First we look, then we see, then we believe and finally we can act.
In using yoga as a treatment for addiction; a guide for recovery, we have done three things so far. We looked to the symptoms (heyam), we saw the cause (hetu), and we then set a goal we could believe in (hanam). Similar to the process of a twelve step program we pause at each point and consider what we have discovered; what we have learned.
Addiction leaves no short list of symptoms: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual. There are signs in how we feel, how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. This may be obvious. We may also see for one moment and then fall back into denial, delusion, or a litany of excuses. When we are in our better selves, our “right minds” the pain and suffering of the symptoms come back. Realizing and noting that was the first section of the four part yoga treatment guide.
The cause was seen. We discovered it in the core pain, the misapprehension and misunderstanding of ourselves. We were able to dig down into our past, our own behavior, the treatment by others, accidents, injuries and trauma. We could see how our solutions that had saved us in the past were surely going to kill us now.
We set goals to recovery; these are manifested in the twelve steps, in willingness to change, in finding a community to bond with and learn from. This isn’t easy, it takes work, this is part of the effort in working to our goal. What is your goal? Mine was recovery and holistic healing: body, mind and spirit.
Now we are at the fourth part of the yoga treatment model. We establish a method, we choose tools, we become wiser about what we need in our lives to keep up whole. This step is called upayam. This is where all the facets of yoga can be customized for your individual healing. This is where the science and technology of true yoga can be useful. The mat practice is important and indeed, for many, it is the way to become comfortable with this process before the rest of the tools are introduced. What is yoga beyond the mat? It is finding play, finding breath, eating well, meeting criticism and letting it go- making way for true compassion. Yoga is meditation, contemplation and investigation of the working of the mind. Yoga is framework, a language for identifying human suffering and to embrace remedies and reliefs. What tools are useful for you in your journey to whole-ness?
Breath control – pranayama– which one(s) do you need? Breath work can invigorate and enliven. It can soothe anxiety and calm cravings. Some breath practices are designed to balance you; left brain / right brain, activity and rest. Which do you need now? Put some in your tool box.
Asana- mat yoga practice; what style do you need? Do you need to rewire your nervous system, bringing your brain back to balance? Do you need to get your wiggles out so you can calmly meditate? Do you need to practice precision to focus and reacquaint yourself with your body and its sensations? Are you needing slow stretches with a little challenge? Do you need support and rest? Learn about these styles and put them in your tool box.
Meditation- can you meditate for a minute? Are you ready to practice some discipline and meditate for twenty minutes? More? Do you want to try a silent meditation retreat? What can be a quick meditation to help you during the day? Experiment with a few styles. Challenge yourself at times and keep it simple at times. What meditation tool do you need right now?
Soothe and stimulate all your senses. Using sound, with sights of nature and of art, smelling the light fragrance of a hiking path or the rich aromas of food, allowing yourself healing touch through massage, hand holding or a gentle arm around your shoulders. Taste- eat slowly and practice noticing taste and texture. Note what you find pleasant among all of these and put that in your toolbox. These will heal you.
Action and non-action. Doing and non-doing. Each has its place. What will you choose?
Get help, get advice, work with a yoga teacher. Reach out to an Ayurvedic specialist. We say “like likes like” meaning that we often are attracted to something that may not be the best, may not challenge us, may be uncomfortable even if it is useful. Having a sponsor helps us go through the steps, having a yoga sponsor (teacher) can help you go through these four stages of yoga treatment for recovery.
If you want to know more you can contact me through my website. Do treat yourself to the grace of a guide. We cannot do this alone.