YOGA OF REHAB (HARDCOVER)
Anjali Talcherkar hit rock bottom. Addicted to drugs and alcohol, she got the shock of her life when her partner died of a drug overdose.
Yoga of Rehab is her brave story of climbing out from the dark abyss of addiction. The path of yoga, meditation and SKY (Sudarshan Kriya Yoga) helped her recover. In the process of her learning & emergence she also obtained a Doctorate in Integrative Medicine so she could back her experiences with scientific research.
I invite you to plant new thoughts in your mind, to forge a new way of thinking. By recognizing that there is a deeper understanding beyond the surface, you unveil the distorted illusion of the ego-driven mind.
When we cling to the ego’s deceptive tricks, we become a pawn of the “egoic puppet master.” Living at the level of ego is merely existing. Living from the level of pure consciousness is being. Only by accessing pure consciousness do we find eternal bliss. This book gives you the tools to reach that blissful state, free from addictions.
In times of stress, coping mechanisms, such as abusing addictive substances, become tempting. But such relief is false and futile and it triggers an endless addictive cycle. If we search for answers solely on the surface level, nothing will come of our efforts; transcending addiction requires us to search deeper.
In thoroughly working the twelve sutras, we undergo a complete psychological and spiritual transformation. This change is necessary for us to move beyond the material mind a state of pure consciousness. We can only do this in the present moment. To live fully in the present moment, we must calm the mind, which is churning with unnecessary thoughts. We need to evict those loitering thoughts and supplant them with new thoughts, something that can be achieved through twelve-sutra work and meditation.
These new thoughts may grow into belief. If you act on belief with persistence, it will become habit. These habitual thoughts turn into your character and your awakening to pure consciousness proceeds steadily. This becomes the invitation to progress further.
When thinking expands, being contracts and vice versa. Have you ever observed dancers? They are engrossed in the performance and the rhythm of the music. The activity is occurring in their bodies, not in their minds. People are inspired by the art of dance because dancers are instruments of embodied expression. They are fully in the present moment. The present moment dwells in being. By quieting the mind and cultivating stillness, we gain freedom. Meditation strengthens our inner peace.
Ego identifies with “things” and form; ego spawns superficial dependence on keeping or holding onto worldly things that are constantly changing. Clinging to material objects creates barriers to true happiness. Profound change occurs when we shift from an external orientation to an internal awareness. Stillness within speaks louder than words. Until we explore this stillness, insight lies dormant.
This book is one step on the path to awakening. In the beginning of this process, we hear a still, faint voice, subtle and soft. This voice will transform our outlook, guiding us toward building a tower of love. Before we build this metaphorical tower, however, we need a blueprint. The divine plan is already within us, but we need to enlist the Supreme Architect.
In twelve-step programs, there is a saying that “You cannot transmit something you haven’t got.” We can give of ourselves once our cup overflows, but how will we replenish our source? By cultivating stillness and practicing meditation, the infinite well of knowledge springs forth from within. Overflowing through prayer and meditation, we find nourishment. Once we fill ourselves with love from the Divine, we are able to give to others. Abundance attracts more abundance. Gratitude keeps us aware of the infinite gifts in this moment. Follow the path with genuine commitment, act with conviction, and remain in the present moment.
Awareness is the most important element in “waking up.” Just as, in the physical realm, we use an alarm clock to awaken. Carl Jung once said, “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”1
Following Our Internal Compass
Retreating from chaos and returning to stillness bring us back to our center. There is a compass ingrained in all of us that serves as a guide. People show up at different stages in our lives. These encounters are tools for growth. The Divine places angels as guides on our path. Our job is to follow the guidance and to avoid detours.
When ego drives our life, we crash and blame others. Much of our behavior results from beliefs and ideas based on past experience. If we own our past, we are free to release it and nurture a new reality. Once this process begins, the ego pushes back. We must reach beyond the confines of the ego. Continued deep internal work, via the 12 Sutras, Sudarshan Kriya, yoga, and meditation, promotes a true spiritual awakening. The peace achieved through such work extinguishes the flame of resistance. Through meditation, we tame the ego.
We may never know Truth in a tangible fashion, but it is possible to know a certainty of the Divine Presence. This book is the doorway to knowing that Presence—the Guru Within. I am handing you the key. Will you accept the invitation?
Denial is common among addicted individuals because of the negative stigma associated with the label addict. In treatment facilities, clients often cannot move past the stage of denial. Recovery is almost impossible when there is such resistance. People do not want to think of themselves as being bad or their behavior as unacceptable. If we elicit change without labeling or diagnosing, then those struggling with addiction will be more receptive to treatment. Labeling and diagnosing highlight the problem. In Treating Addiction, the authors write:
“Neither screening nor diagnosis, however, provides much information about what is actually happening in a particular person’s life and substance use, why problems are emerging, and what treatment options would be most appropriate to try. These tasks–to understand the nature and causes of the individual’s particular situation and to consider possible routes to change–lie at the heart of evaluation.”1
I may have been labeled an “addict,” but this is not my true nature. This is not who I am, but rather part of how I trained myself to cope with life. This shadow aspect of my personality can be revealed and healed. Embracing this shadow side of myself, instead of being labeled, diagnosed, and forced into a facility to change, has helped me move into acceptance. If we accept that who we really are is not negative, or “bad,” then we become open to the healing process and the universe expands to give us exactly what
we need to heal. As one person recovers, a community recovers, then society recovers. We need to globally “recover,” and this begins with our beliefs about ourselves and who we really are.
Labeling and diagnosing stigmatize us, whereas validation and acceptance empower us. In the long run, labeling becomes highly counterproductive because we are not textbook prototypes and ultimately no one else can tell us what or who we are. Therefore, having a strong sense of Self is necessary for our own evolution. This “knowing” comes from direct experience. When labels are dropped, healing proceeds more smoothly.
Disease and mental illness are human-made concepts that spring from a fear-based system of thought. I did not come into this world with a disease or mental illness. Someone diagnosed me in those terms, then chose to address that “disease” through conventional medicine, rather than helping me find alternative solutions.
Like everyone else, an addicted individual is a very special person who has come into this world with innate gifts and often, extraordinary talents. There should be no negative connotation associated with such a person. The more we seek comfort through drugs–becoming a so-called “hard-core” addict—the more we are actually seeking Higher Consciousness. We are “chasing the guru”–the Divinity within.
Nurturing the Spirit
We sprouted from the seed of Spirit. A seed has all the data in it to know how to bloom: what is green, what is pink, and what fragrance to emit. We came into this world with this seed already planted within us. Our natural intelligence is all we need. Yet this seed gets covered up, almost as if we had sprayed pesticides on our spirit. Throughout life, we acquire stress, negative emotions, and toxins that distort and mutate the seed.
So what is the solution? Raise ourselves organically and purify ourselves. The more we purify ourselves, the more we restore our seed to its natural state. The more we allow our Divine nature to blossom, the sooner we discover our dharma, or life’s purpose, and let go of the past.
If you want greater abundance and prosperity in your life, align your thoughts to match your worthiness of that abundance and prosperity. Elevate yourself to live in a higher dimension. When your thoughts are of a higher frequency, your being will tune into that frequency and your physical reality will be transformed. As soon as I truly believed I would be a published author, that conviction reinforced those thoughts and it became my reality. You are fearlessly whole and magnificent; you shine. You just need to know it. Embrace your gifts but know that you possess them to share with others. The Divine has given them to you on layaway. May not be given again (because who really knows that) Discover your truths, your gifts, and share them fearlessly.
The only person who holds onto the past is you. Your ego reminds you of your past to keep you mediocre. One obstacle I faced in early sobriety was the inability to let go of shame and guilt from my past actions. The ego resists transformation because it is an unknown venture. Shed your garments of mediocrity and rock your designer truth! The ego’s only purpose is to separate you from your true essence. Don’t try to get rid of your ego. Remember, as the guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, states, “Opposite values are complementary.”
Duality is often seen as two distinct points of reference, such as fear and love, but they are two sides of the same coin. Without the presence of the ego, we cannot return to the state of love. Simply observe that the ego is there and say, “Next?” OK, you are there—now what? Do not act or react and become paralyzed by the ego. You cannot afford to allow yourself to become separated from your true nature, which is love. Your loving abode is too precious to abandon. It is your responsibility to stay connected to the Divine by focusing on your authenticity. This is the direction in which we are all heading.
We are all moving toward greater integrity and closer connection with the Divine, but how quickly do you want to get there? Haven’t you wasted enough energy in endeavors that are only temporarily fulfilling? Are you enjoying the scenery along the way? Do you believe what you see is real? What are your priorities? Seek and ask questions. Are you really satisfied living according to someone else’s beliefs? Explore who you really are.
Lessons to Be Learned
So let’s look at addiction and relapse. For seven years I kept doing the “relapse and recover” sobriety dance. I would call myself a “chronic relapser.” However, after acknowledging the power of thought, I made a decision not to think about myself as a chronic relapser anymore; I made a decision to see myself as whole, perfect, and complete, void of any disease or illness. When I stopped thinking about myself in disease-centered terms, I stopped vocalizing it, and eventually I recovered. I chose to see that there were lessons along the way that I had to learn, and each time my relapse became a little more severe and my “bottom” became lower, the lessons that I derived from those experiences became fundamental to understanding and applying the twelve steps.
Relapse is simply a fall from grace. When we work the twelve sutras, we get closer to grace. When we stop applying spiritual principles to our lives, we “fall from grace.” But each time we fall, we are forced to embrace the Twelve Sutras and a spiritual way of life with more fervor.
For addicted individuals, a life devoid of spirituality becomes miserable and unmanageable. So relapse occurs after a sequence of “small slips.” When we have hit our “bottom,” we are spiritually, mentally, and physically bankrupt. In recovery, first we treat the physical aspect—the body’s dependency on the substance. Then we address the entangled mental state, or the so-called “obsessive thinking.” Finally, we begin to develop a relationship with Spirit.
In Vedanta—Hindu philosophy—there is something called prakriti. This refers to the basic nature of intelligence by which the universe exists and functions. Prakriti is composed of three aspects, or gunas. The first guna is sattva, or creation. The second guna is rajas, or preservation. The third guna is tamas, or destruction. Sattva is Brahma, the god of creation; rajas is Vishnu, the god of preservation; and tamas represents Shiva, the god of dissolution or destruction. We all have these three aspects within ourselves and will cycle through these phases at various stages in our life. Many factors contribute to our dominant guna, including diet, the placement of the planets, our surroundings, and people we associate with.
Sattvika individuals are associated with goodness, light, and harmony. They seek answers regarding the origin and truth of material life, and, with proper support, they can reach liberation or moksha, which is freedom from worldly existence. They typically consume a vegetarian diet and engage in sattvic pleasures, such as yoga and meditation.
Rajasika individuals have a lot of energy and are associated with activity, ambition, and passion. They engage in rajasic pleasures, or pleasures of the five senses. These qualities can both support and hinder the soul. In this state, the ego tends to become more distinct because the ego is associated with worldly pursuits.
Tamasika individuals have a lot of inertia, darkness, and insensitivity, and they take the longest to reach liberation. Addicted individuals who don’t recover will stay in this state because toxic substances create tamas. We come into this world sattvic but through accumulation of internal and external toxins that are not cleansed and released, tamas predominates.
These three gunas are part of a continuous cycle. We revolve through these phases at various points in our life, depending on our priorities, goals, and aspirations. So when we experience sattva, we are spiritually connected, and light radiates from within. We focus on inner life (navritti), which is the true source of bliss. When we move into a rajasic phase, our ego takes control again. We look for satisfaction within the world of material things, or form. Many successful, business-minded people stay in the rajasic state, which is often necessary when pursuing material success. The problem arises when attachment to worldly possessions becomes more important than preservation and maintenance of our sattvic nature. When tamas is dominant, we sometimes feel the need to alleviate our inertia, dullness, and darkness with something outside ourselves. We look for sensory pleasure to alleviate the dullness, often through chemical enhancement. Hence, a relapse occurs.
After maturing in recovery, I did not see a relapse as either good or bad. I started to look at it as an opportunity, rather than a crisis. After I got a second DUI and hit a pretty deep bottom, my sponsor told me it was a blessing. I was shocked at her remark! I
could not understand how such a catastrophic event could be a blessing; but after witnessing some of the promises coming true in my life thereafter, I understood her logic. When you are in tamas (the destructive phase), the only way to move is toward sattva (the creative phase). This is the nature of the cycle. Shiva destroys but only so that Brahma can create something new. So, do good for yourself and be in sattva.
In Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu system of medicine, these three gunas, which rule the mind, are translated as the doshas, or the three energies that circulate through the body and govern physiological activity. The gunas govern the mind and the doshas influence the body; there is an interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. These three doshas are known as vata, pitta, and kapha. All three doshas must be in balance for overall health and well-being. Addicted individuals need restoration of balance and with this doshic balance and harmony, can soar to unimaginable heights in life.
A Note to the Reader
Preceding each of the twelve chapters corresponding to the Twelve Sutras, you’ll see a section specifying the Sutra’s Principle, Deity, Mantra, Asana, and Meditation. In personally working through the twelve steps from an Eastern/Hindu/Vedantic perspective, I found that each Step/Sutra reflected a key principle and a Hindu Deity. I developed a mantra, and a meditation for each one as well. Finally, based on my training as a certified yoga instructor, I incorporated a yoga pose (asana) that dovetails with each of the Twelve Sutras. These are intended to deepen your understanding of the Twelve Sutra path and make your recovery that much more meaningful.