This anonymous quote, often heard at AA meetings, is a great way to start the New Year! I am reminded of it as I read a book gifted to Marco and me by a fellow yogi, “Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga” by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison. In the reflection, Rolf reminds us that change in our lives is both a renunciation of the things that harm us and a daily practice of yoga that keeps us on the path to health and wholeness.
I work with clients facing addiction to alcohol, drugs, food and gambling. It is the same challenging path regardless of the object of the addiction, a giving up of the item of desire. The challenge in the therapy is to bring awareness to the outcomes of overeating, over drinking, over drugging or over gambling. We spend time listing out all the consequences of relapsing. We also look at the outcomes of abstaining.
I invite my clients to reflect on their lists the next time that the craving comes up, even if it is for only a few moments. This involves a noticing of the craving and a mindful pause to think about the outcomes of the bad habit. Just this act brings awareness to the habitual process that forms over time. The neuroscience confirms this reality as well; the habit-forming part of the brain is interrupted so that the self-regulation part of the brain can become stronger. The more we do this the more we are actually re-wiring our brain.
The next step, after pausing to notice the outcomes of the habit, is to do something different. These actions are called coping skills. It means doing something with the time other than the bad habit. This is where the practice of yoga or similar mindful disciplines are very helpful. The beauty in this is that the devotion to a practice allows time for the craving to pass. The cravings are like the waves of the ocean, flowing and ebbing.
The path of recovery from addiction and bad habits is not simple. The steps outlined above are just one part of the process and every journey is unique. Mind-fully attending to the steps above results in a deeper connection with oneself and the strength and discipline to move forward.
On another New Year’s note, here’s a change on a much more mundane level! The recipe pictured here is one simple way that I gained new appreciation for food. Marco opened my mind to new possibilities for my palette. This recipe has two things in it that I never imagined eating in a pasta, yet, works when mixed together: anchovies and canned light tuna. The recipe is an interesting combination of items, all of which we usually have on hand, and so makes for a last-minute meal that tastes like a well-planned Italian plate of pasta.
Ingredients (Serves 4):
- 10 ounces of pasta (mezzi rigatoni pictured here)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
- 2 anchovies
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 1 can light tuna packed in olive oil
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 cups diced tomatoes (we use our canned tomatoes)
- sauté the garlic slices and anchovies in heated olive oil on medium till the garlic is lightly browned
- add the tuna, capers, and red pepper flakes and sauté for a couple of minutes
- add the tomatoes and simmer for several minutes
- cook the pasta al dente in salted water, drain, and add to the sauce