Yoga and Recovery are both paths to spiritual awakening, both encourage us and provide a way to find our internal locus of control and be in the world in a way that suits our nature. These systems are the one path for me, saving my life and giving me a life worth living, enjoying and celebrating.
A tenet and major tool for both of these systems is awareness. Awareness is the beginning of change and transformation.
I was not eligible for surrender until I became aware that there was an issue. Even after I became aware of my own unmanageability, change was not immediate. Awareness is the beginning, when it is combined with utter desperation and willingness, movement towards change begins. I was aware that I was an addict long before I became desperate or willing to do anything about it.
The first time that I was in treatment (late 2002), my external unmanageability was apparent to myself and anyone who was around me: I didn't look people in the eye, I didn't eat or bathe regularly. I made feeble attempts at recovery after that first time: I went to meetings, I got a haircut, started taking daily showers again, my mom let me stay with her and would take me to meetings. I started looking like I was alive, but I had no willingness to be known. I kept lying to others about my true internal state and kept using, which was how I ended up back in treatment a few months later. The second, and last time that I was treatment in 2003 I had an awareness that my life was unmanageable on the outside (I was yet to be confronted with my internal unmanageability).
I was truly dumbfounded as to how I was in treatment again. I had an awareness of my unmanageability, but no awareness of who and what I was. I was fooled by outward improvements and thought that I had reset myself to 4 years before my first time in treatment when I still looked functional. I needed an awareness of my nature and the disturbance within it if I was going to change the trajectory of my life, which was very much in danger at this point.
In my dumbfounded, desperate state, I opened a recovery book that had been given to me and found the awareness that I needed. I'm sure I had been given this information before in meetings, or by others in recovery. In this moment though, my desperation created space for awareness. When I opened the book and read that once I put one in me I was in the grip of something more powerful than me, I understood in an instant the truth of this dilemma. I accepted that I could not control my addiction, that I was in the state I was in because I had taken one pill. Once that one pill was in my body, I was in the grip of a force that I could not overpower. This awareness led to a frightening thought "If I can't overpower it, how will I survive?" I knew then that I had a spark of a will to live and that I wanted to survive. I wanted to live.
My exposure to the miracles of recovery had left a seed of hope that Recovery was more powerful than this addiction that lived inside of me, and if I could just get clean, perhaps Recovery could overpower my addiction by enveloping me in unconditional love and a return to awareness of my spiritual nature. The awareness of who and what I was had initiated the process of change and transformation.
My Recovery began in that moment, as I surrendered to a spiritually focused way of life and embarked on the journey to a fully embodied life. I needed more awareness. Awareness of the faulty, outdated belief systems that kept me from knowing that I am spirit. Awareness of these limiting, deceptive samskara incites action to move into expansive, authentic, thought patterns and behaviors.
Today, awareness is still the beginning. Yoga brings me to the reality of this moment. My body and breath are here now, where there is truth. Awareness of truth guides me to my fully embodied, authentic life.
The past few years of my life have been tumultuous, chaotic, and extremely revealing. Through it all, I come to the truth of the present through my breath in my body. Each breath letting go of what is not me and embracing what is. Awareness, like all spiritual principles operates much the same way as the muscles in our bodies. Practicing awareness of my breath in my body and my body in space, builds the muscle of awareness. Awareness becomes strong and dexterous, so it is available to discover the more subtle truths of the heart, the true teacher.
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Mother, friend, servant, mystic, yogi. Navigating this rocky, beautiful life with an open, grounded heart.