Read the book. Go to meetings, don’t drink (use drugs, gamble, buy, eat sugar) between meetings. Call your sponsor. Work the steps. Turn it (whatever “it” is) over to your higher power. These are some basic tools in my recovery toolbox. When I first came into the rooms of recovery they were new, they were difficult, they took time and discipline to practice. And they saved my life.
As they say it’s “simple but not easy”. I had to use as much dedication to my recovery as I used for my scheming and lying and manipulating in my search for drugs and booze, for “him”, for the party. I redirected my energy to sobriety.
I also have a home group. It is the meeting I seldom miss, the one where they know me best. I chair on my birthday of recovery. I love this group: we share a common history of jokes, members, and struggles. I have a home.
After a few years in recovery I have found even more tools: they compliment my step work and the other basics of recovery. I discovered yoga as it helped me move what I had learned in recovery from my head to my heart. It helped heal my body and integrate me. This practice enhances my 11th step with practical meditation habits. Here are my new, additional tools.
BREATH: Simple three part soothing breath: to help me inhabit my body, to be HERE NOW, to get grounded I get comfortable, sit up straight, feel the floor /chair surfaces underneath my feet, legs and bum. I bring attention the feeling of my breath for a few inhale/exhale cycles. I then actively and consciously breath into my lower abdomen, expand my ribs and then let the inhale lift my chest. Pause. On the exhale I let the chest fall, the ribs hug in and the belly move toward the spine. Pause. Repeat. I work toward doing this with as little effort as possible, but with as much definition and precision as I can.
POSES: Tightness, tension, memories, and feelings take hold of my body in places known and unknown. With intentional movement, and compassionate observation of myself I work through poses discovering parts of my (body, mind or spirit) that I had locked away. I am able to observe my feelings and practice witnessing them without judgement. Leaving the critical words behind, I find union in body mind and spirit. What I learn on my mat applies to life outside the studio or my home.
MEDITATION: There is no one way. Not all days are easy. Not all days are enjoyable. Meditation is just like life. For continuity and routine I have a space I use, a cushion I sit on and I have an altar. A small end table decorated with found objects, toys and gifts from friends and family reminds me I am part of a community. I sit. I practice breathing, I take some time away from my monitor and screens, my lists and calendars, my kitchen and my home duties. I sit. I sit when I easily meditate and I sit when it seems ridiculous and hard. I take this time to connect with my higher power and my role, my place, in the universe I inhabit. For a period of time I look at thoughts like leaves floating on a stream without purpose or destination. I surrender.
With the traditional tools of recovery and my new found tools of yoga I have abundant resources to live a full life, a life of equanimity and a life of balance.