Yoga Philosophy for Recovery from Substance Abuse and Addiction
There are as many forms of recovery from substance abuse and addiction as there are people. One of my most inspirational influences stayed sober for well over 40 years through his practice of poetry, mythology and chanting. Many other people practice meditation and yoga as their primary form of recovery from substance abuse and addiction.
In the mindfulness based intensive outpatient program at Inner-Work Counseling there is a heavy emphasis on using the required workbook to custom design your own program of recovery. It’s important to honor your individuality in the recovery process. Open mindedness is another important quality. That’s how we take in new and creative ideas about how to stay inspired on our path.
Much of my professional training (and personal experience) in recovery stems from the 8 fold path of the yoga tradition. In fact there are many commonalities between the 12-step program and yoga. Yoga is meditation in motion. Meditation is awareness in action. Recovery is, in large part, comprised of the best qualities of each of these important practices.
Recovery from substance abuse and addiction is a practice, an ongoing process of healing and growth. It requires great awareness to stay awake and be your own person, making conscious choices about how you manage your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, patterns of speech and relationships.
Recovery from substance abuse and addiction is an entire paradigm shift in our lives. It is changing the entire pattern of our life style vs. mere abstinence from our drugs of choice.
In yoga, just as in recovery from substance abuse and addiction, I encourage the brave people undertaking this long-term process to invite compassion towards themselves into the equation of healing and growth. This means to notice when we are judging and criticizing ourselves. Then we mindfully let go of our harsh self-judgment again and again as we courageously explore this new territory in our consciousness.
Most people think only of the postures (asanas) associated with the word yoga. In fact, the postures are just a vehicle to the pot of gold at the end of this eight limbed rainbow. The translation of the Sanskrit word “yoga” means to “yoke” or to unite. The recovery process from substance abuse and addiction is very much about union. We integrate our fragmented selves into wholeness again. Then we no longer crave relief from our unresolved pain.