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Sue Keane
From 'Living in Pain' to No Pain in Retreat with Jennifer

I have never seen transformation like Sue’s and wanted to bring back one of my favorite stories from our twice annual Yoga and Deep Relaxation Retreat. When she arrived, Sue seemed somewhat skeptical, but more than that she appeared to be drawn tight inside herself, with a look on her face like she had just seen something terrible. On our second full day together in retreat, Sue’s demeanor had completely changed. I literally did not recognize this person before me, smiling from her inner light, radiant, and completely at ease. Who was this new addition to our class, I wondered? Finally I recognized that it was Sue transformed and I was delighted for her! I truly wish I had a before and after photo of Sue.

I wanted to know more about Sue and her life. She shared with the group that she suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Not only is Sue a veteran of the US Military Operation Desert Storm and a Police Officer with promotions to Sergeant and Detective Sergeant with the Port Authority of NY/NJ, but she was also a first responder at the World Trade Center on 9/11. It was not until 2010 that, struggling to cope with the effects of PTSD, she decided to take a leave of absence, and dedicated her life to healing herself. When someone makes the focus of their life their own healing, I always get choked up. There is nothing more powerful and sacred than listening to our highest self and responding. There is no more tender a relationship than that. I hope you enjoy Sue’s story.

The World Trade Center was my breaking point. It took nine years to finally say I’ve had it. I was upset, depressed, with many health issues, carrying extra weight, and asked ‘why is this happening?’ I was 100% shut down.

They tried biofeedback with me. Sitting in a chair in a dark room with sensors on my fingers and forehead — it was supposed to teach me breathing. But I could not do it under those circumstances, which triggered me. Other things are triggering as well, like being in a stadium or on a cruise. Everyone is enjoying themselves and I am in looking around at all the potential things that can go wrong and thinking about how will I get everyone out alive.

I had been living with pain in my body every day since 9/11. We do not know what we inhaled that day and since 9/11 I’ve had medical issues that occur in people much older — for example I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my mid 40′s. I was on medications for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), fibromyalgia, insomnia, and so on. I needed to find another approach. I had seen colleagues suffer and actually die from taking pain meds incorrectly. Beyond fearing for my life from the side effects, the whole medication thing was not working for my body or mind.

So I searched, and I went to a yoga class, even though in the military and police world there is so much negative stigma around it. And as it turned out, in the yoga class they tried to kill me! I had to stay at home the next day I was in so much pain. That was not the right kind of yoga for me.

I had been getting the Kripalu program guide in the mail for years. I had a CD of Richard Miller’s Yoga Nidra, but it was too wordy and difficult for me to follow. Then my friend Barbara who is a volunteer at Kripalu invited me up, and I saw Jennifer’s Divine Sleep yoga nidra retreat in the catalogue, and it sounded just right for me.

The whole time I was in Jennifer’s retreat I had No Pain!!! It was the first time that I felt good for an entire week! No stomach ache or muscle pain. In ten years of all the meds and doctors, no one suggested yoga and yoga nidra for pain relief! I was amazed that I was not sore even though I was moving and doing yoga. Now I know what is possible.

Not only did my friend Barbara and the students in the retreat notice a big difference in me, but I felt those changes in myself. And the effects have been longer lasting. People still tell me that I look much calmer, and I actually don’t get as agitated or excited. I currently see two therapists and they both smilingly said, “What happened to you?” I made my life better and in reality it’s making everyone’s life better.

The girls I used to work with said, “There is something different about you.” I told them – don’t laugh – yoga nidra – it works! Without even trying, I lost six pounds during the retreat and my weight has not increased since. I had been binging before and that has not happened since the retreat. I have seen big changes. In the military we were given alcohol to drink when we’d return from the field, and that was the idea of how to deal with the terrifying things we witnessed.

In my profession there’s pressure to be the tough guy and we’d joke about yoga. But now I see how it has changed my life. I hemmed and hawed and should have done it long before, but I did not know what I needed. Now I know. I am thinking I’d like to help Vietnam vets and returning vets with PTSD, because if this could help me, it could help them too.

What an impact the retreat week had on me! I now have a practice I can do at home. And when I returned home I was happy to receive Jennifer’s newsletter to remind me not only of the mudras and affirmations, but also of the peace that is already inside of me. I need it now as we lead up to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. And after that I am already planning to go to Jennifer’s September retreat.

~Sue Keane