Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Joseph, check out the latest video from your channel subscriptions for Oct 18, 2014.
KLEAN Radio - Interventionist Rod Espudo (10.12.2014) #ThingsChange
3 days ago  •  138 views
Klean Radio

Barbara Theodosiou has invited you to the event 'The Addict's Mom Steps of Hope' on The Addict's Mom!
The Addict's Mom is planning early for the Addict's Mom Steps of Hope to be held May 17th 2015. The town of Davie has made us a generous offer, by giving us the Concert Corner to hold our event. 

Time: May 17, 2015 from 9am to 12pm
Location: Davie Florida
Organized By: Barbara Theodosiou

Event Description:

About The Addict's Mom
“The Addict’s Mom,” a group focusing on the mothers of addicted children. The relationship between the mother and addicted child is unique;
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Get Health Coverage NOW!

If you or someone you love doesn't have health insurance, COA can help. 

On the morning of Monday, Nov. 3, a representative from WellCare will be at Dwier assisting with Medicaid & Obamacare enrollment. 

Medicaid is now available for single people and marrieds without children, in addition to families with children; it's free for anyone making less than $15,500 per year. COA will help you fill out the paperwork, and get your documents together. Most people qualify for some type of low or no-cost plan, so it's worth coming in to check it out. 

If you would like to take advantage of this FREE assistance, please RSVP tocityofangelsnj@hotmail.com - we need to get some idea of how many people will be coming so we can plan.

Don't miss this super fun annual event! 

Get up, dress up and show up at the Dwier Center in your spookiest outfit...as always, there will be refreshments,  
dancing and prizes for the best costumes. 

Feel free to bring a dish or a treat to share with everyone!

Music provided by Ghypsee_Freegan, a very talented young rapper-in-recovery who has battled and fought to be clean and sober since 2011. 

To watch a video of the 2012 Halloween bash, click below:
Halloween 2012.wmv
Halloween 2012.wmv

Let's Talk About Recovery!

With 10 original shows, COARR plays Recovery Talk 24/7/365....past shows are available online atwww.coaradio.com/pastshows.html and in each show's online archive. 

Tune in thru the smartphone app (free in the iphone/droid stores) or on www.coaradio.com to hear what's playing now.....

NEW SHOW: "Solutions" with Michael DeLeon! 

Mike is the producer of "Kids Are Dying", a powerful documentary about the drug epidemic in America; he is also the founder of Steered Straight, a non-profit organization that works to prevent drug abuse; and a tireless advocate for legislative reform. "Solutions" will focus on concrete actions that can be taken now to address this problem and feature key leaders & decision makers from across New Jersey and the Tri-State area.

To listen to the debut show on demand, click here.

Listen to past COARR shows any time: 

For "Women & Addiction" with Terri Thomas, click here. 

For "Wellness in Recovery" with life coach Nancy Tilelli, click here. 

For "Journey Thru the 12 Steps with the Life Recovery Bible," click here. 

For "Share Your Scars" with Vicki, click here.

For "Wings Over Water: Creativity in Recovery" with recovery musician Kathy Moser, click here.

For "Laughter & Recovery" with stand up comic Wil B. Kleen, click here. 

For "Relationships in Recovery" with Alexa, click here. 

For "Saving Lives" with COA Director of Interventions Tom Redneck Clark, click here.
Celebrate the Season - Visit www.teespring.com/addictsmom3 will arrive in time for the holidays

Daily Quote

"Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy." - Norman Vincent Peale

Today's Online Meetings
AA Meeting - 8:00 pm CST: "12 Steps and 12 Tradiditons"

Guest Speaker - 1:00 pm CST: "Being Sober and Becoming Happy"

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Partnership for Drug-free Kids
Dear subscriber,

Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem everywhere, but especially in Orange County, California. I know this because that’s where I grew up and played high school varsity baseball. I witnessed this abuse among my peers and in my own family, and I wanted to do something about it.

So I worked to educate my community about the risks of medicine abuse, joining with my local police department to promote prescription drug take-back days. That’s why it was awesome to receive the Play Healthy Award from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Major League Baseball (MLB) Charities last year, winning a trip to New York City and meeting people who shared the same passion in helping others.

Now, I want to pay it forward and ask you to nominate a student athlete and/or youth coach for the 5th Annual Commissioner’s Play Healthy Awards. Do you know that kid on the team who is super focused on being healthy to achieve his dream of playing pro ball? What about the coach who makes you feel that you are going to play the best game of your life, just because you can? If so, get involved now and tell us why that special person is making a difference.

Hurry - the deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, October 31st, 2014!

Good luck,

Garrett Burk
Freshman, Harvard University
2013 Student-Athlete Winner

Help us spread the word with these sample tweets:

#PlayHealthy #Contest! Nominate extraordinary coaches & student athletes for chance to win trip to NYC & more! http://ow.ly/wfbjb

Inspiring #studentathlete & #youth #coach can win trip to NYC & more! Find out how http://ow.ly/wfbF5 #PlayHealthy
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Monday, October 20, 2014


They visit me as if they were my friends,but all the while they gather gossip ,and when they leave ,they spread it everywhere . (Gods Big Book )

Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I had no idea they had AA and NA groups three thousand years ago . The scripture is describing what used to be my home group. Step six is a double edged sword ! Is it you or someone else that is doing all the talking !When we are in the rooms some of the stuff that is shared can be rough but it is not a conservation piece for the next time you are waiting in line at the Dunking Donuts .We share that stuff to get out from under guilt and shame and you need to respect the guidelines ! What is said here stays here ! Being reckless with someones pain could put them right back on the relapse roller coaster . Do you want to be responsible for buying that ticket !This was one of those things I struggled with .I could not keep my mouth shut and I could not wait to air your dirty laundry out . Silence and respect are character traits that do not come naturally ,they have to be developed . Respect yourself and respect others . KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT !

Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.(Gods Big Book)

By Joseph Dickerson

Barbara Theodosiou has invited you to the event 'The Addict's Mom Steps of Hope' on The Addict's Mom!

The Addict's Mom is planning early for the Addict's Mom Steps of Hope to be held May 17th 2015. The town of Davie has made us a generous offer, by giving us the Concert Corner to hold our event. 

Time: May 17, 2015 from 9am to 12pm
Location: Davie Florida
Organized By: Barbara Theodosiou

Event Description:

See more details and RSVP on The Addict's Mom:

About The Addict's Mom

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ayahuasca: Miracle Healer or Something Else?
Is it all crazy visions and mind-numbing hallucinations, or is there more to this tea that goes by many names?

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My first real boyfriend, C, traded me in for a tea. Not just any tea—a psychoactive, psychedelic, hallucinogenic, magical mystery tea he called “daime,” which most of us now know as ayahuasca. (It bears other names as well, like yagĂ©, kabi, natema, nepe, and hoasca.)

It was my last summer-before-college. C was a couple years older, but college wasn’t in the cards for him, at least not then. We were young and depressed, both of us chronically prone to dark moods and melancholy and chain smoking and nihilistic philosophizing—all that rote, humiliating jazz—but I may have done a better job at hiding it. I was wrapped up in the buzz of preparing for my freshman year in Massachusetts, where we nobly planned (er, hoped?) to keep our relationship alive via long-distance calls, instant messaging, and fumbly attempts at cybersex.

And then there are the hallucinations, which can last for hours and are frequently described as being both utterly terrifying and realistic. 

Then C went to Brazil, to some “community in the rainforest,” as I believe he put it, to drink hallucinogenic tea. It sounded, to me, like a cult—like a bunch of lost hippie souls looking for an excuse to trip out and “see the other side” or something. But he tried to explain that it was deeper than that, that daime brought on spiritual experiences, not just psychedelic ones, that he’d be guided by real-life shamans who knew the workings of the mysterious drug, as well as the sometimes frightening visions it could trigger.

C was suicidally despondent when he left for the Amazon. I believe he went for that reason—as a last-ditch effort to help treat his depression, using an herb that was, at the time, even less commonly known for being what some experts now consider it: a potential healing tool for a range of spiritual and mental-health ills like addiction and depression. 

Dr. Charles Grob, a researcher at L.A.’s BioMed whose extensive Brazilian studies have shown profound positive changes among some alcoholics and addicts following long-term ayahuasca use, says, “When we did our initial study in the early ‘90s, when I told people l was studying ayahuasca, they were like, ‘aya-whatska’? Now it’s becoming better known, but still, the vast majority [of people] aren't aware of [its potential for success as a mental health treatment].”

Though ayahuasca (loose translation: “vine of the soul”) may have been something of a longtime rite of passage for spiritual seeker types, in recent years it’s grown more popular among mainstream Westerners who’ve read about the drug or seen it mentioned in the media. An astonishingly wide range of celebrities have heralded the brew for helping them expand their minds and overcome demons, including Sting, Oliver Stone, Tori Amos, Devendra Banhart, and Penn Badgley; Lindsay Lohan even mentioned it in the finale of her trainwreck masterpiece “Lindsay,” claiming that it helped her get a grip on the "wreckage of her past life.”

Because of the escalating level of public interest in the mysterious blend, every year, scores of curious tourists shell out anywhere from a few hundred bucks to multiple thousands of them to fly to countries like Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador for ayahuasca retreats. There they get the full guided-tour ayahuasca experience, often with professional healers and shamans to hold their hands. 

First, though, the basics: Ayahuasca is a muddy, reportedly foul-tasting South American brew or tea comprised of a mix of two plants: the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and a shrub dubbed chacruna (Psychotria viridis). Chacruna contains a fairly high amount of the psychedelic chemical dimethyltryptamine (DMT, which in America is considered a Schedule I controlled substance).

The brew is usually consumed as part of a spiritual shamanistic ritual, and is often affiliated with the religion of Santo Daime in Brazil, where it’s legal (it’s also legal in Peru). Ayahuasca isn’t a casual thing like smoking weed among friends every once in a while; nobody's doing it to chill out or feel mellow. “This is not a recreational drug; it should not be trifled with,” Dr. Grob warns. 

Ayahuasca is part of a sacred South American ritual that’s been passed down through the centuries—one that’s intended to guide its participants through the darkest recesses of their souls (one participant reportedly dubbed it like “psychotherapy on steroids”). The goal? To help its devotees beat back whatever painful internal enemy may be holding them down. For one person that may ultimately look like achieving “enlightenment;” for someone else, it may be experiencing visions of God. It’s a deeply personal and subjective experience; no two ayahuasca “trips” are alike.

Of course, no one ever said the path to enlightenment was pretty, or easy, and neither is a typical ayahuasca experience. Intense vomiting is the norm; puke buckets are often provided by ritual leaders, who believe that the physical purging of the body is a sign of the necessary cleansing occurring in the mind and soul. Allen Ginsberg once colorfully wrote about his ayahuasca experience, “Stomach vomiting out the soul-vine, cadaver on the floor of a bamboo hut, body-meat crawling toward its fate.” 

And then there are the hallucinations, which can last for hours and are frequently described as being both utterly terrifying and realistic. Many people have claimed they felt forced to face down physical images of their darkest fears or most painful memories. After consuming the tea with a shaman when she was living in Ecuador years ago, Anna Bent* of San Francisco recalls seeing, well, lots of interesting things during her ayahuasca journey, from a “demonic representation of my own...hang-ups and failings,” to “a girl of about seven [years old] who was [made of plant], and kind of green, who talked.” 

Bent continues, “I had a whole conversation with her in a language that I don’t know. Behind her were dozens of plant-people watching and participating.”

Despite the freaky visions, though, Bent considers her ayahuasca journey worthwhile. At the time, her mother was very sick with Hepatitis C, and Bent was hoping to do a sort of remote cleanse to help speed her mother's healing. In other words, she wanted to heal her mom, not herself. “I tried to reach out to her in a psychic way as I was sitting under the stars, but I couldn't do it,” she remembers. “I went into it seeking something specific, and the answer I got was not what I wanted. I ended up realizing that I couldn't take my mom’s illness because it wasn't mine to take,” she says. But, “As uncomfortable as it was, it was a powerful step.”

In “Peru: Hell and Back,” her exhaustive National Geographic article about using ayahuasca to address her longtime chronic depression, writer Kira Salak writes about her repeated trips to Peru for shamanistic healing. Those experiences were anything but painless—she encountered malevolent forces, shadowy figures; she even remembers seeing (and speaking) with a manifestation of the devil himself. But, she writes, those horrifying visions were ultimately worth it when, “The next morning, I discovered the impossible: The severe depression that had ruled my life since childhood had miraculously vanished.”

So how, exactly, does ayahuasca promote healing? Depends on who you ask. Dr. Grob says ayahuasca’s purported benefits have been examined from various angles. “If you're a biological scientist, you'll look at its effects on serotonin receptors, or you'll look at the mono inhibiting effect. If you ask [some of the Brazilians] we studied, they'll say it’s the spirits of the vine that are able to cause a healing response.” Under optimal conditions, though, “it facilitates developing insight into oneself.” 

Of course, not every expert subscribes to the belief that ayahuasca is much use as a treatment for addiction or anything else. Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a marriage and addiction therapist in Manhattan, is one of those doctors. He says, “Ayahuasca is a fashion trend. It is not a valid treatment for addiction or mental health issues. It's a mind-altering drug that is not medically prescribed, and holds the potential for abuse.”

And there are risks involved in taking ayahuasca—even when it’s consumed under the guise of something noble and recovery-oriented. As the herb has increased in popularity, so have the number of charlatan shamans who don’t know what they’re doing; also, having certain medical conditions or taking some prescription medications (for instance, it should never be mixed with antidepressants) can be super-dangerous when dealing with ayahuasca. 

The brew also made news in 2012 when 18-year-old Kyle Nolan of Northern California was found dead in Peru. A shaman at the Shimbre Shamanic Center, where the boy’s buried body was uncovered, was arrested, and told authorities “that the teen died as a result of exceeding the dosage of the hallucinogenic brew.” 

And as for my long-ago first boyfriend, C—we spoke a few times while he was on his self-help mission in Brazil. He told me of crazy visions and mind-numbing hallucinations and lots and lots of astral projection. He told me he had hung out with the (long-deceased) Kurt Cobain and come to watch me while I was sleeping. I thought he’d gone a little nuts, but I knew it was just the tea, and I was glad that he seemed to have found something that helped him cope with the cruelties inside his head. 

I was depressed, too, so I understood why he’d had to run away to “find himself.” We broke up a few months into my freshman year and he never came back from Brazil—at least not as far as I heard—so I’ll never know exactly what his daime helped him find, and whether it was ever enough. 

Laura Barcella has been a regular contributor to The Fix since 2011. She recently wrote about love addiction and secret sober pot smokers.

Recovery High
For teenage addicts, recovery high schools can help tremendously in giving them a clean, safe environment. But funding can be a problem.



In September of 2014, New Jersey became the latest state to embrace the growing educational movement of high schools designed to aid students in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.

The Raymond J. Lesniak Experience, Strength and Hope (ESH) Recovery High School, located on the Union County campus of Kean University, is scheduled on November 1 to begin serving 10 area students who have been through treatment programs. Organizers and administrators hope to accommodate at least 90 more in the coming years. Lesniak ESH is New Jersey’s first recovery high school, and the end result of a long struggle by its namesake, veteran State Senator Lesniak, who has championed recovery issues throughout his 37 years in office, along with Pam Capaci, executive director of the non-profit substance abuse treatment program Prevention Links. 

Recovery high schools—in existence since the late 1970s—reached a peak number of between 70 and 80 during the mid-1980s. Funding has always been the schools’ most difficult hurdle, and today only 35 are in operation across the United States. But the sheer number of high school age children with drug-abuse disorders prompted Capaci to consider the idea of a recovery high school for New Jersey youth. (According to a report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, of the 76% of high school students who have used tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or cocaine, one in five meet the medical criteria for addiction, not to mention the wave of heroin addiction that has gripped the United States in recent years.)

Inspired by a county assistant prosecutor’s suggestion to look at the work done at William J. Ostiguy High School in Boston, Massachusetts, Capaci examined the school’s model and found that it resonated with her. “In my current position, my organization does primarily prevention and family strengthening work,” she tells The Fix. “But in a previous life, I was an alcohol and drug counselor. I understand the need to change your environment [after treatment], and youth coming out of treatment and back into their school environment—which is really their primary environment—have limited to no resources to succeed in their recovery. The [recovery high school] model builds recovery into their typical school day.”

The road from concept to completion was fraught with a host of difficulties, not the least of which was finding the funds to launch a recovery school in earnest. “The biggest issue [was] funding streams,” notes Capaci. “Education [funding] takes care of education [needs], health and human services takes care of health and human services, and they don’t mix well.” More disconcerting was the fact that federal mandates do not require schools to accommodate the learning needs of children with substance abuse disorders. “We were forced to look at an education system that, despite the best of intentions, had no support, no financial resources, and no requirements to help our kids succeed academically,” says Capaci.

Alternative models such as charter or private, state-approved schools were considered and dropped due to their own restrictions regarding admission policies. But Capaci found an invaluable ally in Senator Lesniak, who recognized the “compelling need” for the specialized education provided by a recovery high school. “There was a study done in 2004 and 2005 that reported an excess of 34,000 children who needed some form of rehabilitation from substance abuse problems,” the senator tells The Fix. “Couple that with a report that stated 90% of children returning to public school from rehab are offered drugs or alcohol on their very first day of school, and 50% relapse within the first month. So [the recovery high school model] demonstrated an effective way to meet their needs.”

Despite the senator’s influence, the New Jersey recovery school project still faced numerous challenges, as well as questions from state and local education groups. “I met with the New Jersey school board association, the education association, and talked through their points of concern,” recalls Capaci. “I had to remain flexible and set up partnerships that would be win-wins for everyone involved.”

Senator Lesniak also found resistance within his own sphere of influence. “We met with two ofSecretary (of Education Arne] Duncan’s top staff, who were somewhat antagonistic to the issue and the effort,” he recalls. “What was remarkable was that Secretary Duncan came into the room, sat down, looking totally uninterested, and then left after five minutes without saying a word. It showed total disdain for what we’re trying to do here.”

The combined efforts of Capaci and Senator Lesniak overcame such roadblocks, and the necessary financing was secured through fund-raising by Prevention Links, and from the home school districts of each student. For the senator, the high school that bears his name will hopefully serve as a shining example of the importance of aiding recovery efforts by high school students.

“The long-term impact will be multifold,” he says. “First and foremost, we’ll be saving lives because without this types of recovery efforts, those children will end up in the criminal justice system or dying from a premature death. Second, we hope that it will raise awareness of the magnitude of substance abuse in our youth, and the increasing efforts to help them avoid it. And third, we hope to spread that message nationwide, particularly because New Jersey is often a beacon of light on many national issues.

"I’ve recently stated that [our] nickname should be changed from the Garden State to the Humane State.”

Paul Gaita is a Los Angeles-based writer. He has contributed to The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Amazon and The Los Angeles Beat, among other publications and sites. He last wrote about buying drugs online, the 'blame the victim' mentality of campus rape and taking the stigma out of addiction.

Want to Heal? Participate!
Anne Wilson Schaef shares how Living in Process can heal addiction, mental illness and anything life throws at you.



At 80 years old, author, spiritual teacher, and healer, Anne Wilson Schaef, PhD, is more profound than ever. 

After working as a traditional psychologist for years in hospitals, schools and a private practice, Schaef left the psychology world in 1984. “It became clear to me that many theories in psychology were developed by men for men, and had little to do with what women thought, felt or needed. Around that time, I was at a speaking event held by the American Psychological Association and someone pointed out that the word ‘therapist’ broken down is ‘the rapist.’ By that time I was beginning to question the whole set up of one person having that much power over another person,” she says. 

As Schaef pulled away from traditional psychology, she delved into researching other methods of healing, went on to become one of the crusaders of feminist therapy, and began to develop her own way of healing called Living in Process, which is an ongoing, growing, changing, healing work. “I had a broad background, and when I put all of those things together with my own training from my great grandmother, who was Cherokee, I came up with my own way of working with people,” she says.

Living in Process works with recovery from the addictive process, moving beyond to wholeness of body, mind, and spirit. For the last 20 years, Schaef has worked intensively with people throughout the world facing both ingestive addictions, such as alcohol, food and drugs, and process addictions, such as work, gambling, sex, and relationships.

“As an addict, that disease will always be there. In fact, everybody in this culture has learned aspects of addiction. Our society itself breeds addiction and it demands addiction in order to be comfortable in it because we’ve created a society, which is not friendly to humans or animals or the planet. In order to tolerate what we’ve created, we’ve used addictions to take the edge off,” she says.

Schaef has published thirteen books, which have been translated in many languages and have been bestsellers throughout the world. Her books, Living in Process and Beyond Therapy, Beyond Science,discuss Living in Process in depth.

Schaef shared some insights into Living in Process with The Fix.

How did you become interested in helping those with addiction?

Almost by accident, when I was living in a household of women and our children. One of the women in the house was disruptive to the household and turned out to be an alcoholic. At that point, I realized I knew nothing about alcoholism. In my psychology training, I only had three hours on addiction yet I thought I knew something about it, but this woman and others I met made me realize I knew nothing and was ignorant in the field. I went ahead to dig in and learn everything I could about alcoholism. I started doing my own research on alcohol and other addictions and went on to be the first person to define ingestive addictions and process addictions.

One of the most significant shifts in my life was when I decided to go to an AA meeting to observe and take notes on why and how people get better like I was trained to do in traditional psychology. But it was when I got there I realized that I wasn’t going to learn about the effectiveness of the 12-step program unless I did it myself. So that’s what I did.

Is this the point when you started to develop Living in Process?

Yes. I shifted from a non-participatory observer and researcher to taking a participatory approach to life. This was very major. All my training in clinical psychology had been to pull back and observe.

During this time, I began to develop my own theories about psychology, which were very different than the prevailing theories of that time. In 1981, I came out with Women’s Reality: An Emerging Female System, and in that book I went beyond the individual feminism and began to look at systems, the way systems function, and how the white male system is a dominant system in which we live. I called the system that women are functioning in as the reactive female system, an artificial system that women and men created in order for women to survive in the male system. Later, when I was giving a lecture in Minnesota, the words came out of my mouth, ‘the white male system is the addictive system’ and all the characteristics and processes of addiction fit the white male system. What I mean is that our society is an addictive system, and the reactive female system is the co-dependent. The emerging female system could be equated with sobriety, but it’s a different system.

How would you explain Living in Process to someone who’s never heard of it?

It’s difficult. For the book I wrote on it, my editor asked me to define process and I had a hard time because defining it compromises it. I thought I should have been able to come up with a definition. Then I was talking to some Hawaiian friends—the Hawaiian culture is very process based—and literally they stepped back in disbelief at the idea that I’d have to explain process. Their response was that everything is in process. We are in process. As human beings, we’re a process. We are not a thing. We’re not going to make ourselves perfect and stay that way because we’re always moving and changing. Our cars and homes are a process; they’re always calling to us to fix something. Nature is a process; nothing is static in nature. I think one of the major problems that we’re having with understanding how to live in our universe as human beings is that we don’t know that everything is in process and a process. 

The purpose of western science is to static your world so that it can be measured and controlled. This is based on a worldview and belief system that from my perspective is not true to the reality of our reality because everything is in process.

I found this quote from you to be very insightful. “In Process, we learn to own our lives and take responsibility for our own healing, recognizing that there are no external experts who can ‘heal’ us.” Can Living in Process be effective in combination with other forms of therapy and/or medications?

No. Therapy is ruining AA. What we’re hearing in AA today and in any 12-step program is a contamination with therapy concepts. Therapy comes out of a mechanistic, scientist model based on objectivity and manipulating variables and that the human is a machine. Western science is based on reductionism and empiricism, which means to understand something you reduce it to its most elemental form, observe it with eyes, ears and microscopes, and measure and control it so you can understand it. For instance, if you want to understand cat, you kill the cat, dissect the cat, and you study its brain, nerves and muscle system, and then you “know” the cat. However, another scientific model, which we haven’t named well yet, that the Native American people know and others like the Chinese culture practice, is you have to put the cat in its context and the cat has to be whole to understand it. This approach is related to the process in context. Living in Process and AA at its best, come from a process model.

How has your Native American heritage influenced Living in Process?

I didn’t find out that I was Cherokee until I was in my late-50s. I learned that when I was born in 1934, my family had made a decision not to claim their Cherokee heritage because I would have been sent off to a boarding school just for being an Indian. They decided to pass as white because they wanted me to get what they thought were the advantages of a white education. As far as I knew, we were white people. Despite that, I was raised as a Cherokee and treated like one in the family. Our family system had more equality. It was not based on a hierarchical system. 

My great grandmother was very active in my life and about two years after I discovered I was Cherokee, I suddenly realized that my great grandmother was a medicine woman. People came to our home for healing. She taught me what was edible in the woods, what was for healing, and she had two shelves of herbs and medicines in our home, but I never made the connection. I can see looking back, how my DNA informed what I was interested in. At 7-years-old, I announced I was going to be a healer, yet I didn’t really know what that meant. 

I was struck by the following quote from you. “Since we are spiritual beings, our solutions to our problems must come from our spiritual wholeness. All healing is based in our spiritual wholeness. The secret of living a whole life is accepting and being wholly who we are as full spiritual beings.” Can you explain what spirituality means to you?

It’s very different from religion. Religion takes spirituality and tries to concretize it with abstract beliefs and concepts. To me, spirituality is a living process. Spirituality is participation. I believe that participating in your life and all life is spirituality. Recently, I was standing outside and a group of Canadian Honkers flew by, but they were going the wrong direction, and I thought what’s wrong? I laughed about how I felt responsible for the direction the geese were flying, and how that was my just being codependent. Then I realized that if the geese are confused because of the climate and pollution that we’ve done to our planet, then indeed I am responsible. Participating in all my life and whatever is in front of me is spirituality.

Not participating seems to be what someone with addiction is doing, correct?

Exactly. They’re withdrawing from participating. The same thing you do with mental illness. Both can be very self-centered. 

Consider the works of Max Freedom Long, who talked about how we have three selves; the higher self, lower self and the functional self. He said the functional self is how we deal with the world, things like what we’re going to eat, where we need to go. He said the functional self has no memory or feelings. The lower self is kind of like Freud’s id, but it’s not a scary place, it’s a place where we have feelings and emotions and memory. The higher self is basically where we came from, where we are one with all creation. Long said there’s no access to the higher self from the thinking mind or the functional self. The only way to get to that place of oneness or spirituality is through our lower self; through our feelings and emotions and memory. And our thinking will never get this reality. So this leads to the difference between thinking about God, which is theology, and experiencing the “Godness,” if you will, where we’re all one. This is where our reductionist and empirical science has taken us in the other direction instead of focusing on that oneness. I believe that ultimately we are all part of one creation. Those moments when you know in your whole being and your operating out of that oneness, that to me is spirituality.

What do you say to those who believe that spirituality has no place in recovery?

Recovery is finding your own spirituality, whatever that means to you. You can’t do it without reconnecting with your larger self. 

Can you share any personal anecdotes about being helped through Living in Process?

I’ve worked with many people facing different challenges, bipolar disorder, schizophrenic, addiction, and when they do Living in Process, they heal.

Whether you’re a chemical addict, food addict, or workaholic, it’s really important to deal with the addictive process, no matter what form it takes in our lives in order to really begin to heal.

The best tool we have for that is the 12-step program, but it doesn’t do it all. We have to do the deep work, which is trying, but a very exciting thing about being a human. Our bodies and our brains and minds store everything that has happened in our lives, and it’s absolutely marvelous because it means it’s there to work with when we are ready. It usually comes out in the form of feelings, memories and emotions. We’ve all had the experience of watching a movie and you suddenly start to cry and you don’t even know what it’s about. Or you’re suddenly angry with someone who doesn’t deserve that level of anger and you know that there’s something else that is behind that. I see that as a door into deep process work. There’s none of us who doesn’t have trauma from childhood and growing up in our families and in this society; some worse than others, but even if you were the school golden girl, you have some trauma. Our beings are so constituted that we have the opportunity to work through those traumas and heal from them and learn from them, not matter what they are.

Can you share a specific example of deep process?

The second piece of healing is to heal those feelings and emotions and experiences. This is done by going deeper than verbalizing them. You can’t just talk about them and heal them. They have to be done on a feeling level and they bypass our thinking mind and take us into our being. That’s where our healing takes place. Then we bring it back out and give it words so that we can talk about it.

One of the most powerful deep processes I’ve personally had was years ago. There was a Catholic nun who was coming to live in our Living in Process community, and we were talking on the phone before she came. I was telling her how I wanted to be included in her world as much as she was going to be included in our world, and suddenly I felt this rush of feelings, and I had to get off the phone. I went and lay down, cried and cried, and I kept seeing this little girl about three years old who looked determined. Between my sobs, I kept saying, “Go away, I’m busy here.” But finally I realized she was part of my process. I wondered what she was so determined about, and then a powerful memory arose. 

When I was three years old, my mother married my father who raised me—I never knew my biological father—and I moved from living with my mother and great grandmother to suddenly with my new father, his three brothers and his parents. At that time, I so wanted to be included in this new household. To their credit they included me completely, but as a child it was traumatic to me. It wasn’t like I was beaten or raped, but it was traumatic. From then on I realized that was why I had an “inclusion issue.” After this realization, I stood up and thought, “Wow that was powerful,” but then another rush of feelings came about so I lay back down and sobbed again. It became clear that these emotions had nothing to do with inclusion. The issue was that at age three, I lost my primary parent; my great grandmother. You see, my mother worked and my great grandmother was with me all the time, so when we moved in with my stepfather, I never lived with my great grandmother again. It was one of the greatest losses of my life, even though I got to visit her and spend time with her.

My whole life shifted after this deep process experience. We all have these memories and emotions rumbling around, so the second piece of the process of healing is to work through those things. It wouldn’t have been enough for me to just weep and weep that would have just been catharsis. I had to stay with it long enough until I understood what it was about. Then it made sense to me and it was hugely healing in terms of the way I worked with groups after that, and the confidence I had after that, and in the connection I had with my great grandmother, even though she had been dead for years. Almost always, what we “get” in our deep process could never be accessed with our rational mind.

This is how deep process works. It’s such a gift we have. Most people are afraid of it because when we start to cry like that or feel emotions that are uncomfortable, most people are so frightened that they shut it off rather than going into it and doing the healing. We can’t do this with therapies that try to pull these processes out of us like forceps in a natural birth. What happens is the forceps cause the baby and mother to get injured. 

I noticed the third piece of the process of Living in Process is the long process of making a paradigm shift. What does this mean?

It’s the process of separating yourself from the addictive culture that we live in and learning slowly the process of living another way. This is most effectively and powerfully done in a community setting. In a participatory system, we are all part of a larger whole, and our participation in that larger whole is necessary to our healing. Often, as others share their stories, their struggles, and their experiences we are able to learn about ourselves in ways that we never previously considered. Even more important, we need to participate in the community, in the hologram, in order to reclaim ourselves, and our self-esteem, and take our place in the universe.

Can someone with a mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia benefit from Living in Process?

Mental illness is a normal reaction to the culture that we’ve developed. Schizophrenia is a thinking disorder that includes a grouping of syndromes. Interestingly, in the psychology world, it originally included alcoholism. A schizophrenic experiences the same kind of thinking that an alcoholic does. The difference is that the schizophrenic pushes it further. Western culture displays schizophrenic tendencies as well. It develops abstract ideas, makes them real and then lives in them.

Do you believe some people have a genetic disposition to addiction or is addiction learned?

I have to point out the dualism you presented here because it’s another trait of Western culture. What dualistic thinking says is it’s either this or that. When we set up the world that way, it stops you because you don’t want to enter the dualism, and it keeps you stuck so you don’t have to deal with the world.

My answer is yes, both. Some people are born alcoholics. They have a genetic predisposition and they’ll have to live with it their whole life and the “ism” is culturally learned. However, it doesn’t matter when it comes to healing. Let’s say you were raped by your father as a child, so your challenge is to do what you need to do to heal from that trauma and to learn what you need to do to get beyond it. In some ways, it doesn’t matter what has happened to you or what your genetic predisposition is. What matters is that you heal, learn and grow from it. We all have that opportunity.

My final thought on this matter of genetics is that this goes back to the western world way of thinking. Wanting to know answers before process. The thing is we don’t know, and we have to be able to say we don’t know, and just do the work and then find out.

Living in Process intensives are offered all around the world. To learn more, visitwww.livinginprocess.com.

Cathy Cassata is a regular contributor to The Fix. She recently wrote about addictions to sugar and tanning. Connect with her on twitter—@Cassatastyle.