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One year ago, when I attended an Ayurveda and Yoga Nidra Teacher Training, parallel to our school time was an Addiction and Yoga Recovery Conference at a Yoga Ashram. Numerous beings spoke from many different holistic backgrounds, with an emphasis on Ayurveda, the yoga of natural medicine from India and Kundalini Yoga, created by Yogi Bhajan in the psychedelic 60’s era. Every day I did five-hour Yoga Nidra courses while lots of other beings in recovery attended support groups and trainings for healing a disease epidemic, the sickness of addiction.

I hadn’t planned on attending the Addiction lectures since I wasn’t addicted to anything. I didn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, which has indeed been a long journey of slow and steady renunciations for me. Yet, I could hear the addiction and recovery seminars at night after my class from my tent. That’s when it hit me. I too was addicted and there were very few beings in that enlightened ashram that were not.


Webster Definition: the fact or condition to being addicted to a particular thing, substance or activity to the point of destruction and lack of self control. Synonyms: uncontrollable craving, habit, weakness, compulsion, fixation, enslavement.

Alcoholics Anonymous Definition (paraphrased from the AA of Maryland Addiction and Recovery Center):

Physical Allergy – physically making someone sick, setting off a phenomena of craving.
Mental Obsession – not seeing what something does to us but what it does FOR us, blocking out all reasoning.
Spiritual Malady – A total ignoring of feelings, emotions and connectivity to a Source greater than them.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935, is a singular in purpose list with non- governed tenets of admittance and direction still active today around the world. I’ve seen it used in small villages in Asia to Ritzy Villas In the French Riviera. The original tenets of AA provide a restoration of sanity and reminder of an ultimate higher purpose, Spirit.

Numerous potent beings that I respect speak about various organized groups similar to or about AA. One medical healer, Dr. David R Hawkins PhD, the creator of muscle testing in kinesiology and writer of Power Versus Force stated the 12 Steps and Tenets of AA has a very high calibration, nearly up there in conscious intent if living it’s principles with the Bhagavad Gita or chanting “OM”.

Marianne Williamson mentions The 12 steps numerous times as an enlightened intent with crucial spiritual principles that draw mutual conclusions to A Course In Miracles. She says “We’re becoming a sedated nation when instead we should be an awakening one. You donʼt have to be addicted to a substance or to a particular behavior to be at the effect of the addictive global-mind. The eleventh step of AA—to seek through prayer and meditation a conscious contact with God—is something A Course in Miracles helps accomplish.”

Melody Beattie, the well known author of Codependent No More speaks to the praises of Al Anon, a fellowship that offers recovery to the families affected by addiction and helped redefine codependency in psychotherapy.

Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx and son of meditation and buddhist teacher Steven Levine, an American Buddhist, himself recovered, became involved in the straight edge hardcore punk rock scene, inspiring thousands of students. “We must do away with any shred of denial, minimization, justification, or rationalization. To recover, we must completely and totally understand and accept the truth that addiction creates suffering.” ― Noah Levine, Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction

Buddhism and Addiction

The Buddhist 4 Noble Truths by Gautama Buddha lends towards the nature of addiction. Many Addiction and Recovery organizations reference this Buddhist teaching: “I teach suffering, its origin, its cessation and path.” Buddha.

First Noble Truth – There is suffering.

Second Noble Truth – Suffering is caused by attachment and cravings (to things that are impermanent and don’t exist in the way we think they do).

Third Noble Truth – There is a way to overcome attachment.

Fourth Noble Truth – The path to overcoming cravings is made up of eight parts: right view, right action, right intention, right understanding, right concentration, right livelihood, right effort, and right mindfulness.

In our evening Satsang at the Ashram, a list was read that helped me to understand I was also an addict. Addiction is not just substance abuse, physical, or verbal. Itʼs not just over indulging in alcohol, nicotine, narcotics, gambling, food, sugar, coffee, video games or our cell phone.Thereʼs also uncontrollable and disproportionate attractions to hurting others, obsessing, attraction to conflict, cruelty, emotional abuse, attention, infidelity, gas lighting, perfectionism, youth, sex, work, busyness, lying, being right, being needed or needing success that end up being destructive or something we get high from, temporarily.

What is your drug?

I found out mine. Work. I too wanted to stand up and admit it. It felt incredibly liberating to realize. If I donʼt set rules for myself, I will keep doing it, revert to it when I donʼt know what else to do with myself, any time of day or night, working until it is doing me as a way to coat my emotions worth or overlook emptiness. I have worked both devotionally and uncontrollably. I work now with discernment since that seminar. My mantra now is: “I will work with fulfillment for beauty but not overwork into exhaustion for duty.”

The program on Yoga and Recovery stated to never use the word “addiction” lightly, and I donʼt. There is a vivid difference between being dependent on something and being addicted to it. There might be some things we depend on but can release relatively freely. When you say you are addicted, mean it. Thus, this list below is not for light users but could be a red flag of addiction or you, a flight risk.

Being Needed
Painful History
Needing validation
Mood swings
Needing Excitability
Masking emotions
Harming others
Unable to receive love
Low labido
Uncontrollable thoughts
Wanting what others have
Repressed, Oppressed, Obsessed
Taking no responsibility
Takes responsibility for others
Forcing others to take responsibility
Unsolicited adviser
Deserver of Pain
Not Worthy

There is a classic enabler cycle easy to detect once you know it, called the “addictive triangulation” mentioned in the evening lectures I found alarmingly fascinating as I donʼt find it all that uncommon. It is also mentioned in the book Codependency No More by Melody Beattie in Chapter 8:

1. The Rescuer/Rescued
2. The Persecutor/Persecuted
3. The Victimizer/Victimized

According to Beattie, one leads to the next, feeding the pattern to keep the cycle going and going. Getting out of this triangle is difficult as itʼs addictive to stay in it. Getting out is also a win for you and your loved ones if that is any incentive, as loved ones often get very hurt by our addictive patterns and end up needing recovery from you.

Sound Therapy: Nada Yoga Approach To Addiction

Euphoric Depression: Many artists, musicians, romantics of life and of course yogis have it. Itʼs when youʼve tasted such an immense high on your own from a higher power entering into your consciousness that when it leaves, you get depressed, and you want it back really bad. Without it you feel lost, as though something were deeply missing. You become susceptible and desperate in trying to retrieve it. You could care less to the outcome, but not in the healthy “donʼt be attached to outcomes” kind of way.

Clearly not the goal at all. I will say the Highest I have ever naturally got in my yoga practices has been through Nada Yoga and Sound Therapy, as some frequencies are so high, almost immeasurably so, that the logical brain crashes or gives into the metaphysics. Itʼs why we warn everyone after a Sound Bath to be careful driving home as even driving can suddenly be a mystical experience. We need one foot in the door of the earth at all times.

Tuning forks, which are instruments used in Sound Therapy and Sound Baths, secrete nitric oxide, an inner opioid and are vassal dilators. Many of the hertz tuned instruments, in very measurable and often euphoric doses, tune the nervous system. Youʼve really still got to appreciate and stay in the body when coming back out of mystical experiences, which isnʼt always an easy task.

If you donʼt know how the practices work, that a whole medicine cabinet within your brain chemistry is accessed, rewiring you, you can get quite low later, just as low as the high unless you keep a practice going. You might even disassociate your high to something that is outside of you, feeling a sense of phantom loss and dislocated depression.

I remember coming out of one long tuning fork session with my Sound Therapy teacher, John Beaulieu and stating “I feel like I am hallucinating” because I had indeed felt so altered. His response to me was “Maybe your were always hallucinating and now you are not.”

Kundalini Yoga and Addiction

In my Kundalini Yoga class at the Ashram under the preface of addiction, it was stated there is a measurable disconnection to the pituitary and pineal gland within us when we find ourselves more easily victim to vice. Conscious yogic practices assist in building this back up. Also, in addiction, the amygdala, the size of an almond, in charge of emotions, is greatly atrophied under a landscape of addiction. When the amygdala is damaged, our decision making wanes. With addictive tendencies, we take unreasonable risks to gain due to loss aversion. Yogis call this “the Sukha Dukha syndrome” (Sukha = pleasure, Dukha = pain) which means to grip really tight when it feels really good and do anything we can to avoid pain at any cost.

“The physiological aspect of lack of communication between the pineal and pituitary gland triggers a rhythmic reflex current into the central brain. This current activates the brain area directly underneath the stem of the pineal gland. It is an imbalance in this area that makes mental and physical addictions seemingly unbreakable. In modern culture, the imbalance is pandemic. If we are not addicted to smoking, eating, drinking or drugs, then we are addicted subconsciously to acceptance, advancement, rejection, emotional love, etc. All these lead us to insecure and neurotic behavior patterns.”Gurucharan Singh

Patanjali and Addiction: Removing the mind pollutants

This is a proactive remediation for feeling and turning around addictive emotions from a Classical Yoga based text. Unless we are able to do this at some point, the cease of us turning to outside addictions may be difficult.

Not all addictions are substances. You might feel your jealousy completely uncontrollable for instance, even if you donʼt really want to act like a jealous person and you know it is polluting.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras 1:33: Patanjali’s recipe is to replace instead of trying to extract by cultivating a new feeling in the mind as the soften subtle but strong imprint of mental attachment from which all actions arise.

Are you addicted to your jealousy? Maitri, friendliness burns through jealousy.
Are you addicted to your selfness? Karuna, compassion burns through selfness.
Are you addicted to your anger? Mudito, being delighted for others burns through anger.
Are you addicted to your judging? Upekshanam, regarding from afar…keeping other’s wrong doing at bay and not in mind disturbance burns through judgement.

The Pain Body

What Is The Pain Body?It’s primal nature to do all that we can to avoid feeling pain. It is something all animal species do; survive, fight, flight, run or freeze. All adrenaline highs must also discharge to balance the pendulum. How low can you go? As high as you can. True wisdom is realizing the only way out of pain is through it. Letʼs repeat this. The only way out of pain is through it.

“I tried to drown my sorrows but the bastards learned how to swim.” Frida Kahlo

One book about pain in which I felt nauseous and liberated to hear I wasnʼt alone was the introduction of The Pain Body by Eckhart Tolle. He describes it as “an accumulated, negative, emotional energy field of the past that merges into your body and mind.” The pain body can be dormant, present, or really acting out as some severed unrecognizable part to you. It gets triggered by so many things, being in love, a trauma, or a similar event that has happened to you before resonating in the same energy field. He describes pain bodies playing out as either harmless, obnoxious, monstrous, or alien, feeling like a true demon, as though some other part of you is coming out that you can not control.
“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.” Rumi

One thing that is indigestible and unsavory to the pain body is joy. The pain body prefers being fed a like field and joy is not that. Unconscious pain is the source of dependencies and addictions. Addiction is the pain body getting fed. Finding daily joy in simple things, as a practice, is a preventative to feeding our pain bodies and dissolving our addictions.

“Watch out for any sign of unhappiness within yourself, in whatever form- it may be the awakening of a pain body. This can take the form of irritation, impatience, a somber mood, a desire to hurt, anger, rage, depression, a need to have some drama in your relationship, and so on, Catch it the moment it awakens from itʼs dormant state. The pain body wants to survive just like any entity in existence and it can only survive if it can get you to unconsciously identity with it. It can then rise up and take you over, and live through you, and become you. It needs to get its food through you. It will feed on any experience that resonates with its own kind of energy, anything that creates further pain in any form: anger, destructiveness, hatred, grief, emotional drama, violence and even illness. Once the pain body takes over, you want more pain. You become either a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain or you want to suffer pain, or both.” ― Eckhart Tolle, The Power Of Now

Ayurveda and The Nature of Pain

The basis of Ayurveda is holistic, not allopathic, in nature. This means we focus on the cause of any sickness or disease more than the pathology since no one will need the same thing from which to get well. Each body type (dosha) is unique unto them. This means no one could take the same medicine, self medication or magic bullet and have the same relief.

Ayurveda is based on the science of balance, not perfection. It is not looking for an extreme cure or remedy whenever possible as excess or abruptly quitting something is not always assurance to a dissolve.

Ayurveda is realistic about going cold turkey. It states that quitting a thing is not a guarantee of an instant cease of suffering, and the goal isnʼt necessarily to be bullet proof. Often instant cure impulses can get us to relapse due to false hopes of quick cures.

Gradual replacing is a common prescription in Ayurveda to the effects of habitual imbalance. Real self help is not meant to be a trance like bypass or drastic spell. You will feel it. You truly might want to remember the pain and the process and what it took for you to undo.

Ayurveda states we are constant works of upkeep and maintenance that require repeated, daily antidotes. Any bodily constitution is an initial imbalance that requires harnessing. This means slipping is not that far away from any of us and the “cure” might not be exactly as we expect.

Disease According To Ayurveda

1. Misuse of the senses – Ayurveda honors the senses as a way to take IN the impressions as a form of medicine since the five senses are a gateway for the soul to have an experience.
Senses often equate to craving, addiction, repeated habit and abuse.

2. Failure of the intellect – even though you know what to do, you donʼt. If you are not in
harmony with your life or senses, you don’t crave what keeps you in harmony, you crave
what keeps you further out of balance. This is why knowledge is less important than actual
practice. The ego part of the mind can lend itself to doing whatever it wants on purpose and
with disregard to the outcome or any long term consideration.

3. Time & Motion – intense, obsessive, fast or extreme movement of the mind amplifies disease and distress. The faster we move or the busier we get the easier it is to forget our Primordial nature, separating from our Spirit. It is where we make poor decisions and forget the big picture. The mind ages and declines faster and we disrespect others time here as well.

In Ayurveda, pain is intelligent. We want to hear the message. We are not trying to numb it. Self control may be something you donʼt get a day off from if you desire the message to be received and any addictive patterns to release. You definitely need to also want recovery, We canʼt just need recovery. This is very much inspired by a desire to regain joy and self love.

The goal is to love myself so much I donʼt need to _____________________ (fill in the blank) anymore.

Pain Stress and Distress Barometer

Perhaps there are some things that need to be felt; FEEL THOSE THINGS. Feel your divorce, a fight, your job ending, a betrayal in a friend, a loved one passing away. It is repressed energy otherwise that reads as distress to our nervous system.

There is a difference between stress and distress. Stress is healthy for the body to feel. Often we do all that we can to avoid it. Healthy stress challenges adaptively, strength building, maturity, growth and a greater capacity to our agility. Even a challenging yoga asana puts some stress on the body. It tears muscle fiber and puts weight bearing on the joints and connective tissues on purpose.

Distress is not healthy for the body to feel and especially repeatedly. It is imposed on the body and feels violent, forced, out of alignment and foreign. It often stunts our growth and changes our body chemistry, shattering the psyche, debilitating emotional health, damaging brain development, confusing the senses, shutting down memories into an arrested development.

A pathological distress not only inhibits the psyche but cell regeneration, hormone system balance and neurotransmitter repair. This often leads to sickness, sleeplessness, manic tendencies, low libido, anxiety, depression, lack of focus, excitotoxicity, high glucose levels, high blood pressure and cravings, or addiction and disease of some sort.

It is not in feeling pain but in denying, pretending or repressing pain that we are prone to complicate and amplify our suffering. There are many coping mechanisms and obsessive patterns and forms of denial that seem innocent. Lord Buddha chose to no longer remain gullible and in denial from pain and suffering, even though given great wealth and the chance to not have to see suffering at all. He was called to sit under a bodhi tree until he finally faced painʼs origin and saw steps back to our causal nature.

Each of us has replenishing tools that are cathartic to us. The key is to find the one that you look forward to even more than the damaging one you are addicted to, one that reminds you of a Higher Inner Power.

Imagine a life where you no longer desire the things that bring you pain.

I do feel it important to remind ourselves just how for we have come considering the pain we have been carrying around as baggage. Pain doesnʼt do well surviving where inquiry, kindness or conscious actions reside. The pain body likes remaining unidentified. Itʼs well hidden in dramatics. Itʼs not fed by joy or fulfillment.

Yes, there will be times where we too burn. Joy may not feel accessible. That might be the moment the pain actually is identified and seen. The sunʼs glow looks to be as though itʼs burning, bringing us life as a result. When tempted to repeat something destructive, remember, there are much greater joys that outweigh this and joy is something so powerful even the pain body cannot withstand it, just like the sunʼs glow.

I hope there are some inspirations here to begin that process. Step 1 of 12 is identifying where you are powerless and what is harmful about it. Since we may all have an addiction this is a beginning for us all. “It is important to face our low points on the path.” Ram Dass

There is a place within you where all needs are satisfied, the pain body is identified and pain no longer has any hold on you.

There is only 1 thing you truly need. Om Shantih, Swan Michelle

“I am in need of nothing but the Truth. I sought for many things and found despair. Now do I seek but one, for in the one is all that I need and only what I need. All that I sought before I needed not and did not even want. My only need I did not recognize. But now I see that I need only the truth. In that, all needs are satisfied. all cravings end, all hopes are finally fulfilled and all dreams are gone. Now I have everything that I need. Now have I everything that I could want. And now at last I find myself at peace.” A Course In Miracles, Lesson 251

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I would also really appreciate you passing this onto someone that really needs this.

The Addiction and Feeling the Pain Body Video includes:

  1. Sound Therapy: An entire description of how to use Tuning Forks and a Protocol for Dependency and Addiction
  2.  15-min Kundalini Yoga Kriyas for Addiction to practice for 40 days
  3. Pronunciation of Patanjaliʼs Yoga Sutras 1:33
  4. Journaling, identifying and attending to your addictions
  5. Dharma on the 4 Noble Truths

We also have 2 upcoming Yoga of Recovery Events at Swan River Yoga March 24 and November 1-2 in service of the community and are hoping to offer a Yoga and Recovery Teacher Training at Swan River Yoga.