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Addiction is just one symptom of the crisis of disconnection ...

hqdefaultWe are going to have to rediscover each other!

Video credit: Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
Script adapted from Chasing The Scream, by Johann Hari



Seed of hope - the quiet persistence of love

More than two decades ago, two respected researchers, clinical physician Dr. Vincent Felitti and CDC epidemiologist Robert Anda, published the game-changing Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. It revealed a troubling but irrefutable phenomenon: the more traumatic experiences the respondents had as children (such as physical and emotional abuse and neglect), the more likely they were to develop health problems later in life—problems such as cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. To complicate matters, there was also a troubling correlation between adverse childhood experiences and prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, and poor diet. Combined, the results of the study painted a staggering portrait of the price our children are paying for growing up in unsafe environments, all the while adding fuel to the fire of some of society’s greatest challenges.

However, this very same study contains the seed of hope: all of the above-mentioned risk factors—behavioral as well as physiological—can be offset by the presence of one dependable and caring adult. It doesn’t need to be the mother or the father. It doesn’t even need to be a close or distant relative.

More often than not, that stable, caring adult is a teacher.

7ed5ae8f15c4f40af2a3f89e3c992110It is here, at the crossroads of at-risk teens and trauma-informed care, that Paper Tigers takes root. Set within and around the campus of Lincoln Alternative High School in the rural community of Walla Walla, Washington, Paper Tigers asks the following questions: What does it mean to be a trauma-informed school? And how do you educate teens whose childhood experiences have left them with a brain and body ill-suited to learn?

In search of clear and honest answers, Paper Tigers hinges on a remarkable collaboration between subject and filmmaker. Armed with their own cameras and their own voices, the teens of Paper Tigers offer raw but valuable insight into the hearts and minds of teens pushing back against the specter of a hard childhood.

Against the harsh reality of truancy, poor grades, emotional pain, and physical violence, answers begin to emerge. The answers do not come easily. Nor can one simply deduce a one-size-fits-all solution to a trauma-informed education. But there is no denying something both subtle and powerful at work between teacher and student alike: the quiet persistence of love.


PTSD - It's a Status

wwtwChief executive of Walking with the Wounded, Ed Parker, has said that the notion of PTSD is being wrongly overused in fundraising appeals. This one disorder, he says, “has become the headline of veteran mental health but actually it is a very small part of the problem”.  Charities have, Mr Parker warned, become fixated by the condition so that marketing obscures the “bare facts”. He has met veterans who wanted a PTSD diagnosis “because it sits alongside being an amputee”. It’s a status.

Libby Purvis has commented on this statement with a deeper look at what returning veterans do need – read article here

If you take the time to read the article, you may also want to read the comments – some very valid points are made.  I like this comment, from Sue, on Libby’s article – just to remind us of the facts of this diagnosis:

summary of Sue’s mental health nursing recovery programme for veterans who have been on active service:

PTSD Post traumatic stress disorder

Crimean War: Soldier’s or Irritable Heart

Great War: Shell Shock

WWII: Concentration Camp Syndrome, Combat Stress Reaction

Previous labels hardly describe the inability of the mind to process and integrate a traumatic memory which causes a dissociative or splitting off from conscious awareness leading to symptoms now known as PTSD. The separation of memories of horrific events witnessed or exposed to from conscious thinking, because they are too extreme to be processed in the subconscious mind to then be rationalised and contained in the conscious mind simply as past memories, can cause specific stress symptoms such as:

·extremely vivid and realistic flashbacks during sleep and when awake

·a reliving of events triggered by sights, sounds, smells, words, etc., in daily life are played out in a film in which the sufferer is the star actor

seeing as if in a video a replay of events experienced or seen

·hyper vigilance, startle response as if still in war zone

·suicidal thoughts and plans

·avoidance of possible trigger situations in order to minimize stress reactions

·feelings of fear, dread, terror, horror, paranoia associated with traumatic events and subsequent flashbacks

·grief for loss of comrades or comradeship, depression, lack of motivation, helplessness, hopelessness, suicidal thinking and acts of deliberate self- harm in response to dissociation.

·anger, violence, destructive behaviour in response to triggers or flashbacks, often leading to criminal conviction and a prison sentence

·psychotic or psychological responses to perceived reality of flashbacks

·dependency in order to find comfort, security, alleviation or numbing from psychological pain

·relationship and family breakdown










Food, is not fuel to keep you alive ...

methode-times-prod-web-bin-2654e754-7104-11e6-b4fa-dff7fb6cfc8aIt is an entire belief system, a lifestyle accessory, a way of signposting that you are on a higher spiritual plane than other mortals.

This is achieved by photographing your virtuous meals, containing expensive ingredients from niche shops, posting them online and adding a wall-punchingly smug comment such as: “Such a treat to re-energise wholesomely after a great workout at the gym. #lowcarb #delicious #detox #eatclean #yum.”

The clean-eating brigade lead the way in what Nigella Lawson calls “food to self-congratulate”

Meet Bella Younger, or to use her comedy character’s name: Deliciously Stella.

Stella is a parody riposte to the righteous foodies, mostly (although not all) white, middle-class, attractive, privileged young women who … photograph their perfect salad lunch in their beautiful kitchen before calling themselves “blessed” and adding an insufferable hashtag such as #gettheglow.

… she deftly mimics their self-satisfied tone and terminology

Read article here



Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And Doesn't Mean

An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the rougher your childhood, the higher your score is likely to be and the higher your risk for later health problems. You can take the test HERE




Substances are becoming culture not counterculture

Sober is the new drunk: why millennials are ditching bar crawls for juice crawls

960The long line outside of Shine, a booze-free event that combines food, water with “Australian flower essences”, meditation and “enlightertainment” (music, a talk and a film) is full of people who either do not drink or are trying to cut back. Since 2014, when the gathering was first launched in LA, Shine has spread to New Yorkand now regularly sells out to crowds of more than 100 people, who the founder describes as “mindful tastemakers” and “spiritually curious”.

“Substances are becoming culture not counterculture,” she says, twisting the cap on a bottle of “Kalefornia” green juice. “You see the culture going towards one extreme and you’re going to have the other extreme. Like, actually the real rebellion is to not do this stuff.”


words describing the experience of addiction in the lives of Yoga of Recovery guests and certificate course students


People describing Addiction


Rx drug abuse

Please watch the following 11 minute video on Teen Rx Drug abuse and take the short 4 question survey after.  Pass it on



Yoga of Recovery Interview Thursday Feb 18th on Recovery 2.0 free online

RECOVERY 2.0 – sign up here


Wednesday, Feb. 17

Elena Brower
Yoga, Recovery and the Path to Wholeness
Dr. Joseph Lee
Recovering My Kid: Insights on Recovery for Young People
Ann Boroch
A Life Beyond the Ravages of Sugar
Chris Thrasher
Sex, Drugs, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions
Dr. Jesse Hanson
The Road Back from Trauma


Thursday, Feb. 18

Dr. Gabor Mate
Your Pain: The Call to Healing
 Rolf Gates
Meditations on Intention and Being
Durga Leela
The 6 Tenets of Recovery
Mark Sisson
The Primal Blueprint: Food and Recovery from Addiction
Valerie Mason-John
A Survivor’s Guide Home to the Breath

Friday, Feb. 19

Jack Canfield
The 30-Day Sobriety Solution
Erica Spiegelman
Rewired: Changing Your Brain, Behavior and Life
Guruprem Khalsa
Distraction & Separation: The Root Addictions
Dr. Blaise Aguirre
The Core Skill of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Ricky Tran
Yoga Philosophy and Recovery

Saturday, Feb. 20

Thomas Moore
Myth, Storytelling and the Healing of the Soul
Cecelia Jayme
Addiction, Spirituality and Human Development
Rod Stryker
Secrets from a Yoga Master for Living an Authentic Life
Simran Khalsa
Kundalini Rising: Connecting with the Divinity within
Leonard Buschel
One Life at a Time: Wisdom from the Path

Sunday, Feb. 21

Noah Levine
Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Approach to Healing Addiction
Richard Rohr
Practicing Our Way into Grace, Union and Freedom
Nikki Myers
Shadow and Light: Integrating All Aspects of the Self
Jamison Monroe
Cutting Edge Approaches to Teen Recovery
Levi Felix
Technology Addiction!


Prescription Thugs

Prescription-thugs-poster_0New Documentary Shows Big Pharma’s Role in Addiction and Tragedy - investigating the entire pharmaceutical drug industry: the lies, the money, the abuse.

“America is only 5% of the world’s population but we consume 75% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs.”

Pharmaceutical companies are addicts – “profit addicts.” The companies used to be led by scientists and doctors. Now they are headed by businessmen who want to line their pockets and keep their stockholders happy. Even more frightening is the amount of money that Big Pharma spends lobbying Congress. Turns out it’s $422,000…per Congressman. And now there is a new “fast track fee” where the pharmaceutical companies can pay the FDA to okay their drug in a shorter time. You know, like how you slip the bouncer a $20 to cut to the front of the line…

Read article here


The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality ...

ce9571bae10aff48504065e7c5ceaeb93d5ab9c4_240x180This is the TED talk I mentioned during the Life is Prana discussion on the Power Hour, In The Rooms last night when subbing for Tommy Rosen (jan 2016).

The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.”

In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating,

8b3dd97828f66c501120b718317afbb547e9fd23_254x191writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. That led him to an eye-opening journey across the world to interview others with depression — only to discover that, to his surprise, the more he talked, the more people wanted to tell their own stories.


No Free Lunch: “Just say no to drug reps"

…  a story about a rep who had recently spent a day doing a “preceptorship,” a practice in which a drug company pays doctors to let a rep shadow them while they see patients. This rep was shadowing a high-prescribing psychiatrist  at a med-check clinic. Med-check clinics are extremely busy sites where psychiatrists see large numbers of patients in quick succession, mainly to make sure that their medications are in proper order. At one point during the day, the rep said, a cheerful man in a wheelchair rolled into the office. Barely looking up from the stack of charts on his desk, Dr. C started quizzing the man about his medications. After a few minutes the man interrupted. “Look at me, Dr. C. Notice anything different?” Dr. C pushed his glasses up on top of his head and looked carefully at the patient for a few seconds before replying, “No, I don’t. What’s up?” The man smiled and said excitedly, “I got my legs cut off!” 

WCBH-bookcoversmallAfter a moment of silence, Dr. C smiled. The man laughed. Neither seemed upset. In a few minutes the session ended, and the next patient came in.

Read more …

The Drug Pushers

by Carl Elliot.  As America turns its health-care system over to the market, pharmaceutical reps are wielding more and more influence—and the line between them and doctors is beginning to blur



School-to-prison pipeline

school2pris_art_caro_article-small_35955There’s a saying in educational circles: white kids get diagnosed, black kids get disciplined. Poor and brown kids, too, disproportionately get suspended, expelled, transferred to “continuation” schools, or even arrested for behavioral problems as mild as swearing. White kids, especially if their parents have money, health insurance, and access to lawyers, are more likely to have even chronic discipline problems treated as symptoms needing investigation and assessment.  Read more in this article

I am so honored to be on faculty for NIROGA Institute: Transforming Lives and Cultivating Compassionate Communities - Creating healthy, peaceful, and compassionate communities through universal access to Dynamic Mindfulness.  I’ll be teaching two modules for their Yoga Therapy training – Ayurveda and Yoga of Recovery weekends there again next year.  Please enquire with them to attend the full training or come to the public workshops available every weekend of the training on Sunday 1-4pm.



Can you inherit a memory of trauma?

This is scientific indication of why Ancestor Rituals are part of Yoga of Recovery training

Researchers have shown that certain fears might be inherited through generations, at least in animals.

flower-wallpapers-cherry-blossom-background-wallpaper-33968Scientists at Emory University in Atlanta trained male mice to fear the smell of cherry blossom by pairing the smell with a small electric shock. Eventually the mice shuddered at the smell even when it was delivered on its own.  Despite never having encountered the smell of cherry blossom, the offspring of these mice had the same fearful response to the smell – shuddering when they came in contact with it. So too did some of their own offspring.

On the other hand, offspring of mice that had been conditioned to fear another smell, or mice who’d had no such conditioning had no fear of cherry blossom.  The fearful mice produced sperm which had fewer epigenetic tags on the gene responsible for producing receptors that sense cherry blossom. The pups themselves had an increased number of cherry blossom smell receptors in their brain, although how this led to them associating the smell with fear is still a mystery.

Read more here


Blackouts - My evenings come with trapdoors

article from the Guardian:

“I drank to drown those voices, because I wanted the bravado of a sexually liberated woman. I wanted the same freedom from internal conflict that my male friends seemed to enjoy. So I drank myself to a place where I didn’t care, but I woke up a person who cared enormously. Many yeses on Friday nights would have been nos on Saturday mornings. I had wanted alcohol to make me fearless, but by this point I was scared all the time. Afraid of what I’d said and done in blackouts. Afraid I would have to stop. Afraid of a life without alcohol, because booze had been my trustiest tool.

I needed alcohol to drink away the things that plagued me. Not just my doubts about sex – my self-consciousness, my loneliness, my insecurities, my fears. I drank away all the parts that made me human, in other words, and I knew this was wrong. My mind could cobble together a thousand PowerPoint presentations to keep me seated on a bar stool. But when the lights were off and I lay very quietly in my bed, I knew: there was something fundamentally wrong about losing the narrative of my own life. …”

lush_for_life-460x307from new book “Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget” by Sarah Hepola


Recovery 2.0 Starts in 48 Hours, June 12-18, 2015

durga flyer with hyperlinks


We need to look at the causes not outcomes of self-loathing ...

Hadley Freeman writes …”Nobody ever asks me what it felt like…Instead they ask why: “Why were you anorexic? Why?”

Illustration-by-Ellie-For-009Eating disorders are the only mental illness that people still assume is caused by something identifiable and external. No sensible person would ask anyone why they became schizophrenic, why they suffer from clinical depression. But eating disorders are different, and this is partly because of the behaviour of those who suffer from them. In the grip of the disorder, your world shrinks to the size of a pinhole: your brain fixates entirely on weight, calories; and, if you’re underweight, being so cold it feels like you have icicles for bones.

Asking a person with an eating disorder why they are behaving like that is not going to elicit a sensible answer, any more than asking an alcoholic why he or she drinks. There will be talk of wanting to be thin like this model, pretty like that friend, slim enough to wear nice clothes. But none of these reasons are why the person developed an eating disorder…

It’s about the way women are still valued primarily by their physical appearance…one potential factor behind eating disorders in women, especially anorexia, is a fear of being sexualized, which is just one reason why it tends to take root during puberty…

So why did I stop eating? Because I was unhappy. Because I didn’t know how to express it vocally. Because I didn’t understand I was allowed to respond to my own needs. Because I was scared of growing up. The specific causes of eating disorders are varied, but those factors are pretty common.

Read the full article here


The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection

Chasing-the-Scream-Johann-HariHere is an excellent article calling into question the whole premise for the war on drugs … rat addiction remedied by the Rat Park, US soldiers using heroin in Vietnam who simply stop their use when they return home, patients in hospitals given diamorphine – the medical name for heroin who do not leave the hospital and attempt to score heroin on the street …

This has huge implications for the one hundred year old war on drugs. This massive war – which kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool – is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction – if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction – then this makes no sense.

From an article discussing Johann Hari’s book ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs‘. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. 


Make no mistake: email-, Facebook- and Twitter-checking constitute a neural addiction

e09ac2f3-4bd0-46cd-bacc-4da100549717-620x620… lots of multitasking requires decision-making: Do I answer this text message or ignore it? How do I respond to this? How do I file this email? Do I continue what I’m working on now or take a break? It turns out that decision-making is also very hard on your neural resources and that little decisions appear to take up as much energy as big ones. One of the first things we lose is impulse control. This rapidly spirals into a depleted state in which, after making lots of insignificant decisions, we can end up making truly bad decisions about something important. Why would anyone want to add to their daily weight of information processing by trying to multitask? Read more of this article from The Guardian here …


‘What is this technology?’ ‘How is it asking me to behave?’ and ‘How is it changing me?’”

“Her name means love in Korean.  Three-month-old Sarang died in her sleep of malnutrition. The 5 1/2-pound baby wasted away while her parents spent their nights playing Prius Online, raising a virtual child in a Korean cyber cafe as they neglected their real one at home.

Love Child, a documentary about the 2010 death and the culture surrounding it, started airing on HBO this week. Director Valerie Veatch, also the director behind HBO’s ME the Zoo, told Polygon that her documentary isn’t meant to be an attack on the game industry, but instead a way to spark an important dialogue.

images-16Villanova University’s Patrick Markey, an associate professor of psychology and an expert on how video games affect human behavior and relationships, said that there is no question that some people play video games excessively and that doing so could lead to negative consequences.  “However, people engage in all types of activities excessively if that activity provides enjoyment or distracts them from other issues going on in their lives,” he said. “For example, a person under extreme stress (either due to work, children, or just because they are generally anxious) might engage in excessive gameplay as a way to avoid dealing with this stress. In this manner excessive gameplay might be considered more of a symptom of an underlying issue than the actual cause of a problem.”

Markey dismisses the notion that video games are addictive as an “artifact of media hysteria.”

“There is currently no major organization which has accepted that video games are addictive in the same manner as drugs or gambling,” he said. “In short, video games might encourage high levels of engagement but they are not addictive.”

For some, the distinction is the difference between addiction and obsession.

“The claim that video games are addictive often conflates chemical addiction with obsessive behaviors,” said Adrienne Shaw, an assistant professor at Temple University’s department of media studies and production. “More than that, as Carl Hart from Columbia has found, our understanding of chemical addiction has been largely shaped by the assumption that it is not a rational choice. Doing so stops us from dealing with the underlying causes of the chemical addictions and obsessive behaviors.”

Pathologizing excessive game play can actually be a hindrance, she said.  “When people neglect their kids, I suspect there are many more issues at play than video game obsessions,” Shaw said. “If it wasn’t games, it would probably have been something else.”

Read more here


Durga and Tommy Rosen on Recovery 2.0 Power Hour - In The Rooms Tues 7/29: "Manage Your Energy For A Vital Recovery"

home-logoI hope you will join Tommy Rosen and I,

Tuesday July 29, 2014 evening 7-8pm (Pacific time) for

Recovery 2.0 Power Hour on In The Rooms (a recovery social website)
the topic is: “Manage Your Energy For A Vital Recovery”.

To attend, create a free membership profile at
The Recovery 2.0 Power Hour is featured on the homepage, easy to find.

Please find me under username Durga Leela


California Sues Big Pharma

The several million Americans dependent on narcotic painkillers, along with their families, friends and co-workers, are probably giving a little cheer today at some pretty amazing news. Two California municipalities, Santa Clara County and Orange County, have launched lawsuits against five of the largest narcotic painkiller pharmaceutical companies in the world.

The suit, being brought on behalf of the entire state of California, accuses the drug companies of creating the nation’s prescription drug epidemic by “waging a campaign of deception” to boost sales of their dangerously addictive painkillers.

dependence-on-prescription-drugsNamed in the suit are:

  • Actavis
  • Endo Health Solutions Inc.
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals
  • Purdue Pharma
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc.

The drugs made or marketed by these companies include most popular brand name painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Opana, Duragesic and others, along with many generic narcotic painkillers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and others.

Both Orange and Santa Clara counties say they have been seriously impacted by prescription narcotic overdose deaths, emergency room visits and skyrocketing medical costs. The lawsuit contends that the pharmaceutical companies violated California laws against false advertising, unfair business practices and creating a public nuisance.

The LA Times said the 100-page lawsuit uses “sweeping language reminiscent of the legal attack against the tobacco industry.”  The companies employed tactics similar to those used by the tobacco industry to “conceal their deceptive marketing and conspiratorial behavior.”

The suit “alleges the drug companies have reaped blockbuster profits by manipulating doctors into believing the benefits of narcotic painkillers outweighed the risks, despite ‘a wealth of scientific evidence to the contrary’”, the Times said. The lawsuit claims that the drug companies’ marketing practices “opened the floodgates” for such drugs and “the result has been catastrophic.” Patients were encouraged to ask doctors for narcotic painkillers to treat common conditions such as headaches, arthritis and back pain. The drug manufacturers promoted narcotic painkillers as safer than they actually are and promised unproven benefits such as improved sleep and quality of life. Such claims are beyond those allowed by the FDA, the suit says. The result, says the suit, is “a population of addicts” which has led to the explosion in heroin abuse and addiction – the same high at a fraction of the cost of illicit prescription painkillers.

The suit also says that in Orange County, there is a painkiller-related death every other day. The county’s district attorney told the Times he sees the suit as a matter of public protection, with the “primary goal to stop the lies about what these drugs do.”


Where the attention goes the prana flows ...

2072388-3“Most of us prioritize externally oriented attention. When we think of attention, we often think of focusing on something outside of ourselves. We “pay attention” to work, the TV, our partner, traffic, or anything that engages our senses.  However, a whole other world exists that most of us are far less aware of: an internal world, with its varied landscape of emotions, feelings, and sensations.  It is often the internal world that determines whether we are having a good day or not, whether we are happy or unhappy.  That’s why we can feel angry despite beautiful surroundings or feel perfectly happy despite being stuck in traffic.

University of Toronto study compared exteroceptive (externally focused) attention to interoceptive (internally focused) attention in the brain.  Contrary to the conventional assumption that all attention relies upon the frontal lobe of the brain, the researchers found that this was true of only exteroceptive attention; interoceptive attention used evolutionarily older parts of the brain more associated with sensation and integration of physical experience; brain regions that link the cortex to the limbic system.  These limbic connections may support more direct access to emotions and physical sensations while the neocortex is more responsible for a conceptual sense of self. By recruiting “limbic-bridge” areas, a person using interoceptive attention may bypass the pre-frontal neocortex, directly tapping into bodily awareness that is free from social judgment or conceptual self-evaluation.

3fba704For some, turning attention inward can be distressing, because it may tune us into emotions that are not comfortable. However, constantly distracting ourselves through attention turned outwards will not remove those underlying emotions.  Yoga, breathing and meditation practices are designed to increase our interoceptive awareness.  By learning to engage with our emotions through our dedicated interoceptive awareness, we may experience the first signs of healing. Research conducted with veterans suffering from trauma is also showing this to be true.  Though the veterans are at first wary of being present with the emotions, feelings and memories that can arise during their first yoga, yogic breathing, and meditation practice, they report that over time those distressing inner experiences start to actually wane and heal. Best of all, they feel empowered. No longer reliant on drugs or a therapist, they have learned to use their own breath to regain control of their lives.”

Read more of this article from Emma Seppala, Ph.D. from Stanford University, Assistant Scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

and see what Deepak Chopra has to say on the subject here - where I found the cool images on this post, thanks Deepak ; )


Available for 36 more hours free - Tommy Rosen on Thriving in Recovery From Addiction

Tommy_RosenThis interview with Tommy Rosen, Founder and Producer of Recovery 2.0: Beyond Addiction Conferences -  “Recovery 2.0: Thriving in Recovery From Addiction” was recorded on Feb 27, 2014
and you can listen to it free for next 36 hours

March 1st 2014 for 24 hours only: FREE Online Screening of the ANONYMOUS PEOPLE (new feature documentary) and live Q&A, from 12 A.M. Eastern time (U.S.)


On March 1st starting at 12 A.M. Eastern time (U.S.), the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, a founding partner of the Manyfaces1voice call-to-action campaign, will host a free online stream of The Anonymous People via the Hazelden Social Community:

On that day, The Anonymous People will be available for people all over the world to watch for 24-hours only. The film’s director, Greg Williams, and other key subjects from the film, including Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s William Cope Moyers, will be available for a live chat at 5 p.m. EST.


The Anonymous People is a new feature documentary film that tells the story of the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It has ignited new energy in a grassroots public recovery movement by bringing the faces and voices of the leaders, volunteers, corporate executives, and celebrities in recovery to the forefront.

Watch The Film’s Trailer:

Already, more than 55,000 people have gathered to watch the film and discuss how they can “join the movement” at community events worldwide.

“I’m grateful the film is inspiring so many more people to get involved. They are taking a stand on behalf of others impacted by addiction and we are telling our recovery stories to a whole new audience. Collectively, we can change public perception and ultimately the public response to the addiction crisis,” said the film’s director, Greg Williams, who partnered withFaces & Voices of Recovery to create the brand new advocacy engagement campaign,

“So many people have asked us what they can do and told us that they are anxious to see the film again. And even more are trying to see it for the first time. This online screening event in partnership with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a unique opportunity to bring the message of recovery to everyone, no matter where they live,” Williams said.

Membership in Hazelden’s Social Community ( is free and available worldwide.

“I recommend signing into the social community ahead of time so that on March 1st, you’re ready to just log in and watch the film and participate in the special Q&A event,” said Hazelden Betty Ford’s Jeremiah Gardner, who is helping coordinate the event. “The Hazelden social community is home to daily recovery meetings, a lively discussion board, expert blogs, the exclusive Hazelden Book Club and, most importantly, a collection of wonderful, productive people sharing their recovery journeys together and demonstrating the personal and societal value of recovery.”

If you have questions about the event, please contact Gardner at


Should there be a word for an 'almost alcoholic'?

Alcoholics are people who fall asleep in skips. Alcoholics get into fights. Alcoholics start the day with a shot of whisky. Alcoholics are drunk all the time. Alcoholics can’t hold down jobs.

Drunk & DisorderlyNone of the above is necessarily true, but the intensely negative nature of the word alcoholic leaves some people scrabbling for an alternative.
“There is so much stigma,” says Kate, author of the blog The Sober Journalist. People are so frightened of it – their head fills with images of men drinking under bridges. “There is this huge number of people out there who don’t fit that stereotype but perhaps their drinking isn’t quite normal.”

People have such vivid mental images of what it means to be an alcoholic that they measure themselves against that standard and do not seek help.

“They all have an idea of what an alcohol or problem drinker is but there is a different pattern for every drinker,” Jarvis says.

Not all experts share this view, however.

There’s a danger that avoiding the term “alcoholism” will only serve “to reassure people their drinking is OK when it isn’t”, says Moira Plant, emeritus professor of alcohol studies at the University of the West of England.

Read the full Jan 2014 BBC article here


The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality ...

The six tenets of Yoga of Recovery are:

  1. Life is Longing;
  2. Life is Prana;
  3. Life is Relationship;
  4. Life is Sweet;
  5. Life is Love; and
  6. Life is Progress.

Life is Prana, our second focus point in Yoga of Recovery – prana gives a feeling a vitality, lack of prana is described as depression, lethargy, lack of enthusiasm.  We teach hatha yoga, breathing exercises, nutrition, sense therapies and EFT to help manage our prana.

We ingest prana, at the gross level, through food, heat, liquids and air (breath) and, on a subtle level, through sensory impressions (predominantly the senses related to air and ether: sound and touch). We need prana, and when our food, water and air are polluted, processed and devitalized, when we are removed from nature and bombarded with sensory stimuli, our prana is disturbed. When we are under stress we shift into the fight or flight response and our breathing becomes fast and shallow. This further disturbs the flow of prana and our body’s reserves of this life-force, which can lead to fatigue and exacerbate muscle tension in addition to creating a feeling of emptiness that somehow needs to be filled.  We experience Pranic challenges:

1. If we are energy/prana-deficient we seek stimulation.

2. If we are hyperactive and constantly on the go, we seek sedation.

3. If the flow of prana is blocked and we are in pain, we self-medicate.

4. If we are under stress, we often seek instant gratification through our senses.

sad_face1-2These coping mechanisms: stimulation, sedation, medication and instant gratification, are fully supported and even encouraged in our modern world of overdrive and hyper sensory stimulation. The short-term pain relief created, however, is outweighed by the long-term progression of disturbed prana that can lead to depression, mental stagnation, denial and addiction.

Writer, Andrew Solomon talks about depression in this TED talk - we know depression through metaphors – language and paintings.  Andrew takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. That led him to an eye-opening journey across the world to interview others with depression — only to discover that, to his surprise, the more he talked, the more people wanted to tell their own stories.  He says “Depression is the flaw in love…”

“I became much more tolerant of the vast world of alternative treatments”


Evidence of the neuropharmacological plasticity of the human taste system

I read about this study and recognize how it is coming closer to the understanding of the interconnectedness of our senses, brain, behavior and cognitive abilities – connections that are a basic part of Ayurvedic understanding of who we are and our imbalances… Doshas:Vata-air types who are prone to anxiety are balanced by sweet, sour and salty taste, Pitta – fire types who are prone to anger/irritability are balanced by sweet, astringent and bitter taste, and Kapha – water types who are prone to becoming overweight and depressed are balanced by bitter, astringent and pungent tastes.  This would be part of a full therapy plan involving all 5 senses, behavior and cognitive modifications and physical exercise and relaxation.  Here is what the scientists are wrestling with – well done to them for recognizing connections!

Hunter-eating-broccoiStudies about psychological influences on taste perception indicate that the taste system is sensitive to emotional and stressful manipulations.

Evidence of the neuropharmacological plasticity of the human taste system – since the serotonergic and the noradrenergic systems are involved in clinical anxiety and depression and are the main targets of antidepressants, changes in these systems may explain taste alterations in these patients

Anxiety can also distort your perception of taste (which, to be clear, you do with your tongue) and smell (which dominates flavour discernment).  Read more here …


Why social prescriptions are just what the doctor ordered

Social prescriptions, from fishing to knitting groups, are helping patients back on to the road to recovery.

featurelarge_PPHmorethanmedicineNew UK research released on Tuesday by the innovation charity Nesta and the Innovation Unit suggests GPs across the country are increasingly keen on the “more than medicine” approach of social prescribing, which typically includes activities from dance classes to knitting groups and cookery clubs. Among 1,000 doctors surveyed, four out of five thought social prescriptions should be available from their surgeries, in particular exercise groups, help with healthy eating and groups providing emotional support. Yet patient experience suggests the opportunities to benefit are limited. Nesta questioned 2,000 members of the public, with just 9% saying they had received a social prescription. More than half (55%) said they would like their GP to offer them.

Read more here


His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Craving, Desire and Addiction streaming live - Oct 28 - Nov 1, 2013

Thank you to Hari for letting me know that the Mind & Life Institute is offering a live webcast of their 27th Dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Mind and Life XXVII: Craving, Desire and Addiction will be streamed live on,  Oct 28 – Nov 1, 2014.

images-11Craving, desire, and addiction are among the most pressing causes of human suffering. By bringing contemplative practitioners and scholars from Buddhist and Christian traditions together with a broad array of scientific researchers in the fields of desire and addiction, hopefully new understandings will arise that may ultimately lead to improved treatment of the root causes of craving and its many manifestations.

For times in your region, 9:00am IST on October 28th in Dharamsala, India = 8:30pm PDT on October 27th in Los Angeles, CA, USA: and 4:30pm BST on October 28th in London, England.


We're all closely related to an addict ... Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents and siblings are among those with addiction issues ...

Here is a blog post from Tom Keim, a recent student of Inner Peace Yoga Therapy Program at the Prama Institute

“During a yoga training course I recently completed we studied with renowned Ayurvedic teacher, Durga. She teaches the “Yoga of Recovery”, from addiction. The first day she asked each of the 22 people in our class to share their experience with addiction. I found out we were all closely related to an addict of some kind. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents and siblings were all among those with addiction issues.
My parents were addicted to cigarettes. Tobacco killed them both. They also used alcohol daily.
My ex-wife was a cocaine and crystal meth addict for many years. She has never recovered her health.
The essential question is why do so many of us succumb to addiction? Durga, a recovering alcoholic who combines the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with yoga and Ayurveda treatment addresses this question from a spiritual perspective. Yoga and Ayurveda (the medical sister science to yoga) say that addiction stems from the fact that we have forgotten our true identity and nature. Likewise, Deepak Chopra speaks of addictions as “self-destructive outlets for an unrecognized spiritual craving.” According to these ancient teachings we are spiritual beings whose true nature is bliss. Consequently, our longing for fulfillment, love, freedom and peace are turned outward rather than inward to our true nature. As Durga says, “we seek the eternal in the transient.” We try to find our bliss by seeking euphoria in the many intoxicants or habits the world offers. Whether our addictions involve alcohol, drugs, food, gambling or shopping, it is a fundamental unhealthy dependence that is at issue.
The next question is: what do yoga and Ayurveda offer to help us remember and connect with our true nature which helps us break addictive behavior patterns? Yoga/Ayurveda and the 12 steps agree that breaking addiction begins with recognition of our powerlessness over our addiction and that we must conduct “a fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Yoga calls this svadhyaya or self observation. As we examine our lives with compassion we begin to see the errors and misapprehensions that have led us down the blind alley of addiction. This is where we can start to reclaim our lives and our own heroic journeys. We re-establish the connection with our basic goodness, our innate talents, our breath and our eternal life force or prana.
Yoga and Ayurveda offer ways for us to nourish our life force. Through a balanced regimen of delicious, wholesome foods, herbs, proper exercise and meditation we reignite our desire for the sweetness of life that sustains us. Tasting the sweetness of life once again helps to displace addictive behaviors.
We also begin to form a new bond of community with like-minded healthy people who can lovingly help us on this path of awakening and reconnection to our true nature and identity.
Yoga and Ayurveda offer an effective path of health and recovery to the addict because they address the roots of addiction. Combined with the 12 steps, yoga and Ayurveda provide a comprehensive, holistic way to restore ourselves to balance.”
For more information please visit Durga at:

The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements

I linked to this article through the Tadasana newsletter.  It is an excerpt from the book Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.

Here is a quick excerpt from the article … “In 2007, researchers from the National Cancer Institute examined 11,000 men who did or didn’t take multivitamins. Those who took multivitamins were twice as likely to die from advanced prostate cancer.

In 2008, a review of all existing studies involving more than 230,000 people who did or did not receive supplemental antioxidants found that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease.

On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota evaluated 39,000 older women and found that those who took supplemental multivitamins, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron died at rates higher than those who didn’t. They concluded, “Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements.”

Two days later, on October 12, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic published the results of a study of 36,000 men who took vitamin E, selenium, both, or neither. They found that those receiving vitamin E had a 17 percent greater risk of prostate cancer. In response to the study, Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said, “The concept of multivitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage.” On October 25, a headline in the Wall Street Journal asked, “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” Studies haven’t hurt sales. In 2010, the vitamin industry grossed $28 billion, up 4.4 percent from the year before. “The thing to do with [these reports] is just ride them out,” said Joseph Fortunato, chief executive of General Nutrition Centers.“We see no impact on our business.”


Yoga-Based Breathing Techniques Can Help Reduce Teen Impulsive Behavior: Study


A four-week stress-reduction program that includes yoga-based breathing techniques can help teens gain better control of their impulsive behavior, a new study suggests. The researchers say lack of impulsivity control in teens is associated with substance abuse and other risky behaviors.  Read more here.

and then take a look at “7 ways to de-stress in a Minute or Less



NIMH “reorienting its research away from D.S.M. categories”

The creators of the D.S.M. in the 1960s and ’70s “were real heroes at the time,” said Dr. Steven E. Hyman, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the Broad Institute and a former director at the National Institute of Mental Health. “They chose a model in which all psychiatric illnesses were represented as categories discontinuous with ‘normal.’ But this is totally wrong in a way they couldn’t have imagined. So in fact what they produced was an absolute scientific nightmare. Many people who get one diagnosis get five diagnoses, but they don’t have five diseases — they have one underlying condition.”

from NY Times article “Psyhciatry’s Guide is out of touch with Science” by Pam Belluck and Benedict Carey

Patients with mental disorders deserve better. NIMH is looking to Transform Diagnosis and has launched the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project to transform diagnosis by incorporating genetics, imaging, cognitive science, and other levels of information to lay the foundation for a new classification system.   Read more from NIMH here


The Creation of Disease

imagesThe free market is not very good at distributing compassion, nor is it particularly good at deciding whose suffering deserves recognition…

in a free-market economy anyway, it’s not such a good idea to let the people who profit from disease define it.

Read article from Gary Greenberg here


DSM diagnoses are not real diseases, but rather constructs ...

dsm-v-for-dummiesGary Greenberg’s recently published book “The Book of Woe: The DSM and The Unmaking of Psychiatry”, is said to be a powerful critique of the entire DSM methodology.  Greenberg is a practicing psychotherapist who has been referred to as “The Dante of our Psychiatric age,” by Errol Morris, and blogs about the DSM for the New Yorker. With The Book of Woe, written during and after his own participation in the revision process of the DSM-5, Greenberg doesn’t just paint the DSM as irrelevant, but as an arbitrary and totalitarian influence in the treatment of mental and emotional distress. Greenberg makes an unsparing case against the DSM’s hold on the naming rights to our psychic suffering.

Here is a very interesting article from the Fix on what Gary has to say about the new DSM


The narrative of human lives is more or less absent in healthcare economies ...

We live in an age that pays lip service to history, yet which continually undermines the ties we have to the past. The narrative of human lives is more or less absent in healthcare economies, where symptoms are seen as problems to be treated locally, rather than as signs that something is wrong at a more fundamental level. If the constellation of the manic depressive includes a difficulty in integrating a part of his or her history, society’s neglect of this dimension can only make things worse.

I enjoyed this article, read more
Darian Leader’s Strictly Bipolar is published next month by Penguin



Data has the power to inform. Story has the power to transform


By Jim Jensen, LAC, LCPC

In less than a generation we have gone from a community of fellow alcoholics sitting together in church basements sharing stories, to licensed professionals sitting together in hotel conference rooms sharing  studies on the neurochemistry of addiction.

One invites questions. The other stands at the door handing out answers. One engages the brain. The other engages our imagination, emotions, and spirit.

Read more on Focus Treatment Centers website here

What is the difference between being an addict and being a human being?

I always enjoy Susan Cheever’s articles for “The Fix” -

“At a popular center for meetings in New York City on most days of the week, an addict can get 12-step help for spending, under earning, sexual compulsiveness, cocaine, co-dependency, crystal meth addiction, debting, overeating, surviving incest and problems with addicted family members. The miracle of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is that they often work when nothing else does. Although few of the more than 50 12-step programs for other addictions are as organized or as effective as AA, they seem to have a good effect on the people who attend them.

Yet their proliferation raises a larger question: What is the difference between being an addict and being a human being? Everyone has some kind of problem. Can a 12-step program help every problem?

Although addictions vary in intensity—some addicts are more addicted than others—there is a difference between an addict—someone who cannot stop—and someone who is not addicted. It is also true that many addicts can switch substances if they need to. “High-functioning alcoholics” are often people who also have other addictions, such as money, food and pills‑all kept more or less in check by spreading the addiction thin. Recovery author Patrick Carnes, PhD, who put sex addiction on the map, calls this “bargaining with chaos.”

In many AA meetings members talk about drug addiction, eating disorders and struggles to stop smoking. Although all addictions are the same in some ways, it is deeply reassuring and comforting to sit with a group of people who have exactly the same problems as you.



Weight-loss surgery doesn't fix the insides of a person

In my experience this is also what I have seen -

“Weight-loss surgery fixes the outside of a person, but not the inside. While it can reduce the harm of obesity, it leaves the needs driving your addiction untouched. So if food has always been your drug, and stomach-minimizing surgery abruptly denies you your fix, you turn to other drugs. Alcohol, being legal, is the most available, but patients can take their pick among the panoply of addictive substances.”

Read more of Raphael Rosen’s article from “The Fix” here

Get people hooked on ... The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

This article is adapted from “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” which will be published by Random House this month.

Michael Moss is an investigative reporter for The Times. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his reporting on the meat industry.

Here are some parts that struck me …

Today, one in three adults is considered clinically obese, along with one in five kids, and 24 million Americans are afflicted by type 2 diabetes, often caused by poor diet, with another 79 million people having pre-diabetes. Even gout, a painful form of arthritis once known as “the rich man’s disease” for its associations with gluttony, now afflicts eight million Americans.

Our limbic brains love sugar, fat, salt. . . . So formulate products to deliver these. Perhaps add low-cost ingredients to boost profit margins. Then ‘supersize’ to sell more. . . . And advertise/promote to lock in ‘heavy users.’ Plenty of guilt to go around here!”

… the food industry already knew some things about making people happy — and it started with sugar.

… pioneering work on discovering what industry insiders now regularly refer to as “the bliss point” or any of the other systems that helped food companies create the greatest amount of crave.

  “sensory-specific satiety.” In lay terms, it is the tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more. Sensory-specific satiety also became a guiding principle for the processed-food industry. The biggest hits — be they Coca-Cola or Doritos — owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating.
… the powerful sensory force that food scientists call “mouth feel.” This is the way a product interacts with the mouth, as defined more specifically by a host of related sensations, from dryness to gumminess to moisture release. These are terms more familiar to sommeliers, but the mouth feel of soda and many other food items, especially those high in fat, is second only to the bliss point in its ability to predict how much craving a product will induce.

… top contributors to weight gain included red meat and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and potatoes, including mashed and French fries. But the largest weight-inducing food was the potato chip.  The coating of salt, the fat content that rewards the brain with instant feelings of pleasure, the sugar that exists not as an additive but in the starch of the potato itself — all of this combines to make it the perfect addictive food. “The starch is readily absorbed,” Eric Rimm, an associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the study’s authors, told me. “More quickly even than a similar amount of sugar. The starch, in turn, causes the glucose levels in the blood to spike” — which can result in a craving for more.

The “Drinking Mirror”, a new phone app

A new phone app shows the effect of drinking alcohol on a person’s facial appearance. The “Drinking Mirror” is designed to make people aware of the physical toll of heavy alcohol consumption.  The app, which is free until March, is available for Android and iPhone users. You can upload or take a photo of yourself, and enter information about your drinking habits.  The app shows them how their face might age if they continue to consume alcohol at their current rate, by adding weight gain, dull skin, wrinkles and red cheeks.

The app is part of the Scottish government’s “Drop a Glass Size” campaign, launched this month.

It is also available on the web here

Read more about the Visible and Inivisible Effects here

and remember YoR teaches Ayurveda for addictions – we specialize in REJUVENATION!





WHO says more than 350 million people worldwide have depression ...

and predicts that by 2020, the disorder will rival heart disease as the illness with the highest global disease burden.

The evidence is that both our genes and our early childhood experiences contribute …

governments should consider screening adolescents to try to reduce the number who go on to suffer major and recurring bouts of depression…

‘Early screening in the service of early intervention to try to prevent later mental health problems undoubtedly has allure,’ said Felicity Callard of London’s Institute of Psychiatry.
‘But to grow up with the knowledge that you are ‘at high risk’ of future mental health problems can affect the very way in which you grow up – and thereby… embed a sense that you are mentally vulnerable, with potentially untoward consequences.’
Read more here

Virtually Anorexic - Where's The Harm?

Thousands of young girls are using dangerous ‘pro-ana’ websites that encourage users to ‘starve for perfection’.

“Thinspiration” – where images of celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Keira Knightley are used to idealise a certain look.

Read  more here


“hyper-palatable” foods - sweet, salty and fatty - along with “mouth-feel”

Food addiction seems to be linked to the types of foods we’re consuming. Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, notes that the human body is biologically adapted to deal with foods found in nature, not processed foods.

“We don’t abuse lettuce, turnips and oranges,” says Dr. Brownell, co-editor of the new book “Food and Addiction.” “But when a highly processed food is eaten, the body may go haywire. Nobody abuses corn as far as I know, but when you process it into Cheetos, what happens?”

Dr. David A. Kessler, the former F.D.A. commissioner, described these products as “hyperpalatable” foods created to tantalize our taste buds by focusing on the right combination of salty, sweet and fatty ingredients along with “mouth-feel.”

Dr. Brownell says that the brain science should lead us to question how food companies are manipulating their products to get us hooked. “With these foods, personal will and good judgment get overridden. People want these foods, dream about these foods, crave them.”

Dr. Pamela Peeke, assistant professor at the University of Maryland and author of “The Hunger Fix,” says that meditation and exercise can help engage the brain to overcome food addiction. As a heroin user might rely on methadone to alleviate withdrawal, food addicts, she says, should seek alternatives that still give pleasure — a fruit smoothie, for example, instead of ice cream.



Heroes in Recovery

I am teaching yoga on the beach at the excellent Moments of Change conference this week at the Breakers in Palm Beach.

Heroes in Recovery are here and I had a great chat with Wendy Lee Nentwig who got a bit of my story out of me and it’s now posted on the Heroes website  - read and comment here


What your doctor doesn't know about prescription drugs

Ben Goldacre … “I felt mislead … what a staggering difference there was between reality and what [we] could see in peer reviewed journals … this is a cancer at the core of evidence based medicine … research misconduct … the effect on patients is damning, and this is happening right now, today.”

Watch this talk here



Interview with Durga in Integral Yoga Magazine, Fall 2012

Fall 2012 Issue of  Integral Yoga Magazine, Yoga Therapy 2012,

Yoga of Recovery Integral Yoga magazine interview with Durga Leela

Yoga Therapy 2012 Issue

Featuring Jon Kabat-Zinn, Durga Leela, Bo Forbes, Swami Ajaya, David Shannahoff-Khalsa, Grace Bullock and more…

  • Eastern vs. Western Psychology—Sri Swami Satchidananda
  • Every Thought Affects You—Swami Vishnudevananda
  • The Nature of the Mind—Swami Asokananda
  • Yoga Psychology Today—Laura Sevika Douglass
  • Yoga of Recovery—Durga Leela
  • Yoga, Vulnerability and Transformation—Bo Forbes
  • The Mind’s Own Physician—Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Mantra as Medicine for the Brain—Catherine Ghosh
  • Yoga: The Original Mind-Body Medicine—Ananda Bhavanani
  • Healing into Wholeness—Kathleen Lea Summers
  • Yoga Psychology: Where East Meets West—Swami Ajaya
  • Medical Yoga: A Paradigm Shift—M. Mala Cunningham
    The Healing Power of Yoga—Grace Bullock
  • Yoga as an Alternative to Antidepressants—Bethany Butzer
  • Trauma Sensitive Yoga—David Emerson
  • Kundalini Yoga, A Sacred Therapy—David Shannahoff-Khalsa
  • The Bridge of Yoga—Leonard Perlmutter
  • A Healing Journey—Ken Lidden
Subscribe by October 15 to start your subcription with the Fall 2012 issue

Addiction Research: All Brain and No Soul?

…”To understand addiction, we need to know more than that someone has taken a drug that he likes. We need to know about the rest of his life, about his social support, his history of mental illness, education, employment, as well as his values and sense of meaning and purpose.

We need to know the dose of the drug and the setting where he takes it. We need to know his age and how his culture views behavior related to that drug and something about the level of stress and trauma he experienced as a child.

In fact, social factors like unemployment, education level, traumatic life experience and amount of social support for recovery are currently better predictors of recovery than any brain factors yet discovered. So far, pretty brain pictures don’t necessarily tell us much. A recent study, in fact, found that simply presenting data with such images—relevant or not—made people more likely to be convinced by the authors’ claims.

In short, addiction doesn’t begin—or end—with “pleasure centers in the brain.” If we’re going to address it effectively, we need to recognize this reality and devote as much time and money to studying social factors as intensely as we do the brain.Of course, that might mean looking at issues like unemployment, child abuse and poverty that are far more uncomfortable than saying “nucleus accumbens” or “brain disease” and being done with it”…

read more of this article from Maia Szalavitz, a columnist at The Fix. 


What is Recovery?


Take part in the first-ever nationwide survey about addiction recovery. You will be partnering in an exciting new research project funded by the National Institutes of Health. The project’s goal is to learn how people experience and define recovery. This research has never been done before.  The 20 minute anonymous survey can be answered online here


Yoga of Recovery Recording from Yogaville satsang

It was an honor to be asked to talk about Yoga of Recovery at last week’s satsang at Yogaville, VA.  First part of recording is chanting and wonderful recorded talk of Swami Satchitananada.  YoR talk starts around 1:03 and is about 40 minutes long.  Like and share if you find it useful, thank you



An evening with Noah Levine

I enjoyed hearing Noah Levine talk about Breaking the Addiction to the Mind last night. Good to see a young audience interested in meditation. I believe quite a few were also in recovery.  Noah is well known for his book Dharma Punx and starting Against the Stream – a 501(c)(3) non-profit Buddhist Meditation Society,  whose core mission is a commitment to social action. They have projects to feed the homeless, work with gang and prison populations and those in recovery centers. Their center in Santa Monica supports the dharma and practice both on and off the cushion.


Bill W.: The First Intimate Documentary

“It seems to me that alcoholics don’t have a single flaw or emotion or difficulty that non-alcoholics don’t also have. But there is something about alcoholism that seems to make people experience these things at more depth, or more intensely, and causes them to seek a solution in a way that other people may not have to…The thing that makes all of us human is our imperfections and our vulnerabilities.”

Producer Dan Carracino and director Kevin Hanlon’s documentary, Bill W.

Go to to see the Bill W. trailer and find out more about the film.


Are You Addicted to Facebook?

Are your Facebook fixes problematic?

Take this simple test, developed by Norwegian scientists.

If you answered “often” or “very often” on four or more of these questions, you may have a Facebook addiction, according to the researchers. And if you’re dicing with a cocktail of social media, God help you.

Article from



In recovery we are often reminded to work at becoming “Right-sized”  – see if this helps you consider what that really means!


Foundations Conference provides profound first experience

I have been teaching at the Foundations Freedom and Recovery Conference this week at Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, CA.  Wanted to share with you some feedback from a first time conference attendee who came to find out what help is available for loved ones who suffer from addictions….

“First of all I thank God that he led me to come to this conference and thank everyone who organized and planned this conference.  I learned so much and met so many good people.  I had a wonderful opportunity to attend my first 12-step meeting.  Most of all I met Durga and had a chance to participate in her teaching and class.  I will try to implement her teaching to my current practice when I return home.  I plan to return back to  this conference next time again if situation allows me.  I can’t thank you and everyone enough.” J.J. MD



Why are sweet cravings so much more common than cravings for the bitter taste of leafy greens?

The answer lies in your brain: the taste of sweet activates dopamine receptors in the brain, which are responsible for most addictions.

Dopamine is the “I gotta have it” hormone. When you see that chocolate cake or other favorite sweet, dopamine levels rise and strengthen your desire for that sweet.

Read more from an excellent series of articles by Dr John Douillard on Pre-Diabetic conditions


Empathy, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity ...

Traits ALL of us share – our primate friends too.


Coming to Blossom

I see so many people in recovery blossom with the work they do, it is a miraculous transformation to witness.  We are simply following the flowers, watch how they do it!

Happy Spring – rise up and shine

Namaste, Durga


Guest comment

We are having a wonderful Yoga of Recovery retreat down here on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.  Teaching the first session to the guests, The 6 Tenets of Yoga of Recovery – the roots of our addictive behaviors, one guest commented at the end of the session… “This is the most intelligent discussion I have ever heard on addiction.”

It is such a joy to share vedic wisdom with people in recovery.

Happy Easter



Make them wonder why you're smiling

Received this link today – if you have a few minutes take time out to enjoy it.


First ever Yoga Room in an airport

Thanks for LA Yoga for this story on the first ever Yoga Room in an airport

Jan 2012, the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) opened the “Yoga Room” The first of its kind in the country, located in Terminal 2, adjacent to the Terminal’s Recompose area. It’s equipped with hardwood floors and Yoga mats.




“Before you sell a drug, you have to sell the disease.”

First DSM (1952) had 106 disorders, the number has almost tripled. Are we getting sicker, or is something else at play?

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is widely regarded as the bible of psychiatric diagnoses. Its authority extends not only to this country’s schools, prisons, court system, and health-insurance industry, where it is daily invoked, chapter and verse, but also around the world, where it is highly influential in defining mental illness. It’s currently in its fourth edition, and a fifth is due out in 2013. With each edition the number of diagnoses greatly increases, and the thresholds for meeting them are routinely lowered. The number of people who can be defined as mentally ill has grown to the point where Darrel Regier of the American Psychiatric Association says that mental disorders affect some 48 million Americans in their lifetimes. That’s one in six people. And he’s basing that judgment entirely on DSM criteria and language.

Behaviors once understood as reactions to one’s environment and upbringing are increasingly seen as innate conditions of brain chemistry, resulting from problematic levels of neurotransmitters, especially serotonin. Lane suggests that because of the open-ended language in the DSM and the wide range of behaviors it pathologizes, anyone who is shy, as he was as a teenager, now risks being diagnosed as mentally ill. The new disorders were “obviously music to the ears of drug companies,” he says, “insofar as they massively increased the market for their products, which the media greeted with incredible enthusiasm.”

Christopher Lane On What’s Wrong With Modern Psychiatry


“Experts of their own experience”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in four Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder. Our society has gone further than any other in classifying unwanted behaviors and emotions as diseases demanding medical — and often pharmaceutical — treatment.

Emotional distress is highly individualized, and we shouldn’t come to any general conclusions about it. ..

People who have been taught that “mental illnesses are brain diseases” see psychiatric patients as dangerous and unlikely to recover. And those in crisis are often understandably reluctant to consult mental-health professionals, because the stigma of mental illness is so severe: it’s possible to lose your job, your home, and your family as a consequence of being diagnosed with a mental illness. In cultures that take a social view of emotional distress, by contrast, people more readily seek help because they aren’t as likely to be ostracized and are assumed to be capable of full recovery.

The World Health Organization did an international study comparing outcomes for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in “developed” countries — including the U.S., the United Kingdom, Denmark, and others — and in “developing” countries such as Colombia, Nigeria, and India. To their astonishment, they found that outcomes were much better in the developing countries. As often happens when a study produces unexpected results, the findings weren’t believed at first. So the study was repeated a few years later with a more stringent definition of what constituted improvement for the patients. The results were the same.

Two hypotheses have been put forward to explain these findings. One is that developing countries don’t use medications over the long term because they can’t afford it. Without long-term medication, patients don’t become chronically disabled. The other hypothesis is that people in developing countries are more likely to be cared for at home and be a part of their community, rather than being isolated or sent away to a hospital, and this helps them recover.

Read more of this interview with Gail Hornstein, a Mount Holyoke College professor of psychology


Another gifted woman and mother lost in the wreckage of addiction

Well said, this comment on Whitney Houston’s death in the NY Times


Internet Addiction Recovery Program

The reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program– a first of its kind center in the U.S. — recently opened in Fall City just a few miles away from Microsoft’s headquarters.

Tthe creators of reStart say Internet addiction is a growing problem.  The 45-day program (cost $14,500) is designed specifically “to help internet and video game addicts overcome their dependence on gaming, gambling, chatting, texting and other aspects of Internet Addiction”.

Similar programs are already on offer in places like China and South Korea.


S*#t Yogis Say

Another one that made me laugh, from Lululemon


Sh*t 12-steppers Say

This “Lttle Miss Addict” You Tube made me laugh, hope you enjoy it!



A world of fellowship

Today a young woman from NY showed up at the Vietnam ashram asking for Durga.  She is in recovery, and in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for 2 weeks to help her sister move here.  She wrote a friend in NY (YoR retreat guest) who told her we were here, so she came on 2 buses and a motorcycle taxi to visit.  It was lovely to share our experience, strength and hope together.  She’s taking our YoR and Vietnam ashram brochures to her new recovery friends in Ho Chi Minh City now -  small world eh?
I am grateful for fellowship and connections

Here is the link to AA in Ho Chi Minh City,



This is a wonderful 20 minute talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” from Brene Brown, compliments of

We often get to these kind of discussions and realizations in our Yoga of Recovery sessions, it is amazing to be around people who are becoming open to accepting their vulnerability and all the gifts it offers.


Listening to the heart...

I enjoyed reading this blog post from David Crow, author and founder of MedicineCrow and Floracopeia Aromatic Treasures.  David is an expert in the field of botanical medicine, natural health and ecological sustainability.  He is a master herbalist, aromatherapist and acupuncturist with over 30 years experience and is an expert in the Ayurvedic and Chinese medical systems..

I am comfortable on my meditation cushion, wrapped in the silent darkness and shining constellations of winter Solstice.

Many wise teachers have shared their contemplative practices with me, but there is one practice I come back to more than the others: listening to the heart. No one taught me this, however; I discovered it myself, which is like saying I discovered that I am breathing. So many spiritual insights are like this, yet we think illumination somehow lies outside the fabric of our own being.

I am listening to the pulsation of my heart. Join me…it is easy and very profound. My right thumb is resting on the radial artery of my left wrist, where the pulse rises and falls.

The artery undulates as the waves of nutrient fluid pass through it. If we listen attentively, the wandering mind will gradually become calm and steady, and in this flowing together of heart and awareness there are many revelations waiting to be known.

…Read More


Yoga One Day at a Time

Below is a link for an article written by one of our Yoga of Recovery counselors, Alicia,  from our NY July 2011 course.  It is for a contest to win a scholarship for a yoga teacher training.  The winner of the article is the article with the most votes.

It’s a great article from a dedicated fellowship sister.  To vote, please read and leave a comment or share on Facebook or Twitter.

Here is the link: Yoga One Day at a Time
om shanti


Some Humor

The therapist I saw in early recovery (12 years ago) sent me this,

made me laugh and we need a sense of humor in life!

Humor Mental Health Hotline


Almost 200 Tons of Prescription Meds Collected on 3rd Drug Take-Back Day

When I see this it makes me wonder about all the resons we have this much medication that needs to be safely gotten rid of – are they overprescribed?  people are not ‘compliant’ with them? they improve without them? they seek other ways to feel better?…&utm_medium=email


Video: Balancing Doshas through Yoga

Here is a great introduction to dosha-balancing yoga from Banyan Botanicals.


Video: Recovery from Mental Disorders

This is a great lecture about recovery from mental disorders from Patricia Deegan. It addresses recovery aspects that also can apply to recovery for alcoholics and addicts.