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Sobriety as Unveiled Experience of Life


A column by Greg Hermann

“All I had to do was show up for life today and stay sober, come what may.”

Tommy Rosen, Recovery 2.0

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Now you know! I am an addict! Or am I? Over the past 15 years, I have been practicing the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the tradition of the12 step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous, we introduce ourselves by saying something like, “Hi, my name is Greg and I am an addict" (with a specific label to our addiction). What has become painfully obvious is that I have become identified with a behavior. In that case, I am a lot of different things, i.e. a father, a spouse, a speech pathologist, a friend, a wood carver, etc.

So? Who am I? Over the recent years of my yoga practice, I have learned that my identity is not with behaviors, careers, or life roles. Identity is in the depth of my soul and separate from the things I do in living my life. As I internalize this concept, there is great relief in the evolving knowledge of the source of one’s identity. While I enjoy that relief, I also sense an anxiety in determining who I am.

Tommy Rosen’s statement above has cast a different light on my search for identity. There has to be more to life than just ‘showing up’. Ponder! Ponder! Ponder! Mental fatigue? Brain freeze? Cognitive fog? Call it what you will. Clarity has never just dropped into my lap from some great beyond. I am noticing some enlightenment as I continue to practice meditation.

I am beginning to realize that when I show up each day, making an effort to be alert to what is happening within and around me, I am getting glimpses of the underlying force that energizes me. Prana? Subtle energy? Life force? I know this: I am experiencing a stirring from within that gives me smellier odors, touchier feelings, deeper sounds, etc. In short, life is more alive. As I apply this to the 12 step approach to sobriety, I experience a clearer definition of sobriety. It is not the absence of the addictive behavior. Sobriety is the evolving experience of the electricity of life.

Here is something to ponder: Raise your hand to yourself if you are an addict. However, give this definition to the term ‘addiction’. Addiction is my realization that I do things that I know are not healthy for me, frequently and routinely. This is not a textbook, scientific definition. This is a personal, heart felt definition. The result of these behaviors is that the waters of my life are not restful. Maybe the waters are muddy. Maybe the waters are stirred up a bit. Maybe there are white caps pounding. Whatever! We have many opportunities to ‘still the waters’. For many of us, yoga offers us the internal life style to recognize when the waters are restless, and a method of entering within to find restful waters. I see the restful nature of many, and I am grateful. I know the glimpses of restful waters and I am peaceful. I look forward to more rest in these waters and I am hopeful. Come on, dive in.

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