This year is my second year in recovery, and I’m celebrating and sharing it when it feels right. For those of you asking if it might be time to free yourself from addiction and start to do your highest work, life in recovery is full and rich. Friendships are deep, practices are subtle, listening is enhanced. Recently, I asked dear colleague Stephanie Snyder three short questions about her journey in recovery since 2000.
E: Can you name 3 discernible shifts since you entered into recovery?
S: Everything has shifted since I entered recovery; it’s the biggest most beautiful blessing of my life. If I had to narrow it down to three specific shifts they would be humility, acceptance, and gratitude – in that order. No one enters recovery because everything is great, and I’m no exception. I was in a desperate downward spiral, and at the time it seemed like I either check into rehab or I check out of life – literally.
It took a great amount of humility for me to ask for help, to admit that I couldn’t pull it together on my own and to let someone else take the driver’s seat. I was accustomed to working my way through any situation. I took pride in always being able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and scrap my way into a into a self-sufficient solution, so when I realized that I just couldn’t do it on my own it was a crushing blow – that ended up being a profound gift.
Once I let go of trying to ‘control’ my self-destructive habits, I found my first sense of relief. I was miraculously humble enough to give up the daily fight against myself and get help from others. To this day, humility is the first step to reducing my suffering – whether it comes in the form of reaching out to another addict, getting on my mat or turning toward the yogic texts, life is a collaboration and no one should be at it alone.
Acceptance is another boundlessly generous gift of recovery. I’ve had to learn to accept my limitations and flaws, accept limit and flaw in others and loosen up around what I expect, believe and experience. This acceptance has taught me to focus more on how I am contributing in a positive way and less on what I will gain in any given situation. I have learned that accepting life on life’s terms puts me in a better place to be of service, and when I’m in service, I am relieved of self-centered fear and ego-driven anxiety.
When I add acceptance to humility, that equals gratitude. It’s a wonderful equation that has never failed me. Through commitment to my recovery over the past 16 years I have cultivated a habit of gratitude. Of course I still have moments of anger, jealousy, and unrest. When I have the humility to realize that I am not in charge of the universe, and when I have the acceptance of seeing the situation for what it is, then I am able to have gratitude for being present in the moment, and I’m able to be an honest witness to make conscious choices.
E: Are there challenges spending time with others who partake?
S: In the first few years of recovery, I stayed away from situations that might include people getting high or drunk. But now I’m really ok with being around it, as long as it’s not too extreme. I don’t know when it happened, but I don’t even notice it anymore. I know that’s not the case for everyone, so I only speak for myself here. Lots of people can have a little bit here and there and even blow off some steam sometimes without having a problem. It’s never my job to judge or fix anyone – I only have to be crystal clear on my own limitations.
E: Can you offer one or two thoughts to fellow yoga teachers and healers who are considering recovery?
S: I think it’s hard for healers and spiritual teachers to admit to having issues of any kind, because there’s a misguided feeling of losing face. In my experience, it’s the teachers who remain on the very edge of their own deep healing that can truly relate to the student who still suffers – and they’re the most able to offer a compassionate and knowing hand.
Don’t miss this phenomenal piece outlining Stephanie’s practices of Yoga for Recovery here.