Addiction - Art of Living Retreat Center

Exploring Wisdom: The Role of Yoga in Addiction Recovery

By Tommy Rosen
June 10, 2018

Addiction - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

By definition, addiction is disconnection. T.S. Elliot once wrote that “Hell is the place where nothing connects.” That’s addiction. Nothing is connected. One feels separate from everything. There is no cohesion between mind, body, spirit; between self, other, and the relationship with the Divine. All of this is skewed and confused and difficult and muddled.

 

From disconnection to connection

The classical philosophy of yoga is union, oneness, wholeness, and coherence. The path from disconnection to connection, is, by definition, the path of yoga. Yoga is the antidote to addiction. The asana practice of yoga helps to move energy, cultivate Prana, create vitality, and rebalance the nervous system and the endocrine system. It helps heal the tissues and the cells in the brain.

 

How yoga works to heal addiction

Yoga helps you get the issues out of your tissues. It helps you squeeze and process emotional residue from the past out of the tissues of the body, so that you can be more comfortable, more present, more free. Energetically speaking, yoga allows us to develop a greater sensitivity to the subtle.

 

Addiction is the very grossest of experiences. It’s a physical anxiety, a deep and overwhelming craving. When we practice yoga, we’re moving towards the subtle, the experience of quieter things. That is what spirituality is. Yoga is the study of moving towards spirit, towards essence. It’s sensitivity training.

 

Reconnecting with mind, body, and spirit

From the pranayama standpoint, control of the breath allows us to move beyond some of our confusion to develop an even deeper sense of presence and remove some of our blockages. The state of yoga allows us to be in the state of absorption, of meditation, where we have the ability to master the mind.

 

Addiction hits us at the level of mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is about calming the mind, healing the body, and reconnecting us with spirit. It’s the perfect practice as an antidote to addiction.

 

Tommy Rosen is a yoga teacher and addiction recovery expert who has spent the last two decades immersed in recovery and wellness. He holds certifications in both kundalini and hatha yoga and has 25 years of continuous recovery from drug addiction.Tommy is one of the pioneers in the field of yoga and recovery assisting others to holistically transcend addictions of all kinds. Tommy is the founder of the Recovery 2.0 Global Community, the Recovery 2.0 Online Conference series and the Recovery 2.0 Group Coaching Program. He leads Recovery 2.0 retreats and workshops internationally and presents regularly at yoga conferences and festivals. His first book, Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life, was published by Hay House in 2014.

 

Join Tommy Rosen for his Recovery 2.0 Immersion workshop at the Art of Living Retreat Center from June 29th – July 6th, 2018, and change your life from the inside out.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: addiction , meditation , pranayama , recovery , tommy rosen , yoga
Addiction - The Art of Living Retreat Center

Exploring Wisdom: The Nature of Addiction

By Tommy Rosen
June 4, 2018

Addiction - The Art of Living Retreat Center

 

When most people hear the word addiction, they think about drugs and alcohol. We have these ideas in our mind about what addicts look like and how they behave, but addiction is actually an underlying condition, and we are compelled to try to fix that condition by reaching outside of ourselves for some kind of medicine.

 

Trying to find comfort is a noble pursuit. There is nothing wrong with it. It just so happens that this underlying condition of addiction causes us to reach for what’s easy, what’s right in front of us,and these things commonly fall into six categories.

Drugs and alcohol are the most recognizable two of these six.

 

Addiction to food

Food is a core issue for many people, whether you’re dealing with bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, or emotional eating. There are so many who have always wanted to gain control over their relationship with food but have never been able to do it.

 

Addiction to people

There are also relationship addictions. Codependency could be thought of as the disease of the lost self, when you don’t have a sense of who you are. You crave to look at yourself through someone else, you crave comfort and ease and to be fixed and found. Relationship addictions are unbelievably painful.

 

Addiction to sex

Of course, there are also sex addictions. This is the addiction that carries perhaps the most shame, that nobody really wants to talk about. This addiction is just a physical sexual act being used to fix an inside problem that can never be fixed in that way.

 

Addiction to greed

Another addiction is greed–money, gambling, debt, shopping, buying things that you don’t need because you’re trying to feel better. For a short period of time, greed gives you a sense of empowerment, but then there’s a feeling of remorse afterwards.

 

Addiction to technology

The sixth addiction is technology. There are wonderful ways to use technology, of course, but then there is using technology as a distraction, to avoid aspects of your life that you perceive as intolerable.

 

The four aggravations

In addition to this six core addictions, we also deal with four aggravations. The four aggravations are negative thinking, self-doubt, procrastination, and resentment. Now people will say, “Tommy, wait a minute. Those are not addictions. I don’t crave those things.” Of course that’s true — we don’t crave negative thinking, procrastination, resentment. We don’t crave self-doubt. But they do fit my definition of addiction, as any behavior you continue to do despite the fact that it brings negative consequences into your life.

 

Thought addictions vs behavioral addictions

Those thought addictions are different than behavioral addictions. Even though they don’t bring a phenomenon of craving, they still fit the definition. It’s still a medicine, even if it doesn’t serve us. To sum it all up, we’re all addicted to avoiding the present moment.

 

The irony and tragedy of this is that it’s only in the present moment that we get to live, to heal, to connect, to love. Those things can only happen in the here and now, and yet it’s such a terrifying proposition for us to sit still long enough to develop a relationship with our selfhood in the present moment. It’s so ingrained to distract ourselves that we have lost the ability to just sit still and to be free. To witness the mind rather than being dragged into it.

 

This avoidance comes from trauma. I define trauma as undigested emotional material from the past. You could look at is as a sort of Karma–it’s unfinished business. At some point, we felt pain and discomfort, and in that moment we didn’t know what to do with it. So we began a pattern of avoidance, trying to fix it or move away from it, anything but sitting and facing it. Action by action, thought by thought, breath by breath, day by day for the rest of our lives, we began a pattern of looking away.

 

Even if we can’t remember that original trauma, it has driven us, our entire life, to repeat this behavior of looking away, which is why I say addiction is the human condition. Everybody is an addict on some level.

 

When the seed breaks open

At some point, the individual comes to a point where change needs to take place. Every individual, at some point in their evolution, will come to the point where they recognize “I can no longer continue the way that I am, although I don’t know how else I could be.” And that’s the moment when the seed breaks open.

 

It’s at that moment when a person often finds that a bit of magic happens – maybe they pick up a random book off the shelf, or turn the corner and bump into a spiritual leader, or speak to a therapist, and that therapist has just a little seed, a little nugget of wisdom that causes them to go forward down that path. If you don’t have a desire to learn and grow, you won’t. But the minute that thirst begins, all of a sudden the universe will take note of it – “Oh! We’ve got a live one! Let’s send lessons down to this person!”

 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of shame and guilt that can trip us up in the process of recovery. As my teacher would say, “Giving energy to the fantasy of your shame will take you places you don’t want to go.”

 

The path of discovery

People recovering from addiction are in a process of becoming, just like everyone else. Everybody is in this together. Instead of saying “Are you on the path of recovery from addiction?” I say “Are you on a path of discovery in life?” We are always discovering. That’s what life is.

 

Tommy Rosen is a yoga teacher and addiction recovery expert who has spent the last two decades immersed in recovery and wellness. He holds certifications in both kundalini and hatha yoga and has 25 years of continuous recovery from drug addiction.Tommy is one of the pioneers in the field of yoga and recovery assisting others to holistically transcend addictions of all kinds. Tommy is the founder of the Recovery 2.0 Global Community, the Recovery 2.0 Online Conference series and the Recovery 2.0 Group Coaching Program. He leads Recovery 2.0 retreats and workshops internationally and presents regularly at yoga conferences and festivals. His first book, Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life, was published by Hay House in 2014.

 

Join Tommy Rosen for his Recovery 2.0 Immersion workshop at the Art of Living Retreat Center from June 29th – July 6th, 2018, and change your life from the inside out.

     

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: addiction , food , greed , meditation , recovery , sex , technology , tommy rosen , yoga
Yoga and Addiction

Exploring Wisdom: Nikki Myers on Overcoming Addiction

By AOLRC
December 11, 2017

Yoga and Addiction

Recent Art of Living Retreat Center retreat host Nikki Myers has created a revolutionary, holistic approach to addiction recovery that combines yoga philosophy and the tools of the traditional 12-step program. We recently spoke with Nikki about how these two philosophies work together, the role of sacred transformation, and her own road to recovery. 

 

A practice born from lived experience

Here’s the story: my life was in the thrall of addiction for many years. There’s a phrase used in 12-step programs that goes ‘jails, institutions, and death’ — well, all of those I understand, and all of those I have experience with. My inspiration to create this program comes out of my own lived experience with addiction and recovery.

I found my way into 12-step programs by the grace of something bigger than myself. The 12-step program absolutely, positively saved my life. For 8 years, I was immersed in this program, but even after 8 years clean, I relapsed, and found myself falling back into addictive behavior all over again.

After my first relapse, I was reintroduced to yoga. I’d had experience with yoga before, but coming back to it, I truly fell in love with the practice for the first time, and began to understand how closely the philosophy and practice of yoga relates to the 12-step program.

 

Working together to heal addiction

There were so many connections that I saw between yoga and the program, and after four years of studying yoga and staying clean, I decided that I didn’t need the program anymore. And you know what? I relapsed again. It was only after that second relapse that I came to realize that I was keeping these two practices in separate boxes. What I really needed to sustain recovery was a marriage between the two.

Y12SR was created out of my personal experience, and along the way, I discovered there were so many more people like me. The 12-step program deals with the cognitive aspects of addiction, but yoga helps with the somatic aspect, and together, they create a full-system set of teachings.

There is a model in yoga philosophy that comes from the yoga sutras, stating how the root of so many problems is in Avidya, which ultimately is a misconception of who we are. We think we’re separate from each other and from nature, from the universe, and even from our own bodies.

The founders of the 12-step program address the same problem, but a little differently. They call it “stinkin’ thinkin'”, but it’s the same thing as misconception. We look at things through the lens of our own subjective experience, which can lead us to misinterpretation of the world around us and ourselves.

 

‘It depends’…

One of my teachers says the answer to everything is ‘it depends’. When the pain of not doing something at all became greater than the pain of taking a step forward, then I knew it was time to take the step forward.

This step could simply be an investigation. I tell people all the time to just try some things on. One of the things I personally tried early on was giving up — if you want to see if you’re addicted to something, watch what happens when you take it away. Your mood, your attitude, even your physiology can change. If you experience these kinds of changes, it could be an indicator of a serious problem.

 

A spiritual solution to a spiritual problem

There are many avenues to combat addiction. Of course, there are 12-step programs, which are absolutely brilliant, and do tie very closely to yoga. You could try yoga, or online resources. There are many ways to begin the journey to recovery.

At its heart, the crisis of addiction is a spiritual problem, a spiritual crisis. We’ve taken a pharmaceutical approach to it, and in my experience, what I assert is that there will never be a pharmacological answer to a spiritual crisis. Both yoga and the 12-step program affirm this. Addiction is a spiritual issue that needs a spiritual remedy.

What I love about the combination of yoga and the cognitive pieces of the 12-step program is that together, they offer tools and processes to begin to support that spiritual transformation, that sacred road to recovery.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: addiction , cleanse , healthy lifestyle , wellness , wisdom , yoga

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