Tag Archives: mental

Find Your Drive with MET

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“One of my earlier post talked about how important it is to have motivation. But I was mainly referring to lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. I failed to mention its importance in recovery from addiction! This is a great article that outlines an actual therapy to help boost your mental and emotional strength called Motivation Enhancement Therapy or MET. The goal is to hit a breakthrough, a kind of enlightenment, that will enhance your drive for a life of sobriety. As they say, ‘the 12 steps doesn’t work for everybody,’ because you need that motivation to even show up at a meeting!” -Best of luck, Robyn

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Motivational Enhancement Therapy(MET), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “is a counseling approach that helps individuals resolve their ambivalence about engaging in treatment and stopping their drug use.”

It is a method offering more to the substance abuser than simply the traditional 12-step programs of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous (AA, NA).  “This approach aims to evoke rapid and internally motivated change, rather than guide the patient stepwise through the recovery process.”

MET is based on principles of Motivational Interviewing (an approach developed by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, clinical psychologists treating problem drinkers).  It elicits self-motivational statements in early discussion sessions. This is done to “build a plan for change” based on the patient’s observable commitment and verbal expressions of some level of movement toward healingsurrounding the problem.

This therapeutic approach specifically engages the patient in the process of putting a plan forward based on person-centeredmotivations, as opposed to societal. ((As such, it evokes the work of educator John Dewey and psychologist Carl Rogers.)) In uniquely notreiterating the 12-step approach, it can appeal to those having problems following a rote program that does not fully speak to them.

After all, the 12-step approach doesn’t work for everyone.

Developing problem-solving and interpersonal skills is a core component of the therapy. Often, this is introduced early on, in order to initially get past the denial of any substance abuse problem. In a sense, the therapist is guiding the patient to see for himself that there is a problem — all based on discovering what motivates the individual to live life as he or she is currently.

Enlightenment can only occur if an individual wants to learn (John Dewey), and MET is centered around this insight.  Once initial resistance has been countered — by reflecting back the patient’s own statements about desiring better outcomes — learning can really take off.  An introduction of behavioral techniques can be nicely mixed in to support the patient’s ability to better fend for himself when tempted by chemical or old, bad habitual patterns.

Therapists using this approach will often encourage partners and family to attend some sessions as well. This is to support the patient’s thinking and behavioral process changes, as well as to learn techniques for themselves. ((Those techniques could be to draw out the patient’s experience and feelings, or to find coping mechanisms as an addict’s or alcoholic’s family member, based on the MET approach.))

MET often is used in conjunction with other cognitive behavioralapproaches to problems; indeed its application can be much further-reaching than simply for substance abuse. It also has points of connectedness with dialectical behavior therapy-based approaches — utilizing principles akin to mindfulness and distress tolerance in session explorations.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy could go a long way toward offering new insights to those affected by the varied symptomatology of many mental illnesses, as well as interpersonal and professional human relations. Its applications are beginning to be far-reaching, as a simple search online will prove, with its healing offered toward everything from anxiety and depression to breathing problems connected to needed lifestyle change.

Source: http://www.psychcentral.com

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Why We Smoke SO Much!

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” When I first started smoking, I thought I was cool. Then I stopped. When I picked up smoking several years later, it was a way to get high. Then I stopped.  It wasn’t until I found myself in recovery that I really started smoking like a chimney. My parents were concerned and frankly annoyed my this new habit. There was a sense of relief  however, when they discovered in their NAMI class (National Alliance on Mental Illness) that this was commonly seen in people who have mental disorders and addiction. So I went on their website and found the article that explains it all! So if your a smoker, you may relate to this bit of text! It does focus on mental illness but a lot of the information can be useful to all.” -Peace, Robyn

Smoking and Mental Illness

People living with mental illness have a very high rate of smoking. A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 44.3 percent of all cigarettes in America are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. This means that people living with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other persons.

A positive note is that people who live with mental illness had substantial quit-rates, which were almost as high as the group without mental illness. NAMI has led many changes in our mental health system─getting access to the tools to quit smoking is a way to improve the quality and quantity of life. Improving lives is a new advocacy pursuit.

The Connection between Mental Illness and Smoking

There is no one single, certain reason why so many people who live with mental illness smoke. It may be a combination of brain effects, psychological effects and the social world in which we live.

From a brain-based perspective, research is being done to determine if and how nicotine is involved in some of the brain’s memory functions. If nicotine is a factor, then this could explain why so many people living with an illness like schizophrenia or other illness involving cognitive deficits may smoke. Even though smoking is thought to enhance concentration and cognition, the effects are short in duration.

Researchers and the medical community have a great deal to learn about how smoking impacts the brains of those living with mental illness. It is known that people diagnosed with schizophrenia often smoke before the onset of symptoms and that they smoke more often and inhale more deeply than smokers without schizophrenia.

While we still have a lot to learn about why people smoke, there is plenty of information to support the serious health risks of smoking. So while there may be good reasons why you were attracted to smoking, the key is to figure out ways to increase rates of quitting. Nicotine isn’t a health problem on its own, but when smoked and combined with hundreds of other chemicals that are present in cigarettes the practice of smoking is toxic.

Psychologically, all addictions soothe cravings. People often find themselves relaxed and less tense when their addiction is fed. This is true of cigarette smoking. Smoking can also be part of a social norm, one where people in your social circle all hang out and smoke. Some people who live with mental illness learned to smoke in a hospital or in group-living settings. These examples help illustrate how the mental health culture needs to move forward to reduce the tie between socialization and smoking.

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Facts About Smoking

People die from smoking-related illnesses. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Smoking harms nearly every organ of your body and diminishes your overall health. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and of cancer-related death.

Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke and lung disease. With the increased risk of heart disease from second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs), individuals living with mental illness must try to quit.

Inhaled cigarette smoke is made up of 4,000 chemicals, including cyanide, benzene, ammonia and carbon monoxide to name a few. There is no safe tobacco product, so switching to a smokeless or chew product will not eliminate your risk of smoking-related diseases.

People are finally waking up to the fact that smoking is a true health hazard, and people need to quit in order to live longer. More psychiatric facilities are going smoke-free, and NAMI is advocating for access to smoking cessation in outpatient settings.

State mental health commissioners and state medical directors are committed to changing the way the public mental health culture relates to smoking. Check out their toolkit (http://www.nasmhpd.org/general_files/publications/NASMHPD.toolkitfinalupdated90707.pdf) to see what policy changes and strategies they are using to create a healthier mental health system environment.

Smoking’s Effects on Symptoms and Medications

Research shows that people living with mental illness do not have worse symptoms after they quit. It is understandable that this is a concern with quitting smoking. Quitting is hard work, and it may take many efforts to be successful. Be sure to get support, talk with your doctor, set a quit date and explore the tools for success (Link to tools for success section) that are available to help you quit.

If you are a smoker and you quit, you can usually get the same treatment results from lower doses of psychiatric medications. Smoking increases the breakdown of medicines in your body, so smokers need to take higher doses to get the same results as someone who does not smoke. Without cigarettes you may need to take less medication. An additional benefit is that a dose reduction will likely reduce side effects of medicines, such as weight gain and other side effects.

Chakras and Addiction

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“I absolutely love this article! Kelley Young, a writer for Mind Body Spirit Healing, gives an introduction to the theories of chakras in their basic form and goes on to describe their effects through substance abuse. I try to go a little more in depth, noting physical and mental correlation’s and how they effected us during our us and can aid us in recovery. We learn that all the 7 chakras can benefit a different part of our lives and are all equally important. We can easily incorporate these spiritual beliefs into our daily meditation and yoga routine. Each chakra holds a different association to the mind and body. Certain colours also stimulate these chakras, so even meditation on an object of this colour can enhance the energy flow. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!” -Namaste, Robyn 

What role do Chakra’s play in addictions and behavioral health and how can we treat addictions and behavioral health issues by working with the body’s energy system? For starters lets look at what a “chakra” is. Wiki defines Chakras as follows, “Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the subtle body of living beings.] The chakras are said to be “force centers” or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation. Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered the focal points for the reception and transmission of energies.”

When these chakras are out of balance, either over or under active, or when they have built up toxins, the physical body will attempt to balance them through negative behavior patterns and addictions, by literally reaching out for some kind of fix. Each chakra relates to specific issues, and therefore specific addictions or behavioral patterns. By balancing each chakra and removing toxins that have built up in the energy patterns, it is possible to treat and overcome addictions and behavioral health issues Common treatments for addictions do not always entail spiritual healing, but only touch on aspects of spirituality for healing. For example, in a traditional addictions treatment program, there may be a specific group or topic of a group called something similar to spirituality for addictions. Perhaps this group would meet once per week and discuss the topic for about an hour or so. Then group parts ways and perhaps the addicted person may further discuss spirituality with an individual counselor or attend AA meetings, but that is different than actually changing the bodies energy system. With my chakra cleansing program the addicted individual is given the opportunity to heal on all levels, mind, body, and spirit in a private and safe setting. One on one energy work until balance in each chakra and the energy system as a whole is found. Removing blockages and toxins that deter healing on all three energy bodies..physical, etheric and astral… clearing what is unhealthy and replacing it with health. Health is energy with grace.

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As I said above, each chakra relates to specific addictions and behavioral patterns. They are as follows:

Chakra 1 The Root Chakra: Related to heroin, cocaine, alcohol, milk, fat, meats. “Located at the base of the spine, it is a symbol of foundation. It is related to security, survival and potential. It governs sexuality and stability, giving us the ability to be sensual yet balanced which is something many of us have struggled with in and out of recovery. Weaknesses in the root chakra manifest in unbalanced sex life, overspending, cutting and overall health.”

Chakra 2 The Sacral Chakra: Gluten, wheat, starchy carbs, grain based alcohol, chocolate. “Located in the sacrum, it is associated to reproductive organs and sex hormones. Stimulation helps reproduction, creativity, joy and enthusiasm. Issues tend to be with relationships, violence, emotional needs including (but not limited to) pleasure. Excuses to use drugs often stem from these deficiencies.”

Chakra 3 The Solar Plexus Chakra: Cannabis, cocaine, caffeine, carbonated beverages, corn based alcohol, beer, corn processed sugars. “Located near the navel, this chakra plays a valuable role in digestion and adrenaline— both of which are highly effected by drug use by simply using and manipulating the way the body normally reacts while stable. Issues include personal power, fear, anxiety, self-identification and growth. With addiction, much of these emotional/mental formations are skewed and attempted to cover-up through use.”

Chakra 4 The Heart Chakra: Ecstasy, smoking, sugars and sweets, wine. “Located (obviously) at the heart, this chakra deals with circulation, the immune system and endocrine system. Emotional problems that arise have to do with compassion, tenderness, love for self and others, rejection and well-being. Many people that PTSD from relationships tend to have weak heart chakras. Also, after recovering from opiate or heroine use, that sugar craving can arise and effect the heart chakra in a negative way.”

Chakra 5 The Throat Chakra: Smoking, food in general. “Located at the throat, this chakra can effect the thyroid and is normally associated to compulsiveness. This relation can be found in the natural compulsive behaviour of using, shopping, overeating and even mania in people who are bipolar. Mentally it governs independence and thought.”

Chakra 6 The Third Eye Chakra: All mood-altering substances, chocolate, caffeine. “Located in the center between the brows, this chakra deals with the pineal gland and melatonin which regulates sleep. Physically, addicts normally struggle with sleeping problems with either lack or excess and bad dreams. Mentally it deals with visual consciousness, clarity and intuition, trust and inner guidance. Meditation on this chakra can raise awareness and bring a sense of ecstasy through heightened thoughts.”

Chakra 7 The Crown Chakra: All mind-altering substances. “Located at the top of the head, this chakra deals with the nervous system and the base of consciousness. It deals with the release of karma, spirituality, meditation, mental reactions, creative force and unity or oneness. This is especially important to open during meditation because it is what brings us closer to our higher power and gives us a sense of peace in an unaltered reality.”

You may have noticed that some of the addictions or behaviors are found in more than one chakra, so it is necessary to treat each chakra that the issue is found in. The Chakra cleansing program is for anyone who wants to overcome on not just a physical level but spiritual and emotional level as well. My personal opinion is that in traditional treatment centers, relapse is so common because only the physical and emotional bodies are being treated typically. So many issues and toxins literally get stuck in the individuals astral and etheric bodies where they “creep” back into the physical body which can then lead to relapse. The goal of this program is to offer an opportunity for holistic healing for the addicted person or for the person with negative thought or behavioral patterns.

Saying Goodbye to Your Drug

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“While I was in rehab, I cried, and cried, and cried. The first few days were nothing special, I was trying to get the lay of the land and understand where the hell I was. I had no expectations whatsoever and never gave any thought to what rehab might be like. But after I began to settle in, something happened. Something clicked inside and I just couldn’t pinpoint what I was feeling. Then one girl came up to me, consoling me and said ‘Your mourning…’ I looked up, confusion clearly painted on my face. ‘For your drugs of choice. Your starting to realize you are here to learn how to let them go. You will never be with them again.’ I stared at her, jaw dropped. Was she right? Is this why I was so depressed? ‘You should write a letter… to your drug… to say goodbye.’

It took me two months to gain the courage to say goodbye to my top two drugs of choice (I didn’t have one, so you could just write one letter. Or you could write a letter to every drug you’ve ever had if you feel up for it!). But once I did, an incredible sense of relief was lifted from my heart. My drugs were my lovers, my obsessions. I didn’t need anyone but them. When I realized that our relationship was toxic, I had to let them go.

Below is an article written by an addict named Kelli Athas. She does an amazing job outlining this therapeutic writing technique which is commonly used in treatment centers as a  coping skill. She also offers her own personal letter that she wrote which is not only relatable but incredibly moving.” – Enjoy, Robyn

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Many treatment facilities have clients write a “Dear John” letter to their DOC (drug of choice). A counselor will use this tactic of theraputic journaling in order for the addict to direct their anger at the real culprit, the drugs. Like relationships, many addicts have a love-hate relationship with their drugs. Moments of clarity will come about & the mind races on with the shame & control their addiction holds over them, They realize it is a miserable existence but the pull is so strong that they retreat to using to cover up those feelings & thoughts. Most addicts stay high 24/7 in order to keep the thoughts of remorse & guilt at bay. When they aren’t using they occupy their minds by thinking of ways & means to get more. These are the times that can be the most dangerous for an addict. Depending on what phase of addiction they are in they will do almost anything to get the drugs that literally controls their minds. That’s why an exercise such as this can be a freeing experience for an addict. And sometimes they realize some resentments & guilt they were harboring should’ve been aimed at the addiction itself.

I’m including an excerpt from an addict’s “Dear John” letter.  I’m fortunate  to share this with you…….because the letter is mine.

Dear Junk,

We’ve been together a long, long time. It started out casual & fun. Nothing serious. I thought I’d move on after high school or college….that maybe we’d even stay casual friends. BUT you led me on…showing me the fun, spontaneous side….showing the euphoria you could bring….Like many relationships everything changed, you even let my boyfriend throw me out in the rain (he was with you too & you wouldn’t let go) I was denying all you were doing: the weight loss, missing school, my disappearances, & lying. I was compromising all my standards. The euphoria you gave, it never would last & you never said what I’d do for it to last….I lost my child & my friends. My mom was the only 1 who fought, but you said she’d never understand so I couldn’t get caught…I was different before you came. I laughed & loved & cared about others. But I had to isolate so know one would see us & I now I had to have you just to feel right. I was sick of your control but too tired to fight. You had me roaming the streets, hardly having a thing to eat…..sometimes scared to sleep. You reminded daily of the shame I carried, so many times I thought it would be best if I was buried. I lost respect for myself & couldn’t look in the mirror. The devastation you’ve created can NEVER be forgiven…

I cringe to think of you now…waiting on your next victim. What ruse will you use to reel in this one?

BUT you didn’t kill me, as hard as you tried. God intervened, I faced my family & I survived. I’ve been given the strength & willingness I needed to tell you all I’ve been thinking…First get out of my life, STAY OUT OF MY MIND! You’re not welcome anymore…I’m learning about your kind! God saw it fit for me survive this addiction and NOW I KNOW I HAVE PURPOSE & MEANING!

Goodbye Forever,

Kelli

Those were the main parts, I edited very little. This was written about 7 years ago & I still get a freeing feeling just from typing it out again & I actually wasn’t intending on it rhyming like that…but I remember it poured out. There’s no format for something like this. It may be theraputic for many of you to write letters to a loved ones addiction or anything you’re struggling with. If anyone feels like sharing their own letter or  sending us a letter for feedback please submit a reply. Let me know if you want it published on our blog or want it kept private.

If you have any other comments, questions, or concerns submit them here or call us…night or day! And always remember to take care of you!

Sincerely,

Kelli Athas

Addictions Effect on the Liver Channel

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A lot of us learn that because of our use, we have damaged our body in sometimes irreparable ways. At times we have clenched over in pain, as though somebody was stabbing a sharp knife into our right side. What we don’t realize at first is that this pain is our liver trying to tell us something. And if we don’t stop using and keep ignoring these symptoms, it can lead to further problems such as Liver disease

Everyone pretty much knows that drugs and alcohol aren’t the best for the liver… Yet, we didn’t care. We seemed not to care about anything but our next fix. But now that we are working towards recovery, we can take time to repair our body, inside and out. While in time the liver does heal itself, by eating certain foods and modifying our diet, we can help accelerate the process. Below is a section from an article originally posted by the Huffington Post that lists the top 10 foods that help promote proper liver function.

Garlic:
Garlic helps your liver activate enzymes that can flush out toxins. It also has a high amount of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansingsays holistic nutritionist Hermeet Suri.

Grapefruit:
Eating or drinking grapefruit juice can help your liver flush out carcinogens and toxins. This fruit is also high in both vitamin C and antioxidant properties.

Beets:
Beets are high in plant-flavonoids, which can improve the overall functions of your liver.

Leafy Greens:
Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce have the ability to neutralize metals, chemicals and pesticides that may be in our foods, and act as a protective mechanism for the liver, Suri says.

Green Tea:
Green tea is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, which have been known to improve the functions of our liver.

Avocados:
Adding more avocados to your diet can help your body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione, which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials, Suri says.

Crucferous Vegetables:
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts also increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) in our bodies that helps create enzyme production for digestion, Suri says.

Lemons:
We all know citrus fruits like lemons are full of vitamin C, but lemons also help our bodies cleanse out toxic materials and aid the digestion process.

Turmeric:
Used as a spice, tumeric has been known to help our bodies digest fats and stimulate the production of bile. It can also act as a natural form of detox for your liver.

Walnuts:
Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which help support our liver through its cleansing process.

According to traditional Chinese medicine theories (or TCM), diseases of the liver pose far more importance in the body than just digestive benefits. The liver channel that is used in acupuncture and acupressure reveals it self in the following line throughout the body:
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As you can see, it travels all the way up from the outer side of the big toe, to the inner shin, up the inner thigh, passes up the pelvis, surrounds points around the livers location, goes on the outside of the pectoral region and curves, making its way to a slight medial area on the neck. What this diagram does not show is its energy around the face which travels in the center of the checks, around the lips, then up to the direct middle of the eyes and to the crown of the head.

This meridian can reveal signs of liver deficiencies and manifest itself through pain throughout the line. Having pain in the inner ankle, difficulty abducting the legs or tenderness in the pectoral region are all physical signs. There are even mental signals that normally appear through ones outer expression and emotion that are associated with the liver meridian. With imbalances, people tend to feel hopeless, desperate and worthless because they cannot find meaning or purpose in everyday life. They may perceive a certain polluted path to be correct and blindly follow it. However, when health in the liver is restored, people are able to see clearer and pull themselves out of even the darkest places.

If you notice any of the symptoms in your life, you may want to consider the possibilities seeking alternative care. I highly recommend seeing a licensed acupuncturist  and/or an Asian Bodyworker who has knowledge in TCM theories. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and be involved in your treatment. Something I would make sure to ask is what you can do everyday (beside changing your diet) to help boost productivity in the liver channel like incorporating certain yoga poses to your practice.

If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment below or message me on our Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/HippyHealing <

5 Steps to Begin Your Yoga Regime!

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“I have spoken to a lot of people about what keeps them going in their recovery and what keeps them stable (if they struggle with anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar and/or schizophrenia). Many of them mention exercise and yoga but fail to mention any regular practice. Always noting how they may not have time, aren’t flexible enough or just have a hard time getting in that state of mind. But these are just excuses! The fact is that anyone can do yoga and it doesn’t have to even be an hour long practice. We should try our best to take time to zone in on your presence, inside and out. Bringing such awareness is a form of meditation and one of the most popular ways to cope with disease and addiction. However, addict or not, this kind of centering can start a day on the right foot with a positive outlook on life or end the day in bliss and serenity. Take a look at these 5 tips that will get you started with your regular practice. It’s worth a trial run and I think you may be able to see what so many others have discovered about themselves through this method of holistic healing.” -Love and light, Robyn

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1. Remember that there’s no such thing as being “good at yoga.”

Being “good” at yoga postures (asana) is something that doesn’t exist. Remember, yoga is a practice that helps us to deeply explore ourselves while learning to quiet the mind. Allow yourself to grow with your asana, with your practice, and just let go! There’s enough pressure everywhere to be good, to be perfect, to get it right — let yoga bring out the wild reckless abandon of your heart! Close your eyes, and flow.

2. Don’t think; just practice.

This gem, whispered into my ear by Sri Dharma Mittra while I was avoiding crow, has transformed my life. I have found that talking about going to yoga usually keeps me from actually going to yoga. Turn on autopilot, get yourself there, and let the rest come. Showing up is the hardest part!

3. Know that no one is judging you.

If, as you first enter a studio, you feel the vibe doesn’t suit you, kindly and gracefully leave (before class begins). Yoga is energetics, and it’s your right to feel comfortable and welcome in the space you’ve chosen for your practice. You’ll be able to tell as soon as you walk in if it’s the place for you.

If you’ve found the perfect space but still find yourself worrying during down dog that everyone is judging you, remember that others are also practicing and are unable to look at you, let alone judge you. Breathe into the collective consciousness and let your mat to be a personal and private oasis.

4. Be kind to your body and yourself!

Ease in! The way we treat our bodies during yoga is a manifestation of how we feel about ourselves. Don’t be unkind to your hamstring because it’s tighter than you’d like. Instead, grant your muscle compassion and breath, and it will open. There are times I don’t practice for a week, and when I begin again I’m not as strong or flexible. That’s OK! I allow myself to be exactly where I am, and before I know it, my strength and flexibility return. Only the internal dialogue of chastisement can keep you from enhancing your practice — nothing else! Simply start and be kind to yourself.

5. Practice non-judgment, presence and patience.

Choose to go into your practice with an open mind and an open heart. The first class I went to was pure torture and I wanted to leave, but I stayed out of respect for the teacher and other students. I’ll never forget leaving that first practice, thinking, “I’m NEVER coming back.” But then I found myself on the city streets, feeling something vital had taken place and that already I was different. I haven’t looked back since.

Don’t judge the practice, don’t decide it’s not working or that nothing is happening, Welcome yoga in and let the poses take you somewhere magnificent, just as they’ve done for thousands of people for thousands of years. You have every right to a holy yoga practice! You deserve to communicate deeply with your body, to strengthen inside and out, and to change all that does not serve you.

Steps from MindBodyGreen.com

Film Pick: Drug Abuse, Mental Illness and Co-Occuring Disorder

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“This is a a great old video that offers a lot of information regarding substance abuse and mental illness. It brings up questions like, “Which came first?” This is a common topic many people struggling with co-occurring disorders ask. The speakers and stories shared in this film explore topics like those and many more. Go ahead, get educated and take an hour to learn something new!” – Robyn

Panelists:
Patricia Ordorica, MD – Associate Chief of Staff, Mental Health & Behavioral Sciences Central, James A. Haley Veterans Administration Hospital; Associate Professor Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of South Florida College of Medicine; Director Addictive Disorders Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Univ. of South Florida College of Medicine. Deirdre Forbes – Intake Coordinator for Madison East, part of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Ms. Forbes is in recovery from a co-occurring disorder.
Hosted by:
Mary E. Larson, Vice President of Communications and Membership for CADCA

DBT in Recovery

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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a relatively new treatment method that has shown promise for treating both substance abuse and even the most difficult mental health concerns. Targeted dialectical behavior therapy programs work especially for those who:

  • Suffer from trauma, life-threatening experiences, abuse or loss
  • Try traditional therapy with limited success
  • Struggle with co-occurring addiction and mental health concerns
  • Struggle with bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, PTSD or borderline personality disorder
  • Struggle with self-injury, self-harm or low self-esteem
  • Are an adult child of an alcoholic or suffered abuse or trauma as a young person
  • Have difficulties coping with emotions or feel that your emotions are overwhelming

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How Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy Different?

Dialectical behavior therapy was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, a renowned psychologist at the University of Washington. Dr. Linehan specializes in hard-to-treat patients. She found that traditional methods of therapy were not effective, and as a result she developed DBT.

DBT is different, as it does a few things that traditional therapy does not. DBT helps you deal with complicated emotions without putting you “on the spot.” DBT has two types of sessions that include a classroom/group environment and individual therapy sessions. These two types of treatment sessions work together to help you feel more comfortable about the treatment process. DBT provides real-life skills to help you recover from addiction and identify and help yourself get through difficult life moments. Dialectical behavior therapy is different from traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the following ways:

  • DBT works like a class, as you learn more about yourself and how you relate to others
  • DBT accepts you as you are and does not pressure you to become someone you are not
  • DBT works to help you accept hardships and handle trauma and conflict more effectively
  • DBT helps you regulate and control your own emotions
  • DBT gives you the skills to release anxiety and live a life you want to live

What Are the Goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy helps you become more present, mindful and at peace with the world. By combining Buddhist principles with traditional psychotherapy and life skills, DBT works to help patients in the following four core areas:

  • Emotion regulation: Helping patients learn how to manage mood changes and impulsive decisions naturally
  • Distress tolerance: Teaching patients how to cope with trauma, distressing feelings and reactions
  • Mindfulness: Learning how to observe the situation and accept yourself and others as they are, and learning how to enjoy life just as it is and not how you would like it to be
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Helping patients cope with difficult situations and difficult people to create healthy boundaries and build happier relationships

Must Read: Sane- Mental Illness, Addiction, and the Twelve Steps by Marya Hornbacher

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“This is my next ‘must read’ book. I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet, but I have read Madness and it was one of the most relatable and amazingly written books I have ever read. For those of you suffering with Bipolar disorder, thats the book for you. Those of you suffering with eating disorders, her first book Wasted is one you should look into. This one however, seems like a great novel for all addicts, focusing on co-occurring disorders and working the 12 steps!” – Much Love, Robyn

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Marya Hornbacher, author of the international best sellers Madness and Wasted, offers an enlightening examination of the Twelve Steps for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.

In this beautifully written recovery handbook, New York Times best-selling author Marya Hornbacher applies the wisdom earned from her struggle with a severe mental illness and addiction to offer an honest and illuminating examination of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.

Relaying her recovery experiences, and those of the people with whom she has shared her journey, Hornbacher guides readers through the maze of special issues that make working each Step a unique challenge for those with co-occurring disorders.

She addresses the difficulty that many with a mental illness have with finding support in a recovery program that often discourages talk about emotional problems, and the therapy and medication that they require. At the same time, Hornbacher reveals how the Twelve Steps can offer insights, spiritual sustenance, and practical guidance to enhance stability for those who truly have to approach sanity and sobriety one day at a time.

““The difference between now and the years when I lived in chaos is that I now have the knowledge, the tools, and the support to handle any kind of challenge, any kind of change.” Hornbacher (Madness) writes with honesty, empathy, and personal experience as someone with Bipolar Disorder who has struggled with addiction. She explores the meaning of the Twelve Steps in daily life to someone struggling with addiction, mental illness, or both. From perceptions of addicts (“that we can, by force of will, gain control over the substance to which we’re addicted, and that our failure to do that is simply more proof that we are failures as people”) to the “God problem” of the Twelve Steps, Hornbacher reaches out to readers in a clear, surprisingly lyrical voice that seeks to understand, assist, and explain. The Steps, she argues, “help us through the difficult passages, and they teach us to take joy in the discoveries we make as we go. What I am discovering as I work and rework the Steps over time is that there is no end to this journey.” For anyone seeking to understand or conquer addiction, her book will be a valuable guide and pocket mentor.”

— Publisher’s Weekly

Box of Dreams

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When I got home from rehab I felt completely lost. Out of work and nothing to do, I turned to one of my favourite coping skills: ART. My mom had  told me she made a box and filled it with symbols of her hopes and dreams and one day they all came true in there own way. So I became inspired to do something of the same…

I took an old shoe box and collaged as much as I could! Anything like inspiring or uplifting images and words all toped off with a bit of glitter! Instead of filling it with objects, I left it empty with a single notebook inside. Now everyday when I wake up, I head into my dream box and write down what I’m grateful for. Some days I’ll even get a card in the mail from someone I just wrote about that same day! Its a great reminder of your goals and aspirations all while growing the relationship you have with your higher power through this small meditation! Try it out on a rainy day and keep the box someplace where you will always be reminded.Share your photos too!

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What you need:

  • A box
  • Old magazines or newspapers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • GLITTER (optional 😛 )
  • A notepad/notebook to fit inside
  • A pen
  • A desire to change!

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Whats next?

Wake up every morning and get creative again! Thank your higher power, write what your grateful for, write about your dreams and aspirations, or inspiration you find at meetings! Return the book in the night and do it all again tomorrow! You can even do as my mom suggested by placing small items of symbolic importance in the box and hide it under your bed. Every night before you drift off to sleep, count off all the items in your head as you pray to your higher power.

This is a great coping skill to practice, from making it to using it everyday. You will find your spirits uplifted and heart fill with love as you recount all the things that make you happy in life.

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Peace and Love, Robyn