In March 2008, I along with other talk show hosts, was invited by Christian Solidarity International to visit Sudan on a humanitarian mission. Being very impressed with their work and continued dedication to freeing people in slavery after a catastrophic 22 year civil war, I was glad to have the opportunity to participate.
Given the state of this war ravaged region, there is a tremendous lack of professional assistance to the people who are very poor and without life’s basics that we tend to take for granted.
Having some training and experience with trauma, I thought teaching Coherent Breathing would make a huge difference in the incredibly difficult lives of these women and men.
Due to the lack of practitioners, Coherent Breathing is probably the only PTSD intervention that these war survivors will have access to in the foreseeable future.
The formal program began in late October 2009. All participants are requested to take a PTSD symptom evaluation every six weeks. While initial survey results are not all in yet, it is clear that everyone has suffered major effects of this decades long conflict.
We began the program in Southern Sudan in Mobil-Aweil, East County. Currently, participants come five days a week to receive instruction and breathe while listening to the RESPIRE-1 CD. We explained how the sound on the CD (2 Bells) was made by bringing a Tibetan bowl to demonstrate. Many of the participants travel long distances to participate and are paid ten dollars a week, this small stipend helping to pay for food and other expenses.
Within a couple of days participants were finding that the practice of Coherent Breathing was helping them manage their thoughts more effectively and achieve a new degree of calm. On November 17th, I received this email update:
John talked to Dr. Luka just today and checked in on the breathing program. Dr. Luka said the breathing program on his side of town is going well. He said the clients are taking it seriously and it seems to benefit them. Dr. Luka said he wasn’t sure if it was medical or psychological, but the women seem to benefit from the community and support of the breathing sessions. He said he has not heard of any issues at Pastor Matthew’s end of the program and, to the best of his knowledge, it is going well there too. It seems like it is off to a good start and at least some of the clients are taking it seriously and benefiting from it. I’m pleased to hear this!
Christian Solidarity International”
We will continue to update you as to the progress and impact of this important initiative!
Like many of us, I tend to have the most personal growth during and after a personal crisis. Twenty years ago I was experiencing a very difficult time in my own life. During this time, I met Anne Gehman, a Spiritualist minister. She introduced me to the mental healing movement of the late 1800’s. I spent many years of “off” time combing The Library Of Congress and Harvard University’s Widener Library.
During the long hours of the Monica Lewinsky scandal I would go there for a bit of sanity and it was there that I found the work of Yogi Ramacharaka (William Walker Atkinson). By then I had moved from working in the mental health field to working as a reporter and talk media personality covering the White House.
That’s when Anne Gehman and I decided to work on a book of self help techniques. The book was almost finished but sat on the self for almost ten years until I hit another personal crisis and through Dr. Lauri Liskin became familiar with the work of Dr’s. Richard Brown, Patricia Gerbarg, and the practice of Coherent Breathing.
Coherent Breathing worked immediately and I became a “born again breather.” While showing my reporting staff the Coherent Breathing web site (www.coherence.com) I noticed that Stephen Elliott, author of The New Science of Breath had dedicated his work to the man whom I’d written so much about ten years before, Yogi Ramacharaka. Like so many things in life, the answer to my anxiety and depression had been right under my nose. It gave me the final impetus to finish the book which is now in the final editing stage.
My first book, The Other Side Of The Family- A Book For Recovery From Incest, Abuse, and Neglect, is about recovering from trauma inflicted within the family.
Thank you for your attention and thank you Christian Solidarity International,