Addiction

The Five Yamas Approach to Un-Fucking Your Life

Although, contextually quite academic, due to it’s topical relevance – I want to share something I recently wrote for my client, who works in the field of health and wellness.  Consequently, I decided to make this the first of a five (5) part series on, “The Five Yamas and a Yogic Approach to Recovery,” or “How to Un-Fuck Your Life With Yoga.” 

Enjoy.

The process of recovery is, for an addict, a rebirth. It is a golden opportunity to replace what was old with what is new. By releasing all that is no longer useful, the door to personal evolution swings open and the ability to embrace fresh ideas, new relationships, and more harmonious ways of being can flourish.

Aparigraha, a yogic practice based on restraint and temperance from possession and self-indulgence is a notoriously popular, straightforward approach to suturing the wounds left on an addicted body, mind, and spirit. The practice uses physical and mental [nonmedicinal] techniques of combining exercise and mindfulness to directly stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where addiction does substantive amounts of degenerative harm. Harmonizing and re-syncing the body and soul, allow for significant reductions of future onset anxiety and depression — the two most demonstrative triggers for relapse.

Yogic practices support an entire path or journey to wellness and the right time for a person in recovery to start practicing – is ALWAYS, anytime. From the first terrifying step into the abyss (where one‘s weak physical strength, balance, and overall self-esteem are in a constant battle of wills) the rewards are bountiful and evident.

A practice such as Aparigraha gives without the expectation of receiving to those willing to receive its benefits. Immaterial is the nature of a person’s struggle – be it alcohol, drugs, codependency or where in the 12-step process he may be. There is no formality to getting involved, no introducing themselves as an addict to a room full of strangers. The price of admission is merely an open mind and a yoga mat.

While the benefits of ongoing, regular practice of yoga are countless, I’d like to focus on

Lessons Learned Through the Practice of Aparigraha in Addiction Recovery:

1. The Art of Letting Go (to Feelings & Resentments)

In yogic terms, letting go occurs when a practitioner reaches point of soulful ease (relaxation) and can the open the heart to release all emotional pain. he will begin to see that it is his thoughts which cause his feelings, not the actions of others. By recognizing resentments are nothing more than the result of the negative self-talk and that maladjusted thoughts are responsible for creating his pain, he can let go of the hold that others have on him. Breaking free of bitterness, a person becomes open to love.

In recovery, it is crucial to learn forgiveness. By doing so, permission to feel happiness is re-established. Without forgiveness, resentment lives on – ultimately, it is what continues to keep a person who is suffering from addiction, sick. Deciding to forgive (although but not necessarily to forget) creates a sense of closure and establishes boundaries – which will begin to once and for all, break the cycle of suffering.

2. Re-Establishing Levels of Self-Care

The most important form of self-care is learning to calm the body, mind, and spirit. Reciting a personal mantra (called “japa” in Sanskrit) is an integral of Aparighara practice. Chanting a syllable or word, repeatedly, draws the attention inward and keeps it there, closing off the outside world and infusing self-study with intention, purpose, and meaning. Focusing on oneself at that moment, while conscious of breathing, pain exits the body and soul.

Inhaling oxygen in is peace.
Exhaling out releases the pain of the past.
Breathing newness in allows peace to enter the body.

Nurturing and re-centering one’s self re-establishes a feeling of independence and strength. By creating a harmonious space for themselves, they are then able to move to the next part, of inviting others in to share the meditation space.

3. Sense of Community – Spiritual and Otherwise

Recovery does not need to be a solitary effort or lonely place for an addict. In fact, by isolating, an already vulnerable, idle mind is prone to relapse. The group practice of yoga serves as a mental distraction to keep the spirit from ruminating. By sharing time, energy, knowledge, attention and connections – the addicted soul may again begin to thrive.

By taking part of group meditation/ yoga practice – addicts can begin to rebuild holistic support systems. It is likely that in the period before recovery, the addict experienced compromised, tested or fractured relationships – many of which have no solid foundation on which to rebuild.

Finding new friends can often be a daunting task. Connecting on a deep level with those whom he practices yoga with, those who may come from a different place but are headed the same direction – relationship building effortlessly takes place. In addition to that, meditating with a group is a profound form of socialization, more so than meeting for coffee or happy hour drinks.

By being a part of a bigger picture, group practice provides the benefit of being a part of a spiritual environment, similar that of a church or synagogue – without the requirement of religious beliefs. It is one of the rare places a person can spend time engaging a higher power in a rewarding activity and receiving the gift of love and acceptance for doing so.

4. Replacing Mind-Altering Substances With Natural Highs

The practice of Aparigraha allows an addict to draw awareness away from external stimuli, to detach from his senses, and direct attention inward.

In recovery, depression is often a result having to reflect on the past and, conversely, a great deal of anxiety comes from anticipating the uncertainty of the future.

Metaphorically speaking, when left hungry or empty inside, an addict works fervently to ward off unhealthy external cravings and desires to fill the feelings emptiness inside. Clearing out the mental debris, which clouds judgment and clarity allows him to stay grounded in the present and focus on recovery – far away from relapse.

The practice of reaching heightened levels of awareness promotes reliance on a profound peace within. In other words, becoming less inclined to chase the longings of the senses outside of the body – the hunger for external pleasure – and more prone to pursue the happiness that lies within.

Yoga becomes the ultimate coping mechanism. It becomes a unique nirvanic place to safe to return to repeatedly for a healthy supply of serenity and pleasure.

5. Using Meditation In Place of Negative Behaviors

Meditation (in the practice of yoga) is for the mind what a barbell is for the bicep – it is strength training. The true meditative state is a deliberate and conditioned act of mindfulness. Slow, mindful transitions between poses reach all the parts of the mind-body network that might be holding the pattern of anger in place. Meditation also aids in providing a direct route to forgiveness. As the mind-body system heals, discontent no longer has a home.

There comes the point in recovery where every addict, with the help of a professional, is required to focus on self-inflection in the attempt to understand what caused their life to become so chaotic and full of pain in the first place. Yoga and meditation help in the process by fully engaging the body, mind, and heart in moments of discomfort. In turn, the addict can be conditioned to noticing uncomfortable feelings without needing to react or escape them and can now focus on the intense discipline required to enact lasting change successfully.

Those heavily shackled by the chains of habit, who have relinquished their power to choose; are painfully aware that addiction is the dictator, making all the rules. Like gravity, an addict will bend everything in space-time to serve the insatiable appetite. They live in terror and project that terror onto the world. They live in fear of being exposed for what they are. Once forced to face the pain and emptiness, it becomes mandatory to employ tools to begin rebuilding a life or purity, virtuousness, truth, and generosity – the life that can almost always be received, by taking a look inside of one’s self through the practice of Aparigraha.


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Chris Truxall

    February 26, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Some of the best advise I have heard on the physical and spiritual level. Excellent

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