When these horrible dreams finally stopped after months, I realized that I actually wanted to be sober, that it had become important to me. This was stage 3. I knew I wanted to be sober, but now I was concerned about whether I could sustain it long-term. There is fear in this stage and many people get stuck here.
All this time I had been kicking and screaming. Now, I finally had something that I wanted to hold onto. Day by day, I continued to do the work and show up. Eventually, I woke up one day to the realization that I could not remember the last time I actually thought about using drugs or alcohol.
I no longer desired to use nor did I have any charge around it. You might say I had become disinterested in drugs and alcohol. In my opinion, this is the hopeful result that people refer to as the miracle of the 12 Steps. My year relationship with yoga began the year I got sober for the final time in June of Yoga is a part of the reason that I was able to realize all that the 12 Steps have to offer and I believe strongly that yoga is indispensable in the treatment of addiction. Here are some ideas as to why Addiction is a state of mind and body where we feel distant from ease.
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- Zesty! 1 (Yaoi).
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Ask anyone who struggles with addiction if they feel "at ease" when they are not using their drug or addictive behavior of choice and they will tell you, "no". It is precisely this lack of ease that compels a person to reach for something to try to feel better or to move them closer to ease.
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It makes sense that any practice that can bring ease to the body-mind system, which is productive rather than destructive will be a key ingredient on the path of recovery from addiction. The physical practice of yoga, along with breath practices, serves to detoxify the body and to calm the mind. Yoga improves circulation and lung capacity, it stretches and strengthens muscles, it helps to work out the organs and improves digestion and it regulates the nervous and endocrine systems.
You will simply be more comfortable in your mind and body if you practice yoga. For this reason, I consider yoga to be a central and necessary component of recovery from addiction. Addiction is fueled by a sense of Lack. We know that people who struggle with addiction carry a deep sense of lack. Something seems to be missing. An itch needs to be scratched. With acute addiction, one's entire organism is caught up in a pursuit to fulfill needs that can never be met.
This is true for active addicts as much as it is true for people in recovery until they have been able to work out the complex roots of trauma that drives their behavior. In the body's hierarchy of needs, breath is 1. We can live without food for weeks. We can live without water for days. But without breath in yoga we use the term Prana or life force for even 3 minutes, we get into real trouble.
The way that we breathe directly affects our emotional state and vice versa. When we feel anxious, worried, angry or stressed our breath becomes shallow. Interestingly, shallow breathing sends a signal to our nervous system that our core need is not being met.
This reinforces a sense of lack, which creates tension and stress. For addicts in particular this is dangerous because it keeps us stuck in a somatic pattern that reinforces the illusion that we are somehow incomplete.
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It keeps us stuck in the forcefield of addiction if you will. Many people do not breathe well, meaning they have not developed the capacity to breathe deeply, to work their diaphragm and lungs. They also have not developed their core musculature, which is necessary for proper posture, to support the heart and to allow the rib cage to expand and contract when breathing deeply. In fact, some people have been breathing poorly for so long that their rib cage has become somewhat brittle.
They live in what yogis refer to as thoracic incarceration and could not take a truly deep breath even if they wanted to. Fortunately, this is a condition that can be worked out with diligent practice. Vinyasa yoga is the primary form of yoga practiced in the United States today. Vinyasa simply means movement coordinated with breath, but all yoga emphasizes a focus on breathing.
Through dedicated and sometimes strenuous practice, we develop a relationship with our breath. We come to understand that by focusing on and controlling our breath we can change how we think and feel.
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We can use the breath as a vehicle for entering states of meditation and also as a means of changing our emotional state and managing stress. By learning to do simple long deep breathing, which is accessible by almost anyone, we send a different message to our nervous system, namely that all is well and our core need is being met. This allows our body-mind system to relax and moves us toward healing, recovery and wholeness. Breathing well counters the sense of lack that plagues most addicts and is a precursor to a healthier life beyond addiction.
I love the wonderful quote from Mary Oliver who asks, "Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life? It refers to the union of mind, body and spirit. In a typical yoga class, a teacher might say, "Press down into your feet in such a way that you feel the earth press back up. Wherever the teacher directs my attention, I learn to connect with that area of my body.
In this way, yoga practice is the practice of connecting or re-connecting with my body. In active addiction, we have lost connection with our body. As we all are aware, addiction counters even our body's main directive to survive. So, to engage in practice that directs our mind to bring us back into contact with our physical self will move us toward a sense of union and be uplifting to our spirit. In more esoteric terms, yoga also refers to the union of individual consciousness with Universal consciousness.
Here we are talking about spiritual matters, which become very relevant to people who are pursuing theistic recovery paths such as the 12 Steps.
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Yoga and the 12 Steps work very well together. All over the United States we are seeing the advent of Yoga classes with a Step component to them. Experiences that bring together these two spiritual paths are proving very effective in helping people to achieve sustainable recovery. Take advantage of opportunities to learn more about the disease. We are a nationally accredited treatment center committed to the overall quality and satisfaction of all our clients. Our staff is largely comprised of people in long term recovery who serve as a role models, mentors, advocates and motivators.
These individuals share a common aim: We believe in incorporating an array of healthy practices such as yoga, mindfulness, exercise and nutrition.
These are important elements of a holistic approach. We believe that every client is unique and their treatment plans should be as well. We have crafted a strong and diverse group of clinicians who believe passionately in evidence based practice and client empowerment. We provide and coordinate multiple levels of care, as well as sober living, aftercare planning, and recovery resources.
We at the Process Recovery Center will guide you or your loved one through every step of the treatment process. I know that I would not be where I am today without the help that I received from others, and I am grateful to now be able to provide that same help.
There is nothing to be ashamed of, and I know wholeheartedly that you can get clean, stay clean, and live a beautiful life again. Please let us help. I want to go back and help my tribe. I would love to build a sober house and really involve myself with service work. Now I do what I am supposed to do. I have a sponsor; I text him every morning and every night.
I go to meetings regularly and I write step work. There is often isolation from others, from everyday life, and from oneself. Staying connected to the things and people you enjoy, in as many ways as you can, is primary to the ongoing path of recovery. Often it is believed that reconnection will come when the behavior stops. Reconnection needs to take place despite the behaviors.
I once had a client who went for her yoga teacher training and told me she could not start teaching until she stopped her behavior. This is the divisive or dualistic thinking that can easily lead to isolation, loneliness, and more feelings of emptiness and disconnection from life. Trust that if you stay connected to life, especially to the people and things that you derive energy and care from, that healing will come and the spark of compassion from within will build.
The following questions may be helpful in discovering your connection to compassion link: