19 years ago I gave up 20 ‘friends’

Apr 6, 2020 | General

How do you feel now you’re a non-smoker?  My answer came spontaneously  – LONELY – he (my therapist) looked surprised and I felt embarrassed, why did I say lonely??  It’s like I’m saying cigarettes were my friends – I know they were not my friends, but it’s true, I feel lonely without them!!

Now I can see how deeply honest that answer was – in each of the addictive habits I’ve dabbled in, there’s always been an attempt to solve the terrible aloneness of life, so when I read this article recently, I really resonated with this patient of Dr Dean Ornish who told him, “I’ve got 20 friends in this package of cigarettes; they’re always there for me, and no one else is. You want me to give up my 20 friends? What are you going to give me instead?”

Initially I did a lot of physical yoga practice – Hatha Yoga (Asana) and Pranayama.  Those are still part of my daily practice.

Today, more than ever, I am so grateful to have networks of connection and community during this time of social isolation due to the Covid 19 virus.  Thanks to all those who are making their yoga classes available online, and to members of 12 step fellowship who have organized online meetings – it’s great to see people empowered in their response to this crisis.

19 years ago I went to an ashram as a ‘smoking rehab’ and kept going back every few weeks.  There I learned about Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga.  What I was given instead of my pack of 20 friends was the biggest gift of my life – the integration of Yoga and Ayurveda that allowed me to blossom more fully into health and wellbeing from my foundational recovery tool of the 12 step programs.  This led to Yoga of Recovery which I’ve been offering for over 15 years.  I’m so grateful for all those who’ve joined me on YoR retreats.  The biggest boost to my life, health and happiness has come through sharing the healing I found using the paths of Yoga and the life science of Ayurveda.   This has brought me to a beautiful group of people and I’m grateful every day for the many benefits – physical and emotional health based in deeper self-understanding and simple daily routines.

I live in the grace of social networks that feel safe and supporting — my extended family of choice, and a sustainable lifestyle.  What has been most healing for me is service, purpose, beauty of self-expression and meaning.  Thank you to my true friends xxx

with Love and deepest gratitude, Durga Leela