Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) wrote the following haiku:
Four temple gates
beneath a single moon
It resonates with me because it sums up my experience as a person in long-term recovery. To get and stay clean I had to accept 12-step support, find new music, develop hobbies, commit to poetry and performance art, return to school, study meditation and yoga, give myself permission to find a creative outlet and find spiritual mentors that were right for me. It took not one gate, but many, for me to find joy and gratitude with life on life's terms. As a result, I'm an advocate and practitioner of experiential therapies and traditional, as well as non-traditional, paths to healing from addiction, trauma and mental health challenges.
Through the years I've had the pleasure of knowing many people successful on a variety of paths in recovery. For some the road to freedom from addictions includes music, talk therapy, painting, meditation, photography or scrapbooking. For others it is sky diving, rock climbing, bungee jumping, cliff diving or demolition derbys. Some need to learn to be social and let the world in while some must learn to sit still and become comfortable in their own company. Many people's recovery success is based on the god or religion of their understanding, and many must heal from religious abuses in order to overcome the pull of self-destruction.
There is an amazing organization, One Step at A Time (OSAT), with chapters in several states. OSAT celebrates recovery by hosting outdoor adventures such as biking, hiking, white water rafting, snow sports and scaling very large mountains! I took my 20 year coin at the top of a mountain with an OSAT group of friends, and it was an amazing, fun accomplishment both symbolically and literally.
I believe there is no "right way" to recover except the one you forge with passion, persistence and your own permission to live an expanded life.
I found this TED talk inspiring. Let me know what you think.
Kelly Swan is a counselor, educator, program developer, community activist and a person in long-term recovery.
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