I had the opportunity this last week to spend five days in PARADISE in Big Sur, California. Paradise was called The Esalen Institute and I attended a five day Yoga, Meditation, and Recovery Retreat. The facilitators placed a big emphasis on a holistic approach to healing our various addictions and while the 12 Step program was the foundation of getting well we learned how oftentimes it is not enough to sustain and/or thrive in sobriety over the long haul.
Tommy Rosen was one of the facilitators of the retreat who has just released a book entitled, Recovery 2.0. In it, he argues that when we get a hold of one addiction through the 12 Steps inevitably another pops up because we are living in a “frequency of addiction.”
In my own life, I have found this to be true. I would quit drinking and get a little bit of sobriety time behind me and then I would find myself binging uncontrollably on sugar in the form of cereal, chocolate bars, or desserts. I would give myself the green light because, “I wasn’t drinking damn it, I can eat what I want.” But the way I would “treat myself” wound up feeling like the way I would drink. I would not or could not stop even though I was not feeling so great as a result of “treating myself.” Or I would find myself watching HGTV for hours and hours and I could not walk away and do the things I needed and wanted to do. Or Netflix. I was zoning out wasting the day or staying up so late that I was feeling wasted the next day. Or I would start to run but if I couldn’t do 10km then I didn’t count it as a run. I would add a 90 minute Bikram Yoga class and would beat myself up if I couldn’t do five classes in a week despite the fact that my hip and my knee were telling me loud and clear that this was too way too much. I ignored my pain and continued the excessive behaviour in spite of the negative consequences I was experiencing. Or I would work crazy hours because that helped me check out and receive accolades from my colleagues and supervisors. But I was utterly spent by the time I got home and I would have nothing left to give myself or anyone else in my family. Or I would engage in unnecessary shopping/buying/ordering stuff online even though I needed nothing. On and on and on the list would go. As soon as I would deal with one thing, something else would pop up. As was mentioned in one of our classes, it has been a classic game of “Whack a Mole…” This behaviour occurred despite the fact that I was attending 12 Step Meetings and working the steps.
We talked about why long-term, thriving, and sustainable sobriety is so very hard for many people. For myself, after trying for more than 15 years to live a happy, sober life I have not reached more than eight months (unless pregnant). It baffles me. So many negatives when I drink so many positives when I don’t yet I cannot seem to stay the course. Reading this book is helping me to understand why a thriving, sober life has thus far eluded me despite heroic efforts on my part.
Rosen asserts that there is a “frequency of addiction” and that it takes a multifaceted approach to not only survive addiction but to thrive in recovery. He talks about the use of Yoga (to help with the “issues in our tissues”), meditation and breathing practices to aid in the healing process and to tap into a limitless source of power from within. He covers the importance of diet and our relationship to food in recovery. All of this armed WITH a 12 Step program will lead those suffering from a story of relapse to a life worth staying sober for.
I am halfway through the book right now and it is resonating. I find myself nodding my heading and uttering many “ahas” as I read. I know that Yoga has done things for me in my recovery that I cannot explain. I am beginning to tap into some meditation on a regular basis. And so I continue to research, investigate and learn from those who are not only sober but who are thriving in their recovery – they are the ones who truly have what I want. I want to create a life worth staying sober for. I want to THRIVE in my recovery. This book is arming me with some new information and I am soaking it up like a sponge…