The first yoga sutra of the teachings of the ancient Indian sage Patanjali states, “Atha Yoga Anushasanam.” This roughly translates to, “Now the practice of yoga begins.” This same message can be interpolated into recovery life. Every morning can begin by exclaiming, “Now recovery begins!” In recovery, it is good to stay in the day-to-day, and an effective way of doing that is by incorporating a practice of breathwork and meditation.
Substances are a shortcut to feeling good, but shortcuts also have heavy tolls which aren’t worth it in the long run. Substances are often used as a “solution” to those struggling with deeper underlying issues. Sometimes this “solution” even works for a while, but eventually, it stops working, and when it stops it often comes with hard realities.
In recovery, it is important to incorporate positive practices in life that can help alleviate the negative emotional truths that often pop up in recovery. A practice that includes meditation and breathwork can help elevate both physical and mental well-being to head down the path to a healthy and long-lasting recovery.
Substances as a Shortcut
Many 12-Step programs discuss the idea of “finding an easier, softer way.” What does that mean exactly? It means that many people trying to recover from their addiction try to find a way around the often difficult (and sometimes scary) work that is needed for a healthy recovery. They try to find a shortcut.
This is not surprising. Substance use has often been the addicted individual’s shortcut to dealing with life’s problems for a long time. However, this is also not their fault. This is simply the nature of addiction. The addictive voice that has taken hold will stop at nothing to protect itself and get the substance it craves.
So, what happens when that substance has left the physical picture and is no longer presented as the solution? The instinct is often to find another quick fix. Why? Because without something filling the hole in their life that their addiction once filled, they feel hollow and unfulfilled. This is why practices like breathwork and meditation can be so crucial in recovery: because they begin to fill up the void that those substances once occupied.
The Destructive Nature of Self
Go into a 12-Step meeting and you might hear someone utter this oft-heard phrase: “The mind is a dangerous place. Don’t go in there alone.” What they are referring to is the idea that the “self” can be just as destructive as the substance that was once used to avoid it.
There is a well-respected idea that addiction is but a symptom of deeper-rooted problems. This would help explain why simply stopping using a substance of choice does not solve the struggles of addiction.
No, if deeper issues regarding the self, such as self-centeredness, selfishness, and self-pity aren’t addressed, then addiction struggles will possibly and probably continue. Just because the substance is gone does not mean the behaviors are too. These behaviors must be addressed as well.
Utilizing Breathwork: Getting Out of Self
The first step in a 12-Step program refers to the idea of “admitting powerlessness.” This is difficult for many people to accept until perhaps they try to recover from their addiction “cold turkey.” Many people that are in active addiction will find that this does not work because they do not have an alternate solution to their substance abuse.
We should note that some people can recover by simply stopping, so we are not diminishing or discouraging that choice. However, Spero Recovery Center recognizes that this is often not the most effective method of recovery. We have a program that we have found exceptionally effective.
Incorporating a practice of breathwork and meditation can help someone better understand the depth of what their recovery means. Physically, breathwork has been shown to alleviate stress, lower the heart rate, and bring about a better sense of well-being.
Meditation has been shown to help those struggling with addiction connect to something outside of themself. That something in 12-Step programs is often referred to as a “Higher Power.” No matter what that Higher Power may be, whatever helps get someone out of their own way in recovery can be a huge boon to avoiding relapse.
Staying Free From the Bondage of Self
Sutra 1.2 in the teachings of Patanjali states, “Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah.” In very simplified terms this translates to, “Now is the time to settle the mind.”
Active addiction often keeps someone in a constant cycle of finding their next “fix.” In this, active addiction has essentially enslaved the essence of the individual’s humanity. They are in bondage to their addiction. In bondage to their choices. Thus, they are in bondage to their addicted self.
The good news is that this bondage can be broken, and has been broken by millions of people that once struggled with addiction. There are many paths one can take toward recovery. Often the most effective path is the one that merges many. That is why incorporating breathwork and meditation into a program of recovery continues to help people “trudge the road to happy destiny,” every day.
Addiction tends to block any aspect of life that doesn’t involve, well, quite frankly, your addiction. That is why it can be so difficult to find other means of wellness in recovery. Actively feeding your addiction was the solution for so long, it can be difficult to believe that anything else will work. If this is the case, ask yourself one question: “is my current way of life still working?” If not, then it is time to find another way. One of those ways that have been shown effective time after time is active breathwork and meditation. It is time for a new way of life. For more information, please contact Spero Recovery Center at (303) 351-7888.