Working with clients that suffer from addiction and all of the co-occurring issues that come with addiction is indescribably rewarding and incredibly taxing. We have the duty and the privilege to walk with families through this journey. And there is no “silver bullet” answer to cure the disease of addiction. We have seen a lot through the years and the outcomes run the gamut from miraculous to tragic. Recently I had the pleasure of welcoming a former client back to the field so he could share his experience, strength and hope with group 3 here at Cascades. Upon returning back to the front country we discussed how all of this has turned out. We chuckled as he shared, “Yeah man… this wasn’t the plan”. We hear this a lot. It is a part of my story as well. I am supposed to be teaching high school history and coaching wrestling somewhere. Alas, my plan didn’t pan out and I couldn't be more grateful for that fact. I think of Joseph Campbell’s words, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” That is what recovery means to me… If I let go of “my plan” and become honest, open and willing there is no telling what kind of amazing gifts I might find… granted they are amazing gifts that no one ever wanted. This just wasn’t the plan.
Viewing entries tagged with 'sobriety'
As a Clinical Assistant for Michael Griffin in Group 3 at Evoke Cascades, I work primarily with young adult males with substance abuse and addiction issues through a 12-step lens.
There exists a perpetual tug-o-war amongst our clients’ perceptions of The Oasis. There are those who love the extra creature comforts like hot showers, less hiking, time to practice yoga or cooking. Contrarily, there are those who detest “sitting around” and would much prefer doing over being any day. Even staff, especially during the first few months of operating the Oasis, asked why we’ve created it and is it necessary.
As a yoga teacher and meditation facilitator for Second Nature Entrada as well as the yoga director for a local, in-patient addiction treatment center for adults, I become giddy (if not a little smug) with every new article or study that references mindfulness as a means of complimentary treatment for behavioral or psychological disorders. Mindfulness is gaining a greater voice in the field of psychology and physiology and we practitioners of such a concept are celebrating!
I woke up. Where am I? How did I get here? It occurs to me that I am in my car, which is upside down. I am drunk. My car is still running. I start to panic. How could this happen? This can’t be real. My body is numb except for a sharp pain in my left shoulder where my body bounced off of the doorframe. I kick the passenger door open, step out and sink waist deep into swamp water. My car is wedged between a concrete drainage pipe and a mound of dry soil. The carriage is suspended over water. It was the scariest moment of my life. That was the night before I checked into rehab. One and a half years before I finally got sober. I was 18 years old.
I love being a substance abuse counselor. My formal education and professional experience over the past 11 years has brought depth and complexity to my life that challenges and enriches me daily. In truth, however, my first love is music. I’ve been writing and performing music since I was 16 years old. I wish I could adequately relate to you the thrill I get when I finish writing a new song and the absolute rush of performing that song for a crowd full of friends and family. This passion started when I was a toddler. When other kids were playing t-ball I was rocking out in front of a mirror, pretending to be the newest member of my favorite band – Metallica. Have you ever done that? Stood in front of the mirror, lip-syncing or singing along to your favorite band? Pretty nerdy, right? But we’ve all done it. I still contend that I am pretty much the greatest air-guitar player ever. No, seriously. I do. Yes, music is my passion and I couldn’t imagine loving it more than I do.
There are so many reasons to invite more mindfulness into one’s life. The reasons are as plentiful as the practices themselves. One of the subjects regarding mindfulness that I enjoy teaching most is, “Indulging the little things.” The implications of enjoying the subtle and simple are far reaching in ways that can surprise and inspire.
Pranayama is the Yogic art of breathing. Prana = vital energy, ayama = extension. The practice of pranayama helps bring awareness to the breath bringing the mind to the present moment. The exercise of refining the inhale and exhale can have an extraordinary effect on mood, promoting relaxation, focus, clarity. In the Yogic tradition, the breath is often referred to as a communication with the soul or the vehicle of the soul. Developing a greater understanding and awareness of our breath helps develop a greater awareness of the soul as well. Through the years I’ve been teaching Yoga, the most surprising thing I’ve learned is how profoundly the breath can relieve stress and anxiety with just the simplest practices. Here is one pranayama technique we practiced this week at the Oasis. Try it for yourself!
The yoga mat teaches you something about yourself every time you get on it. We can use these lessons toward any personal journey we undertake. In the case of addiction and recovery, the mat is an excellent place to challenge the addict brain. It reveals our knee-jerk reactions to discomfort and our over-indulgent behaviors toward pleasure. Like a mirror, the mat shows us our strengths and weaknesses not just in our physicality but also in our character. The lesson does not stop with a casual glance at our short-comings. Oh no! At this point, we have only taken out our notebooks and pencils.
If the word mantra draws up an image of bald Hare Krishna chanting men in orange robes asking for money in airports… you’re not alone. That said, we’ve come a long way, baby!