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.
6 thoughts on “Is It Time?”
Re; your last thoughts…well said. My suffering along side with my spiritual practice has helped me realize that we all suffer and cultivated even more compassion towards my students as well as others. I’m back in the saddle after falling off for a year.
I am so thankful my friend shared your blog with me.
Thank you Elena for this. Steph’s truth has been everything for me – this is a very important read. Thank you for doing what you have done with your story and shining the light for others. I’m deep in the recovery community, and it is not lost on so many what you have done and are doing. You are guiding people home more so than you can imagine.
Through a strong and loving support group, we can accomplish anything. Thanks for the continued words of encouragement!
That last answer ~ so beautiful and so purely true. I relate with my students deeply because of the parallels of my own experience in healing personal suffering. You can feel their pain, but you can also see their light. You share that light, with empathy and compassion. Beautiful post. Thank you.
I’m in deep struggle right now. I was at a beautiful retreat over the weekend and was not tempted by my vices at all, but now I’m back home and fighting the part of me who’s telling me it’s no big deal, just a little relaxation, that it actually helps me be calmer, etc. I come to you asking for reassurance that the fight is worth it, that life free of substance is worth fighting for. Thank you for sharing your experience.
All i can offer is the view from 18 months clean – it’s clear, the best reassurance is from my practice, my studies, my naptimes (!)… go to a meeting or talk to a friend who’s been there, and let a few minutes pass before you grab for it – it’s worth it to wait for an hour or two and make CERTAIN this is what you want. My experience has been transformational and is bringing me way more joy than the smoke did. Love.