In this picture, which was taken yesterday, you see me holding a copy of my book for the first time. It is called Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life and it took me just shy of 47 yearsto write it. What this book represents to me is triumph. In order to write it, I had to overcome hardcore drug addiction as well as attention deficit disorder. My ADD is so extreme I refer to it as a full contact sport.
Beyond all that, I had to contend with something else that proved to be as much a hindrance to my writing as any other thing, loneliness. It has been so challenging to be alone with myself long enough to allow the Divine Download to take place. All credit for the book has to be given over to my teachers, family, friends and Higher Power. It is further evidence that, because of Love, things are possible in this life that we do not necessarily believe when we set out to achieve them.
Recovery 2.0 is a movement. It is about thriving in recovery from any addiction that has kept you from the life you know deep down you were meant to live. It offers inspiring and practical perspectives and tools for moving further down your path. It will help you to heal guilt and shame by teaching about the roots, story and frequency of addiction. It will debunk myths about the 12 Steps, provide best practices for navigating them and advice about how to avoid pitfalls. It explores yoga and meditation, those blessed mind-body practices that I consider to be a central component of sustainable recovery. It makes the connection between what we eat and our addictive thinking and behavior. The book talks about mission, purpose and being of service to others. And, of course, you will also get to know parts of me that I haven’t shared before. It has been a real excavation.
On October 21st, Hay House will release Recovery 2.0 for purchase. It can be pre-ordered today, which is helpful to our effort to make the NY Times Bestseller list. If it calls to you, please take a moment to get your copy.
Sending Love and Strength to you on your unique path,
I have been a marijuana addict, a cocaine addict, a heroin addict, a gambling addict and a co-dependent, but I am not going to die from the dis-ease of addiction.
My approach to life and to recovery from addiction remains always one day at a time. This is the spiritual principle, which has been the bedrock of an awesome life beyond addiction. I am not going to drink or use drugs in the next 24 hours. I am not even thinking about it. Today, I live in a state of mind where there is no place for the darkness of addiction to get a foothold within me. I have come to this place because of my teachers, some of whom took the form of sponsors on the 12–Step path, others of whom were therapists of one form or another, and still others were yoga and meditation teachers.
At the beginning of my recovery I had to devote myself to the 12 Steps. I took suggestions, did what my sponsor asked me to, and showed up to the best of my ability. The old adage is “how you do anything is how you do everything.” Approaching recovery in a whole-hearted manner taught me to approach all areas of life the same way.
If you are at the beginning of your recovery, you will need to devote yourself to it in order to avoid the deep grooves of destructive behavior patterns. No one can break a habit. One must replace a habit with a more positive habit. This is evolution, personal transformation. This is the way you will rewrite the programs that your brain is running. By practicing new productive behaviors with consistency, destructive habits and tendencies will be overwritten. As active addicts, we have brainwashed ourselves with negativity. It is going to take some serious positivity to climb out of the hole, and it can be done. Surround yourself with hopeful people; gravitate toward love and understanding. Humble yourself to yourself. Know that addiction is bigger than any individual, but that there is greater strength in community.
If you are on the path of recovery or if you can honestly say that you will do whatever it takes to move beyond addiction, then you do not have to live asleep in addiction’s grasp, and you definitely do not have to die. Embrace the tenets of Recovery 2.0 – the 12 Steps, the path of yoga, meditation and healthy diet. One day at a time build a life with the support of others who are actively working on the same thing. I’m doing all these things and I humbly suggest you give them a try as well. I’m not going to die from this dis-ease. If you are reading this, you do not have to either.
Sending you love and strength on your path of recovery,
I get asked all the time why I feel my recovery is so sturdy. And I will always caution myself and others not to fall prey to the idea that my recovery is sturdy beyond the 24 hours that lays ahead of me. This does not mean that I am concerned about drinking tomorrow or a week or a month from now. I don’t think those thoughts any longer.
What I have learned is to live by the principle of one day at a time. I do so because it is a deeply spiritual manner of living that forces me to turn my gaze within and to consider what life will present and has presented each day. This is the warrior path. It is practical and effective. It is the wise, strong way to go.
So, I will tell you that my recovery is very sturdy TODAY. I wake up and get covered for the day. I pray, meditate, practice yoga, drink and eat great nourishing foods and I have an ongoing conversation with the more subtle aspects of my being and this has proven effective for me. Also, the 12 Steps are within me. They’ve worked their magic. They’ve given me freedom to be me and to pursue the path of yoga. Now, I get to live in that sense of freedom and it is precisely this gift that I would pass on to you.
A woman asked me recently, “Everyone drinks. Why shouldn’t I?” Great question. Quick answer. You can do anything you want to do as long as you are willing to pay the price. People who struggle with alcoholism or addiction of any kind decide to stop a behavior because it causes them pain. When they get right down to it, the price they pay for engaging in the behavior becomes greater than they can bare regardless of the benefits they receive perceived or real.
One of the major philosophical tenets of Recovery 2.0 is that we do not just want to survive addiction, we want to thrive in recovery and build outstanding lives. Alcohol is an intoxicant, a depressant, harmful to the body, contributes to violence and pain and lowers our awareness and consciousness. These things are true whether a person is alcoholic or not. Now, if you happen to struggle with alcoholism and cannot stop drinking on your own, you have a very serious dis-ease that cannot ever be fully addressed if you continue to drink.
Ultimately, you will want to walk the path of recovery not only because of what would happen to you if you if you don’t, but because of what you gain if you do. I understand the power of peer pressure. Well, there is a greater power – Society Pressure! Alcohol is embraced at every level of our society. It is a leisure activity, a social activity. It is seen at weddings, funerals, rights of passage, sporting events, art events.
Most people in our country could not imagine a life that did not include alcohol. And so this presents a BIG PROBLEM for the person who is trying to answer the question: “Everyone drinks. Why Shouldn’t I?Consider this: Choosing to take any action based upon the idea that everyone’s doing it does not often turn out well. We only have to look to the wonderful example set by lemmings to understand this idea.
At this point, when I look at the world and note a behavior that everyone is doing, I take serious pause. Since we know most people are still in pain and looking for ways to distract themselves out of it, doing what everyone else is doing cannot be the prescribed method of solving our collective challenges.
It begs the question: Why would we want to drink in the first place? Because we learn that this is the way we pass time. This is the way we celebrate. This is the way we mourn. This is the way we interact. This is the way we navigate life. I do not judge a person who drinks. I see the behavior for what it is – not ultimately helpful if we are going to try to live AWAKE.
To the person who is saying, “Everyone drinks. Why shouldn’t I?” I want to tell you that your time has come. There is no escaping your own evolution. You will eventually have to answer the sacred call coming from within. Drop all your armor and dive into your becoming.
With Love and Gratitude to you on your path of recovery.
Yoga, Meditation and Recovery Conference with Nikki Myers, Rolf Gates, Ashley Turner and Heidi Sormaz
Big Sur, CA
Oct. 12-17, 2014
CLICK HERE for more information
When it comes to the idea of spending Thanksgiving away from family, there are two types of people. There are those who either by choice or obligation will not ever be able to get away from family at this time and those who either by choice or necessity absolutely have to get away from family at this time.
I have often wondered what it would be like if the leaders of our country practiced yoga, meditated, governed with compassion and really worked together, however different their views, to serve the needs of the people who elected them. In my nearly 47 years, I have never known of any person to run for a major political office who actually shared my beliefs about addiction and recovery and about mind, body and spirit. Since I believe that people can actually change as I’ve witnessed in my own movement from addiction into Recovery, I also believe that systems can change even ones as hopelessly caught in addiction as I believe our political system to be.
We will need many, many people with tremendous awareness and consciousness to be elected to political offices in order to move things in the right direction. And it all begins on June 3rd when most of us here in the 33rd Congressional District (Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, etc.) will go out to vote in our first primary election for Marianne Williamson.
She’s perfect for so many reasons – an outstanding communicator, teacher and leader grounded in spiritual principles with real world applications, AND she is tough in the ways she needs to be to do her job there. Of course, she cannot do it alone and she won’t have to. Others like her will be emboldened by her successful bid noting Marianne was actually elected because of an epic grassroots movement that believed in her enough to get involved, donate money to support her campaign and, of course, actually vote in the June 3rd primary.
See my interview with Marianne at the Recovery 2.0 Conference.
Hear from Marianne here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w1BAhgDInc#t=33
See Deepak Chopra’s endorsement of Marianne here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBLig4s4gbw
See Alanis Morissette’s endorsement of Marianne here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkkwPaD3RZs
So, here’s my ask, if you live in the 33rd Congressional District and you believe in Marianne and agree with her political views, go out and vote for Marianne Williamson on June 3rd so that she wins the primary and will have a straight shot to getting elected to U.S. Congress in November. If you do not live in the 33rd district, call up your pals who do and let them know…one of us is running for congress, this is a really big deal.
I want to see what happens when the light of a consciousness such as hers moves into a position of greater power. I believe this could be the beginning, the seeds of a new wave of possibility in our government. Let’s show up for Marianne and see what’s possible.
These talks are simply amazing. If you love music and get the idea that music is an important part of life, then join me and this amazing crew of musicians. GET YOUR FREE TICKET here: https://www.entheos.com/The-
For the past year, every Tuesday night at 7pm Pacific, I have been hosting an internet show called The Recovery 2.0 Power Hour on an ingenious website called InTheRooms.com. The site, which has nearly 300,000 members provides a virtual forum for people in recovery from addictions of all kinds to connect with each other every day. The show I’m hosting is one part 12-Step Meeting, one part Q&A and one-part interview where I often bring in guests such as Dr. Gabor Maté, Nikki Myers, Guruprem Khalsa, Beverly Berg, Chris Grosso and many others. The technology allows for live video sharing and it is just mind-blowing to connect with people from all over the world through this medium. We usually have 150-200 people each week from places such as Guam, Israel, The UK, Germany, South America, Canada and all over the United States. When I was in India recently, I had someone cover the show for me. Yet, I was still able to sign on, request to share and say “hi” to everyone. I have become friends with many of these people whose stories have moved me deeply and whose commitment to the show up has moved me as well. These folks keep showing up week after week. Some have shared with me that our meeting is a highpoint for them in their week or that they consider the Recovery 2.0 Power Hour to be their “home group,” which is a huge compliment.
There are people who come to meetings at InTheRooms.com who are dealing with physical or medical challenges. They literally cannot get out to a meeting and so they have this option. They never miss our show and it absolutely cracks my heart open to see their thumbnail appear in the “request to share” window. They light up my week in a way that is hard to explain. Other people might have colds or flus or be dealing with something that keeps them at home temporarily. Then you have the folks who are tired and cozy at home who want to touch that great energy that can happen at a meeting, but are not going to go out that night to get it. And of course, there are people who have fear of connecting face to face with others. They know they need a meeting and a solution to their addictions, but they are not yet in a place emotionally where they can meet others in person. Whoever the people are that come to our Recovery 2.0 Power Hour or any of the other 97 meetings that take place at InTheRooms.com each week, I love and appreciate them all.
My hat goes off to RT and Kenny P., the co-founders of InTheRooms.com. They have over 60 years of recovery between them and are some of the funniest, most pleasant guys you could hope to meet. There are some extraordinary stories about them both, but they told me to leave the story about RT and the goat for a later edition of this newsletter and so be it.
Please join us tonight 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern for The Recovery 2.0 Power Hour on InTheRooms.com. You will need to sign up for a free profile there and then you will find our meeting listed on the homepage of InTheRooms.
Please sign up today for the FREE and upcoming Recovery 2.0: Beyond Addiction Conference.
This is basically like Ted Talks for people in Recovery. Share this link with anyone you know whose life has been touched by addiction. http://recovery2point0.com
Sending Love and Gratitude to you on your Recovery Path.
As I prepare to release my first book, Recovery 2.0: Overcoming Addiction and Thriving Through Yoga, Meditation and The 12-Steps (Hay House October, 2014), I have been noticing a lot of negative press of late about Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12-Steps and the rehab industry in general.
Habits are nothing more than a chain reaction between the mind, the glandular system and the nervous system. The mind thinks a thought, which causes the endocrine system to release certain chemicals into the blood stream that employ the nervous system to cause us to react to in some way. Habits become addictions when this process repeats itself enough times as to create what yogis refer to as a samskara or conditioning. We become conditioned to react certain ways given certain stimuli. This is what we would call being stuck in a rut. For addicts, this stuckness can lead to insanity and death.
Looking at it from the perspective of the alcoholic, it might go like this. For whatever reason be it external stimuli like seeing someone drink a glass of wine or internal stimuli like experiencing a memory of a euphoric feeling produced by drinking alcohol, an individual’s mind begins to direct its energy toward the impression. An individual’s endocrine system is triggered by the vision or memory of the experience of alcohol and it sends chemicals into the bloodstream working with the nervous system to provoke a reaction to the stimuli, which might be to seek out a drink. This all happens in a nanosecond and takes place over and over reinforcing itself until an individual has an extremely difficult, if not impossible, time breaking this chain reaction in order to bring about a different reaction.
This is going to sound simple. Actually it is very simple, but very difficult. In order to break addictions, we have to build new habits. There is no other way. How do we do this?
From The Kundalini Yoga perspective it takes 40 days of practicing a particular set of yoga to break free from any negative habits that would get in the way of the expansion that is possible by practicing the set. It takes 90 days to establish a new habit in your conscious and subconscious minds based on the effect of that set of yoga. This will change you in a very deep way.
It is very interesting that one of the suggestions given to newcomers in 12-Step programs is to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. Obviously, it is necessary for the newcomer to establish new patterns in their lives. Attending 12-Step meetings for 90 days in a row is certainly one way to help with that. I love the positive reinforcement that the 12-Steps and Yoga seem to offer each other.
The idea of including 12-Step meetings in your daily sadhana (daily spiritual practice) for 90 days is a powerful one from the yogic perspective. And there is no need to stop there. After 1000 days of doing a practice everyday, you master the new habit of consciousness that the practice has promised. It says in Kundalini texts that after 1000 days of vigilant practice, no matter what the challenge, you can call on this new habit to serve you.
As with all things, we approach life one day at a time. The journey to a thousand days starts with day one. Developing a sadhana practice (daily spiritual practice) that you do everyday before you get out into the melee of life is a central component of a life well-lived. In my personal experience, sadhana
These are my thoughts from the foothills of the Himalayas today. And when I get home to Los Angeles in April, these will still be my thoughts on this topic. I really miss you all.
I had to include this picture of a doorway I came upon in Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga. Now THAT’s a doorway. Once you walk through it, I have a feeling there is no coming back.
I’ve been reflecting lately on the elements of successful recovery from addiction. Through the course of my own recovery, I have had to find inspiration from teachers, guides and mentors. I would not have made it without them. Now, I am so thrilled to be in a position to share some of them with you.
The presenter line-up for the upcoming Recovery 2.0 Online Conference consists of 25 extraordinary people who collectively are presenting ideas at the cutting edge of health, wellness and recovery from all addiction.
They are spiritual leaders, scientists, meditators, yoga teachers, experts in the field of recovery and addiction. Their contributions are both innovative and practical. Their message extends beyond cultural boundaries, which is why during our last Recovery 2.0 conference we had attendees from over 100 countries (truly unbelievable).
Sign up for the FREE Recovery 2.0 Online Conference.
From May 3-7 here are just some of the highlights we are honored to share with you.
Dr. Gabor Maté, is a beloved medical doctor, speaker and writer of 4 books including the best-selling, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. This fascinating presentation is about addiction beyond drugs and alcohol including addiction to media and power.
Jerry Moe, MA, is National Director of Children’s Programs at the Betty Ford Center, a part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. An Advisory Board Member of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, he is an author, lecturer, and trainer on issues for children and families hurt by addiction.
Nick Ortner, World Renowned Tapping Expert and creator of the Tapping World Summit presents an extremely practical modality to move beyond pain, addiction and other blocks in your life. Half a million people come to his summit and for good reason. Tapping, also known as The Emotional Freedom Technique, works. Nick makes the connection for us between Tapping and recovery from addiction.
Guruprem Khalsa is a master practitioner and teacher of Kundalini yoga. With his down to earth approach and great humor, he lays out the elements of grace in this interview. No matter what your background or perspective there will be something inspiring in this presentation for you.
Karen Lindsay is one of the five mothers who compiled the book, Hope Never Lost; A Collection of Five Mothers’ Journeys Thru Their Child’s Addiction. In the midst of her daughter’s addiction she decided to co-write and publish the first book written by parents, specifically for parents, who are living through a child’s addiction.
Ram Dass, one of America’s most beloved spiritual figures, has positively affected the lives of millions of people through his teachings, lectures and books over the past 40 years. He has literally been a guiding light for four generations, helping free them from their bonds as he has worked his way through his own. You will not want to miss this powerful, heartfelt presentation.
Krishna Das is the best-selling devotional chant artist of all time, with over 300,000 records sold. He also has an amazing story of recovery which winds its way from ashrams in India to music halls the world over and straight into your heart.
Mastin Kipp is the founder of the Daily Love. With a lot of heart and vulnerability Mastin expertly guides us through his struggles with food addiction. There is so much here for anyone who has ever struggled with addiction.
Nikki Myers is the founder of Yoga of 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR), an organization dedicated to bringing both of these spiritual paths together. Because of her work Nikki is one of our favorite people in the recovery field. This presentation is a spotlight on Codependency It is a powerful look at relationships and addiction. Very enlightening.
Mark your calendars. The Recovery 2.0 Online Conference will take place from May 3-7, 2014.
We look forward to ‘seeing’ you there.
With Love and Gratitude,
Tommy Rosen and The Recovery 2.0 Team
I’m here in India teaching alongside my wife, Kia, on her first Radiant Body Yoga Teacher Training. Kia has been leading trainings for years, but this one is her own training pulling together all the beloved teachings that have made a difference in her (and my) life.
On that note, there is a new book out I want to bring to your attention from Recovery 2.0 Alumni presenter, Chris Grosso, called Indie Spiritualist. The book draws on Chris’ punk rock roots and question-everything mindset offering us a collection of stories and musings about his meandering journey of self-inquiry, recovery, and acceptance. He rejects all the hypocrisies and judgments of religion to show that spirituality is not something that only happens on meditation cushions or yoga mats, in sanghas, churches, mosques, temples, or synagogues. It’s not always peaceful and quiet. It can be as loud as a rock concert or as alternative as Chris is himself. I know you will enjoy Chris’ book. It opens up a lot of space for us to explore and walk our own unique destiny path.
The temptation is to try to explain it in scientific terms. We want to understand the mystery of a man’s demise, particularly a man who had achieved so much in his career and who, by the nature of his work, was known across the globe. One thinks if this could happen to him with his successes and his fame, his family and all the blessings of his existence, then surely no one is safe. We are sobered once again as we face the misunderstanding that one’s outer world is an indicator of happiness rather than their inner world, which is the only place where true success can be measured. If we have been in the habit of having and doing, we look at others who seem to be doing a lot and having a lot with envy. Wow, look at them go!
Part of what hit so deeply about this loss was the emotional depth that Hoffman had plumbed to show us something about ourselves. He regularly visited emotional environments that few actors will ever choose to visit in their entire careers. We, therefore, felt so much “with him” that it is almost as if we have lost a friend and a teacher. It is mystifying and disorienting to lose a teacher to a dis-ease that people assume indicates moral weakness. On some level, many feel that he let them down. How could he do it? How could someone like him fall from the place we had appointed him to?
I’ll give you one possible explanation of what happened. Maybe, like so many, he was simply enthralled to death by the feeling produced by heroin as it seduces the human nervous system into the illusion that this is somehow better than living. You think that’s weakness? Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your background, you could not possibly stand toe-to-toe against this craving if it was initiated within you. Though you may not have experienced such a craving, doesn’t make you better or stronger than another person who does. BUT if you have experienced this craving, you know what I am talking about. It’s bigger than you. It’s like having to fight a full-grown tiger with your hands tied behind your back.
So why now? How could something like this happen after such a long period of abstinence? I believe the answer requires a deeper understanding and respect for the addiction frequency, an energetic attunement, if you will, that holds a person captive and vulnerable to relapse unless it is dealt with on a regular basis (read: everyday). Much the same way a diabetic needs insulin, people who have crossed the line into acute addiction seem to need a few things, even after long periods of abstinence. The 2 main ingredients are a spiritual path and a community to support it. This is the foundation. Then, with the foundation in place it is an absolute requirement that one spend one’s life expanding upon that foundation. This can be the most joyous of journeys for it is a daily pathway to your heart. Some, like me, find it in the 12-Steps and yoga, others find it in other spiritual paths or therapeutic processes. Addiction is a dis-ease of lack and we seem to need a spiritual experience to become whole again. It is also a dis-ease of isolation and so, we must come into community, common-unity, to draw upon necessary resources and to avoid being pulled down into morbidity. These are the first solutions to this problem. Whether you have struggled with addiction or care about someone who has, please bring yourself to accept this. In my experience, it holds as True.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman died at 46 years old. I am 46 years old. Previously, he was 23 years sober. In June, barring the unseen, I will be 23 years sober. To say that his death hit home for me would be an understatement. Please do not let the message of his death be that the 12-Steps or other forms of recovery don’t work. He is in a small percentage of people who stay sober that long and then relapse. The great majority of people who make it to 5 years of recovery (85%) will not relapse (Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/craving/201402/how-often-do-long-term-sober-alcoholics-and-addicts-relapse?utm_content=buffer95e58&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer), Somehow, he got cut off from the light. Somehow, he drifted back into a behavior which kills people.
Strangely, I will miss Phillip. It’s strange because I never met him. I lament the loss of yet another brother to addiction. Along with the teachings he left us in his movies, please hear his final teaching: Stay vigilant on this path of recovery. Work your program, whatever that means to you, to the best of your ability. Keep your connection to each other and when you find the road to your own heart, walk it everyday.
R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman.
With Love and Gratitude,
There is nothing you have to do to relax, it’s what you have to un-do that counts. Relaxation is simply the letting go of all that is unnecessary. We carry tension, fear, resentment and all forms of trauma in the body. This stuck energy takes away our ability to relax and causes a kind of constipation blocking us from the energy of love. Part of recovery from any dis-ease requires that we release the things that no longer serve us and open the channels for something new to come in.
As I reflect on my 22 years of recovery from addiction, I have to thank the countless people who have given me this life. These are my wife, family members, friends, sponsors, therapists, yoga and meditation teachers and “strangers”. These people have made it possible for me to grow and to learn. Some of them I have never met. They have spoken or written something that I heard or read and it moved me. It never ceases to amaze me how a poet like Rumi who lived 800 years ago could write things that have penetrated all the way to my soul, which are so relevant they may as well have been written yesterday. It is also a blessing for us all that some of today’s teachers who are still alive are accessible.
A group of these people are going to present powerful ideas at the upcoming FREE conference called The Winter of Wellness. Some of the people who will be presenting are: Joan Borysenko, Bernie Siegel, John & Ocean Robbins, David Wolfe, John Gray, Dawson Church. I, too, will be presenting at this conference. Of course, I’ll be talking about addiction and thriving in recovery.
The summit lasts for 60 days. You can check in and out as you desire. It is all free and there will be a lot of great information and inspiration passed along. So, take a moment to Sign Up Today and reap the benefits of connecting with these teachers who have so much to give.
ALSO, I will be mentioning a VERY special offer regarding the recent Recovery 2.0 Conference, so tune in to my talk if you are moved to do so.
I am sending you Love and Gratitude from this sometimes difficult, yet quite often wonderful pathway through life.
I loved McDonalds and consumed an unimaginable number of Chicken McNuggets. I ate hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza and was a fan of all starchy foods, french fries, pastas and breads. I also ate as much candy, chocolate and other junk food as I could get my hands on. I’d come home from school and down a six-pack of coca-cola and a pound bag of Doritos and then complain at dinner that I did not feel well. There was practically no true nourishment in the foods I ate.
I had a lot of colds and flus as a kid and regular bouts with Strep Throat and Bronchitis. I took a ton of antibiotics to combat all this sickness. I also had monumental migraine headaches. I missed a lot of school, could not sit still or concentrate, was anxious and hyperactive.
Strangely, neither my parents nor I had made the connection between what I ate and how I was feeling and behaving. I had no idea that there was a connection between these foods and the health problems of my childhood. I had no inkling that these foods, which made my life hard as a kid, were setting me up for a whopping case of drug addiction as an adult.
When I found recovery, the obsession to use drugs and alcohol was lifted from me. Yet, my diet still had to be cleaned up. Over the years, friends and pioneers such as Dr. Andrew Dattila and David Wolfe would educate and inspire me. I learned how to detoxify, nourish myself and build immunity by regarding food as medicine.
Today, I am healthy and strong with 22 years of continuous recovery. I practice and teach yoga. I meditate and can sit still comfortably for quite some time. I eat very well – a ton of organic fruits and vegetables, almost no junk food, no sodas.
Unfortunately though, four decades later things have gotten much worse in the world at large. In my day, it was refined sugar. Now kids are being fed a more dangerous, cheaper form of sweetener called high fructose corn syrup. Childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes have become epidemics. Here’s a disturbing fact: 50 years ago, the average American consumed about 20 lbs of sugar and corn sweetener in a year. That number has now risen to over 130 lbs. per year.
We must make the connection between the food we eat and the way we feel. Get this: Our mental and physical health are adversely affected by the overconsumption of SUGAR.
Do not miss this brilliant video that my friend, Richard Haase, turned me onto today. My hat is off to Simone Bridges and the folks at Bigger Picture Project. This video is nothing short of brilliant and right to the point.
With regards to your diet, I am sending you my heartfelt wishes for a slightly less sweet 2014.
There’s comes a point in recovery where you no longer wonder if you are going to be sober or not. You know that for that one day you are going to be sober; that come what may you are aligned with your heart’s desire to feel everything – the joy as well as the pain of living as you. The first time you realize this, on that day, your principal question will shift. Where you once asked, “How will I get through this day?”, you will now ask, “How will I get through this day excellently?” The simple act of asking a new question will change you. Personal transformation/Recovery is like this. The longer I stay sober, the more I realize that the questions matter more than the answers. The exercise of writing down the questions you would like to answer this year is among the most profound things you can do. You might even choose to share some of your questions with others thereby enrolling them in your process of personal growth and achievement this year.
When it comes to Recovery 2.0, I have a lot of big questions.
What can I do to better serve the needs of people in Recovery around the world? How can I encourage more people to work the 12 Steps, to practice yoga, meditation and thrive in their recoveries? Should I build a membership web site? Offer Online Education Modules? Continue to offer Recovery 2.0 Conferences? What is needed?
On a more personal note, I am asking things like how can I maintain balance better than I did last year? How can I show up better in all my relationships? How can I deepen my mind-body practices? How can I learn the guitar? How can I become the best tennis player I possibly can be? How can I access states of consciousness that will help me to serve better? Of course, in asking a question, we do not know the answer, but simply by asking it are we drawn along the path of our destiny into our next step and the next version of ourself.
Last week, my friend, Rob Hamer, died from the diseases of addiction and depression. The specifics don’t matter. You would only have to tell me that a person has suffered and died from addiction and I know what that means. Addiction separates us. It is cunning in its ability to get us alone. Addiction is not so much interested in a quick kill. It likes to draw it out and dismantle your life first. Then it will kill you.
Rob suffered from addiction AND depression. This deadly combination placed him in a unique category consisting of people whose time is short on this Earth if they are unable to break out of the mind-prison they are stuck in. Rob was very intelligent and sweet-hearted. He was sensitive and aware. He struggled with extremely low feelings of self-worth. He had this pattern where whenever he made a mistake, he would really come down hard on himself. Because he felt life so acutely, he would then spiral into depression and get stuck there for long periods.
Some time ago, he had an operation on his arm and was introduced to opiates. Giving Oxycontin to someone who struggled in the ways Rob did was a big mistake. Opiates are pain killers. They kill physical pain, yes, but also emotional pain. Once Rob felt the relief that Oxycontin provided, he was a sitting duck for acute addiction. Those doctors could never have known that they were using kerosene to try to put out a fire. Of course, this is not Rob’s full story, but it is an important thread. This intro to opiates was where things took a real turn for the worse for Rob.
My heart goes out to Rob’s family, his parents and siblings. They have to face the grief of having lost a child and a brother. They will, perhaps, have the added challenge of wondering if there was anything else that could have been done or perhaps if things could have been done differently. They surely know firsthand the powerlessness that exists in trying to love and inspire a human being out of the darkness of addiction. They gave everything they had at their disposal, used every manner of trying to shake Rob from the grasp of the awful diseases that gripped him. They loved him in every way possible. I beg of them to hear this: THERE IS NOTHING MORE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE. This was the way things had to unfold and we are left with the mystery of not knowing why. We are not permitted to understand why this had to be this way. We have to embrace the mystery, and yet be rid of the fantasy that we could have prevented this from happening.
The memories of the recent past of Rob in his addiction are difficult to release. Yet, if all we were to remember of Rob was the way he was as a man struggling with addiction we would have a tragically incomplete picture of his character and spirit. Remember Rob before he was taken over by addiction. Remember his laugh, his humor, his intelligence. These are the true memories of who he was.
Rob could not find his way through addiction in this incarnation. It is my prayer that his spirit be liberated for having done the difficult work and for having made the tough sacrifices he had to in this life. Wherever his soul’s journey might lead him next, may he realize his connection to all things and be free from all suffering. As for Rob’s family, I can only offer these words as a condolence for what has transpired. Please know in your hearts that everything is okay. Even with all you are facing there is hope and peace and love and a meaning to it even if it eludes us temporarily. We are tied into a common tapestry together. I can’t explain how it works. I just know we will see each other again in one form or another, and there will be peace.
In Loving Appreciation of a Brother who fell to the disease of addiction.
Join me on InTheRooms.com on Tuesday (Christmas Eve) at 7:00pm PST/10pm EST for the Recovery 2.0 Power Hour. In Rob’s memory and honor, we will continue to walk our paths of recovery, to surround each other with love and to once again say a heartfelt, resounding “FUCK YOU” to addiction. See you there.
Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery through the use of a lacquer resin sprinkled with gold powder to mend the broken pieces back together. At some point in the 15th Century, the Japanese started to employ this technique. Collectors everywhere started to clamor after these repaired pieces because they were seen to be much more beautiful than the originals.
Kintsukuroi artists became known not so much for their ability to make things as good as new, but instead to render them better than new. The piece is considered more beautiful for having been broken. Looking at a potted bowl, for example, as having life force, many would say that the bowl’s “energy” was finished the moment it was dropped or broken. From the Kintsukuroi perspective the true life of the bowl actually began the moment it was dropped.
Such is the case for people on the path of recovery from addiction. My dear friend Nate puts it like this, “We come to this path shattered, fragmented pieces of ourselves. The actions and substances we have taken in an effort to feel whole and complete are the very things that have left us in this broken state. We need to find something that will actually mend the broken pieces. Something real. Something powerful.”
What is to be our golden lacquer? We are put back together using the gold powder of the 12-Steps, yoga, meditation, connection with a higher power and being of service to others. These are the elements that make up the beautiful golden lacquer of the path of recovery. When we use these tools as the golden glue in which to mend our broken pieces, something incredible happens. We become transformed, not just into the entity we once were, but into an entirely new being more beautiful than what the original could have been.
When we look in the mirror, our cracks are still there, filled in now with unique golden lines. We see them more clearly. We know where we have been and we are better now for having been there. We have been fragile like a china doll. ”Just a little nervous from the fall,” is how Robert Hunter put it. In recovery, we have combined our fragility with resilience and love to find a life of such richness that before we could never have imagined…A powerful lesson for us all on the difficult and magical path of recovery.