It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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What Twelve Step Programs Can Teach You About Dealing with Chaos

woman-experiencing-freedom-from-handcuffs-picture-id18757159_20200624-115619_1 What Twelve Step Programs Can Teach You About Dealing with Chaos

Twelve step programs have helped millions of adults who felt like their life was spinning out of control. Even if you’re not addicted to alcohol or gambling, their philosophy may help you when external events make your situation seem unmanageable. Maybe your life has been disrupted by health issues or job loss. Maybe your relationships are strained, or you’re isolated from others. Your wellbeing depends on how you respond to challenging situations. Take a closer look at twelve step programs and the lessons they contain. You’ll find wisdom that you can apply to any kind of hardship. 

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402 Hits

Vodka, Cops & the Bhagavad Gita.

closeup-of-a-buddha-statue-picture-id143174943 Vodka, Cops & the Bhagavad Gita.

“The Edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

~ Hunter S. Thompson

As I sat in meditation recently, I had one of those experiences. It’s something I’ve learned to laugh at now, the absolute ridiculousness of it in a very Bukowski sort of way, but there’s of course a small part of my stomach that still knots up when memories like these rear their ugly heads.

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420 Hits

The Hope & Hurt: Living & Dying in Addiction

addiction The Hope & Hurt: Living & Dying in Addiction

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi

Waking up in a jail cell with little to no recollection of how you got there really isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time—okay, at least it’s not most people’s idea of a good time—yet thanks to living in active addiction for many years, I’ve managed to accomplish this feat on more than a few of occasions.

Today, I have more than a couple of years in sobriety, a first in my life since the age of fifteen. This isn’t my first time in recovery, though it’s definitely been the longest and most heart-centered attempt I’ve ever made. I’ve knocked on deaths door numerous times as a result of being an addict and spent more time in detoxes, rehabs, psychiatric hospitals and jails than I care to remember.

I was actually messaging with someone from my past recently, someone I hadn’t spoken with in quite a long time as a result of addiction and other circumstances. At one point she wrote, “I used to check the obituaries for you, Chris” and I didn’t even blink an eye at that statement.

For all intents and purposes, the way I was living should have killed me ten times over and yet, for whatever reason, I’m still here, I’m still alive, something so many addicts can’t say as they’ve lost their lives to this insidious disease.

I attribute the better part of these years in recovery to something I’m grateful to have finally learned, something I’d let slip through my ears at 12 Step Meetings for far too long, so I ask you to hear me when I say; the healing process (which goes for both addicts, and non-addicts alike) is always, always an inside job.

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597 Hits

Desire: A Current of Homecoming

breakingfree Desire: A Current of Homecoming

Desire is intrinsic to our aliveness, yet when we have unmet needs, it can possess us. This talk explores how to relax open the grip of wanting and heal the suffering of addiction. You will learn how to bring mindfulness and compassion to the roots of desire, and be carried home to open loving presence (a favorite from the archives).

For us addicts, recovery is more than just taking a pill or maybe getting a shot. Recovery is also about the spirit, about dealing with that hole in the soul.
~ William Moyers

You might also enjoy Tara’s online course, curated from this talk, plus several of her others: Freeing Ourselves with Mindfulness: Using mindfulness and meditation to heal harmful habits, attachments, and addictions. Register at any time. Link includes discounted price.

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600 Hits

Sublime, Ridiculous, Terrifying, and Blissful: It’s All Part of the Path

spiritualpath Sublime, Ridiculous, Terrifying, and Blissful: It’s All Part of the Path

So here’s the thing: I didn’t go to school for any of this spirituality stuff. I’m not a yogi from the Himalayas, a preacher in a pulpit, or a “spiritual teacher” with dollar signs in my eyes. The truth is, early in life my curiosity got the better of me and led me down some roads that resulted in years of heavy drug and alcohol addiction. These dark places ultimately brought me to a very real life-or-death search for something more: finding deeper meaning in life and waking up to the spiritual essence that imbues it all—from monasteries to stadiums, meditation to stage dives, skateboarding to serving food in a soup kitchen, and everything in between.

Wait . . . so by “everything,” do I actually mean every single thing? Why, yes—yes, I do, and I call this “Everything Mind”. So, what is Everything Mind? Well, I think a better question would be, “What isn’t Everything Mind?” We could start by saying that Everything Mind considers every-thing in our lives as part of the spiritual path. Our triumphs and heartbreaks, joys and suffering, the light and the dark—all are equally suitable teachers and lessons. Zen Buddhist teacher and poet Thich Nhat Hanh is famously quoted as saying, “No mud, no lotus,” which means that our best selves grow out of our darkest places—our pain and suffering. Experiencing life from the place of Everything Mind allows us to lay aside our fears of right or wrong thoughts and emotions. Then, we can begin to compassionately, and even humorously (at times), work with and through all of them with open and courageous hearts and minds.

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1197 Hits

Is Addiction Your Family’s Fault?

addiction Is Addiction Your Family’s Fault?

I’ve written here before about my conversations with Dr. Gabor Maté, and his life-changing book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, a comprehensive exploration of what addiction is, its causes and consequences, and much more. As well as being a bestselling author, Dr. Maté is a renowned speaker, highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics, including addiction, stress, and childhood development.

I was curious about family members who are dealing with a loved one’s addiction. What can they do for those who are caught in the grips of active addiction? It mattered to me because when people are that deep in addiction, they’ve lost themselves—they’re gone in a way. I know I was. I know there was nothing my family could have done no matter how much they wanted to help me.

Gabor didn’t agree with me. According to him, “You don’t know that. What you do know is what they tried didn’t work, but you don’t know that there’s nothing they could have done. In one sense, you are 100 percent right: There’s nothing they can directly do to change your mind. There’s nothing they can directly do to change your mental status. There’s no way that they can talk to you, advise you, control you, beg you, accuse you. That does not mean there’s nothing they could have done.

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802 Hits

An Attempt to Solve a Problem

tryingtosolveaproblem An Attempt to Solve a Problem

I first learned about Dr. Gabor Maté through his groundbreaking book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, which explores his work with addicted individuals living on Vancouver’s skid row, as well as being an exceptionally comprehensive delineation of just what the hell addiction is, its causes, its effects, and so, so, so much more. Aside from that, Dr. Maté is a renowned speaker and bestselling author, highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics, including addiction, stress, and childhood development.

 

I’d heard that Gabor believes addiction is not the problem but rather a person’s attempt to solve a problem in his or her life. I reached out to him because I wondered, among other things, how he would define addiction and what his perspective was on people using addiction to solve their life problems.

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1058 Hits

Mahasati Hand Meditation

mudrameditation Mahasati hand meditation

Mahasati hand meditation is a practice that can be particularly useful during times of excessive stress or emotional upheaval, or when our minds just won’t shut the f__k up no matter how much yogic breathing or how many rounds of mantras we’ve done. And yeah, I speak from experience.

I learned this practice at my most rock bottom of rock bottoms. I was at a rehab facility, three days into a seven-day stay in detox from alcohol. My body was still squeamish, my brain still racing, my hope nonexistent, and my self-loathing at an all-time high. As I lay in bed aware of the physical battle going on between withdrawal and the benzodiazepines I’d been given to help relax me and keep me from having a seizure, my thoughts raced—I’d just lost my job, my car was about to be repossessed, I had a court date and jail time awaiting me, and last but (definitely) not least, I was going to miss my brother’s wedding, the one where I was supposed to be his best man. Yeah, I was in rough shape.

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3887 Hits

What looked like a suicide attempt was the start of my recovery

jogging-outdoors-on-autumn-morning-picture-id517191808 Hospital

I can’t breathe. F#$k. F#$k. F#$k. I can’t breathe! My eyes pop open as a full-body panic attack sets in. Through my haze, I see my hands strapped to the bed. Oh, f#$k. Not again. I’m gasping for air.

 

There are tubes coming out of my mouth. This is new. I raise my head and realize I’m in a hospital. But where? How did I get here? What the f#$k happened? That’s when I see my parents sitting in chairs at the end of my bed, near a window. The heartbreak and despair in their eyes are unmistakable. A nurse stands nearby. She’s telling me to calm down and let the tubes do the breathing for me, but I’m too panicked. I begin thrashing in the bed, trying to break the woven nylon straps that are keeping me from ripping the tubes out of my mouth. Later I’ll find out this is the reason I was restrained in the first place.

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1329 Hits

Sometimes All I Am Is a Dark Emptiness

Sometimes All I Am Is a Dark Emptiness Sometimes All I Am Is a Dark Emptiness

Because I have lived so much of my life caught in a cycle of addiction, recovery, relapse, repeat, a quote from Zen master Ikkyū Sojun—Sometimes all I am is a dark emptiness—sums up and shades much of my experience. I’m no stranger to relapsing and the pain, shame, guilt, confusion, and heartbreak that come along with it. Nor am I a stranger to detoxes, rehabs, emergency rooms, jail cells, and psych hospitals. What is strange for me is that after my last relapse, I began to care about relapsing. In the past, when I found myself in a place where I was willing to pick up a bottle of vodka or succumb to depression, I didn’t give a damn about the consequences. Fights, handcuffs, lies, withdrawals, self-cutting, hospitals, vomiting, and pissing blood—none of it mattered. I meant nothing to me.

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1363 Hits

How Hobbies Can Improve Mental Health and Mental Fitness

paint

It seems in today’s busy lives we are overwhelmed with never ending responsibilities from work and family. It’s rare that we prioritize time for ourselves to decompress and find an outlet doing something that we enjoy. Setting aside time for fulfilling activities seems more important than ever. In this busy world we live in, we need to take care of ourselves, otherwise, eventually, we won’t be able to manage our other obligations. This is where hobbies come in. Hobbies are a great outlet for improving mental health and decompressing from the day’s chaos. Dedicating time to a hobby can also help you add efficiency to your schedule and structure to your leisure time.

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1634 Hits

Mindfulness and Addiction

JamesP_mindulfness_and_addiction

When you don’t want to deal with something and you want to avoid it you move into behavior to distract yourself from it. That creates a habit or pattern that can become an addiction. Anything can become this distraction. The possibilities are limitless. You can distract yourself through work, social media, shopping, phone calls, as well as the addictions you commonly recognize; alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, gambling, sex.


Addiction disallows you to be present for life, to be completely engaged, to be open to feeling all that you must feel. Addiction is your solution to not wanting to feel something; the fear, anger sadness, shame.


When you don’t recognize, accept and feel these feelings, they become density. When you recognize, accept and feel them the energy of addiction dissipates and you are depriving the addiction of its energy. It is awareness that is the power that allows the energy of density to dissipate. Shining the light of awareness on your feelings can be difficult because you have constructed habitual patterns to avoid feeling. You fear you will be overwhelmed by emotion if you start feeling it all.

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2330 Hits