Ask Kyczy about Yoga and Recovery; Samskara – negative habits of the mind

Moving out of negative ways of thinking is so important for an addict. It is a challenge for all humans, but we addicts have the additional concern of jumping into the rut of negative thinking and sliding right into addictive behavior. Thought patterns or habits of the mind – referred to as samskaras – become more entrenched the more we follow them. These patterns emanate from impressions of the subconscious mind reinforced by later decisions we had made as the result of upbringing, social adaptation, responses to negative experiences and plain wrong thinking. Later we increase the grooves of unskilled thinking as the result of actions and habits we ourselves had taken up to “take care” of ourselves or to get high. For example the self protective behavior we might have had in childhood of withdrawing from social interaction to avoid toxic actions in a household filled with verbal or physical violence, may lead to an attraction for an reclusive addiction like on line gaming, or alcoholism. That activity reinforces this samskara of isolation and withdrawal. Addiction can increase the samskara to constant feelings of being “apart from” or “alienated”. These patterns still exist in sobriety /abstinence and, without remedy, can further hamper wise and healthy personal relations. What can you do to overcome this habitual rut of negative samskara?
You can overcome this pattern by building new habits of the mind, healthy ways of looking at things, and healthy activities. In the example of isolation and alienation in the example above, the samskaras can be remedied by finding meetings of recovery that reinforce pursuing solutions, working with others and being “a part of”; the healthy satsang of WE (a group of like minded recovery oriented, spiritual people). They can help by example, demonstrating their abilities in overcoming isolation and alienation. Yoga classes that stress the positive, the being in the moment, the paying attention to the internal landscape and the breath, can also help develop positive habits of the mind. The philosophy of yoga, along with the practice of the recovery principles, can lead to uncovering the source of these samskaras and help to overcome and replace them with positive habits of the mind. A lifelong practice – but well worth it.

Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200 is the author of “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”, a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training she holds with her good friend Kent Bond E-RYT500. Find out more about her, her classes and the training at