I got back to recovery on December 4th, 1997. After relapsing with ten years sober in AA, Today I celebrate 17 years without a drink, fix, pill or drug. A friend in the treatment field says that I should have celebrated 30 years on October 21st because the relapse was part of my recovery process. These 17 wouldn’t be possible without the previous 10. I feel that when I drank and used again that it damaged my recovery and my brain. So I’ll stick with the 17 as my tally for the moment. True, you can’t erase the previous time and people who got sober in ’97 do have a totally different experience. But that doesn’t mean that my sobriety was continuous.
What’s more important to me is that my relationship to recovery as a process and what tools I use to continue have changed drastically since 1984 and 1997. These days I go to some meetings, but it’s just to be on the safe side. The vital pieces of my recovery plan are meditation, fitness and yoga. I could sit in three meetings a day like we do in early sobriety. But I feel 10 times better after a kick ass hour of heated power yoga than anything else. I love to take a great yoga class, then sit down for an hour at a meeting to meditate on what people are sharing and occasionally share my own experience, strength and hope.
The other tool that’s very important to me is nutrition. I kind of suck at it, but I’ve been very conscious of my food intake for the past 4 years or so and it gets better over time. I take nutritional supplements, pre and post workout powders and make smoothies daily. Sometimes a smoothie is just what I need to pull me out of a slump. I try to eat more vegetables and greens daily, as well as reduce or eliminate sugar and bad fats.
When I got to meetings I often look around the room to see who might be taking care of themselves physically. Lately, I see mostly overweight people, and people smoking outside meetings. This is not inspiring to me. When people talk about spirituality, it’s usually God, God, God. I’m a Buddhist Yogi. I have to filter when I hear this kind of sharing. I wrote a lot about how that works for me in The 12-Step Buddhist and The Power of Vow so I won’t go into that here.
The other thing that I notice in meetings is a sense of being broken. People love to identify as sick. I think it’s another addiction. If I went in to an AA meeting and saw the same kind of glowing, fit, smiling, healthy people as I see in yoga, I really would be tempted to go to three meetings a day. But, after 14,000+ meetings in a dozen states and a few countries, I have not had this experience. So I’m going to keep doing yoga, practicing Buddhism, working on my health and well being and using all of the other tools together to become happy, joyous and free. If you like hearing about my experience, tune in on Facebook, Twitter, on the 12-Step Buddhist Podcast on iTunes and thedailyyogi.com, which has a blog and a podcast.
I’m working on some new books, one that deals with yoga and recovery as I’ve benefitted from it. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions or just to say hi.