A Yogic Way to Understand Addiction, and Be of Service

At the spiritual level, Yoga regards us as eternal beings of divine origin, unbound by time, space or condition.  On the physical level, we are subject to universal cycles of creation, sustaining, and destruction.  Our essential, spiritual nature is thus contrasted by the rawness and fragility of life.  

Yoga is both a self-activating medicine for the human condition, and a ticket home (OM) to our divine roots.

Through practices that have been handed down for thousands of years, we align the body, mind and breath (or spirit) with the universal energy from whence we came.  It's the journey of a lifetime.

Along the way, we need things.   

Yoga of Recovery points out that we were born dependent on the food, air, water, touch and sound that fuel our bodies with vital prana. As we mature, the logistics of meeting our basic needs and nurturing our interpersonal relationships diverts attention from our all powerful, spiritual aspects.  

Consciously or not, we long to experience that which is divine in us.  

Many a yogic path has begun as a response to one's desire for meaning, connection, and real intimacy with life.  This longing is satisfied by recognizing the "light", or simply the life within, and nurturing a relationship with it.  Our inner "light of being" illuminates the patterns that inform our present circumstances, thus enabling us to transform our lives from within.

From the yogic perspective, there is one addiction process, regardless of the substance or behavior.  Addiction, in this science, is rooted in a belief of separation from whence we came.  The basic premise of yoga is the universality all things, and our sense of being separate from that is considered the spiritual root of our suffering.

A side of the self that knows no pain.

To soothe ourselves, we'll reach for something on the outside to get closer a side of ourselves that knows no pain.  We call it the bliss body, ananda maya kosha.  While the physical body is always dependent on externally-sourced prana, and oftentimes requires medication or other interventions, our spiritual hunger is fed non-materially.  When we get in the habit of meeting our spiritual needs with worldly solutions, our pure, soulful callings are "corrupted into cravings," to use the words of Durga Leela. 

Thus, the addiction process begins. This process is shared by the workaholic, the drug addict, the late night cookie monster, and the media obsessed, as well as the alcoholic, the yogaholic (yep), the compulsive cleaner, and the sex addict.  What's also shared between these types is that everyone is capable of healing.

Yoga's role in recovery

Treatment for the seriously addicted is the work of medical and psychological professionals for good reasons.  Their interventions are vitally important for stabilizing people on the brink, and even protecting those around them.  

The needs of the physical body and circumstances must be met with the right solutions first.  Thus, Yoga is to play a supporting role in one's recovery and to help prevent relapse.  The job of the yoga therapist is not to treat the addiction.  It is to nourish the individual on the soul level that is ailing, through an array of yogic practices and new habits that make for a sattvic balance of radiant health. Our contribution to the world of addiction recovery is to  guide people to their inner light, and to teach them how to keep it lit.

For support with addictive or self-destructive behaviors, please visit Yoga of Recovery.

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