Karuna Training is a powerful but sometimes difficult to describe process, where students are trained to work skillfully both with their own emotions, habits and patterns, and those of others. The questions that often come up when people inquire about Karuna Training are ones like ‘Who is Karuna Training for?’ ‘What will I learn?’ and ‘How can I apply Karuna Training to my profession?’. This article is the first in a series designed to answers these questions and more, but asking the people who know best – graduates of the Karuna Training program. For this piece, we interviewed Karuna Training graduate student, Anie Boudreau about her time in the program, and how she has brought Karuna Training back into her everyday life.
Anie Boudreau’s Karuna Story
Anie, a yoga therapist from Nelson, BC, specializes in helping those who suffer from chronic pain, stress disorders, and addiction. It’s easy to see why patients would be magnetized to her bright and fiery energy. Like a warm crackling fire, her smile and bubbling laughter can draw you in and put you at ease. What’s less noticeable from the surface is the constant pain Anie manages herself, after suffering from a traumatic brain injury. With intense migraines, seizures, and convulsions, Anie has been on a journey of healing herself, as well as those around her. “Teachers knew about me because of my brain injury… and they had witnessed a lot of my struggles with my illness, and my bravery, I guess, trying to overcoming it.” Anie recounts when asked about her inspiration for starting with Karuna Training. Anie had met Karuna Teacher Melissa Moore at a meditation retreat, and after hearing about Karuna Training from a few other participants she decided to ask Melissa about it. “Before I could even say anything she was like ‘Oh…you have to go!’. “ Anie recalled laughing. Her response? “Ok. I guess I’m going!”
“And that was it.” she goes on to say “I just knew in every part of my being that I needed to do this program.”
Anie says that she was drawn to the program because of her desire to learn from Melissa. “I was really inspired just by her, as a teacher.” she explains. “It was the first time I was in the presence of a teacher that I felt spoke my language. I was like ‘What? Someone like me’s out there?’… She is so heartfelt. She had everyone in tears in the room with every five words. She is so real and so from the heart.”
Presence and Kindness For Clients
When asked about what she got out of Karuna Training, Anie had more than one answer. “It’s almost not something I acquired; its something I came back to, something that was revealed that I didn’t even understand how much I was longing for.” she began. “I feel a really profound confidence of who I am and what that means. Karuna Training helped me on so many levels of my life that I couldn’t imagine.”
According to Anie, Karuna Training helped immensely in her career, working with chronic pain and addiction recovery patients. “I feel like I’m so much more present; so much more able to be with my client with kindness, compassion, but also skillfulness and accessibility” she explains. “I just know that I can be there for them no matter how confused, however toxic the situation, whatever it is.”
Rewiring the Brain for Healing
Anie says she thought the program might help with her therapeutic work but didn’t expect it to have such profound implications for her own health. “I came into Karuna Training having seizure-like symptoms. I could barely get through a weekend without my nervous system freaking out.” Anie recalls of first few Karuna Training weekends, describing her state as “sunglasses all the time, shaking and almost passing out, convulsing.” But Anie says her work in the program has shifted something with her health. “It’s rewiring something on such a deep level that it’s helped with my brain injury, which is very spacious for me.” she explains “I can be confident because I’m not always worried. I was always worried, always in survival mode, and there is so much freedom from that.”
“I feel it’s just part of my DNA now, how I approach everything in my day-to-day. I feel that my internal dialogue is constantly about kindness. It is with my son, it is with my students, with my clients, with my family, with my friends. So, that’s a big Karuna Training influence.”
Progress in Relationship Patterns
Still, Anie says the greatest gift from Karuna Training (and coincidentally the hardest thing to learn) was in shifting her patterns in personal relationships. “Really, the training was just to be honest with your feelings. Don’t make stuff up.” she explains “Just like ‘This is what I’m feeling. What do you think about that?’ and I feel that that’s happening more and more” she said excitedly, before giving an example. “I did split up with a partner recently. It’s so difficult to talk to an ex… I had to talk to this ex and I know the texture of that usually. I would shut down. I would have all my protections on and get really cold. And the thing is, I wish this person well so I don’t need to be cold. But I also need to be real, and I’m not stoked on what’s going on right now.” she conveyed in a matter-of-fact tone.
“So the first thing he asked was ‘What’s happening, why aren’t we hanging out and being friends?’ I think Karuna Training has taught me that I can discern textures, like ‘Ooh this energy is coming out right now.. just chill’.” Anie’s response to this question was to say how she felt “Well, because it’s not enjoyable to me.” she recounts laughing. “That was my moment of truth! Because usually I would say ‘Oh I’ve been busy lately,’ or try to make up stuff or pretend. But I was honest. And I didn’t say it in a condescending way. His reaction was ‘Where do we go from this? This is just the truth.’ It just showed how simple it can really be. But that took training! To be simply honest took three years of training.”
“I could feel all these emotions and all these old patterns and then meeting them with kindness. And being like ‘I’m just gonna say what I actually feel right now.’ It was so liberating and so empowering and I just left that conversation like “Woohoo, I’m good!’ That’s when I was like ‘Wow, I’ve changed. Something has changed within me.’”
This piece is the first in our series of interviews with Karuna Training students. Check back in with karunatraining.com or follow our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages @karunatraining to stay up to date with the latest interviews.