Yoga Philosophy for Habit Change and Recovery from Mental Health Issues, Substance Abuse and Addiction
There are as many forms of recovery from substance abuse, addiction, trauma and other mental health issues and habits 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.
In Zen Lab there is a heavy emphasis on using the required workbook to custom design your own recovery plan that truly works for just you. 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 meditative discipline and the eight-fold path of the yoga tradition. Yoga is meditation in motion. Meditation is awareness in action (mindfulness.) Recovery is, in large part, comprised of the best qualities of each of these important practices.
Recovery from anything is a life-time practice, an ongoing process of healing and growth. It requires great awareness and intention to stay awake and be your own person, making conscious choices about how you manage your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, patterns of speech and relationships.
Habit change is an entire paradigm shift in our lives. It is changing the entire pattern of our life style vs. mere abstinence from our problem behaviors.
In yoga, just as in life, 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 within the process of this eight-limbed rainbow. The translation of the Sanskrit word “yoga” means to “yoke” or to unite. The recovery process is very much about union. We integrate our fragmented selves into wholeness again. Then we no longer crave relief from our unresolved pain.