Addiction once took everything I had. The insidious disease of addiction was the king of my court. Sometimes I wondered if I could have avoided the pain of it all if I would have been introduced to something that would have helped my mind and body be more balanced in a healthy, natural way. I came to realize that everything happened exactly the way it needed to so that I could get to where I am today. If I could take back the pain and suffering that my substance abuse caused, I absolutely would. No one wants to be that person, but I have learned that all of the pain from my past can be used to help others. I can let people know there is hope, and there is a lot of hope, of getting sober and leading happy fulfilling lives. I can tell you that from experience. This is just one way that it was done.
While using I was avoiding my emotions by distracting myself with outside things. I thought that if I could fill the unhappiness or uneasiness with something that would take me out of myself, everything would be OK. It worked at first. Or so I thought. Instead of acknowledging my emotions, I was shoving them down. Deep down. I felt like I had a solution but I could no longer stand being sober. Any amount of pain or unpleasantness while I was sober (Which wasn’t often) would set off a thousand switches in my body, triggering all of the other emotions I had been ignoring. That is no way to live! The problem that occurs when we avoid pain is that we miss opportunities to learn and grow from it. Pain is there for a reason, it wants to be heard, and it will get louder and louder until we listen. Often times emotional pain will show up in the body and get trapped until we find ways to acknowledge and release them. Yoga was the first way I experienced doing this in a slow and gentle way.
Growth is so exciting. Now that I am sober, I can look back every 6 months along my journey and see so much positive change within myself. When I was using I felt like time sort of stood still. It was the same thing, day after day. Surviving addiction was a miracle. I should have died numerous times. Being on the other side alive and sober I knew I had to make some major changes in my daily routine. I started to thread in exercise, yoga, nutrition, and other holistic modalities to replace bad habits. Doing these things on a regular basis allowed me to express the Alana that I had been stuffing down for years. I was free. Meditation and yoga helped my mind be still enough to not identify with my thoughts. The same mind that used to go a mile a minute was now finding calmer seas. Yoga and Meditation have been a huge part of my long-term sobriety. However, I believe this is applicable to anyone who wants to begin a yoga practice. We all have difficulties in life. The practice of mindfulness is beneficial to everybody.
It can be done in so many different ways, and the journey is as individual to a person as a snowflake. The best thing we can do is just start. My intention for you is that you feel unconditionally loved on your path, now and always.
Explore and Bloom!
- Say Yes. With yoga (And really anything!) the hardest part is beginning. At some point, I just said, “Yes.” I said yes to attending a class with a friend one day and then I said yes again a couple days later. Pretty soon I was going on my own. The teachers suggested starting with 3 days of group practice a week, so I said, “Yes.” No longer than a week later I was feeling cool, calm, and collected while trying on some strength in warrior. It didn’t matter if I fumbled through sequences because I learned how to accept each piece of my path while practicing on the mat, for being exactly the way it was meant to be.
- Water The Seed. Once you make your first few yoga classes, you will most likely feel markedly different. I like to describe what yoga did to my mind as what a hot iron would do to wrinkled sheets. What was once anxiety seemed to magically transform in to a cool and encumbered sense of well-being. I was breathing a little more fully. My body felt less rigid and more open. Like all relationships, the relationship to self must be nurtured so that it can continue to grow. To water the seed of this new way of being, I was told to be kind to myself, to drop judgement, to be present, and to treat others with love and compassion.
- Bloom. Allow yourself to bloom. You deserve it. Let all of the sorrows, fears, regrets, and fabled thoughts GO. Let them go. You are meant for greatness. Yoga and meditations bring awareness and an ability to accept with loving kindness. You will learn how to de-weed your mental garden. Some weeds will come out easy, some many be a little stubborn, but no matter what, they will come to the surface and you have the choice to honor them and allow them to go.
- Sunshine or Rain. We can practice anywhere. We can learn that everything is exactly how it is meant to be. It is all a part of the crazy beautiful canvas called life. When we embrace everything this way, we can find our center in the middle of chaos. Just like the still and majestic mountain peaks who endure all of the earth’s wild changes, we embrace this moment knowing that we are unshakeable.
- Radiate Love. Yoga takes on a very special meaning for us who pursue it. It becomes a way of life because it’s so ecumenical. During practice the mat takes on the role of our mirror. We surrender to the incredible light that shines through each and every one of our sweaty, messy, glistening, radiant self because that is our Divine right! So we take what we learned on our mat and walk through our day with our heads held high. We do this together, knowing that if one of us stumbles, another one of us will be there to catch you with a smile. Let yourself be known in your yoga and wellness communities and get to know it. Smile at a stranger. Give thanks for your blessings. Try to help out without being discovered. Radiate love!
ERYT, Reiki, Intuitive Healing, Retreat Leader
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