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  Opinion   Columnists  12 Aug 2021  Anjali Talcherkar | How yoga helped me transcend my drug addiction

Anjali Talcherkar | How yoga helped me transcend my drug addiction

Published : Aug 12, 2021, 2:58 am IST
Updated : Aug 12, 2021, 2:58 am IST

This was when I decided to shift my focus to being fully recovered

Cover Page of  'Yoga of Rehab' by Anjali Talcherkar
 Cover Page of 'Yoga of Rehab' by Anjali Talcherkar

I went to the medical clinic where I was seen by an Ayurvedic doctor. He read my pulse and told me I had incurred extreme damage to my central nervous system, most likely from the drugs. Every day I received oil treatments and a massage and was put on a very strict vegetarian diet consisting of lentils and soft, easily digestible foods. The ashram was sprawling, so I got plenty of exercise walking from one end to the other. At night, we all assembled in the new hall to sing. Then the Guru would share some knowledge for the evening.

I decided to take an introductory course where I learned a breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY). It seemed that it might help in my battle with depression and addiction. After taking the course, I noticed an improvement in my overall mood. Through a consistent regimen of Ayurveda, Art of Living courses, and the Twelve Sutras, I was able to recover. This journey has allowed me to have a truly fulfilling connection to the Divine Source, and this remains the centre of abundance in my life. Eventually, I experienced a profound spiritual awakening, which facilitated a full break from addiction. My path to enlightenment brought me to my doctoral journey, and a desire to study my recovery by completing a PhD in Integrative Medicine. As I progressed in my own recovery, continued growth led to a release of all labels and previous “addict” identity, ultimately, transcending addiction.

It is not possible to understand the mind through the mind. We need a manual to understand how to operate certain machinery. Similarly, meditation is the experiential manual to understanding the various aspects of our existence: body, breath, memory, mind, intellect, ego, and Self. Meditation gives us access to a deeper level of understanding.

The “power” greater than ourselves is our Self, or atman. When we turn our ego over to the pure consciousness of which it was born, we gain our real power. So, in this sense, the power we seek is already within us.

Through spiritual practice and meditation, I developed an internal- consciousness or tuning to the Higher Self. In meditation, as you attune yourself to Divinity, you cultivate your intuition. Then your will becomes universal will; the two wills align. The ego centre or individualised identity merges back into the Self, or atman.

Our ego would like us to dwell in these lower-frequency thoughts because the ego wants us to choose fear. But when we become dedicated to knowing ourselves, we find that our “real” authentic Self is only love. The more we learn to operate from our Higher Self and positive frequencies, the easier it is to manoeuvre through life on the “love” vibration. Invest in yourself and do only good for yourself. Nurture yourself with love.

In a state of equanimity, where there is neither craving nor aversion, the ego becomes dormant, and we do not fall prey to the feverish wants and demands the ego is notorious for. The terminology in the world of recovery refers to the “ism.” The ism, or I, self, and me, can only be eradicated by shifting our thinking to something outside ourselves. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous makes reference to this “constant thought of others.” Cultivating a sense of selflessness is essential to eradicating this tendency among addicted individuals toward self-obsession, or the focus on asmita.

In my early days of recovery, I was afraid that I would relapse. My thoughts were always centered around a struggle. I was told that I had a fatal illness — addiction — that was incurable and that I would suffer for the rest of my life. Because I was so fearful that I would relapse, all I could think about was preventing a relapse. As a result, I would continue to relapse. Where your attention goes, energy flows. This was when I decided to shift my focus to being fully recovered.

In yoga, hanumanasana, or full splits, symbolises this giant leap forward. Let go of your past, forgive, and move forward toward the love and abundance that awaits you.
In Sutra Nine, we take action but do not become concerned with the results of our actions. In chapter two, of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, “You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.”

Throughout our active addiction, we engineer patterns of behaviour that are usually detrimental to our existence. These patterns leave encryptions in the subtle body, known as samskaras. Meditation eliminates samskaras which, in turn, eliminate negative karma.

Excerpted with permission from Yoga of Rehab: The Twelve Sutras for Transcending Addiction

Tags: yoga