“Once you can see a pattern, then you are no longer completely bound by it—in fact, you are freer to change it (or at least work with it creatively), if you so desire.”
From Integral Life Prace by Ken Wilbur
I have a notebook of topics I want to write and share. However I didn’t have the energy to put them out in the world today.
This week was a hard week.
When life is going well it is easy to let the systems you’ve put in place to keep you healthy and resilient lapse. You can forget the guardrails you’ve set up that protect you from your own Mara. Or how your ego, and a nagging injury, can pull you away from the discipline that gives you peace and strength.
It can happen slowly. Things seems fine until they aren’t. You simply have moved away from the those things that give you strength. The next thing you know you’ve forgotten to take your medicine, or moved away from your daily practice, or haven’t prioritized study. Your mind tricks you. Seemingly in an instant, your mind tells you, “you’re sick, worthless, and alone.
For me, an addict in recovery, the feeling that you’re not in control of your mind and actions is scary. I recall countless days you said “I will not” only to live in shame after doing exactly what I said wouldn’t.
I’m fortunate that I have friends who allow me to reach out; who I don’t have to hide anything from. They don’t judge. They just listen and help me see what I cannot.
This thought brings tears as I know most people don’t have this type of love. I know what it’s like not to be able to tell anyone because you’d be criticised or worse, punished or alienated.
I am still sober. I am grateful for the lesson this week. I am reminded to do what is necessary to keep myself healthy and to be mindful about what I put into my mind and body.
I am thankful for friends that provide both love and accountability.
“Slow your breathing Butler”
“I am trying. I can’t.”
I could feel myself getting annoyed. I really was trying to breathe, but instead my breath was short and gasping.
That day I practiced in the evening. I recall I made a cup of coffee for the trip to the shala. I was at least my 6th or 7th cup.
I began to examine why I felt annoyed and why I could not control my breathe. This seems to be the very opposite of yoga. In yoga I am attempting to calm my nervous system, and coffee was keeping me in fight or flight.
I had also been battling excessive throat clearing for nearly a year. It was particularly pronounced in the quiet hum of a Mysore room.
So I decided give up coffee for 30 days and see what would happen.
September was National Recovery Month. I thought it symbolic to tackle my coffee habit during this time. I would be a form of solidarity and a reminder of what it was like to give something up — my own secular lent.
I quite a 10 year drug addiction and a lifetime of drinking cold turkey. I could do this. But in true addict fashion I made excuses not to start. I started Sept 4th.
I can attest withdrawal from caffeine was physically the more harsh. At first, I experienced the commonly reported headaches. By day 3, I developed excruciating pain in my lower back and both legs similar to sciatica.
I also lost a lot of strength. Apparently the adrenaline from caffeine was powering my jump backs and arm balances because they were no longer available to me.
Excessive caffeine consumption keeps cortisol levels high which in turn tells your body to store belly fat. Maybe I would trim up. Nope. I replaced coffee with a ice cream and pizza.
Eventually, I slept more soundly. I had very vivid dreams which was new for me.
I was less anxious at work and in more control of my banter.
I began to use my bandhas and breath to find strength.
I learned I don’t need caffeine to function.
I hope this changes my relationship with caffeine.
Take it from an addict, caffeine is a drug. It may be accepted, and it may have health benefits, but you may be physically addicted.
This picture was taken a year ago today. On that afternoon Flo held a donation class for the Trini Foundation in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. We raised $400
“Trini Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the life-changing practice of Ashtanga yoga to those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. It’s our mission to provide yoga as a tool to aide in the recovery process and help those who are suffering maintain long-term sobriety.”
Flo and I both support the Trini Foundation because we know the power a disciplined yoga practice can have in supporting sobriety. She and I met when we both were struggling with alcohol addiction. Our sobriety and our practice has changed not only our bodies and brains, but our hearts.
For me, my practice led me to complete sobriety. I thought after getting help for my drug addiction I could continue to drink. In fact I believed drinking was the only way I could have a social life and friends. The truth was I was destroying my body, my mind and my relationships.
The care of loving teachers, a regular yoga practice and a stranger from afar led me out of my self afflicted darkness.
I was recently reminded the depth to which I hurt some people before I was sober. It hurts to remember how poorly I treated another human; its seems like a memory of another person. An addict’s selfishness knows no bounds. I doubt I’ll ever be able to mend all the wounds, but I do hope I can become a light in someone else’s darkness and offer the love my teachers and community modeled for me. And like Taylor Hunt, be someone who can help at home and from afar.
September is National Recovery Month, and I’m raising $1000 for The Trini Foundation. I hope you’ll consider giving.