I am not a stranger to the struggle of addiction or the trauma and negative thought patterns that it typically stems from. I’ve been affected by and intrigued with this limited realm of the human mind and the mysterious ability we can have of disassociating from our (true) selves to fill an unmet need or emptiness despite the consequences. It beguiles me how we can be in a state of constant maneuvering towards some sense of perceived safety, with the capacity for both truth and denial, often expressed simultaneously. We’re masters at this, while often yearning for compassion and a sense of belonging to ourselves and those we love. In my search and experience I have discovered that Yoga can be a pivotal tool in healing from addiction.
It’s an exciting time in the field of recovery with remarkable bodies of knowledge and expertise leading the way. It is a personal lifetime journey, a developmental process (Marc Lewis, The Biology of Desire) with many twists and turns, peaks and pitfalls, relapses and astounding successes. The ultimate destination is freedom. The aim of Yoga is to cultivate freedom from the limitations of the human condition.
From a yogic perspective, we are all addicted to our finite identity, the egoic (or self centered) personality, the known small self. We attach to this as “me”. At some point in one’s yoga journey, the awareness comes that we are so much more than that. The practice of yoga and meditation can reveal to us that we are all connected as One Being, existing in a sea of universal energy, responding with our finite selves to the great creative consciousness as it flows through us, informs us and connects us. When the small egoic self experiences separation from the larger creative consciousness (existing within and externally) a spiritual distress sends it seeking a replacement for that connection. This can manifest as any addictive substance or behaviour.
Addiction is displaced longing – we all have a longing to be “at home” with ourselves, comfortable in our own skin, and to be loved. Often because of early childhood stress or abuse, lack of safety, or unmet developmental needs, we look for that longing in other places. Those other places can take the shape of a daily Starbucks coffee, a cigarette, a glass of wine every night before dinner, a closet full of shoes, abusing substances, checking Facebook every hour, a string of unfulfilling relationships, harmful drug or alcohol use, or the need to be constantly pushing for success and ego gratifications. There are so many ways it expresses itself! We can do this for decades before realizing that what we are really looking for is unattainable from external sources. It all comes back to acknowledging the pain, hurt, discomfort or emptiness we’ve been carrying, then developing the capacity to give ourselves the love, time and space we crave from other sources, and opening to receive that love and support from those who can provide it to us. ~ Sat Dharam Kaur ND, founder of Beyond Addiction: The Yogic Path to Recovery
All paths eventually lead home and the path of Kundalini Yoga is a mainline. Specific breathing patterns release long held tensions and strengthen the body-mind connection. The physical Kriyas (purification exercises) aid in detoxifying the body while rebuilding the organs and body systems, moving long held stagnant energy and decreasing cravings. Kundalini meditations help to identify areas within ourselves that need changing and personality characteristics we’d like to improve, while deepening a connection to Source, Divinity or God, or whatever it is that you personally deem greater than the Ego.
Beyond Addiction: The Yogic Path to Recovery, is a trusted vehicle on this path and available on Hornby Island at SUN DOOR later this summer. It’s a program that is open to everyone, providing an opportunity to understand this pervasive condition in yourself and others.