The Rock Bottom: Accepting What Is

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Hitting rock bottom is a phrase that describes an event that most of us either have experienced or will experience. It is a phrase that is also often associated with an addict’s downward spiral to the point where life is profoundly broken open. The experience is incredibly important, despite its accompanying pain and suffering. Hitting rock bottom is a pivotal point on a steep, downward spiral that offers the potential to heal into a new life.

“ I am so grateful I am an alcoholic!”

These words filled my office one morning with such profound joy. Sarah, the young woman facing me, let them ring out, giving them space and silence enough to be able to bear witness to her life-affirming journey. A journey that has led to an authentic living of life. A journey that has been filled with struggle and growth and much learning how to love herself. And a journey that started with hitting that painful place of rock bottom.

Unlike Sarah, many people with addiction may resent their condition. They may be upset about being “different”, not being able to drink “normally” or play with substances recreationally. They may suffer devastating life consequences, losses of friends and families, and much physical and psychological pain. Most struggle with addiction for years, all while attempting to control their behaviors, to manage their use of substances on their own. They bargain with themselves and others in an ongoing battle between a need to be in charge of their own lives and a powerful force that compels them to return over and over again to self-destructive and harmful choices.

While friends and loved ones often helplessly look on, the person overtaken by addiction continues to live in a distorted reality, fueled by delusion and falling ever more deeply into a spiral of self-destruction.

A rock-bottom moment may provide a real opportunity for change. In such cases, a clear willingness emerges  – a willingness to admit a powerlessness to control the addiction. There is a willingness finally to admit, as the AA adage goes, that “One (drink) is too many and a thousand never enough.” This willingness can lead to a surrender and an embrace of a process of change and recovery as the only authentic way out, the only way to live.

Although Sarah had suffered greatly and struggled for many years of her life due to her relationship with alcohol, she nonetheless arrived at the place of being grateful. From where she was in the recovery process, she recognized that her rock-bottom experience had offered her two choices: acceptance leading to life or denial possibly leading to death. She chose acceptance and the potential for a new relationship with herself. When Sarah finally stopped drinking, she was able to begin to live in a radically new way in order to re-build her shattered life.

Acceptance and Recovery

The process of recovery involves an intimate long-term relationship with acceptance. It calls for acceptance of what is in order to create a healthier relationship with oneself and others. It invites a good dose of “selfishness” from the standpoint of focused self-awareness in order to tend to one’s needs. It calls for acceptance that support is necessary to maintain a certain balance in life, so as not to slip into old patterns of thinking and behaving. When entering this relationship with acceptance, those with addictions enter a new way of seeing themselves and the world. Recovery and acceptance provide them with new life skills and healthier coping mechanisms. Acceptance allows them to begin a necessary journey of self-discovery. This journey is a process of awakening that leads to being present to oneself and choosing to be free from the veil of denial and intoxication.

To many on the journey of recovery, the experience of sobriety can be filled with profound changes. It is often an experience of coming home to one’s body and of developing a truly healthy relationship to one’s self and life. Many treatment programs exist to support this recovery process, including in-patient and out-patient treatment facilities as well as a number of 12-step programs.

Hand-in-hand with one or a combination of the above-mentioned programs, which may also include working with a licensed psychotherapist or addictions counselor, a person in recovery may also benefit from working with a certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy professional.

Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is a complementary modality that supports the recovering addict by providing opportunity and safe space not only to explore her current relationship with herself but also to begin to discover a more authentically healthy way to be with herself and in the world around her. Over a number of Phoenix Rising sessions, a client often begins to experience herself in a more compassionate and accepting way. For many people in active recovery, this opens the door to letting go of shame and guilt and their potentially crippling effects. The result is a clearer path to further acceptance, forgiveness, and life-affirming change. iStock_000011533008Small

The Right Time

Given that Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy supports a client in staying aware and present to what’s actually happening in her body in the moment, an important question to explore is the when. When in the process of recovery might be the right time to begin Phoenix Rising sessions?

Most substance abuse treatment programs recommend an initial period of detox. This focuses on freeing the body from the effects of alcohol or drugs. Most treatment programs also recommend that time early in the recovery process be dedicated to necessary adjustments associated with the innumerable physical and emotional changes happening in the bodymind.1

The Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training organization recommends that a person in active recovery be at least six months sober before considering Phoenix Rising as a complementary modality to their recovery program.

Phoenix Rising as a Next Step

Two very important aspects of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy are integral to its application as a complementary modality in support of potential clients who may be in active recovery.

The Phoenix Rising concept of coaching the edge is used throughout the entirety of each session.2  During this process, a client is asked regularly to check in with her edge. Doing this provides the client opportunity to maintain awareness of when any experience may become too big either physically or non-physically. When the client’s experience is too big or beyond the edge, the Phoenix Rising practitioner offers the client the opportunity to come out of the experience and correspondingly reduce or eliminate the edge.

How Phoenix Rising practitioners work with the edges of a client during a session brings to light the other essential aspect of the work: client-centeredness. The entirety of each Phoenix Rising session is grounded in the safety of client-centeredness. The practitioner stays focused on the client, often asking the client what’s happening in the moment, then building the session around the client’s in-the-moment experience. The result is that the client stays in control of each session.

The client also gains experiential knowledge that the Phoenix Rising practitioner shows up as a non-judgmental presence, supporting the client as she explores all that moves into her awareness and as she discovers different patterns and insights about her life and relationships.

The process of self-discovery and self-acceptance, the insights and clarity that clients may receive during Phoenix Rising sessions, along with the spacious and safe environment created by the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy professional, all provide the recovering addict with powerful support on the journey of recovery.


About the Author

Daniela Menardi

Daniela is a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner, Phoenix Rising yoga teacher, and group facilitator. Originally from Italy, she has over 20 years of experience in the field of Addiction and Mental Health treatment. She is currently participating in a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy pilot program to implement a Therapeutic Mentoring process, which will become one of the newest Phoenix Rising certification programs. Daniela currently lives, works, and plays in Key West, Florida.

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