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Can Yoga Fight Addiction?

The latest episode of URBAN YOGIS on The Chopra Well features the story of a healer and recovering addict who discovered the path to recovery through yoga, meditation, and martial arts. Abdi was fifteen when he moved to New York City from Iran, and the city immediately overwhelmed him. The stress of life as an immigrant, on top of the struggles of being a teenager, eventually led Abdi to drugs and violence. He remembers thinking at one point that his lifestyle would either land him dead or in prison, but as it turned out, there was another path in store for him.

Many people refer to a single point of awakening at which recovery and transformation begin. It may be a near-death experience, a rite of passage, or even a poignant word from a friend that makes us pause and re-evaluate. For Abdi, the back-to-back deaths of several of his friends forced him to step back and take stock of the path he was on. Now, with nearly thirty years’ experience as a healer, Abdi can look back and see the pain and turmoil of his youth as the fodder for his spiritual awakening. As he says in his book, Shadows on the Path, “Pain is what puts us on the journey back to ourselves.”

In his daily work as an acupuncturist and trained shaman, Abdi interacts with patients who, like himself, have suffered from addiction. In fact in Abdi’s opinion all of us confront “the addictive system” throughout our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. “An addict,” he says, “can be anyone who uses a behavior to escape reality or to resist being in the moment.” By that definition, how many of us might be classified as television addicts, or exercise addicts, or reading addicts? How often are we thoroughly present in the moment – and when we aren’t, what are we doing instead?

What Abdi ultimately discovered is that practices like yoga, meditation, and martial arts can be instrumental in the healing process. These practices force us to stay in the moment. They defy numbing addictive patterns by bringing us back to our center, back to the moment. They force us to slow down and make conscious choices about our actions. Yoga, in particular, also encourages self-love by challenging us to find comfort and peace even in the most difficult of positions.

These practices became Abdi’s alternative to violence and addiction. Where the latter are unproductive and lead ultimately to destruction, Abdi found that yoga and meditation provided him with the tools to transform suffering into what he calls “the inner connection.” And once found, there is no need to return to old habits.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more inspiring episodes of URBAN YOGIS, every Monday!

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By The Chopra Well

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Chelsea, selected from provides content and community for who you aspire to be--personally, socially and globally. Follow Intent on Twitter here.


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11:11PM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

congratulations guys, quality information you have given!!! stillare rda

11:03AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

10:46PM PST on Nov 11, 2012

We are body, mind and soul and so often in this 'modern' World, the soul is almost forgotten. So we can become out of balance. When we leave no room for God in our life, we feel that there is something missing, a hole within, that needs to be filled and so we can try to fill it with other things which can become addictions. We need to seek our Creator, The Father of all.

10:03AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

I wouldn't rely on yoga and meditation alone, a good counselor/therapist should be part of recovery.

6:56AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

Being in the present, being here now, and now, and now....that's part of the journey.

5:29AM PST on Nov 11, 2012


Yogananda on habits:

"Avoid discouraging influences
People are often unsuccessful in overcoming bad habits because their families or friends have infected them with habit-forming, discouraging thoughts. To overcome bad habits, be especially aware of the kind of people with whom you associate. Watch to see how family, close friends, or others with whom you regularly spend time influence you.

Watch also how books, movies, and other leisure time pursuits influence your thought-habits. Distance yourself from anyone or anything that reinforces your bad habits.

Use good habits to overcome bad
Good habits are your best helpers. Reinforce their strength by good actions and use them to crowd out all bad habits."

"True freedom consists in doing such things as eating, reading, meditating, and helping others based on right judgment and conscious exercise of will, and not being compelled by habits. The way out of the dark delusion of habit lies in using your will power to meditate deeply each day until you can achieve the bliss-contact of God at will. A person of unbounded will power can fix a new habit in the brain instantly."
for context and more:

1:05AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

Noted, thank you.

2:35PM PST on Nov 10, 2012

noted, thx

1:05PM PST on Nov 10, 2012

mislim da pomaze

9:40AM PST on Nov 10, 2012

Continued from below....

You don't need to convert to any religion or philosophy. You just need to establish the tripartite entity as a whole and the positive mental behaviors and habits that lead to health and happiness.
I can't do anything about the economic situation but if this helps one person then I am satisfied. I speak from personal experience. Even after three years of not smoking there is always that one day where I am tempted and as someone said, "It isn't a sin to be tempted. It's only a sin if you succumb to it." I look at this as a test and every time I say no and turn away I am stronger for it and my brain establishes a healthy pattern. I also drank a bottle of whisky a night for twelve years and I managed to give it up but there are those infrequent days even after six years when I am tempted to have a glass of wine or whisky. Then again I have trained myself to realize that alcohol doesn't solve problems; it just compounds them. Once sober you can look at the people drinking and smoking and realize how lucky you are to clean and alive. You can do this but you have to want to.
If anyone finds this useful please pass it on. It isn't about me; it's about others and getting them healthy. I had a lot of help and I don't forget where I came from or the people who have helped me along the way.

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