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 Yamas & Niyamas - Restraints & Observances
 12 Step Programs for Compulsive/Addictive Conduct
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yogani

USA
5161 Posts

Posted - Aug 03 2005 :  11:18:56 AM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
A few days ago, AYP Lesson #272 was posted on "Addiction, Abusive Conduct, Tough Love and Yoga." See: http://www.aypsite.org/272.html

The lesson is an account of the challenges faced by a woman with a boyfriend with addiction issues relating to drugs and sex. My response recommended firmness and the use of a 12 step program for dealing with the compulsive behavior and addiction. Firmness on the part of loved ones and the 12 step program are the most effective known means for dealing with such issues. The 12 step program has non-sectarian spiritual principles behind it and is compatible with yogic methods. That is why this topic is posted here in Yamas and Niyamas.

A revealing reply to the inquirer in Lesson #272 was received from a reader in long-term recovery from addiction and is posted anonymously below. It sheds light on the difficult journey that addicts must take before life can move forward.

These are stories of great courage and I wanted to offer the thread started in Lesson #272 for continuation here in Yamas and Niyamas. These are important matters of conduct -- daily choices we make that can either hold us back or transform us in positive ways as we move forward in life and in yoga.

I hope this lesson and feedback will be helpful and that this topic and others like it will continue for the benefit of those with compulsive/addictive difficulties and their loved ones who are facing these issues and choices every day. The stakes are high.

For more on 12 step programs, see "Twelve Step Recovery Programs " in the AYP links section at http://www.aypsite.org/Links.html

The guru is in you.

**************************
Reply to Lesson # 272 on Addiction and Yoga:

Hi Yogani,

I wanted to respond to your correspondent (in lesson 272) regarding addiction in relationship. As someone with long-term recovery from my addiction to sexual stimulation and romantic fantasy, caffeine, and work, I concur with your call for firmness.

For me, and I suspect for other addicts, the substances and hormones that are produced by overstimulation mask emotional pain that we're afraid will destroy our spirits. Asking us to give them up sounds like a request that we succumb. When the traumas that created such pain in us occurred, we might not have had the inner development to cope. However, in time we develop other resources. By the time we bring people into our lives who call us to something higher in no uncertain terms, it is a blessing. It indicates that we are, in fact, ready to face the pain even though we might not be aware of that readiness.

I would never have gotten my life in order had I not been confronted with a make-or-break choice. Unfortunately for me, I was not able to preserve the relationship that revealed the truth of my spiritual condition to me. However, I know of others who have been able to. Though I cannot give her hope that her relationship will survive. But I do not think she needs to despair over it either.

It seems to me that we bring people into our lives who mirror us to some extent. When she stands firm with respect to his inappropriate behavior toward himself and her, I believe as one who's been there that she will be fulfilling the love she feels toward him in the highest degree. My suggestion to her would be to make ongoing participation in an anger management program a bottom-line requirement for continued contact. Her physical safety simply must be guaranteed. Beyond that, a genuine effort to apply the 12 steps to his addictive sexual behavior is the only method I know of to ensure that a person can gain a measure of freedom from that particular form of addiction. Unfortunately, addicts lie to protect what they unconsciously believe is their only reliable source of comfort. After more than a decade I still have trouble with that at times. But sustained progress is an indication of devotion.

I hope that he is strong enough to one day dissolve the hard crust of his conditioning. I hope that she is strong enough to tend to her own growth in the meantime. Why she brought in someone with such difficult issues is a question that only her soul can answer. But I can just about guarantee that it wasn't so that she would succumb to despair--though that risk certainly seems present.

I guess what I most want to say is that her love will leave its mark on him whether he can respond in a time that harmonizes with her spiritual development or not. If she needs to move on for her own sake, she can rest assured that her involvement with him will have been a blessing to him whether he is ever able to recognize it and express his gratitude or not. I know, because I've been in his shoes.

My question for her now is this: is her relationship with him proving to be a blessing to her or not? Sadly, from what I read, my guess is that at the moment it is not. She cannot expect anyone to change that and especially not him. She can certainly ask him to correct what is wrong. But, if he isn't ready to do what it takes to sustain the relationship and she secretly knows that, it might already be over. If so, it might be time for her to acknowledge that, grieve her grief, and move on.

Sometimes, an addict will do what it takes to recover after enduring the loss and realizing exactly what it was that the addiction has cost him. Sometimes the threat of such a loss is enough for an addict to wake up. For his sake I hope the latter. But if he doesn't change his behavior, sooner or later that loss will come. She cannot save him from it. What she can do is protect herself from the abuse that is beginning to degrade her.

All the best,

Anonymous Recovering Male Addict

Lili

Netherlands
372 Posts

Posted - Aug 03 2005 :  3:35:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
After reading this I am not sure I know where does normal behariour end and addiction begin. This person has had an addiction to "sexual stimulation and romantic fantasy, caffeine, and work." Now I am thinking - who knows - I might also be an addict to most of the above things (except work - kidding). Is someone who drinks one coffee a day an addict? Do most everyday people need to check out the 12 step program
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yogani

USA
5161 Posts

Posted - Aug 03 2005 :  4:24:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Lily:

It does not hurt for non-addicts to become familiar with the 12 step program. Very practical stuff for just about any kind of dysfunctional behavior we might find in our life. We all have something amiss, or we would not be here on earth for the big yoga cleanout!

In the cases mentioned, the behavior was/is extreme and destabilizing to relationships and health, not to mention yoga. To those with strong addictive tendencies, normal things can become obsessions -- far beyond the normal cup of coffee, hard day's work, sexual fantasy or experiment with a recreational chemical.

There have been some admitted alcoholics very interested in AYP, but not able to get very far with the practices. Yet, they keep drinking. There are also smokers in AYP who have difficulties in yoga. These conducts retard the effects of yoga, sometimes to the point of making progress impossible.

Meditation, spinal breathing and the other techniques are very refined tools for purifying the nervous system, and cannot do the job if impurities are being thrown on the window faster than they can be cleaned off.

In the later stages of yoga, even caffeine or a heavy diet may be found to be obstructions to growth. These are not necessarily "addictions," but it all gets thrown into one barrel called "yama and niyama," meaning the things we do in life that tend to advance (purify) or retard (clog up) spiritual progress in yoga.

Interestingly, as we move forward in yoga, and give our nervous system half a chance by not polluting it too much, many of these "good habits" come up all by themselves, and the "bad habits" tend to go away. I call it "the connectedness of yoga." See lesson 149 at http://www.aypsite.org/149.html for a discussion on the connectedness of the eight limbs of yoga.

That is why we don't harp on the issues of diet, conduct, personal hygiene and habits, etc. too much in the AYP lessons. Deep meditation and spinal breathing alone go a long way toward bringing the yamas and niyamas naturally into our life.

Hardcore addictions are a much tougher nut to crack, and that is why they are getting some extra attention here. We won't shy away from it. Everyone is entitled the best opportunity possible to pursue their spiritual destiny. There are sound means to deal with addiction, so we mention them.

In time, the full scope of yamas and niyamas will be discussed in AYP too. There is a lot in there, and middle to advanced AYP practitioners will be especially interested because the connectedness of yoga will call us to these things. With most traditional approaches to yoga, the yamas and niyamas come first, and much later we may get to learn the things we do first in AYP. In AYP we are going the other way.

The guru is in you.
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Lili

Netherlands
372 Posts

Posted - Aug 04 2005 :  09:58:25 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you very much for the detailed response! Bad news for us daily cup of coffee and mediterranean food addicts . I looked at the 12 step program but I am not sure how can it be applied as a practice - does it suggest to go through the 12 steps any time a dysfunctional behaviour manifests itself?

It is great that there will be a discussion on the yamas and niyamas. I am looking forward to reading more about the various forms of kriya as some of them were really helpful in my experience (like jala neti) and now I am experimenting with some others.

Btw what is the definition for a middle AYP practitioner

Edited by - Lili on Aug 04 2005 10:03:28 AM
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ranger

USA
45 Posts

Posted - Aug 04 2005 :  1:11:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit ranger's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Bad news for us daily cup of coffee and mediterranean food addicts

I can't remember the author at the moment, but a somewhat influential book (at least in psychological circles) was published a while ago suggesting that we live in an "addictive culture." None of us gets away scott free! Not hard to see the effects! Last night, in the supermarket line, the young kid in front of me threw the usual tantrum when his mom refused to indulge his desire for items from the strategically placed candy rack. <CLIP>

On a personal note, I've had experience in letting go of hardcore addictions through 12 step work over 25 years ago. They work. I began yoga practices shortly after that. Cigarettes were harder, in the sense that the negative consequences are delayed, so "I'll quit tomorrow" is an illusion one can keep for decades. Currently, although my herbal tea consumption is up overall, I don't the have the ghost of a desire to give up the morning cup of coffee. Presumably I'll get there when I get there.

The 12 step programs put nama-niyama like principles into specific and concrete instructions, designed to spark a major psychic change in an individual, whose life itself may hang in the balance. While the principles are worth study by anyone on a spiritual path (I've heard them cited from church pulpits numerous times), following them literally is not likely to happen unless someone is really up against a wall and suffering. How many of us are going to make a detailed written character inventory and share it in depth with another person in order to drop the morning cup of coffee. Not moi!

Still, this discussion brings up the practical issue that some kind of guidelines for right living, which seem similar in all the major religions, are prerequisite for serious spiritual progress, yet moving from theory to practice in the thick of daily living is not simple at all.

Edited by - n/a on Aug 04 2005 2:58:55 PM
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ranger

USA
45 Posts

Posted - Aug 04 2005 :  1:40:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit ranger's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Of interest in a discussion of spirituality and addiction are several letters exchanged between Carl Jung and Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alchoholics Anonymous. These were published in the "Addiction" issue of Parabola. Jung told Wilson that it is no accident that our words for "Spirit" and "spirits" come from the same Latin root. Jung said that one or the other will wind up filling the "emptiness" at the center of an alcholic's being. (paraphrase - I haven't read those letters in a while).
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yogani

USA
5161 Posts

Posted - Aug 04 2005 :  6:24:27 PM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Lili:

Not having been through the 12 step program in-depth myself, I am not the best one to describe it. May others come forward like Ranger (thank you!) with their own stories. It is not something you do by yourself without a support group, though I expect once one is solidly grounded in the principles, it becomes a part of the individual daily living experience -- more a way of thinking and feeling than a "practice" as we think of it in AYP. Of course, bhakti is that sort of ongoing thing in AYP, and there is a close relationship between the principles of bhakti and the 12 step program.

Below are the 12 steps as laid out by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) back in the 1930s. The words "alcohol" and "alcoholic" can be replaced with "addiction" and "addict," and have been by hundreds of groups that use the 12 step program for every kind of compulsive and addictive behavior imaginable. It is a very successful program in many arenas of conduct.

The 12 Suggested Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him (or Her).

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

************************************

The guru is in you.

PS -- I'd say a "middle" level AYP practitioner is anyone who is feeling the connectedness of yoga and is able to act on those urges, i.e., meditation leading instinctively to more practices (step-by-step via self-pacing), including yamas and niyamas -- purer habits of living coming up naturally without forcing the issue. It can happen with beginners too, and often does. So, at the beginning you can be in the middle and at the end. The flavors of enlightenment have many overlapping layers. Enjoy!
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yogani

USA
5161 Posts

Posted - Aug 04 2005 :  11:20:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Here is an account of 12 step recovery by the same person who gave the feedback on lesson #272 in the first posting of this series. Some feedback on the role of AYP is given at the end.

**********************************

The 12 Steps are all about redirecting intention away from gratification and toward the cultivation of serenity. In my experience, the relief that comes from surviving withdrawal, an addict's worst fear, produces a profound and lasting state of gratitude that makes service a priority--as an expression of that gratitude. I think that the 12-Steps might well be a form of Bhakti.

Believe me, I'd never wish withdrawal on anyone--unless that person happens to need it to get free. I like what Yogananda says about freedom: it isn't the ability to do whatever one wants, it is the ability to do what is in one's best interest.

I wonder if obsessions are conditions that we actively choose. For me, and for the other addicts whose stories I've been privileged to hear, obsessions arise as survival mechanisms. An emotional trauma occurs, a child (or childlike sub-personality) goes into shock and gets stuck in the denial or bargaining stage of the grieving process. The pain remains unbearable and the adaptive personality (ego) begins a desperate search for relief.

Conditioning being what it is, the first thing that numbs out the particular form of pain becomes the target of an obsession. When we don't understand or find support for the grieving process, anesthesia looks like the best option available and so we seize upon it. It is a very fortunate person who finds appropriate guidance and a safe haven for grieving life's traumas fully as soon as they occur. Oh for a culture in which this basic need was fully appreciated! Working from a place of serene gratitude is a different experience than working from a place of suppressed despair.

To me, obsession is about seeking relief from a trauma, a terror, that my ego might not be willing to risk acknowledging. Because of the phenomenon of spiritual materialism, I'm not sure that an obsession for yoga is necessarily a good plan for coping with that sort of terror. Yoga is safer than drugs and legal, and it can certainly lead to improved physical health and mental acuity, but that does not mean it brings serenity or peace. I did Hatha and T'ai Chi compulsively before I got into recovery, and all it did was increase the intensity of my dysfunction. Well, that's not all it did, but it didn't get to the root of my pain and so I experienced life as a treadmill. The stronger I got in my practices, the stronger my pain grew until one day my ego just came apart at the seams. I experienced a true spiritual emergency. Because I had no faith in a Higher Power and only meager guidance, the best I could do at that time was to piece myself back together as I'd been before. Thus the cycle started over again and it was another 10 years before I was able to find help in the 12 steps. I had no idea at the time that the grieving process includes a stage in which a person experiences utter disorientation. Had I known that that was normal, and that all I needed was a fair witness who could look after my safety and reassure me that I'd get through it, things would have been much better for me.

So, I think there's a bit more to it than redirecting an obsession for something that some consider "negative," like drugs, sex, or gambling, toward something "positive," like "service," or "God," or "Yoga." I think that the bottom line is about being able to recognize when, and with whom, it is safe to grieve whatever damage one has done or experienced. I say "done" first because it is usually the guilt and shame over our misbehavior that comes first. Those losses are typically much easier to acknowledge than the damage that was done to us--the damage that produced the need for an obsession/compulsion in the first place.

When a person decides, once and for all, to get to the bottom of her or his condition, it is then that the Divine energies really get to work. They don't have to keep hammering it with karmic consequences to get our attention, so the whole process shifts toward more positive development. To me, the trick is recognizing when I'm operating out of an obsession vs. when I'm operating from a place of serenity. I like the perspective of AYP because the meditative practices help bring that distinction into focus. The ecstatic practices help to maintain that focus even in the presence of intense stimulation (bliss). The balance is lovely, and builds confidence that I can stay serenely myself in the face of whatever might come.

It is only in that frame of mind that I become truly available.

All the best,

Anonymous Recovering Male Addict
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edendesign

1 Posts

Posted - Aug 05 2005 :  11:54:14 AM  Show Profile  Visit edendesign's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Dear Anonymous Recovering Male Addict,

Thank you for sharing your story so openly and honestly. Your experience, along with the AYP lessons and Yogani's insight, has deeply impacted me and offered tremendous hope. It truly adds to my inward and upward journey of healing.

Addiction and obsession/compulsion of this nature far exceeds a morning cup of coffee or occasional sexual fantasy. It is brutal and soul rending for the addict and for those who love the addict. Its tentacles reach far back into areas of early trauma for both parties. Until this is healed, it continues to be a path of deception and despair for all involved. Prayer, Christ and meditation have been paramount to my first steps toward recovery as one who loves an addict. The sharing that has taken place here has been an incredible experience as well. As a result, I am now looking into a 12-step program to add to my healing and growth.

Your words and insight have blessed me in a way that has touched my heart of hearts. Thank you so very much.

A fellow seeker


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Lili

Netherlands
372 Posts

Posted - Aug 05 2005 :  1:36:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Dear Yogani and Ranger,

Thank you for your responses - very detailed and informative.

Best,
Lili
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yogani

USA
5161 Posts

Posted - Aug 05 2005 :  2:13:42 PM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Here is more from our anonymous friend:

*****************************************

I'd like to further comment about the 12 steps and 12-step groups. The steps are tools, and they're very effective. However, as with any tool they take a bit of practice and guidance to apply well. That's why the groups recommend getting a sponsor. Choosing a sponsor carefully is important. They say that a good sponsor is someone who demonstrates the qualities that you want. The steps are worded in a way that is a bit arcane. It took me a long time to figure out why they're set in the past tense. The steps work, but they must be applied with some insight and judgment. That's hard to do when a person realizes that her or his judgment has been severely impaired by addiction! Steps 1 through 3 are all about coming to terms with that apparent paradox.

As with yoga, compulsively working the 12 steps to avoid the scary process of grief slows the healing/rebuilding process. It's still better than the previous addictions, which is why the presence of 12-step cultists in meetings is still a positive thing. Better that they remain obsessed with the 12 steps than that they continue to wind up in the gutters or other outposts of hell. Even the cultists contribute useful tips for dealing with addiction.

Also, most 12-steppers use a simple criterion to evaluate habits that they question: Can I count up to 1 when I'm under the influence of the particular substance (or hormone). For instance, if I can feel satisfied with 1 cup of coffee or 1 drink and can easily stop there without engaging in a struggle of will, then I'm probably not addicted to it. That doesn't mean my yoga practices wouldn't improve if I quit, but it does help me set priorities about what aspects of my behavior I want to work on.

What I love most about the 12 Steps are the promises:

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

I can honestly say that most of those promises have been fulfilled in my life so far. I am embarking on things that I would never have believed possible while I was actively engaged in my addiction. I still regret my past, but I do not wish to shut the door on it because remembering how I was, and how it was for me, allows me to respond with compassion. What I grieve now is the potential for what could have been had I not been so damaged or so damaging.

I might not become what I could have been had I not gone down the path of addiction, but I'm doing my best to become all that I can be now. We all have a Divine calling in this life, one that fully engages our strengths and talents while providing a safe avenue for addressing our weaknesses; my prayer is that each of us finds that calling. I'm grateful for the help that AYP provides in that regard.

All the best,

Anonymous Recovering Male Addict
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emc

2072 Posts

Posted - Nov 04 2012 :  04:48:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Time to bump this topic from 2005! It is too important to stay hidden and undiscussed further!

With the present western life style we produce so many options to escape our pain, so many new addictions turn up, so many new 12-step groups, for food, games, internet usage, relationships, adult children of dysfunctional families, economical difficulties etc etc, I guess a majority of people use different stuff to put a lid on their basic anxiety and grief, and few wants to admit it!

I started a topic on co-dependency when I discovered I had those traits. Soon enough, I discovered co-dependency is just another name for love addiction! My whole world view and self-image is now altering! My journey would have looked much different if I'd been aware of the depths of the effects of my childhood in a dysfunctional family.

Thank you SO increadibly much, Anonymous Recovering Male Addict! I'm being guided to the 12-step movement as it is, right now, and every word you write goes straight into my heart.

So many things that become logical. A love addict like me, who gets a tantric shock for a starter into the spiritual journey... wooosh! Not so good! Spirituality quickly became the obsession insted, but without having any balance in life otherwise, and an ego-structure that is all but structured... From such a shattered place it was a challenge to get the spiritual side of it work properly.

I'm grateful it hit me now. Better late than never. The grief process coming now is tremendous. I'm glad, though, I have all the spiritual connectedness and "knowings". It's a great platform.

If the anonymous male writer is still hanging around the forum, I'd love to get in touch privately. Please, send an email if you are drawn to!

Edited by - emc on Nov 04 2012 05:21:51 AM
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Shanti

USA
4842 Posts

Posted - Nov 04 2012 :  07:34:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit Shanti's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice, emc!

Here is an article that has links to 12 Step programs and resources based in many spiritual traditions, yogic, Advaita (Non-Dual), Buddhist, Christian, A Course In Miracles view, Eastern Wisdom, Kabbalah/Jewish, Islamic/Muslim Taoism views.
http://livingunbound.net/lessons-re...ep-programs/

This is a very important tool, so thanks for reviving this topic.
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emc

2072 Posts

Posted - Nov 04 2012 :  08:03:29 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Wow, what a great contribution, Shweta! That article was superb!

Ha, a priest here in Stockholm recently came out with a book on "12-steps for normally disturbed", as you describe, to help with releasing any and all addictive tendencies or unconsciousness, whether or not a traditionally-defined addiction was present..

(Some of the links to the other traditions versions of 12-step didn't work, though.)

If any other AYP'er would like to have an online chat-group or Skype group and have regular meetings, I'd be very interested in arranging that. I'm also open to get more contacts to be able to support each other via a private contact. Please, email me if anyone is interested.

Edited by - emc on Nov 04 2012 08:06:43 AM
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Shanti

USA
4842 Posts

Posted - Nov 04 2012 :  08:08:56 AM  Show Profile  Visit Shanti's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by emc


(Some of the links to the other traditions versions of 12-step didn't work, though.)


Thank you! Guess I better get to work on fixing those.
Much Love!
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k123

118 Posts

Posted - Nov 07 2012 :  2:11:48 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
It is great to see a post on the twelve steps, which have been a big part of my life for some time now. Yogani speaks about using them for any addiction, and they are used by many organisations and fellowships. The traditional way to do them is to be guided through them by a sponsor, or someone who is further along the path in the steps. This system works well, then new people sponsor others who are newer and so it continues.

Each step has a spiritual principle associated with it, such as honesty, openess, wilingness and humulity, and some steps call for action such as writing, as in step 4 and step 8. Some call for sharing with another person, such as step 5. All of the steps are about a spiritual journey and step 12 speaks about a spiritual awakening and living one's life by spiritual principles.

There is an emphasis on self-responsibility in the steps, which I love, and in step 4, resentments and issues are written out in columns. The last columns focus on what part of oneself feels threatened, and looking at one's own part in any interaction that may have caused pain and anger.

The steps are a whole system and deal with changing attitudes within the individual. There are also 12 traditions, which are more about AA (or any other community) itself and set out suggestions about how it should conduct itself as a group, such as valuing anonymity, putting the good of the group first, not seeking publicity etc. This works very well and groups will remind themselves when there is any conflict, of the tradition that states that their primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

When it is remembered that there are many people in AA groups all over the world, but that there is no top-down organisation, and that AA is made up entirely of alcoholics in AA meetings, it is possible to see a genuine fellowship. Of course people are human and ego and power struggles happen, but there is also a genuine emphasis on growth and change.



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Bodhi Tree

2972 Posts

Posted - Nov 07 2012 :  10:44:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit Bodhi Tree's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Just to springboard off k123's post, I, too, have benefitted from the 12-step program. What's quite remarkable about AA is that you can literally visit just about any town in the U.S. that has a population of over 10,000 (maybe even smaller ) and drop into a meeting--with no membership fee, no prior notice, no reserved seat, nothing. Anyone can walk through the door, share their story, seek help, and work the steps with like-minded folks that offer guidance.

I certainly have issues with some of the psychology and inner culture of AA (the co-dependency that can result from too much reliance on a sponsor, for instance), but those trivialities are far outweighed by the benevolent scope of this solid organization, which is very akin to AYP in the sense that you get back what you put in. It's not a cult, not a stringent, dogmatic approach (though some extremists may try to spin it that way). It's a toolshed and a reservoir of free resources for spiritual devolpment. Plain and simple.

The founders of AA said: "New things are constantly being revealed to us all the time." The 12 steps are suggestions...a baseline of practices, in AYP terms. So I have learned to find my own groove and use what works for me in my recovery and service to others.

One day I believe we'll live on an Earth where the only addiction is to divine unfoldment, naturally-cultivated ecstatic bliss, and an evolutionary genius founded upon infinite stillness. Why not?
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emc

2072 Posts

Posted - Feb 15 2013 :  5:43:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for your posts, k123 and Bodhi Tree.

Beautiful to hear! Yes, I'm beginning to understand much more now how the steps work, and the brilliant order in which everything unfolds naturally if you work them honestly.

That's the biggest difference now, I think, my new level of radical honesty! Particularly towards myself, but also resulting in honesty towards others. It's like going to school and learning a totally new way of living - letting the stillness be a companion in everyday life. Not a kick, not an accomplishment. Friend.

It's truly not a sect or cult. It's a tremendously open and respectful environment to join. I am so grateful.
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NJL

31 Posts

Posted - Feb 15 2013 :  8:31:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for posting this Yogani.

I enjoy cigarettes, drinking to excess at appropriate times, coffee, as well as some illegal drugs occasionally. I eat meat, I live in a big city where I'm exposed to countless chemicals from the air and the water supply. I would also consider myself to be a relatively advanced yoga practitioner, if I were forced to comment on the matter.

I believe it's a good thing to examine these habits and choices on a regular basis. But I don't believe that doing any of these things necessarily means that we are not where we are supposed to be with our practices. For me, eating meat is a necessity. I would not have the energy to keep my body fit without it, and I can barely maintain my weight as is. I eat incredible amounts of food just to stay at a healthy weight. Good coffee is a wonderful pleasure, like good food, and a cup of espresso can be exactly what you need to excel in your work, or simply to enjoy an afternoon shopping with friends. Drinking with friends is a bonding experience, and it's a fun way to relieve stress. When the time is right, going out and having a few beers can make you feel like a million bucks in the morning, despite conventional wisdom. And while I certainly can recognize the harmful effects of over indulgence in cannabis or psylocybin, I would never have gotten to where I am today in my yoga practices without these substances.

As always, there is a balance between enjoying things like this and overdoing things like this. I like having a few beers with friends. It's part of my social life, and there aren't any people in my social circle that abstain.

I will take a closer look at the 12 steps and see if I can apply them to my life and my choices in order to find a better balance.
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emc

2072 Posts

Posted - Feb 17 2013 :  04:33:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
NJL, thanks for sharing.

Just want to make an input, that 12-step programs are made for addicts. Addiction is when it's a non-voluntary, compulsory behaviour that you want to stop, but can't. When the addiction has taken over your life, and causes far too many consequences for you to bare, then you might want to consider a 12-step program.

All substances and behaviours that you get addicted to are normal occurences. Normal people use these for enjoyment and can avoid them if they want to. Addicts ready to recover misuse them and do not enjoy them anylonger.

The 12-step program is only for those who needs and wants it.
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NJL

31 Posts

Posted - Feb 17 2013 :  11:26:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by emc

NJL, thanks for sharing.

Just want to make an input, that 12-step programs are made for addicts. Addiction is when it's a non-voluntary, compulsory behaviour that you want to stop, but can't. When the addiction has taken over your life, and causes far too many consequences for you to bare, then you might want to consider a 12-step program.

All substances and behaviours that you get addicted to are normal occurences. Normal people use these for enjoyment and can avoid them if they want to. Addicts ready to recover misuse them and do not enjoy them anylonger.

The 12-step program is only for those who needs and wants it.



Thanks emc. I understand that there is a difference between addictive behavior and normal behavior, but I thought I understood the theme of the thread to be that the 12 step program could be useful in the sense of clearing out behavior that might not be classified as addictive, but might still be representative of underlying blockages.
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Bodhi Tree

2972 Posts

Posted - Feb 17 2013 :  6:13:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit Bodhi Tree's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi NJL,

I think that the steps can be applied to other "non-addictive" behaviors as well. Really, the steps operate in a samyama-like way. Identify defects/obstructions/blockages, and ask God to remove them. Stillness in action. The presence of pure bliss consciousness begins to eradicate negative karmic tendencies so that a more evolved being can come forth.

Also, as an addict, it's important for me to direct that compulsive, addictive energy to a higher ideal (ishta). This methodology has worked tremendously in my favor in the last couple years--and "my favor" means an abiding posture of surrender to divine flow, not of selfish or egotistical aggrandizement.

Also, having experienced some deep shades of ecstatic bliss, I now know it's possible to transcend, surpass, and leave chemically-induced states in the dust. Once you verify through direct experience that divine intoxication blows alcohol/drugs out of the water, then there's no more doubt. The only question that remains is: how do I get more of THAT (divine love, ecstatic bliss, a propulsion to be of natural service)?. And once you discover that a pure and clean nervous system is what's required, all habits, behavior, and efforts will fall in line with achieving that condition (with no ceiling in sight).

Raise the roof, raise the roof, raise it high.
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emc

2072 Posts

Posted - Feb 18 2013 :  03:59:19 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply


The first time I used 12-steps was actually on my inability to keep my house kleen. The mess had control over me, I could not on a regular basis keep tidy. I did all steps thoroughly. Made amends to my mom who had been doing my dishes more than once, to my friends who had to find dirty laundry on the chairs when they came to visit, etc. It worked in a magical way! My flat was so clean for about 6 months, when I actively used this method. (And this was before my spiritual awakening). Then I relaxed a bit about it, but it still created a new mindset about cleaning in me, that sticks.
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robfrommi

USA
34 Posts

Posted - Mar 20 2013 :  10:16:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I just wanted to chime in and say the 12 steps worked for me. Before I was into yoga, lets just say I got lost in hallucinogenics, and alcohol for a good 10 years I got to a point of complete powerlessness with my addictions, I lived in make believe worlds and at one point thought alcohol was a shamanistic elixir and my medicine. I ended up in trouble with the courts and was forced to face my addictions head on. Through the 12 steps, lots of 90 meetings in 90 days, two half way houses and many many relapses I was finally able to stop poisoning myself (just for today) and I do believe the steps saved my life.
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matangi

USA
53 Posts

Posted - Nov 17 2013 :  9:41:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit matangi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you all (Yogani special thanks} from this soul. Will breathe air soon. As I'm sure some have felt. Thank you and thank you again for this site!
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seagreen

USA
1 Posts

Posted - Oct 19 2014 :  10:56:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I found the book, "When Society Becomes an Addict" by Anne Wilson Schaef (1988) very helpful, to take blame and dispair with ourselves and see our attachments/addictions in new light, on many levels, taught, conditioned and supported by institutions and other people in positions of authority in our culture.
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