Setting A Path Away From Stress And Anxiety
It is a stressful time.
The Messenger spoke with Ashland-based Alaya Ketani, a neuroscience specialist who works closely and calmly with individuals who are experiencing trauma and anxieties. With service from socially-distanced individual private sessions to Zoom counseling, she provides tools and support to mend and sustain through these odd times and, in general, through life’s other challenges. She provides us with insights to what brings individuals to her services, and how she helps them get back on their own.
Rogue Valley Messenger: There are a lot of anxieties and stresses and changes right now. Health, financial, culture. Have you seen an uptick in individual’s anxieties?
Alaya Ketani: Individuals of all ages, including children, are experiencing increased anxiety, anger, despair, frustration, and trauma activation with accompanying insomnia, nightmares, overeating, drinking, and violence. The lack of control is evident, tremendous financial loss and uncertainty, confusing and uncertain information about COVID, limited socialization and physical affection, increased screen time, and the wearing of masks—all increase the stresses of these times. There is a direct link to nervous system irritation with increased exposure to screens, especially the more sensitive of us. There is the state of “body hunger” produced by the decrease, and in some cases elimination, of physically affectionate contact. Masks are uncomfortable for most, but imagine the person who has been abducted – hand over mouth, or kept in a small space for a period of time, or with a medical condition with difficulty breathing—those experiences are magnified. Some people are going into seizure, panic, dizziness, hyperventilation, loss of vision, fainting, and more. It’s a time for increased compassion rather than judgment, but this is challenging when the prevailing state is fear and anxiety.
RVM: I imagine that helping people work through general anxieties is much different than specific trauma. Is that right? Or, are there shared elements to treatments for each?
AK: I work very personally and individually with each client in deep listening. How I begin and proceed will depend on the individual, and her/his degree of life and nervous system disregulation. I work in a positive frame, taking utmost care of the individual’s wellbeing to not further imprint trauma, as can occur at times with some approaches. I utilize methods that go directly to how/where the brain imprints, such as with Brain Spotting. I also work somatically, bringing awareness to how the body experiences disregulation. My clients gain recognition and awareness of how to regulate their nervous system and trauma activation, and this brings empowerment. We focus on skill building, and I enlist parts work, family systems, timeline therapy, archetypes, neuroscience, quantum physics, forms of EMDR and EFT that are again non-activating. With my expertise of clinical, medical, transpersonal, and alchemical hypnosis, I hold many ways for my clients’ life to transform in a positive way, and for them to experience in session a state of peace that they never thought was possible. I discern the most effective approaches in consideration of the differing aspects to the anxiety or trauma that is activated. Everyone is unique, and everyone is complex.
RVM: You seem to combine treatments to address mind, body and spirit, as well as practical lifestyle changes. You are a life coach as well. That’s a lot to address. Is there a common starting point?
AK: I have tremendous success with clients who are experiencing single as well as complex life challenges, and are ready to unwind the aspects of their life in order to create happiness, wellbeing, clarity, and success instead of creating confusion, unhappiness, and repeating counterproductive patterns. The commonality I find among all humans is the Mind, how one is relating to the thoughts, and a lack of discipline over the mind. Most people have no idea that we are not meant to be the victim of our thoughts, lost in their magnetic swirl. The more we practice these undesirable patterns, the deeper the imprint of neural pathways that bring unhappiness, illness, and emotional upheaval. We are designed to Create, and we can and must create new neural pathways in order to change our life and ways of being. I teach a strong awareness to the process of the mind, with new ways to harness one’s own “Genius State,” to live in peak flow states, and create the change we need. Clients experience how to increase their ability to feel positive emotions without fear. In session a sense of sovereignty and empowerment is restored, increasing a sense of competency. They learn how to regulate nervous system mind-body symptoms, change their relationships to both early and current stress, and decrease the experience of distress. Instead clients increase their ability to live with renewed interest, curiosity, and wonder. Clients’ learn to tune into their natural instinct and intuition—intuition is the amazing time traveler.
There is a “Field of All Possibility,” wherein we can see, feel, taste, touch, smell, and experience the life we desire. The brain sends the same neurochemicals through the body as if the circumstances are actually in existence. We are meant to discipline and create through the power of the mind, rather than being destroyed by it.
If I hadn’t held this awareness in my life, I would not have survived to thrive through several crises in which I was totally disabled and close to death, multiple times. These experiences gave me special insight into what is takes in times of challenge with our mind, and lives, and it is this insight that further informs my powerful work with clients.
RVM: How do individuals know when it is time to come see you? I mean, there are “problems” that we each have every day, and can work through. And then there are “problems” that we need help to navigate—and to find sustainable ways to manage.
AK: You used a key word here, “sustainable.” Sustainable change is the focus of my work. This world is complex, and can be very. Each of us copes in the best ways our skills and awareness allow. There are times when, what I call, “Sideways Behaviors,” occur that disrupt our life to varying degrees such as with our sleep, finances, attention and focus, eating, mental and physical health, emotional discharge, and more. When those sideways behaviors begin to disrupt our life in more than small ways, it’s not optimal. I liken this to an angle. As the angle proceeds, the distance from the center of alignment increases. Our life becomes increasingly off track the longer we wait to re-center, realign, renew, revitalize, and importantly imprint new neural pathways for a new skill set with increased recognition and awareness. This results in better relationships, ability to heal, clarity, and the power to tune in and listen to wisdom and create the life we desire. To gain power over the mind’s direction and stop the destructive of a mind and life getting off track is a significant commitment to one self and loved ones. The sooner the better; its never too late. Remember, all is truly possible. I’ve worked with clients from all over the world for over forty years with a wide spectrum of challenges, and there is great meaningful satisfaction in partnering with them to change their lives.
RVM: To accommodate COVID concerns, you have been hosting sessions on Zoom as well as at your healing center in a large room. In particular, the later sounds really nice. Have you found some successes with these new accommodations, and will they change how you deliver services in the future?
AK: My Ashland office is located in beautiful Hidden Springs Wellness Center. During this time of Covid, I am able to see clients in the large Skylight Event Room that holds 80 people, so distancing is easy. We are following all CDC and Governor’s Guidelines at the center. As an alternative, clients have a choice to schedule live video distance sessions over Zoom. I have been using live distance video technology for sessions globally for years. When Covid calms down, I will return to my beautiful office upstairs, as well as seeing clients in my other locations in Grants Pass, the Oregon Coast, and as soon as possible in Maui. I don’t see technology substituting for the in-person experience exclusively. Meeting with people in the Skylight Room, presently, is a wonderful experience for the client.
RVM: Hypnosis has appeared again and again in movies and TV shows. Do you laugh when you see these representations in the media? Or, is there any truth to those representations – of following a swing pocket watch, of snapping out of it when fingers are snapped, etc.?
AK: Hypnosis is defined as a human condition involving focused attention, reduced peripheral awareness, and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. There is a hyped depiction in movies as well as stage hypnosis. Stage hypnosis is a different form completely. My advanced expertise includes the four schools of Hypnosis: Medical, Clinical, Alchemical, and Transpersonal as well as Waking and Deep Trance, a rather than just one, waking to depth hypnosis, interwoven with the many other modalities, it is unlike the movies and TV shows.
The work that I do with clients is a partnership. My clients are committed to change, for optimal success. It is true, though, that I do snap my fingers to elicit specific response, among other signals I give, and it is very effective.
RVM: How did you start in this profession?
AK: I was a young child when I began hearing in my mind the question of why I was created. I remember wondering how I even knew that word: created. Even in elementary school, the other kids came to me for reassurance and answers, but I was just a child. As life continued and I experienced challenges that I was not prepared to meet, I began seeking the skills and knowledge to navigate effectively. As the years continued, I experienced a series of crises including domestic violence, a critical car crash, corporate shooting massacre, floods, avalanche, and just last year a critical reaction to a medical procedure. These experiences were life stopping, and in some a few I became disabled for sustained times from one to four years. It was all the knowledge and skills I’ve practiced, an unstoppable will and determination, wisdom and understanding, friends and community that brought me through. There is nothing more potent than the power of the mind, and the grace of life that supports us always. I feel it is my responsibility and my gift to offer the insights, experience, and expertise that I have gained to others in this way.
A few specializations that are very fulfilling for me is when I work with challenged pregnancies, and infertility. Clients bring their newborn babies to meet me, and see the children walking the park here in Ashland. I also enjoy working with sports enthusiasts. This is one area that is especially transparent to clients as they watch their performance improve. I have partnered with PGA Certified Golf Coaches to help their client transform a particular aspect of their game that the coach was unable to solve. I also find it very meaningful to help Women increase in self-empowerment. Many women come to me in confusion or life transitions, and their clarity, strong inner guidance, and self-love they develop is wonderful. I also offer training events through the 501c3 Nonprofit that I founded and direct: Keeping Ashland (And All) Women Safe, K.A.W.S.