Sober Yogi

When I started this blog years ago I had a hard time deciding what to call it. Sober Yogi represented who I was at the time.  Since that time, I have grown in every possible way.  When I started writing here I figured I would write about yoga and being sober, since those were the things I knew. I fully expected more of a how to format. Nothing like what I actually write about. I have used this space to document my entire healing journey which has been so much deeper and bigger than not drinking. Who knew? I’ve shared so much of that process right here with all of you and received so much support. What a beautiful healing space this is for me.  I’ve played with the description of the blog, but have never changed the name.  I’ve thought about it because I’m not so sure “Sober Yogi” represents what the blog actually is, and I am soooooo much more than a sober yogi.  Those things are just pieces of who I am and being sober doesn’t really seem like it’s a big of deal anymore.  It’s just my life.  But today I was 100% THAT girl.  I fully experienced myself as a sober yogi and it was so very special.

This morning I taught a yoga class on the beach.  As I was teaching, I noticed a guy hanging back and observing us.  No big deal, because yoga on the beach is cool.  Who wouldn’t want to check that out?  At the end of practice, I led everyone into Savasana.  The final pose of practice.  Corpse pose.  Here’s a little truth about Savasana on the beach.  Every time all of my students are lying on their backs, eyes closed, exactly like corpses, I feel a little (lot) like Jim Jones.  It makes me laugh and feel weird to be the only one standing or even sitting around all the bodies laid out on the sand.  So today, I walked down to the water while my students rested peacefully.  And they were beautiful.  As I was standing on the water’s edge, I sensed the man that had been observing us approaching me.  In my mind I had an entire conversation about how happy I was that he was definitely not coming to talk to me because of social distancing.  But he was.  And he did. He kept his distance. Don’t freak out. He asked if I was Shannon.  Then he introduced himself and asked if I remembered him.  I didn’t.  He shared with me how he had been to one of my 12 step  recovery yoga classes years ago.  Those are classes that I taught for a very limited time, because I just never felt like I could connect.  The energy was always off.  But, at that moment I remembered exactly who he was.  And clearly, I had connected. He told me he was two days sober and didn’t know what to do or where to go, but he knew I was teaching on the beach this morning and I would be a good place to start.  So he came to the beach.  I still had students in Savasana, and went back to them.  We finished our practice while he hung back.  When everyone left I was able to give my attention to this man.  I directed him to the local meetings and shared recovery resources with him.  He had a ton of questions and seemed so willing to try a different way.  One of the women from my class had stayed behind to enjoy the beach.  A licensed mental health counselor.  I invited her into our conversation and she was able to speak to him on the ways alcohol affects the brain.  All the cool science of the addicted brain.  She was incredibly helpful and informative.  It was such a Divinely orchestrated plan to have her there in that moment with her understanding of addiction. A God moment. You can call it a coincidence if you feel better about that, but I’ll silently disagree with you. I have no idea if this guy will get sober or not.  Sometimes people take that first little step into sobriety and then jump right back out.   Sometimes it takes years.  It did for me. People reach out to me all the time, and then I never hear from them again.  It’s not my job to get people sober, but it is my responsibility to be there when someone reaches out.   I saw honesty, openness and willingness from the man on the beach this morning.  Those are the three things a person needs to get sober and stay that way.  I’m hopeful. I’m rooting for him.

Being sober is such a natural piece of my life today.  It’s no longer some foreign experience I am trying to navigate. I don’t write about it as often as I used to.  It’s not the most interesting thing about me. But it’s never about me is it?  As much as I want it to be.  This morning, on the beach, I was a sober yogi.  Yes, I am so much more than that, and as uninteresting and routine as the sober piece is, without it every good thing in my world would go away.  I was reminded this morning, in a very big way, that being sober is incredibly special.  Sharing about sobriety and connecting to so many people through my words is a privilege and an honor.  I am extremely grateful that I am able to recover out loud.


Hope is the Only Thing Stronger than Fear.

I am rolling into week 7 of quarantine with a solid sense of well being.  Finally! It’s taken this entire time to arrive here.  Because I have been resisting.  Not actively fighting against being at home or fighting against anything in particular, but I have been anxiously awaiting the time when this would be behind us.  This week I finally arrived at the understanding that this is going to be with us well beyond the time spent in quarantine.  This is going to be with us for a long time. I finally arrived at being ok with not knowing.  I feel hopeful.  This feels like a new beginning.  Not like a fucking conspiracy theory Out of the Shadows new beginning because that shit is crazy, but a REAL awakening on a global level.  The kind where people remember what’s truly important. THAT gives me hope.  “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”  That’s a little Hunger Game’s quote that I just pulled out of my journal from 2012.  Right as I was preparing to embark on a new journey.  A new way of being in the world.  A new life.  A sober life.  And I was terrified.  This feels a LOT like that time to me.  Only this time, I have experience beginning a new life.  I have the skills to manage my emotions in the process.  I started that journey alone.  This time I have an entire community of support.  Several communities.  Amazing.  And I’m not afraid.  Not at this moment, anyway.  I was not on a roller coaster this week.  I read my books.  Cleaned my house.  Did my yoga.  Spent time with my family.  Spent time writing.  Cooked lots of food.  Lived my life.  In my home.  I got so comfortable that I wondered if I would have a hard time going back to the real world.  And I might.  I’m planning for a gentle reentry into the world. Eventually.

This morning, I joined 8 am Yoga Church with my Catherine on Zoom. Quarantine living has allowed me to practice Ashtanga with my teacher and then jump on for the dharma talk and meditation part of her class.  It’s a beautiful combination.  But today it didn’t happen like that.  Today, I rolled out of bed, made a cup of coffee, and made a dash to Zoom just in time for class.  The Dharma talk was about Virya or the concept of Heroes and what that means.  I have a lot of heroes in my life. Many of you reading this fall into that category. I surround myself with people who inspire me. Catherine is one of my heroes.  She has taught me so much over the years. A friend of hers joined the class today. She introduced me to her “as a long time student with a heroic Buddhist practice.”  I liked it, but I’m not sure that’s what I would call it.  Especially since I’ve been slacking so hard lately. She could have said “Shannon used to be my patient and she was fucking CRAZY.” But she would never say that. I doubt it even crosses her mind. She sees who I am now. I have been her student for a long time.  She went on to tell her friend how I had already practiced two hours of Ashtanga Yoga this morning. I wanted to roll with it.  I wanted that gold star.  That’s who I am.  But instead I had to say, no, no I didn’t.  I told her I literally just woke up, grabbed coffee and jumped on.  So she invited me to participate in the yoga portion of the class, which I would have loved to do……but I was in my underwear.  I wasn’t ready for all that. I guess I could have turned off my camera, grabbed my pants and then rejoined, but I didn’t think of that in the moment. For the record, they were ladies boxer briefs and I could have just practiced in them and nobody would have thought anything of it. But I didn’t. There’s always next week. Then we meditated.  And I laughed and laughed in my mind because here I was, at yoga church in my underwear.  Clearly, the 12 year old inside of me is alive and well. The memory of the time I sat on her couch in therapy and asked her if she thought the monks wore anything under their robes popped into my head. She told me not to find out. But not in those exact words. Her words were better. Hilarious.  I could hear birds chirping through someone’s mic.  They were the loudest damn birds ever and I wondered why the person didn’t mute their mic. I wondered why Catherine didn’t just mute everyone. At some point I noticed silence.  As if it had been there all along. I didn’t know how long it had been silent or how my mind had become so still, but of course, the second I noticed it, I lost it.  And my mind was full of thoughts again. Meditation is like that.  My mind is like that. All of that was to say that I knew this morning that Catherine is proud of me.  That she loves me.  I already knew it, but this morning I really felt it.  Even if I’ve been slacking. Even if I didn’t practice today. I was welcome in that space. I belonged in that space, as I was. Community.   As soon as yoga church was over, my Ashtanga teacher texted to check on me. As I knew he would.  I bailed on practice two days in a row.  When I stayed up until midnight the past two nights and slept in for two days, I did it with the awareness that I would be receiving the “missed you at practice” text.  The good news is, that my first reaction wasn’t to lie.  Because it sometimes is. Not that I tell the lie, but it’s the first thing that I think to do. My first reaction today was to say as little as possible.  It’s better that way. Only when it became necessary did I say that I’ve been sleeping in.  I hate claiming that one. But it’s ok.  It just means I’m a slacker and I’ll try harder next week.  I’m human. It’s pretty damn funny, actually.  To know how it’s all going to play out.  To know know that text is coming. And I love it because, again, community.  It’s nice having people that hold me accountable. It’s necessary. My sober community works the same way.  My friends. My family, obviously.  I am so surrounded by constant love and support. I am held. Always in ALL WAYS. I have all the faith in the world and all the hope in my heart. Faith is something that didn’t exist in that old journal I was reading from 2012. It didn’t exist in my world. My hope game was strong, and that hope has grown into something so much bigger than I can express. I probably need a new tattoo. When the shop opens up and I’m wearing my mask and living in a new way. And it will be ok.