During a yoga training course I recently completed we studied with renowned Ayurvedic teacher, Durga. She teaches the yoga of recovery from addiction. The first day she asked each of the 22 people in our class to share their experience with addiction. I found out we were all closely related to an addict of some kind. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents and siblings were all among those with addiction issues.
My parents were addicted to cigarettes. Tobacco killed them both. They also used alcohol daily.
My ex-wife was a cocaine and crystal meth addict for many years. She has never recovered her health.
The essential question is why do so many of us succumb to addiction? Durga, a recovering alcoholic who combines the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with yoga and Ayurveda treatment addresses this question from a spiritual perspective. Yoga and Ayurveda (the medical sister science to yoga) say that addiction stems from the fact that we have forgotten our true identity and nature. Likewise, Deepak Chopra speaks of addictions as “self-destructive outlets for an unrecognized spiritual craving.” According to these ancient teachings we are spiritual beings whose true nature is bliss. Consequently, our longing for fulfillment, love, freedom and peace are turned outward rather than inward to our true nature. As Durga says, “we seek the eternal in the transient.” We try to find our bliss by seeking euphoria in the many intoxicants or habits the world offers. Whether our addictions involve alcohol, drugs, food, gambling or shopping, it is a fundamental unhealthy dependence that is at issue.
The next question is: what do yoga and Ayurveda offer to help us remember and connect with our true nature which helps us break addictive behavior patterns? Yoga/Ayurveda and the 12 steps agree that breaking addiction begins with recognition of our powerlessness over our addiction and that we must conduct “a fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Yoga calls this svadhyaya or self observation. As we examine our lives with compassion we begin to see the errors and misapprehensions that have led us down the blind alley of addiction. This is where we can start to reclaim our lives and our own heroic journeys. We re-establish the connection with our basic goodness, our innate talents, our breath and our eternal life force or prana.
Yoga and Ayurveda offer ways for us to nourish our life force. Through a balanced regimen of delicious, wholesome foods, herbs, proper exercise and meditation we reignite our desire for the sweetness of life that sustains us. Tasting the sweetness of life once again helps to displace addictive behaviors.
We also begin to form a new bond of community with like-minded healthy people who can lovingly help us on this path of awakening and reconnection to our true nature and identity.
Yoga and Ayurveda offer an effective path of health and recovery to the addict because they address the roots of addiction. Combined with the 12 steps, yoga and Ayurveda provide a comprehensive, holistic way to restore ourselves to balance.
For more information please visit Durga at: www.yogaofrecovery.com