Yoga and Mindfulness Tools to Help You Change Your Drinking with Brian Hyman, RYT

Episode 160 April 10, 2024 00:57:51
Yoga and Mindfulness Tools to Help You Change Your Drinking with Brian Hyman, RYT
Alcohol Tipping Point
Yoga and Mindfulness Tools to Help You Change Your Drinking with Brian Hyman, RYT

Apr 10 2024 | 00:57:51


Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

Brian Hyman, RYT, is a yoga instructor, meditation guide, dharma teacher, author, and father. He has been sober since 2009, and he has been teaching yoga and meditation at Cliffside Malibu since 2012. His dedicated work in the field of addiction treatment and recovery combines yogic philosophy, Buddhist wisdom, Twelve Step principles, and timeless insights from various spiritual traditions.  Brian is the author of the new book "Recovery with Yoga: Supportive Practices for Transcending Addiction." Even if you aren’t a “yogi” I think you will find real value in this conversation. 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Welcome to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. I'm your host, Deb Masner. I'm a registered nurse, health coach, and alcohol free badass. I have found that there's more than one way to address drinking. If you've ever asked yourself if drinking is taking more than it's giving, or if you found that you're drinking more than usual, you may have reached your own alcohol tipping point. The alcohol tipping point is a podcast for you to find tips, tools, and thoughts to change your drinking. Whether you're ready to quit forever or a week, this is the place for you. You are not stuck, and you can change. Let's get started. Welcome to this episode of Alcohol to Beanpoint podcast. Today I have Brian Hyman. He is a yoga teacher and recovery activist, and he understands deeply what people need to maintain sobriety and strengthen recovery. He has been sober since 2009, and he has been teaching yoga and meditation at Cliffside, Malibu since 2012. And I'm honored to have him on the show because he just released his new book, first book. Maybe even. We'll hear more about it. But the book is called recovery with supportive practices for transcending addiction. Welcome, Brian. [00:01:19] Speaker B: Hi, Deb. Thank you for having me. Yes, the book just came out two days ago, so it's a super exciting time. [00:01:27] Speaker A: Yeah, congratulations on that. I'm glad that you're on the show because I although that I am into mindfulness. I do teach a mindfulness class that I've taught at the hospital where I've worked, and then I've also taught, I call it mindful af, that I've taught to people who are in my group and whatnot. But I am very much. Admittedly, I'm not a yogi. I do yoga, but, like, for me, I'm like, oh, I don't really like, I enjoy it, but I'm not into it. Does that make sense? [00:02:02] Speaker B: Sure. [00:02:03] Speaker A: Yeah. But what I think will be helpful for people is I think there are tools from your book and your yoga practice and mindfulness and meditation that will be helpful for people even if they're not into yoga. I guess that is my big point. Point. Yeah. [00:02:21] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. I totally get that, you know, enjoying yoga, but not really into it, especially if we get to a class and a teacher's speaking in Sanskrit or using mantras or chanting or the music is just not something we're used to or can relate to. That's how I started. I didn't know what yoga was supposed to be when I took it as a class at a college many years ago. And I just thought it was stretching. And I thought, just like you said, yeah, it was good. I enjoyed it. But I'm not really into it as a thing that I would do. I didn't know it was a practice. And fast forward. All these years later, I realized it's so much more than the poses, the physicality of the practice. It's, for me now, a way of being, it's a way of living, it's a way of thinking, it's a way of loving and being a father, a teacher, a friend, a human being in my community. So it became so expansive, and it became this thing where I didn't know that's what yoga was supposed to be. I thought it was just physical stretching and finding balance and flexibility. [00:03:21] Speaker A: Yeah, I mean, and that's why I preface that like there's a whole lifestyle related to yoga, but, you know, being able to pull some concepts that can help people in their day to day who aren't, you know, quite there yet where they're ready to. To really embrace that full lifestyle, which is wonderful. But let's start with more of your story and how you ended up here. You have a book out. You've been working at Cliffside Malibu. You've been sober since 2009. Congratulations. That's awesome. So I would just. Yeah, I'd love to hear more of your story and how you got to where you're at now. [00:04:04] Speaker B: It starts with drinking with alcohol. That was my, since that's the topic of this podcast, and the book is about recovery. So I started drinking somewhere in my teenage years, and I won't go too much into detail or give you the long story, but I realized it was a problem somewhere in my late teens, early twenties, when I was starting to count my drinks and realizing I was drinking, I was, in a way that most other people weren't doing it the way that I was doing it, where I was thinking, oh, I only had three, I can have one more, and then I have to stop or I won't be able to get to work tomorrow morning. And it started to become something that I sort of wrestled with mentally at the time and emotionally as well. And it just gets worse. It gets progressive for so many of us. And so what happened was, you know, I was still living life. I was still managing, I was still working jobs. I was still traveling. I was still engaged in life. But over time, somewhere my mid to late twenties, I realized it really was a problem because I was trying to control it and stop it. I thought at some point, I need to stop. And I couldn't. I was living in New York City in this timeframe, and I had a really amazing job one day, and it was going to be, let's say it was a Thursday morning. I don't remember this specific day, but it was Thursday morning. And on Wednesday afternoon, I really wanted to drink, but I thought, okay, I can't. I can't drink the way that I drink, which is I. I'm no longer counting drinks. I just drink and start, and then I just go until I either pass out or black out, or I'm just done. And there was no more controlling it. And I thought, all right, I can't screw this up because this big job is tomorrow morning, so I'll just. I'll just have, like, two, and I'll start earlier in the evening so I can just stop at a decent time. So I'll start, like, drinking at 03:00 p.m. So I can stop at 05:00 p.m. And I could still have enough time to sleep, and then I'll be good for this job and the next. The next day. And. And we all know how this story goes. You know, I start drinking, and once I start, I can't stop. And I still made it to that job the next day. But, you know, it's. You know, I wasn't. I wasn't present. I wasn't myself. I was. I felt regretful. I felt shame. I felt like it's just. It wasn't what. Wasn't who I wanted to be. So what happened was, for me personally, that the catalyst for the change in my life, what led me to sobriety, was realizing that this was not the life I wanted to live. It was keeping me this habit that I had, this addiction to alcohol. It was keeping me from living the life I was supposed to live. And what really made this apparent to me was my mother. She got sick in 2007, and she had a brain tumor, and it was brain cancer. And the doctor said she had about two years to live. And I'm drinking during this time, and I would visit her. I wasn't living in the same area, but I would visit, and her health was declining, and she really wanted to live, but she wasn't going to be able to. And this is where I started to really take in the idea that here's someone who wants to live and can't. I have the gift of life. I'm healthy, and I'm pissing it away. I'm poisoning myself. I'm drinking every night. I don't care about my health. And I felt really awkward. And I really couldn't reconcile this, that I have the miracle of life and I'm wasting it. And after my mother passed away, it was about eight months later when I finally found a way to get the help I needed. And I never looked back. I got sober and my life completely changed, completely transformed. And I started to practice yoga and I started to read spiritual books. I started all the suggestions that we hear. I went to therapy. I just started to look at my diet, my nutrition, the way I live life. And I started to become the person that I am today. It's not that it's difficult for anyone who's listening and who's new or trying to figure this out. It's JUsT different for many of us. This was different for me to try to figure out how to live life this way, because for so many years, I used alcohol as a way to not be present, to escape reality, to deal with fear and anger and impatience. I would just take a drink. And now I had to find a new way to live life. And that's where the yoga piece comes in. The yoga practices, meditation, mindfulness. I started to figure out, well, next time I get impatient or angry or fearful, I could meditate, I could read, I can go for a walk. And all of a sudden I started substituting all these different behaviors. And life gets really good really quick. There's a lot more details to this story, and it's interesting. The more I tell the story, it seems like it's someone else, because the life that we get to live in recovery. I've been sober 14 years now. It's really a miracle. I don't really, I don't feel like I'm the same person I was all those years ago. I literally didn't care about life. I didn't care if I lived or died. And now I cherish my life. Now I'm a father. I have a nine year old daughter. I'm going to stay here as long as I can. [00:09:38] Speaker A: Yeah, that's wonderful. And so for you back then, you got sober, you quit drinking with the help of AA, right? [00:09:49] Speaker B: Yeah. I went to in Los Angeles. I didn't know what to do because I didn't know anyone who was sober. I knew nothing about alcoholism as a disease. I didn't know anything about twelve step meetings. I didn't know anything about treatment centers, what a treatment center was, what a rehab was, what a sober living was. It was all so confusing. And I finally just went online, just typed into a search engine. What do you do if you can't stop drinking? And, you know, all these sites come up, all these links come up, and then most of us, like, we type in, what do you do if you're an alcoholic? How do you know you're an alcoholic? And then I start reading all these questions and answers, and I'm getting perfect scores. I'm realizing, wow, I think I finally found somewhere where I fit in. And so I found some twelve step groups in my area for alcoholism. And so I was really reluctant to go to any kind of twelve step meeting, any kind of, you know, I just. The what I knew of it or thought I knew of these groups where they were like a cult, they were religious, they were a group of weirdos, a group of this, a group of that. I had a lot of personal ideas and opinions, and they were blocking me from what was going to save my life. I didn't know it at the time, and I reluctantly, begrudgingly finally got myself to some meetings, and I wasn't comfortable there. I didn't like it, but I had no options. I had no money, I had no health insurance. I couldn't get the treatment if I wanted to. I actually called a treatment center at this time, and I lied and said, I have a friend who has a problem drinking, and he might want to go to a treatment center. I'm just curious, how much does it cost? And the person on the phone must have, must have had this call many times. He goes, so your friend, how's he doing today? And I said, oh, I'm. I mean, he's fine. I said, he's good. I talked to him recently. He said, well, it's. And he gave me a number, and I realized there's no way in the world I'm going to be able to pay for that. I don't have that type of money. I don't have insurance. Anyway, so I just went to meetings and it saved my life. I took the suggestions that were given and I found the help I needed, and I started to modify the things that didn't work for me. The language, the words, like a higher power, for example. I just found something that worked for me. And I learned a lot of. See, my book is actually about principles. And that's probably where I started to learn about the power of just principles. Principles. The twelve steps are based on principles. And that really worked for me. So it wasn't so much about the people. The people that I thought weren't like me. Once I finally realized they're actually all like me, we all have the same issue. We're all human beings. We all have a problem. We're all just trying to get along and get the help we need. And so my ego started to melt away. My pride, my judgment all started to fall away. And I realized, wow, I'm just. I'm just somebody who needs help here. And thank God I found a place where I can get the help I need. [00:13:04] Speaker A: Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. And, you know, although, like, aa, I know, doesn't resonate for a lot of people. Didn't resonate for me. Like, back then, that was really all there was. And like you said, you didn't have insurance, you didn't have money. And so I think, you know, that there is this free support group is. Is important, you know, and for people to at least be open to trying it, you know, I'm all about just letting people know, hey, there's not one way to change your drinking or quit drinking. There are many different ways and tools out there. I'm going to present them and you pick what works for you, but just know that, like, you're not stuck. And there are different tools for you. So I always like having different perspectives on the show, too. So thank you. [00:13:57] Speaker B: Yeah, I think it really helps to put that message out there that you can put your program together. You can take a little bit from this program, you can take a little bit from this philosophy, you can take a little bit from this type of therapy. That's what I did, and it really worked. When I got sober, 2009, a lot of these programs that are around today weren't around, so there weren't that many options, but it was neat to see these things start to pop up. There was a group for Christians. There was a group for Buddhists. There was a group for people of native american traditions. There were secular groups, there were all kinds of groups. There were moderation groups, there was smart recovery came. And I thought, this is amazing because not every person is going to be able to relate to one thing. And so it's neat because we have different religions, because we all have different types of beliefs, and so why shouldn't it be the same for something like addiction or alcoholism? Maybe certain things don't work for certain people, so we should have some alternatives. As long as they're also healthy. As long as they're also in the spirit of collective healing and transformation and recovery. Yeah, there's a lot of options today, and I think it's great. [00:15:22] Speaker A: Yeah, I do, too. I feel really honored to be a part of this kind of new, modern recovery, I've heard people say. And just. You also call yourself a recovery activist, and I think that's kind of along those lines. Like, we can all be maybe part of the same smorgasbord, but we should all be more united than divided. And unfortunately, with a lot of religion, for example, there does seem to be some infighting, and you notice that in different sober groups, too. So all that to say, thank you for sharing your experience and being open to that. So you went. So this was like, you were in your late twenties when you quit drinking, is that right? Or were you. [00:16:17] Speaker B: I got sober at 34. [00:16:19] Speaker A: 34. Okay. So what was your life like before and then after? Because you. You kind of. You were a yogi before, or, like, how did you get so involved in this now? [00:16:33] Speaker B: I. I did take a class somewhere early college. So I was 19 or 20, and then I didn't do much with yoga. I didn't think it was more than stretching or just a class at the gym at the time. And then somewhere in my mid to late twenties, I was living in New York City, and I was drinking a lot, and I had a. There was a yoga class in the basement of the building where I lived. There was a gym down there, and so I took it. I just happened to accidentally end up in that class. And I liked it. And I went every week. It was every Thursday night, if I believe. If I. If I remember correctly, every Thursday night. The class was actually in this. This little room where it was the same room they used for kids, like a playroom for, like, a toddler daycare type thing. So we moved all the kids stuff out of the way, and we did yoga, and we had a great teacher. She was from yoga works. Her name was Anna, and I liked it. But the interesting thing was, I would take the class, and immediately afterwards, I would get in the elevator, go back up to my apartment, and just start drinking again. So it didn't have the effect like it was going to cure my alcoholism, but it was. It was interesting. I liked it. There was something about it. And so I kept going. And then when I, a few years later, moved to Los Angeles, I found some classes. A friend told me they had free yoga out at a park in Los Angeles at Runyon Canyon. So it's a popular hiking area. And so these classes were out there donation based, free if you didn't have money. And I started taking them, and there was something about that. Now, I was going every day to that. This is because, one, I was pretty lonely. I was drinking every day now, and I didn't really have much contact. I was working here and there, a couple of odd jobs, but I didn't really have much of a structure or schedule in my life. So this yoga class, Monday through Friday, actually, they also had it Saturday and Sunday, was sort of a lifeline where it gave me somewhere to go each day. It helped me feel part of community, and I was getting. I felt stronger. I knew it was keeping me fit and flexible and balanced. And then once I got sober, this is when I realized I was doing a lot more than stretching, and yoga was a lot more than finding balance and flexibility. I. With just a couple months of sobriety, I started to realize when I was practicing yoga, I was processing a lot of things. There was something about just breathing, consciously moving mindfully. It really slowed me down, and it quieted my mind, and it gave me a chance to really start to put some things together. Things like, what's my purpose? Why am I here? I started to really reflect and question my identity and as a person, as just my role. And I would hear things about yoga philosophy. And I'm not sure if it was the music that was being played or the way the teachers would talk or just a combination of everything, but there was something really magical. And I would say really often at that time, and I still say it now, my mat became a magic carpet. I got on that mat, and I just went and took the ride, and I started to really find some things. And ultimately I realized yoga is this inner journey. You just come home to yourself and you realize all this stuff you're looking for out there, all the stuff I drank about, I don't need any of that stuff. It's all inside. So the peace I was looking for, the calm, the balance, the freedom, I started to find it on my mat, in my own mind, in my own heart. And that's priceless. It was such an amazing thing. And with my sobriety, with the clarity of sobriety, I was really able to make sense of that and start to wrap my mind around these ideas. And I was practicing every day. And a few months into my sobriety, somebody had said, you should be a yoga teacher. And I thought, what? And it just made sense. And about nine months sober, I went and did a yoga teacher training, and the rest is history. I've been teaching about 13 years now. [00:20:48] Speaker A: Wow. And so what do you think is so, I mean, you kind of shared how it was helpful for you, but what, you know, if you're a person that doesn't do yoga. Like, what are some tools or concepts that, like, the non yogi person can use when they're on this alcohol free journey? [00:21:10] Speaker B: When I teach my classes, I'm currently teaching five days a week. I'm part of the clinical team at a treatment center in Malibu here in California. I've been doing that for a while at the same time, same treatment center for about twelve years. One thing I'll share often is that because we have a lot of patients that come and they'll say, I don't do yoga. I've never done it. I don't know what it is, I'm not good at it. And I'll share. We're here to breathe together and move together and share the space together. And so all the other stuff just sort of fades away. Nobody cares. I don't care if somebody can do a pose, do any poses. It's not so much about doing these postures, it's not creating these statue like postures. It's about breathing. So back to the question. What it comes down to for me is conscious breathing, awareness of breath. The simplicity of it is so profound, it's so powerful and mindful movement. What these things do, they slow down the mind. They connect the mind to the body. When mind and body are together, for me personally, that opens up a portal or access this point to connecting to my spirit. Otherwise, my mind is all over the place. I'm banging into things with my body, dropping stuff, stubbing my toe, and I don't know where the spirit thing is, but if I can slow down and just take a conscious breath, which is actually pretty simple, which all it means is when you inhale, recognize your in breath, just be aware that you're breathing in. And when you exhale, do the SAme Thing. And something about that just slows everything down. It brings us back into the physical realm, into the bOdy. We start to move slower, we start to speak slower. Our thoughts, they're clearer. So for me, it's those two elements of conscious breathing and mindful movement. They're really important. You'll start to see for many of us, when we think about that, wait a minute, when people say they get a runner's high, or when people go surfing and they say they connect with the ocean, or when someone says, I love when I go for a hike or I'm fishing and doing jiu jitsu, and when I'm playing sports, and all of a sudden you'll start to realize, wait a second, I think we're all talking about the same thing. So you're really aware of your body, you're really aware of the movements, you're connected to it, you're breathing. It's pretty simple. It's a base level type thing. We're breathing together, we're moving together, but with the conscious awareness, we're not just doing it while we're doing 50 other things at the same time. [00:23:55] Speaker A: Yeah, I think it's also like just hearing you talk and describe all of that made me think of a feeling of peace, but also like safety. Like feeling safe. [00:24:11] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. That's one thing we do as well, is when we create a sake. I usually say we create a. We co create a sacred space together. It's never the teacher that creates the space, although if a teacher shows up frantic and hurried and rushed and angry, and that will affect the space. But when a teacher does their work, they help co create a space for students, patients, clients, whoever is coming to the group. And in that space. Absolutely. It's a space of safety. There's healing can take place, transformation can take place. Healing and transformation and recovery are very unlikely to take place in chaos, in fear, in a space that doesn't have safety, as you mentioned. So, yeah, it really does come down to creating a safe space. I. I don't know how anyone else is supposed to heal. You know, if you. If you work in a hospital, it's pretty hard to help someone calm down and relax. If. If you're not coming from a place of calm and relaxation, it's. You can't be. We can't be hypocrites, like I mentioned. Like, I can't show up. Like, hey, guys, let's do some yoga. And I. I have to. We have to. We have to bring that. It's. It's a powerful thing to create safety, to recognize safety. I love that word. I love that you mentioned that. To share safety. I feel safe when I'm sober, when I'm acting out in any behavior, whether it's alcohol, drugs, there's so many different addictions today. I don't feel safe, and the people around me are not going to feel safe if I'm acting out, if I'm erratic, if I'm edgy, if I'm in a place of active addiction, because it will affect energetically everything I do, everyone around me that's not safe. We talk about that a lot in recovery. We'll go back to childhood issues where a lot of people grow up in homes that are not safe and they reach for alcohol or drugs because they need something to create a feeling, even if it's a false sense of safety. They need something to take the edge off. And what's beautiful about yoga, what's beautiful about recovery, is you get to feel safe throughout the day. [00:26:30] Speaker A: I feel safe talking to you. You do have a soothing way about you. Well, are there some exercises that you could walk us through? I know that, like your book is full of lots of tools and practices. I like that, supportive practices. Is there anything that you could share with the listeners? [00:26:57] Speaker B: Let's see. We can breathe together. We just talked so much about breath. The simplicity of breath is one. Everyone has it. Everyone has breath. We're all human beings. We all breathe. The breath is so essential to who we are, to, to every aspect of our life. We can live without food and water for days, maybe weeks. You can't live without breath for more than a few minutes. You'll be in big trouble. So breath is so essential. In the yoga practice, breath is called prana. Prana means life force. It's the same as chinese medicine. It's called qi. So the breath is this product, this life force that's running through. And if we can become aware of that, what you're getting in touch with is the thing that is animating your consciousness, it's the thing that sustains you. It is your fuel, it's a powerful thing. And the simplicity of it is, you don't have to look far to find it, you don't have to read a book about it. All you have to do the next time you take an inhale, just bring your awareness there so we can do that. I would say close your eyes, but if somebody's driving right now and listening to this, please don't close your eyes. But if you're just sitting somewhere, or even if you're driving, the next inhale you take, just become aware of that inhale. Notice if it's short, shallow, notice if the exhale is elongated, if it's erratic, notice if you were holding your breath. You can find out a lot about someone. Usually the way we breathe. It affects the way we think and speak. If somebody's a fast talk or they're usually a breathing kind of rapid, the short, shallow belly breaths, as opposed to breathing slowly, deeply, you're going to speak a lot calmer and move a lot calmer. So if anyone wants to just take, take an inhale, I would say to sit comfortably, but again, depends on where people are seated or what they're doing. Sometimes people take these podcasts and they'll go for a run. So whoever's running right now, your breath is probably going pretty fast. But, yeah, let's. We can just do that together. Let's just take an inhale and exhale. Let it go. Awareness of breath. There's a Zen teacher, thich nhat hanh. He was Vietnamese, a buddhist monk. I heard him say this once on a talk that one conscious breath can change your entire life. And I never forgot that, because even just now, I just took this one breath, and all of a sudden, I feel so much calmer. And imagine stringing together a bunch of those conscious breaths, one after the other. You're gonna build a really peaceful life, a really beautiful life. The idea is to find a rhythm, just to find a rhythm you can sustain. There's part of the book, since you mentioned other practices, so it's Neat when we think of yoga. The book is called ReCovery with yoga, supportive practices. So I think a lot of people may think, oh, I don't want to do yoga. What does he mean, yoga practices? Actually, no, there's hardly any physical poses in this book. So a lot of the practices, one is just the practice of self inquiry. So it's questions where there's a chance for readers to just read a question, sit with the Question, reflect, meditate on it, maybe write their answers down in a Journal or a piece of paper. So I can read a few of those questions, if you like. [00:30:40] Speaker A: I'd love that. [00:30:42] Speaker B: Okay, so this is from. This is from a chapter early in the book. The chapter is surrender. That's the title of the chapter. Because a lot of us, I think the book is structured where the principles, the ideas are ordered in a way where most of us are going to come up against these things. So that the first chapter is honesty. We really have to get honest with ourselves if we have a problem, if there's something we need to do about it. If you're alcoholic, if you're not alcoholic, if YoU are managing it, the next chapter is acceptance. Once you figure out what you're honest about, can you be in an acceptance? And then chapter three was surrender. So this is from the surrender chapter. And so the practice is from the YoGa tradition. It's called Atma. Vichara. Now, you don't need to learn SanSkrit or remember what I said, but AtvA means self, or the innermost self. And VichAra is inquiry. So these are just simply self inquiry questions. It's a yogic practice, but it's basically you're just asking yourself some questions. So it's very relatable. So if anyone wants to just take a listen, feel free to just take these questions in, write down answers, or maybe just think about them later. What does surrender truly mean for you today? Is there a specific area of your life where you ought to stop fighting? Where in your life are you willing to try something new or accept help? Where are you trying too hard to hold on to things as they are? Where are you failing to create long lasting changes? Where are you losing something you don't want to lose? Would it be possible for you to surrender, to let go of control, to accept help? And then people can meditate on those questions, ideally, really take their time with questions like that at any stage of recovery, as anyone knows who's been sober a little while, a question like that in early recovery, you'll have a specific answer. And then a few months or even years into your recovery, your answer will probably be a lot different. What you're willing to surrender or what you're willing to be honest about, as opposed to what you're honest about on day two of your sobriety, you're going to be a lot more honest on year two. So, self inquiry. The journey never ends. Yoga, it's been written in the scriptures. Yoga is a journey of the self through the self, to the ultimate self within. So there's no finish line. You just keep taking the journey, you just keep traveling within. You just keep learning more about yourself. [00:33:54] Speaker A: I love that you've mentioned recovery a lot, and I've heard you talk about the difference between being sober and recovery. Can you share a little bit more about that? [00:34:09] Speaker B: For me, what that means today? To be sober is to be abstinent or to no longer be engaging in a behavior or a chemical substance that I've determined to be harmful to me. So to be sober means I've put the bottle of alcohol down. So I'm sober. The recovery piece is now what are you going to do about it? To recover from something? To recover something is to make new again, to bring back to a state of wholeness or completeness or health. So just putting the bottle down, that is sobriety. That's great. That's a great start. And some people can get sober and stay sober, but the recovery piece is when you actually go and start to do the rebuilding and the refurbishing, and you start to look at why were you drinking in the first place? Where does that come from? What are your triggers? What are your traumas? How can we change this? How can we move forward from here? So the recovery thing is active. The recovery piece is a way of living. It's a way of being, and there's no end to that, just like yoga. So there's a very similar way of working with recovery, just like we practice yoga and there's no end to that. There's no final pose, there's no finish line. It's not a sport. You don't get a trophy. Same thing with recovery. I have many friends in recovery who've 1020, 30, 40 years sober. They're still doing all the things they've been doing, the things that allow them to feel freedom and peace and joy and calm and balance. They are still in this active recovery. So addiction is an active thing, right? You're active alcoholic, you're still drinking. Recovery is also active. What are you doing today to no longer be an active alcoholic or drug addict or active in those behaviors? If that thing is active addiction and it's progressive, it gets worse. Well, recovery should also. That should also be active, and it should also get better. Meaning continue to dive in. So there's nothing wrong with sobriety. I don't. That's how I started, and I'm sober today. I'm proud to be sober today. But the recovery piece is, I think, the action piece, meaning I want to be healthy and I want to be sane, and I want to be as just the best version of myself that I can be. And I can't do that personally if I just put the substance down because I'm still left with the mind or the thinking behind the drinking. So the recovery piece is what takes care of that. It's that inquiry, like we just did with the questions. The recovery piece really makes you kind of go, yeah, why the hell was I drinking all those years? What was that all about? Why did I hate myself? Where all that fear come from? That's the recovery piece. It's the healing. It's the medicine. [00:37:22] Speaker A: Yeah. Interesting. I know that, like, a lot of my listeners and just kind of, I said earlier, like, the quote, unquote, modern recovery or just this kind of modern movement of being alcohol free is wrapped up in a lot of labels which can kind of keep people stigmatized and not getting help, which is why I don't use the label alcoholic. I use alcohol use disorder or gray area drinking or something like that. And then it was interesting because I had a talk with my group at one point, and a lot of people don't relate to the word recovery, but then someone shared that they like to use the word discovery instead. And I thought, oh, I kind of like that. But there is so much personal growth, like you said, when you quit drinking. I mean, I think that's huge. And then after that comes all this personal growth, all this, like, uncovering. Like, that's just really beautiful. Like, it, it's, it's just amazing to see people go through this process. And so I was just curious about that whole sober versus recovery, you know, putting the drink down versus discovery. And then another thing that comes up a lot of the times, is it something that you're gonna have to work on for the rest of your life? Like, as far as I tell people, like, have some sort of tether to why you're doing this, whether that's with another group or listening to podcasts every once in a while or, like, have some tether reminder. But I'm curious what your thoughts are about that. When people are like, am I going to be going to meetings the rest of my life? You know, like, what does this look like? [00:39:18] Speaker B: I have a story that comes to mind around that question. So when I first got sober and I was going to twelve step meetings, I heard that I was supposed to. Basically, I thought that basically, I'm going to have to do this for the rest of my life. And I had all this apprehension, this fear, just this thought of disgust. I'm always going to have to go to meetings and hang out with these people and always call a sponsor and always work the steps for the next 50 years. And I only had just a couple weeks sober at that point. And so I was telling a couple of old timers that I had this idea that I was going to have to do this forever. And, like, and they said it's just one day at a time. And I said, yeah, but, like, let's say. So I have a. Let's say I have a daughter one day, and so she's going to get married. And then so at her wedding, as the father or the bride, I'm supposed to, what? Hold up for the champagne toast and apple juice or a club soda? How am I supposed to do that? And so this old timer, he goes, hold on a second. Let me ask you a question. Do you have a daughter? And I said, well, no. And he goes, hang on, hang on. Are you married? And I said, well, no. He goes, hold on a second. Do you even have a girlfriend? I said, no. He goes, then what are you worried about? And this idea that we're going to have to do this all of our lives, it's future tripping. I don't even know if I'm going to be there. The irony is I actually do have a daughter today. And here's the kicker. Do you think I really care what I'm holding in my hand? If I'm lucky enough to be standing there when my daughter, the person I love the most in the world, finds someone she loves, she's married, I'll put my hands in my pockets. I don't care what I'm holding. So this idea that I got to do this for the rest of my life, that's this almost monkey mind type of thinking. That's the future tripping part. I think that's the disease at work. The disease, the addiction is trying to get into our head, saying, don't do this. Oh, it's got to be for the rest of your life. Don't listen to those people. None of that's real. There's no need to think about it now. Am I going to go to meetings for the rest of my life? I don't know. I live in today 24 hours at a time. I'm not fighting not to drink. One day at a time. That obsession was lifted. It was removed. And I'm not struggling every day to improve myself. I don't need to do that. I've been sober a while. I enjoy doing it. So the practices, like in the book, I enjoy exploring and discovering. I love the word that you use. I love discovering new things about myself, new levels of humility, new levels of honesty. I love it. This is what actually keeps me feeling engaged with life, with the world, with other people. I don't want to rest on my laurels, as one of the saying goes, in the twelve step rooms, I want to keep growing, and not because I'm scared if I don't. I'm not scared. Alcohol. I'm not scared of not growing. I enjoy it. So I mentioned thich nhat Hanh earlier. Another thing I heard him say once was he gave a talk and he was saying how the Buddha meditated. He sat under the bodhi tree and he attained enlightenment, and he made up this story, the scenario that, wait a second. So the Buddha meditated. He became enlightened. But then he's still seen meditating with his monks after this. Why is he still meditating? Because he meditated. It got him the results. He became enlightened, but he's still meditating. And thich Nhan Hanh likes to share. He did. He passed away recently that if someone were to ask him, he thinks the answer would be if someone said, lord Buddha, master of Buddha, you meditated. You became enlightened. Why are you still meditating? Because I like it. So I go to meetings because I like it. I talk to other people in recovery because I like it. I journal, I read spiritual books, I meditate. I do yoga because I like it. Not because I feel I need to. Not because if I miss a yoga practice, I feel like I'm going to drink. I'm not afraid of that anymore. That's been taken from me. I really enjoy it. So that if I get to do this stuff for the rest of my life, if I get to continue on this path of discovery, of recovery as an active way of living, what a blessing. And it's not to as protection. I don't need to do it to safeguard my recovery. I'm not worried about that. I've done everything I needed to do. Now I get to enjoy. What's the point of getting sober if you're still miserable and still scared about, oh, my God, how am I going to make it to this? How am I going to make it to this? I don't want to be walking around with clenched fist for the next 30 or 40 years. I enjoy life, but it does go back to one day at a time like that. Guys, the old timer, he's like, wait a second. What are you talking about? A wedding in the future? What wedding? Who are you? I mean, he was kind enough not to tell me. You're insane. I was literally. I was not in the sane mind thinking of all this stuff that was imaginary. [00:44:19] Speaker A: Yeah, I think I'm glad that you bring up fear, because a lot of people are scared to give up drinking. There is a real fear of the unknown there. And I'm wondering what advice you would have to someone who's listening. And they're sober, curious, and they're not sure. They know that alcohol is taking more than it's giving, but they're still scared to let it go. What would you say to that person? [00:44:49] Speaker B: Yeah, I would probably do some of those types of questions from that we did earlier, and maybe the question would be, is this beneficial in your life? Do you feel good drinking? What do you feel the day after you drink? Is there regret, remorse, shame without judgment? I'm not pointing a finger. I have no opinion either way I live my life. Anyone can live their life. This is all inner work. It's personal work. So the person who may have some fear about drinking or not drinking, they would have to do the personal work and say, and realize on their own, yeah, this is actually messing with my job, my productivity, it's messing with my family life. It's whatever it is they come up with on their own and figure out what the cost, what the cost is. Not so much a pros and cons list as, you know. If I stop drinking, this will happen. If I don't stop, this happens. You can do that, something like that. But you're going to know in your heart, we're all human beings here, we all have a heart. So your intuitive, your little voice, your heart's going to tell you otherwise. So people don't come to a podcast like this or pick up a book about recovery if they don't already have an idea in their innermost self. Their true nature isn't telling them, you need to do something about this. And that's what we need to start to listen to more than the fear. I think the fear is the addiction saying, no, I'm your best friend, don't leave me. How are you going to deal with that social situation coming up? You need me. I think that's where a lot of the fear comes from, is we're stuck. We're stuck with the addictive behavior and the thinking that goes with it. And once we take the alcohol or the substance, whatever it might be, out of the equation, what's left is that thinking behind the drinking. And what do we do with that? Especially if it's fear based thinking, that's it's powerful. Fear is powerful if it's powerful enough to make us drink and get to a place where we, in my case, we don't care about life or death. We don't care about people, work, money. I just didn't care about much. A lot of that was feared, and I'd rather just drink and just screw the world. Forget it. I don't want to deal with anything. What it came down to was the fear of actually looking at what was under the covers, what was beneath the surface. Why was I so scared of the world? Why was I so scared of intimate connection with other people or actually being honest with other people or with myself? The real work of recovery is getting into that fear and realize fear. Spoiler alert. Ready? Fear is a boogeyman. It feels real. Somebody told me this years ago. An acronym for fear is false evidence appearing real. And a lot of it is just stuff that's in our heads, wherever it came from. Conditioning, childhood, maybe, something we saw on tv, movies, friends, gossip. Once we shine this light of awareness, this flashlight that we have, when we get a chance to put the bottle down, we realize, wait a minute, there's actually nothing in that dark corner. There was nothing there to begin with. Like my fear that I wouldn't be able to hold up a glass of champagne at a wedding. It was false evidence appearing real. There's no reason for the fear. So it's neat because this is the kind of work we can do together in community, where we help other people. We share our stories, and all of a sudden it starts to make sense, like, yeah, that does make sense. I don't know why I'm scared of that. And the healing comes collectively and individually. And then fear. Fear becomes a friend. We actually use fear the proper way, which is we use it to sense danger. A hurricane is coming, an earthquake, that fear naturally that arises. That's a good use of fear. Like, take cover, get somewhere safe. There's proper ways to befriend fear and use fear wisely. It's a good teacher. For many of us, though, who are alcoholic or in recovery, it looked. It seems like an enemy. But I promise you, Fiora is actually a really good friend. Once you make friends with it, it'll help you stay out of trouble. [00:49:20] Speaker A: Yeah. Thank you. Is there anything else that you want to share that you haven't shared yet? Before we wrap up. [00:49:37] Speaker B: I wish for anyone who has an issue or even thinks they may have an issue with alcohol, with drugs, with an eating disorder, with a mental health issue, with depression, anxiety, shame, guilt, remorse, loss, sadness. The list goes on and on. There's so many reasons why we might not feel whole or complete or happy or at peace. My wish is that anyone who may be feeling that there is no solution, please know there is. Even if you haven't found it yet, it's there. Just hang in there. I think hanging in there is a spiritual principle that doesn't get enough credit sometimes. Just hanging in there, whatever that looks like for each person. Maybe it's go for a walk, maybe it's watch something on Netflix. Just do something. Just to hang in there long enough until the solution does arise, until it does manifest. There's a solution for all of us. And like we talked about, it's not going to look the same. So maybe for some person it's going to twelve set meetings. Maybe the next person likes Buddhism, so they go to a refuge or dharma related group, a sangha. The solution is there, but it's not there unless we're able to see it. But we need to hang in there long enough to see it. I'm really glad I did. I didn't realize how bad things got for me personally, until I'll share this, maybe this will drive this point home. I thought I was okay. Near the end of my drinking. I didn't realize it was that bad. And a couple months into my sobriety, somebody suggested, do you still live where you got sober? I said, yeah, same apartment, West Hollywood, La. And he said, you should clean up your apartment. I said, what do you mean? He goes, yeah, just try to get rid of some stuff. If you can. Just clean up. You know, part of getting sober is just kind of cleaning up your life, right? And I said, yeah. He goes, well, do it at your house. Make sure there's no extra stuff. Clutter, junk. And I was doing that. I ended up on my computer, and I was cleaning up files. I just had a bunch of files. I found a video file. So this is 2009, right before selfies, before we made. So I find this video file, and it doesn't have a name. It's just the numbers that the computer automatically assigned to this video file. And I played it, and I realized, well, that's me. So what it looked like was I had taken my video camera and turned it so it was facing me and I was talking straight to the camera. And what I was saying in this video was goodbye. And I'm sorry. And that I wish things could have been different. And I'm watching this with a couple months of sobriety, and I'm blown away because I don't remember making it. I must have done it in a blackout. And that's how dark it got for me toward the end. So when I say, hang in there, so many of us don't even know how close we are, how bad it is. So don't mess around. If you think you have an issue, do your best to hang in there and take care of it while you still can. I've been working in the field of treatment rehabilitation center for many years, and between that, my own personal recovery. We hear lots of stories. People don't make it sometimes. And I'm not trying to scare anybody. I'm just sharing some truth. Please hang in there. I watched that video, and I couldn't believe how. How dark it got and how close it got for me that I thought, here's a video I might as well leave behind, basically. I guess, in case I don't wake up one day, maybe someone will find this and they'll know at least, oh, these are his last words, I guess. And I'm so glad that there was a different plan for me and that I was able to finally figure out how to get the help I needed. And it's really powerful people I meet in recovery. It's just such a powerful thing, because a lot of us have these stories where, like, we're suicidal, we're depressed, we have all this guilt and trauma and shame, and somehow we figure out how to still thrive, to do the work that is necessary to keep moving forward, to try to help other people, to be the parents we're here to be, to be the employees we're here to be, to be upstanding members in our community. It's a super powerful thing to know somebody comes from where they come from, an act of addiction, and then they get over here to this other side of sobriety or recovery, and it's like, wow, that's something. But we have to hang in there to get there. So my hope is that anyone who has a problem, please ask for help. There's no shame. One of the reasons you mentioned recovery activists, I like that title only because if it helps anyone, that here I am, and here you are. We're talking about this. We're putting our names out there, we're putting our faces out there. The activism part is in an active way. Hopefully this podcast, this recording today, lets someone know that it is possible, it is possible to go from nothing to something. It's possible to go from alcoholic to sober person. It's possible. But we have to hang in there. So ask for help. Don't be ashamed. There's no reason to be ashamed. Alcoholism is a disease. It's a sickness, and we need help to treat it. Just like if somebody had cancer, you go to a doctor, you get chemo, you get radiation, you have surgery, you get help, you ask for help. And so if anyone has a problem with alcoholism or addiction or any other issues, ask for help. I promise you, you'll probably find the help you need. [00:55:26] Speaker A: Thank you. Well said and very important. And thank you for your time and what you're doing. Can you share how someone can find you and your book? [00:55:39] Speaker B: My website,, you can find me there. The book is recovery with supportive practices for transcending addiction. It's available wherever books are sold. I also have some courses on insight timer and some free meditations on that app as well. [00:56:00] Speaker A: That's wonderful. I'm jotting that down because that will be in the show notes for everybody who's looking to check out the book that is just full of lots of supportive practices to help you out. And maybe this was someone's extra tools, extra secret ingredient to helping them change their drinking. And so thank you for your time, Brian, and everything you're doing. I appreciate you. [00:56:30] Speaker B: Thank you so much. And congratulations on having this podcast. Thank you for putting it out there. I think the more, like we talked about perspectives that are out there, there's a saying that we'll hear sometimes there's a lid for every potato, there's a nut for every bolt, you know, so there's a path of recovery for every person. It's not going to look the same. So, yeah, hopefully with all the speakers that you have on this podcast and all these different ways to get sober and find recovery and freedom and discovery, the more the merrier. So good for you. Keep up the good work. [00:57:06] Speaker A: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. Please share and review the show so you can help other people, too. I want you to know I'm always here for you, so please reach out and talk to me on Instagram at alcoholtippingpoint and check out my website,, for free resources and help. No matter where you are on your drinking journey, I want to encourage you to just keep practicing. Keep going. I promise you are not alone and you are worth it. Every day you practice not drinking is a day you can learn from. I hope you can use these tips we talked about for the rest of your week. And until then, talk to you next time.

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