice outside.  It was easy to walk out the door in the morning.  It was harder to start to practice.  My trick was to just not let my let myself go back in until I had completed my practice.

Experienced yoga instructors and psychologists know that these practices can trigger repressed trauma, but the general public remains uninformed.  I had all the signs of unresolved trauma in my daily life.  But since these were my “normal” I didn’t realize they represented a condition I could recover from.

What are the signs of unresolved trauma?

  • Dissatisfaction with work and life – nothing ever feels good enough
  • Dissociation or spacing out – Day dreaming, distraction, disconnect from emotions or reactions
  • Hypervigilance – Hyper aware of one’s surroundings. I am always aware of where I might be vulnerable to attack.  This could border on slight paranoia.  In all situations I am always alert to the potential of being robbed and position my belongings in such a manner as to protect them.
  • Compulsive behaviors – This could include a lot of different things. In particular, the need to have things in a specific order in order to feel safe or calm.  Some normal behaviors could actually be compulsive.  It is more about the emotion behind them.  For instance, locking the door to our home seems normal enough, but if our sense of safety depends on it or we are driven to check or recheck that it is locked could be considered compulsive.
  • Cravings and addictions – This includes addictions to drugs, foods, shopping, video games. It could also be seen as a need to distract to avoid the trauma that would arise if we are not preoccupied with something else.
  • Depression
  • Unexplained anxiety or fears

How does meditation and yoga increase stress?

Yoga literally means union.  Yoga is a practice that is aimed at creating a unified state where one can abide in peace.  Technically both Chi Gung and meditation can be forms of yoga.  In contrast, some of new classes called yoga are more just forms of exercise, having lost touch with some of the fundamental principles of awareness of channels and wind.   Yoga can be a purely mental activity, with no physical movement at all.

Yoga and meditation are practices that are aimed at peace.  This isn’t the peace that is about feeling relaxed and serene.  This is about what I have started calling Extreme Peace.  It is about never having an uncomfortable feeling again.  In order to have Extreme Peace you have to get rid of anything that is in the body and mind that stands in the way of that.  That is what yoga is aimed at.  Hence, if you have any unresolved anger, sadness, or fears they may come up during a session.  This emotional release increases stress short term, and may make you quit practicing, but long term if you can last it out, you will reach a more stable place of peace and ultimately have Extreme Peace and Extreme Joy.

How many people have unresolved issues that yoga might trigger?

In episode 3 of Positive Change with Dorena I go into the prevalence and consequences of unresolved childhood trauma.  Let me summarize it briefly here:

In the late 1990’s in a joint study between the CDC and Kaiser Permanente over 17,000 adults were surveyed to find out about adverse childhood experiences.  They found that over half the population reported at least one adverse childhood experience.  They also found that the risk for health issues such a cancer and heart disease went up in a dose dependent manner dependent on the number of adverse experiences.  But childhood experiences are not the only types of trauma that people experience.  Difficult relationships, a bad work environment can all become unresolved issues that may arise during a yoga session.  Everyone has unresolved issues that can arise.  I have found that all people with daily and sustained practice will encounter uncomfortable emotions and memories arising during their practice.

What can happen during a yoga or meditation session?

  • Feeling uncomfortable “I would feel like I was going to explode”
  • Distraction or dissociation
  • Feelings coming up that don’t match the circumstances

One of my first realizations that I had from meditating was that feelings arose first and then my mind would find circumstances to match the.  For instance, I would be sitting and become aware of anger arising.  It would seem to come out of the blue.  And then I would notice my mind would start thinking about things to be angry about – usually something my roommates did or didn’t do.

People talk about things triggering their anger or sadness and I realized that the emotion arose first and then we picked things that matched the emotion.  It wasn’t until decades later that I realized that the emotions that were arising were probably from unresolved childhood trauma.  My assumption that the emotions where just popping up out of thin air was probably wrong.

  • Dramatic or rapid shifting of emotions – suddenly angry or sad
  • Flashbacks

This was very rare for me.  I had to consciously dig into my subconscious to retrieve memories.  However, once when I was doing Tai Chi, across my mind’s eye flashed a picture of a leg.  A skinny little leg like when I was seven or eight.  I recognized it as a memory and after I completed my practice I did some work including the Change Anything Now Process to resolve the trauma.

Should people with trauma avoid all yoga and meditation?

No, like I said before yoga and meditation will bring up your stuff and if you really want to get clear of that garbage then continue to do the yoga and meditation.  If meditation is too hard, definitely explore practices that combine movement with meditation like vajra dance, yoga, chi gung, tai chi, etc.  Because of the ability of yoga to access trauma, some therapist are even using yoga in the treatment of people with depression and PTSD.

Many people with a trauma history have a hard time with sitting meditation.  For us, yoga and movement practices are invaluable.  However, I am convinced that sitting meditation can be a powerful practice for gaining insight.  So, what do you do when sitting triggers cravings, memories, and/or pain that is unbearable during a sit?

At the peak of my trauma releasing, before I really knew that I was clearing trauma, I would alternate short 15 to 20 minute sits with yoga, chi gung, and tai chi.  I didn’t know what was going on, but I did know that I couldn’t sit longer than 20 minutes without incredible pressure building up inside.  It felt like my body would explode.  A short session of meditative movement would help relieve the pressure and I could focus again.

I want to talk about one time where I actually had a very successful realization of the trauma clearing process.  I was on a 40-day retreat and I was meditating or trying to meditate and I was becoming very agitated.  During a long deep retreat, most normal people get quieter as the weeks go on.  For me my level of quietude would fluctuate from day to day and sit to sit, without a predictable progression into stillness.  I imagine this is because as soon as my mind gets quiet the next layer of stuff comes up.  On this day, I was having stable sits and then all of a sudden, I was unable to focus.  Instead of preserving, I stopped my meditation and started asking questions:

  • Is there a memory coming up?
  • Who does it involve?
  • How old am I?
  • Where am I?
  • What is required right now to clear this trauma from me?

I was able to get enough of the pieces, see what subconscious beliefs were put in during the trauma and clear them using the Change Anything Now process I do.  Then I went back to my meditation and was able to effortlessly focus on my breath with no distractions.  It was such a dramatic change with just a half hour of processing.  It was a very clear demonstration of the connection between unresolved trauma and the inability to meditate.

What should people do if they are triggered during a yoga class.

Let it be.  Honor the feelings by not resisting or repressing.  You may want to get up and leave the class if that feels right.  It will pass.

I find asking questions and being curious helps to clear the memory faster.

  • Is this a memory?
  • What can I choose right now that will support me the most?
  • What can I choose right now that will clear this?

Use your own knowing to determine if you need to get additional support.

If you have enjoyed this podcast take a moment to give it five stars and write me a review.  If you are feeling stuck and would like to have a session with me visit my website at to find out more.  Episode 5 explains what the Change Anything Now™ process is.  If you agree to have the session aired on this podcast you can have your session for free.  How does it get better than that?



Cheery Monday by  Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
Voice Intro:
Dylan McClosky

Podcast:  Copyright 2017 Dorena Rode – All Rights Reserved

Remove Your Blocks to Success (PC012)

Welcome to Money Monday.  Today we have a continuation with my guest from Friday.  On Friday we focused on improving this gentleman’s online dating experience.  We got rid of his “I am not good enough” belief which should create a lot more opportunity for finding a good partner.

Then we continued the session focused on his business.  I met Rich a few years ago.  He was a student in an Asian Classics Institute course I was teaching.  Although he never had a session with me until the one on Friday, we’ve stayed in contact and I’ve watched him develop his business, or perhaps I should say I have painfully watched him procrastinate his business and have been dying to help him remove whatever was blocking its success.

Now, Rich chose a great business idea, solicited the help of good mentors, got training in how to promote a business on the internet, developed a logo and a website.  Everything was perfect, except he wasn’t going after clients and closing sales.  His business was aimed at bringing mindfulness into corporate settings.  A great idea.  He had personally benefitted from the cultivation of mindfulness and was getting good feedback from the people that participated in the groups he led.  I assumed he had some block around selling himself, but as soon as we started talking about removing blocks to success in this session he admits that he has switched business ideas.  Further, he reveals that he dislikes corporate America.

Well, of course the original business model wasn’t going to work.  He probably had been guided to choose corporations as a target market because they have money and helping employees cultivate mindfulness would benefit their bottom line.  He was great putting together the nuts and bolts of the business, but stalled when it came to contacting corporations to sell them a program because he didn’t really want to work in that environment.

Something like that ever happen to you?  Sometimes what we might label procrastination can be a sign of a subconscious block and other times it is an unconscious knowing that we aren’t going in the right direction.   I have been in similar situations myself.  For instance, at one point I was pursuing a master’s degree in Pharmacognosy at Sonoma State University.  In the middle of putting together my research proposal I stalled out.  I couldn’t seem to get it done.  I waited a few days, but I was still stuck.  So, I decided to take a trip to UC Davis just to check it out.  I was being in the question, “what else is possible?”  As it turned out, by the end of my day trip, I had completely switched directions.  Everything came together that day as if by magic:  I found a major professor to work with and the department was willing to accept my late application.  I ended up attending UC Davis and getting a Ph.D. instead of a Master’s degree.

Sometimes when we think we are stuck it is not a sign that we are lazy or a procrastinator, it could be a sign that we are on the wrong track or that something better or more appropriate is available for us.  So if you find your business or career is not thriving like you want it too, ask, “Is there something better available to me?” If you bomb that interview and are down on yourself, ask, “What is this creating that is beyond what I’ve imagined?  What if this was a good thing?”  When you are feeling stuck and heavy ask yourself questions that expand you and your thinking.  Try some of these:

  • What is beyond this?
  • What is the gift in this?
  • Is this the time for this?
  • What can I choose today that will create the most for me and my business or career?
  • What is right about this?
  • Is there something I am choosing that is blocking this other thing I want from happening?

That last one is a good one.  Is there something I am choosing that is blocking this other thing from happening?  There was a period in my life that I really wanted to have a nice corporate job.  I had been laid off from a job I loved and despite my gut feeling that it wasn’t time to work, I kept looking for a job.  Afterall, I was a single mom with a house payment.  Yet, I could not seem to get one.  This was right before I moved to the desert and spent a few years clearing out my subconscious of repressed memories of childhood abuse.  If you have been following me, you know that the one thing I am interested in is achieving extreme peace.  This demand for peace created an inability for me to find work, because the next step in my journey to ultimate peace was to increase my meditative practice and clear out my subconscious.  I thought I was choosing to work, but my choice for peace overrode that.  Is there something you are choosing (or have chosen) that blocks you from the thing you want to choose now?

Back to my session with Rich.  His new direction seemed to make sense, although I must say in listening to the recording, it might have been good to get rid of the negative beliefs about corporations.  You see, if you judge or dislike something it limits your money flows.  And the beliefs you hold about anything including corporations limit your ability to experience those things differently.  In any case we skipped over that and looked at some of his beliefs that limit his ability to be fabulously successful in his new career.  Listen to the procession of questions I ask and apply them to your situation.  Imagine yourself in your dream situation and watch to see what types of automatic thoughts, objections or emotions arise.  I think you may find some subconscious blocks may be limiting you as well.

*** Session Recording ***

Wasn’t that fabulous.  Notice how at the end we checked things like “I am an author.”  And even though he has never written anything and his book is just a concept he tested that as true.  That is how it needs to be.  That belief will create the book.  Our subconscious beliefs create our world.  I’ve heard it said that “seeing is believing” when the truth is that “only if we believe it can we see it”.  What would you like to create today?

I’d like to get this podcast out to more people and I need your help.  Please take a moment to give me five stars and write an honest review.  Let people know what you like.  And…

If you are stuck and would like help feel free to contact me for your own facilitation session.  Sessions to air on the show are done for free.  How does it get better than that?  What would a session create for you?


Cheery Monday by  Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Voice Intro:
Dylan McClosky

Podcast:  Copyright 2017 Dorena Rode – All Rights Reserved

Get Rid of the “I Am Not Good Enough Belief” Permanently (PC011)

Welcome to Friends and Family Friday.  Today I have a special program for you.  I have a gentleman that is attempting to get back into the dating world and just hating it.  The whole online process is unpleasant for him and he is feeling insecurities arising.  You get to hear first hand how we used change facilitation to free him of the sense of never being enough and allow him to move past the belief that Love is Pain.  If you want to learn more about the change facilitation process listen to episode 5 or watch the short video on my YouTube Channel.  I’ll leave a link in the notes.

Here we go.

***Change Facilitation Session Recording***

Here we were able to remove the belief “I am not enough” in only a short amount of time.  This is a testament to his change capacity and the work he has already done on himself.  This is not unusual.  Sometimes changing a belief does take longer.  I once spent a couple months trying to get rid of the belief, “success leads to death”  it was covered in layers of stuff.  I got it cleared though.

We retested the belief that Love is Pain and got a clear “No”.  He also cleared the belief “I am an outsider”  We continued the session with a focus on his career and success and you can hear more next week on Money Monday.  If anything you hear during these sessions resonates with you and you would like to benefit from the change facilitation, just say “yes”  when I ask permission to remove a belief.  You will be included in the process then.  If you are stuck and would like help feel free to contact me for your own facilitation session  Sessions to air on the show are done for free.  How does it get better than that?  You can get free of limiting subconscious blocks.  All you need to do is choose it.



Cheery Monday by  Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Voice Intro:
Dylan McClosky

Podcast:  Copyright 2017 Dorena Rode – All rights reserved