Dissolving Addiction Through Mindfulness
Addiction rears its ugly head in many ways. It can be an addiction to alcohol, medications, drugs, negative attention-getting behavior, food, and the list goes on. Addictions can start for one reason and continue for another. Regardless of the reason an addiction begins, in my belief, there is one way to overcome addiction and that is with mindful awakened consciousness. Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying there is one path to healing from addiction or anything for that matter. Absolutely not! Everyone’s journey is unique and what works for one, may not work for the next. What I am saying is that, whichever path is chosen, consciousness must be part of that journey to manifest healing.
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Mindful Awakened Consciousness
Without mindful consciousness, there isn’t healing. There’s simply “white knuckling it”, holding your breath, going through the motions. We must thread awakened consciousness into our path to truly cultivate healing. What do I mean by ‘mindful awakened consciousness’? To me, it means believing I am from Divine love, walking through life with a sense of peace and gratitude. Awareness of my thoughts, emotions, and tendencies while being in the present moment. BEing not DOing. Trusting there is a Divine presence that is always guiding and encouraging me toward alignment with peace and love. Phew! I know that was a mouthful, but this belief is deep, powerful, and can be difficult to describe. It’s more of a feeling and knowing than a definition. Now that we have an idea of what forms addiction can take and what mindful awakened consciousness is, let’s discuss one of the powerful ways to cultivate this consciousness using it to facilitate in breaking addictions and ultimately manifest healing.
Yoga for Treating Addictions
As I mentioned earlier, there is not one path that fits all when it comes to developing mindfulness or awakening consciousness. Every Soul is unique and will require a unique path. But here I will share with you a path that has been profound for my emotional and mental healing as well as for many clients I work with who suffer from addiction. Yoga! I assure you, I am not saying Yoga because I’m a Yoga Teacher. I say this because of personal and professional experience witnessing the profound transformation to those who begin a Yoga practice. One of the beautiful aspects of Yoga (and there are countless), is that it meets you where you are. Yoga simply asks you to show up and observe. And with consistency, like peeling back the layers of an onion, you and Yoga grow together. Yoga asks you to accept and love yourself with compassion and kindness. It doesn’t matter what school or lineage of Yoga, the underlying essence is the same. Self- love, self-acceptance, and awakening. Asana (the physical postures) is not the only way to cultivate and practice Yoga. It is one of the ways. But as Patanjali teaches us in the Yoga Sutras, there are Eight Limbs, or eight paths, to the unfolding and unveiling of one’s self. Let’s take a quick look at the Eight Limb’s Of Yoga and a brief description of their meaning.
Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga
1. Yamas – There are five yamas and they deal with one’s ethical standards and integrity.
- Ahimsa (non-violence)
- Satya (truthfulness)
- Asteya (non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (continence)
- Aparigraha (non-covetousness)
2. Niyamas – There are five niyamas and they deal with self-discipline and spiritual practice.
- Saucha (cleanliness)
- Santosha (contentment)
- Tapas (spiritual austerities)
- Svadhyaya (self-study)
- Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to Divine)
3. Asana – The practice of physical postures to develop discipline, concentration, and spiritual growth
4. Pranayama – Mastery of breath; recognizing the connection between breath, mind, and emotions
5. Pratyahara – To withdraw from the senses bringing awareness away from the external world and to go within; allowing us to observe our cravings, tendencies, and habits that block us from our spiritual growth
6. Dharana – Concentration, slowing down the thinking process, and focus the mind
7. Dhyana – Meditation or contemplation
8. Samadhi – A state of ecstasy when you realize a profound connection to the Divine and the interconnectedness to all beings Although each limb prepares you for the next, if one limb, in particular, resonates with you more, that’s okay. Follow the whispers of your Soul and practice that limb. That’s Yoga! After days, weeks, or months, you may feel you’re ready to deepen your practice and include another limb. That’s beautiful. You’re creating your path to healing with Yoga! It may or may not include asana at first. That’s not important. The important thing is that you begin your journey, commit to your healing and practice. I say this because, many who have never practiced physical asana, can feel self-consciousness or discouraged about beginning a Yoga practice. Don’t be! Remember, physical postures are just one limb of what Yoga is. Yoga is a way of life and a way of BEing. The practice of Yoga is a journey back home to yourself. It is sacred and profound. Through the tools you cultivate on your mat, you gain insight, awareness, and a powerful sense of self and peace. So much so, that you can no longer take your sacred body temple for granted. The immense feeling of gratitude for your body and your life inspires you to make better decisions about how you treat yourself. Yoga is truly a sacred and magical practice. And a path that has saved my life. I encourage you to have an open mind and heart and begin to weave the practice of Yoga (in any form) into your life. And then observe the sacred unfolding of mindful awakened consciousness.
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