In Recovery we talk a lot about power, powerlessness, control, the need for control, the lack of control, the loss of control. We talk about the will and surrendering our will.
There's not enough talk about using our will appropriately.
Surrendering does not mean that I no longer have a will, I don't give my will away. I turn it over.
Step 3 - We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the god of our understanding.
This is not giving up my will, it's making a commitment to be in service to a higher power by using my will appropriately.
When I take an attitude of relinquishing my will, it easy to justify laziness and bad behavior with silly phrases like "it wasn't god's will" or "must have been god's will".
Yoga, being a system of Self realization, just as the 12 steps of Recovery are a path back to my true self, teaches me how to use my will appropriately.
Active addiction left me in a state of emotional disturbance, unable to appropriately use or even access my will. My mind was riddled with disease (a dysfunctional way of interacting with myself and my world that started way before I used drugs for the first time). Yoga gives me access to my gut instincts, the truth of my heart and the authentic intellect of my mind.
12 step recovery and talk therapy, while helpful, still relies on the same diseased field that created my addiction. It takes a long time to sift through distorted thinking and ways of being with the mind still disturbed as a result of active addiction. It is possible, however to gain almost immediate access to the true will simply by committing to connect to the breath moving in and out of the body each day.
The early days of my recovery were filled with out-patient therapy and meetings, these methods were cognitive based, relying on my dysfunctional thought patterns and belief systems. 12 Step recovery is a spiritually based cognitive exercise. My mind took a long time to shed the distorted way of experiencing and interacting with the world. However, the mind and the body are not separate, just as the emotions and the mind are not separate. In early recovery and today, almost 16 years later, I have immediate access to the wisdom of my body through my breath. My body was fully clean long before my mind came back to itself. Rather than trying to solve a problem with the same mind that created it, I got into the present moment through my body and worked my way into my mind. In this way I recover body to mind
Yoga taught me how to heal working body to mind by training my mind to follow my breath. When I use my will to coordinate my breath and my body, my mind follows along. Creating this unity of breath, body and mind, I harmonize my life to my instinct, truth, and authentic intellect.
The mind is a field (I often think of it as a body of water, like a lake ), the thoughts are within this field and are both affected by it and have an effect on it. The emotions are both affected by and have an effect on the thoughts. The breath has the ability to move through the field, effecting the field, thoughts and emotions.
Recovery shows me the path to Freedom, Yoga gives me the vehicle to actively move on the path. The process of change and awakening comes in three phases: Behavior, Thoughts, Emotions. I appropriately use my will by choosing to act like the person I want to be, living the life I want. This choice activates my greatest power (my free will), and when connected to a spiritual principle (willingness, love, surrender), puts me in position to connect to my highest power. Our free will is a gift and a curse, it is through my choices that I move towards my lowest nature or my highest potential.
When I practice using my will to train my mind to follow my breath by moving my body in an intentional way, I'm accessing the power that I was born with, the power that I gave to the disease. I'm relearning how to appropriately use my will. I needed to gain this access back to my will to utilize it and know it, before I could choose to surrender it, this time to serving love. Today I choose life, I choose to serve Truth which is Love.