Our Founder’s Story: How I Learned to Love Myself
Kay White - Executive Director at Villa Kali Ma Spiritual Life Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor
After three decades of suffering from alcohol, drug, and relationship addiction, I had finally reached my so called “bottom”. I had reached a point where I was so ashamed of myself and so full of self-hatred that I could not go on. I had lowered myself to participating in the most pathetic lifestyle I could ever have imagined. How did I end up here? How did I let this happen to me? How could I do this to my children?
I had to find a way out.
Most of my friends and family had given up on me. They were tired of my selfishness and all of my excuses. My children had lost all respect for me and were extremely angry for what I had put them through. I could see my youngest daughter, who was 15 at the time, was following in my footsteps and I blamed myself for her self-destructive behavior. So I ended a dysfunctional, addictive and abusive relationship that had lasted five long years and checked myself into rehab. That was the beginning of my journey into healing and learning to really love and value myself for the first time in my life.
I discovered the spiritual path of Yoga at my treatment center in Malibu, California. My teacher’s name was Gabriella Nagy. She was the first to show me that there was a spiritual way of life through the teachings of Yoga. I had always thought of yoga as just a bendy stretchy exercise you do at the gym. I could barely practice the physical movements because of the chronic pain I had been suffering for more than 3 years. I learned that yoga is an 8 limbed path to enlightenment and only one of the limbs was the poses. Now I was learning how to meditate and how to breathe, and I could feel the practices were making me feel better. It would calm my mind and allow me to feel hopeful about the recovery process I was undertaking. I would be in a better mood all day after practicing.
After 30 days in treatment I moved into a sober living home for women. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, I just knew that I was never going to have fun again and that nobody would want to be my friend now that I quit drinking. I wanted to keep practicing yoga because it was the only thing that gave me relief from my self loathing. I was able to get Gabriella the yoga teaching position at the sober house. I lived there for 4 months and practiced yoga 3 days a week. I also attended AA Meetings daily, but I did not get a sponsor or start working the steps because I did not have a “higher power” which I believed I needed in order work the 12-steps authentically.
As the months passed, I continued to feel that something was missing. I was still feeling a longing for something more meaningful in my life. I was still broken hearted, full of guilt and remorse and was not ready to return home and face the wreckage of my past. Then an acquaintance told me about a online course called “Inner Engineering” taught by a spiritual yogi from India called Sadhguru, so I signed up. I loved it! This course taught me how to let go of the past and live in the present moment accepting what is and taking responsibility for my life. I learned the importance of a daily ritual and I knew I needed to have a commitment to a daily meditation practice if I wanted to grow spiritually. Not long after this I came across a book called “Yoga Bitch” by Suzanne Morrison. In the book she goes on a spiritual journey to Bali and has a profound spiritual awakening. I knew that was what I needed!
So I packed up my things and checked out of my sober living house and went to Bali for what was going to be a 2 week trip before heading back home to San Diego. Instead I ended up spending two months studying, practicing, and learning from many teachers from all around the world. At 48 years old with sciatica down both legs and debilitating back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, I signed up for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training course from the Yoga Alliance Accredited School of Sacred Arts that would be held at The Yoga Barn in Ubud. I had never signed up for anything this demanding in my life! The course was 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for 30 days. I knew it would be the hardest thing I ever did, but I couldn’t not do it. Something inside me was not letting me say no. I was led to this, the door was open and all I had to do was say yes to it. So I did!
It was during this course that I actually experienced a spiritual awakening. I was finally in touch with my higher power! It was a gradual realization that came to me as I listened to and spent time with the wonderful teachers who were so passionate in showing me the way. Through meditation and other Yoga practices, I became aware of my soul, my spirit and my true divine nature. Then, suddenly, one day on the mat I realized that I love myself! For the first time ever in my life, I truly love myself! I was filled with an enormous sense of gratitude for life and tears of joy poured from my eyes. Then my heart burst open and I was filled with compassion for all beings suffering on the planet and more tears poured out. I could now see very clearly what life was really about. I could see clearly my path, my purpose in life. I could now see that my past experiences were lessons, which had brought me right to where I was at that moment, right where I needed to be.
Since then, my life just keeps getting better! I found out that I can have way more fun than I did when I was on the rollercoaster of drugs, alcohol, and drama. I can be high on life everyday! I love my life now and I have amazing friends who love me for who I am. My body healed after only a few months of practice. No more sciatica and no more back pain! I changed my diet and began eating healthy organic whole foods, no more processed foods or fast food restaurants. I healed from my broken heart and for the first time in my life I got through the breakup without using other men to get over it. I vowed not to date for a least a year and I kept my vow. All of these experiences have taken me from a sad, broken down, beat up woman with a victim mentality, to a grateful and empowered woman who loves and respects herself and lives with integrity.
Immediately after my spiritual awakening, it became clear to me what I wanted to do. I wanted to help other women who were struggling with the same issues that I had suffered from. So I created Villa Kali Ma – A Place for Transformation. I truly hope that you will come with an open heart and mind, as I did, and embrace all the tools and teachings that will be available to you to truly heal yourself and totally transform your life forever! My goal is to make this an amazing experience for you, so that you can discover your own beautiful soul, your own true path and purpose in life, and learn to follow your bliss! This program is inspired by the Hero’s Journey and offered to all women who want to learn how to be the hero of their own life.
I continue to work a program of recovery, which includes attending AA Meetings, Refuge Recovery Meetings, being of service to others in recovery, and practicing the 8-limbed path of yoga. I have been able to repair my relationships with my friends and family. Although it may take years for them to completely heal from the pain of growing up in a dysfunctional environment, my daughters have forgiven me and our relationship keeps getting better. I am now being a good example of how live and love in this world, and how you can change your life if you want to. I have never been happier. I am in love with life, with nature, with Mother Earth and all the wonderful beings I get to share it with. I am excited to share everything I’ve learned with every woman who comes to Villa Kali Ma to heal and transform their lives. It is possible! I did it, and you can too!
Namaste=The divine in me, recognizes the divine in you
Sat Nam=I bow to the truth, the divine essence of being
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the following people who inspired me, taught me, and helped me discover my true self. Some of you may not even know how you helped me, but it was in your teachings, your energy, the way you are making a difference in the world and how you are sharing your love for the people and the planet, that affected me greatly and helped me to heal and transform my life. I now feel a great desire to share what I’ve learned and help others, as all of you have helped me.
Gabriella Nagy – Yoga Teacher, Sober Fun Adventure
Justin J Leitstein – Marriage & Family Therapist, MA, LMFT, Malibu
Audrey Hope – Spiritual Addiction Therapy
Sadhguru – Isha Yoga Foundation, Inner Engineering
Simone MacKay, Troy McFadden, Bex Tyrer, Tina Nance, Cat Kabria, and all my classmates – School of Sacred Arts, Bali, Indonesia
Deborah Williamson – Live, Love, Teach Yoga
Cherie Rae – Peace Yoga, Los Angeles, CA
Amy Weintraub, Yogini Rose – Lifeforce Yoga for Depression
Rev. Michael Beckwith – Agape Spiritual Center, Culver City, CA
Tom and Trisha Kelly – Soul of Yoga, Encinitas, CA
Tony and Marcia Frescura – Soul of Yoga, Encinitas, CA
Nischala Joy Devi – Abundant Wellbeing, A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutra’s
Mark Whitwell – Heart of Yoga
Ashley Turner – Yoga, Spirituality+Psycology – The Hero’s Journey
Bhava Ram, Laura Plumb – Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts, San Diego, CA
Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa – Golden Bridge, Kundalini Yoga, Los Angeles, CA
Tommy Rosen – Recovery 2.0 Beyond Addiction Online Conferences
Saul David Raye – Yoga / Spiritual Teacher – Ritam Healing Arts
Govind Das – Bhakti Yoga Teacher, Bhakti Yoga Shala, Santa Monica
Tom Shadyac – “I Am” Documentary that continues to inspire me, please watch it!
Patty H. – My Sponsor
To My Family and Friends
I would like to send my deepest appreciation and gratitude to my family and friends who stood by me (put up with me), while patiently waiting for me to stop my destructive behavior and seek help.
Thank you to my two beautiful daughters, Courtney and Mckenna, who were forced to watch helplessly as I self destructed and neglected them. I know I cannot undo what I did, but I wish I could. I had all the love I could ever want right in front of me and I just didn’t realize it. I do now. I love you both with all my heart and I am extremely grateful to have you in my life. You have both turned out to be amazing young ladies and I am so proud of you! I promise to do my best everyday to be the mother you both deserve. Thank you for giving me another chance to be part of your lives. I am here for you now and always will be!
To Jessye, David, Crystal, and Bill who were always there for my children when I was not, which was often. You supported me even when you knew I was wrong. Thank you so much for all the love and support you gave to the girls. Thanks to all of you they were not alone in the world with no one to turn to. You gave them family when I did not. I know that those family experiences of love, support and belonging that all of you provided, are what saved them. You have all done so much for me and the girls and I will always be grateful. You set great examples of what parents should be like and how families should be together and love each other. I am lucky to be able to call you my family and I love you all!
To my lifelong friends Stacy and Wanda, who have always been there for me, even when I was a horrible excuse for a friend. Through all of my selfishness and neglect, through my disastrous love life and endless hours (years) of complaining, somehow the two of you have remained with me. You are both amazing, wonderful, loving friends and I am so lucky to have you in my life. I will do my best from now on to be the friend you both deserve. Thank you! I love you both!
To Betty, thank you so much for always being there for me!!! I know how horrible I was sometimes and no matter what, you always went above and beyond to take care of me and the girls, and you never complained once. You are an amazing woman and I am very grateful to have you in my life. You are a kind and beautiful soul and I love you!
To Stephanie who was always there for me no matter how much drama I came with, which was a lot! You are a great friend and I appreciate having you in my life. Thanks so much to you and Danielle for taking me in when I was homeless! I love you guys!
"I don't believe it to be an exaggeration to say that Villa Kali Ma saved my life. I couldn't have asked for a better environment to heal and redirect onto a path towards true living."Kristen B.
"This place completely changed my life. I needed a drastic change from the typical recovery environment in order to stay sober long term. Villa Kali Ma was more than able to provide a safe healing environment for me to cultivate a strong spiritual connection through yoga, meditation, and an organic lifestyle. I can honestly say that I love who I am today and I am forever grateful for Villa Kali Ma!"Cynthia B.
"I am so grateful I found Villa Kali Ma, it has truly changed my life. Kay is awesome and the entire team who works there is absolutely amazing. I was introduced to many different types of therapy, healing and recovery options. I was able to choose what works for me and continue them outside of treatment once I went home. VKM is truly a tranquil place to start healing. If you are looking for treatment I would highly recommend making this the start to your recovery."Suzie H.