MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:
YOGA & ADDICTION RECOVERY
By: “AJ” Amy Jo Crowell, Publisher Dallas Yoga Magazine & Co-Founder Cosmic Yogi Movement
Best Selling Author, Loved Back to Life
In 1988, I was 25 years old and laying in the hospital for alcoholism, drug addiction and severe depression. I thought there was no hope and wished I would die in my sleep.
The hospital took me to a recovery support group meeting that utilized a 12 Step Program. I saw “Higher Power” was mentioned in the second step and I was terrified. Being raised in a strict religious household I had been taught to fear God. I do not blame the church for my distorted perceptions because it did teach God forgives us … but somehow in my warped dysfunctional mind I never “heard” that concept. As a result, I believed in a “Higher Power” that was vengeful, unloving and punishing. I believed there was no hope for me that I was a bad person and God hated me. As a result, I immediately knew the program would never work for me. The problem was I had no where else to go. I had hit a bottom in my alcoholism and drug addiction. I was emotionally dead and physically damaged forever. Recovery in a 12 Step Program was my last desperate grasp at finding a life worth living.
I probably would have stood on my hands and walked through broken glass if that would have stopped me from craving and obsessing over alcohol and drugs. When it came down to my choices, it was death or the program. So, I decided to try what the program suggested.
By desperately listening, I learned that a person does not have to believe in God to be a part of the 12 Step Program. Anyone seeking recovery who have no understanding of a God can simply find something greater than themselves to believe in. Often, using the recovery group is a simple way for a person struggling with the God concept to find hope.
Most have to admit that a group of people in recovery has more power together than one lone alcoholic floundering through life. This very basic concept of a Higher Power often leads the person in recovery to expanding their vision and belief in a much greater “Higher Power “… whatever that may be.
After many years in recovery, I was introduced to yoga and meditation. In the 12 Step Program, step eleven says, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” Unfortunately, my meditation consisted of racing thoughts and frustration with the inability to clear my head and connect with the Universe. I was aware of my friends finding peace in meditation, but I was not enjoying the same satisfaction. However, I knew if I was going to stay sober and grow spiritually I had to learn a better way to meditate. This is when yoga and meditation became a part of my life.
I immediately loved the practice of yoga but the ability to meditate was a very slow process for me. I listened to guided meditation, visited meditation centers and practiced. I started to feel a calmness in my mind and body that I had never experienced in my life. My inner spirit started to morph in a positive direction and I could feel the energy moving through me during meditation. I noticed my perception of the world began to change and I started caring less about myself and more about others. Through continued yoga practice and not giving up on meditation, I was able to connect with my Higher Power, the Universe. Now meditating is part of my routine and taking the time to sit and relax allows my mind, spirit and body to be inspired and energized. I have heard it said, “Praying is talking to your Higher Power and meditating is listening.”
I do not believe it matters what a person decides to name their “Higher Power”. It can be God, The Universe, Buddha, Mother Nature, Jesus, Krishna or whatever name you desire. What matters is how the person perceives their “Higher Power” and the belief and faith that their “Higher Power” will guide them, loves and protects them. We are all connected through the Universal Energy.
As I described, yoga and meditation guided me to become closer to my Higher Power. But when I was first in recovery, I listened to my recovery support group and this is where my concept of my “Higher Power” began to change resulting in a loving, kind and forgiving Power. As time progressed, the energy and connection filled my soul. I began to rely on the Universe more and more and the black pit of desperation I had in my gut when I was in my addiction began to fill with love, kindness and hope.
Looking back at the person I was and who I have become is like looking back on someone else’s life. I am not the same person emotionally, physically or spiritually. I believe I am one of the millions of miracles of 12 Step Recovery Groups and with practicing yoga and meditation I have become closer and more connected to my “Higher Power.”
It may have taken near death with alcoholism and drug addiction to find my “Higher Power,” but out of my desperation a glorious new relationship was created with a Universal Power and Energy that has changed my life forever.
AJ Crowell is the Publisher of Dallas Yoga Magazine and Co-Founder of the Cosmic Yogi Movement organizing yoga festivals to unite communities. Her book, Loved Back to Life, was an Amazon Mover and Shaker and Best Seller. To connect with AJ email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and find more on her book on Amazon by clicking here: https://www.amazon.com/Loved-Back-Life-AJ-Crowell/dp/141965604X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512485587&sr=8-1&keywords=aj+crowell