My name is Laurie Ann, and I am a recovering alcoholic and addict. I am also a Mohanji Acharya based in the US. I am currently an IT professional with 18 years of continuous sobriety.
During most of my adult life, even in sobriety, I would say I dealt with significant anxiety and depression, at times dipping into suicidal. In my quest to find relief, I tried many different methods, like psychotherapy, medications, group therapy and other recovery groups. While these methods were all helpful, it was when I started following my guru, Mohanji and practicing his teachings that I found lasting changes. My moods and general emotional state are now stable without the use of medications. Most importantly I have found a purpose to help others who are suffering from depression and addiction issues, through the Conscious Recovery Meditations. I lead the meditation meetings in an online global recovery community and share the tools that I use to self-regulate my own emotions, of Pranayama, chanting, Mohanji’s teachings and guided meditations.
My recovery journey is not that different from many others. My childhood was a violent one. My mother was an addict, and she had all the attendant issues, of which rage was a large component. I grew up with almost daily physical and verbal abuse. The neighborhoods where I grew up were considered lower middle class by American standards. We moved a lot due to a lack of money and I was often the new kid in school. At that time, being the new kid in school meant that I had to fight often to physically defend myself. There was no safe place. I was treated at home the same way I was treated in the playground or in the street. I left home when I was 17. I lied about my age and got a job in a different state. Over the years, I became very scrappy, self-reliant, and as I got older, I grew more hardened. I did not have compassion for others. I had a lot of resentment against anyone that I thought had it easy. My attitude was “no one ever took care of me, don’t expect me to take care of you”. At the same time, my drinking and drugging increased, the two seemed to go hand in hand. As I drank and used more, I became more rigid and harsh and my anger grew. The family legacy was continuing; my mom’s rage was now mine.
God help the poor child that was my daughter. It was during this pregnancy that I first experienced suicidal depression. The pregnancy was a trigger and brought up a lot of my own childhood trauma but also fears that I was not going to be a better mother than mine. I was not willing to harm my child so I could not commit suicide. My decisions moving forward, however, were not based on any kind of healthy emotional state, so it was not long before my marriage fell apart. My daughter would go back and forth, as her Dad and I shared custody. When she was with her father, I would binge drink and use drugs. I met my son’s father some years later. He was a heavy drinker, and it was because of this that I ended up falling into recovery. I started going to Al-Anon meetings because I could not handle his drinking and as I was pointing the finger at him, I had to look at my own habits. I never got a DUI, I was never in trouble with the law, I did not drink or use every day, so it was hard for me to see the problem. It was not until much later that I realized that I could use anything addictively. I could even chew gum in an addictive manner. If I would drink or use a drug because I wanted to change a feeling or to not feel anything and could not or would not stop doing it, then that is addiction, with or without significant negative or legal consequences.
I was on a perpetual quest to be a better person. I wanted to change, yet the anger and depression would keep cycling around. I was hospitalized for a near suicide attempt and in order to be discharged, I had to take prescription medication. I took the medication, however, I did not notice much of a change. I was still working on a recovery program and it provided wonderful building blocks, specific and practical things I could do to change myself. It “set the stage” and made me get honest with myself and my behavior, take responsibility, and most importantly, brought me back to my spirituality. The depression, however, would still cycle into the “danger zone”. It was like an anxiety and depression bomb would hit. During this time, I came up with a plan where I would drive to the hospital where there was a psych ward and I would sit in the parking lot and wait for the intense feelings or the “smoke to clear” and tell myself if they did not, then I would check myself in. Just having the plan is likely why I did not have to use it. It was then that I put together that “tools” really do work. Yet, I still had not found peace. I instinctively knew that the answer lay in the growth of my spirituality.
I was introduced to Mohanji by a friend. I started to attend events in my area, and it felt as if my head would come above the water enough to catch a breath and not drown. Still, I was not sure I wanted to stay in this incarnation. Eventually, I got to meet Mohanji. At one of the retreats I was so upset with myself, because I thought, “here you are with your Guru and you are still in a terrible depression”. I was afraid there was no hope for me. I stood up during a Satsang and I said, “I am trying to save my own life”. Mohanji told me to come see him afterwards. So, I waited in line with everyone and when it was my turn, he looked into my eyes. I felt he understood exactly what was going on with me and gave me some simple things to do. I did what he suggested like my life depended upon it (because it did!), and things started to get better. I had to stay the course, be consistent, add and use these new tools of meditation, breathing and chanting to make the real change. There is still a lot of pain and past trauma that is being worked out of me, however, the critical difference now is having the grace of a guru, Mohanji in my life.
One of the most amazing blessings in my life is being an Acharya. It was in Acharya training, that the idea of putting together recovery and Mohanji’s teachings occurred. I used elements for the format that would feel familiar to the recovery community together with Mohanji’s teachings and the high vibrational guided meditations. There are many kinds of recovery meetings and they all have their benefits. Conscious Recovery Meditation is different from other recovery meetings because we are gathering as people in recovery from addiction and/or depression to practice positivity in all aspects of our lives, coming together with a common purpose of striving to treat all living beings with kindness, compassion, and unconditional love. The global attendees are from all different walks of life, all ethnicities, disparate backgrounds, and with or without religious beliefs.
One of things we do in the beginning of the meeting is to check-in, we state our first name and in one or two words how we are currently feeling. Then we do some pranayama exercises and a guided meditation. After that, there is open sharing and the attendees check back in with how they are now feeling. Absolutely 100% of the time, the attendees express a positive change in their mood or state of mind from the beginning to the end of the meeting. The bottom line is we feel better. The following are quotes from attendees describing their experiences attending Conscious Recovery Meditations:
- “Thanks for hosting such a creative and important recovery event. The quality is evident, and the world needs more of it.” – Francis, Lapland, Finland
- “At the start of the meeting, I felt kind of sad and annoyed with myself. WOW! After the breathing exercises and meditation, I feel complete and total peace. I can feel every part of me relaxed. Thank you so much.” - Kathleen, MI, USA
- “Today the meeting helped confirm in me a growing suspicion that the world is still capable of beauty and mystery if I only look with an open heart and mind. Thank you.” - Gary, WA, USA
I still have to actively choose to pick up a tool to enable the self-regulation of my emotions, however, I can say that I want to live every day today. It is such a big deal for me that I want to share the tools I use every day to help others.
Conscious Recovery Meditations meet on the INTHEROOMS.com platform on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:00 am and Sundays at 4:30 pm all eastern US time zone. The meetings are open to all those in recovery from alcoholism or addiction of any kind.
Author: Laurie Ann A.