Mindfulness: Sober AF

Posted by in Mindfulness

If you are hoping for (or dreading) another inspirational article on sobriety this won’t be it. Not today. I’m not trying to convince anyone to be different than they are. I believe in harm-reduction over grand ideas on purity anyways. What the article is inspired by is a teaching from the Buddhist tradition. The teaching is this – everything is medicine. 

I believe that every circumstance that feels like a ‘problem situation’ can also be an opportunity. In other words, every single thing that’s hard and complicated can also be the medicine we need to take in order to heal. This article is a post thought to a private conversation Anna and I are having. Let me tell you a bit about it.

Imagine yourself as a tree. A tree with tangled, destabilized roots. Maybe you’ve been around for a couple of hundred years. Maybe you are located in a city where pollution and toxins are heavy. On top of that you’ve seen a storm or two. You’ve been shaken. It’s hard to feel strong. It’s hard to take energy in.

This image brings me closer to the way I am feeling.

Anna’s recent post on sex addictions inspires a conversation around roots that have been diseased or damaged. In a private message she shares “You can prune the fuck out of a diseased tree, but if you don’t get down to that root it doesn’t change.” We talk about what happens to us when we attract circumstances that are not good for us. We talk about codependency. 

I reflect on moments I felt a bad situation and didn’t trust that deep knowing. I walked towards it instead of turning the other way. What would make a person do that? I never know the exact answer to that. I know it intellectually, but I don’t understand why my body ignores its own knowledge when it feels something isn’t right. It happens less and less because I have support now. The second guessing myself in those moments and not trusting myself is textbook trauma. My therapist feels I have relational trauma. It makes it harder for me.

This thought takes me back to the beginning stages of my yoga practice. In moments of stillness I reflect on my life. I notice how my behaviour is erratic and causes me trouble. When I am overwhelmed my communication shuts down and I go to yoga. I isolate myself instead of asking for some help. All of these things that feel ‘bad’ come up. Yet, some force keeps on bringing me to the noon class every day. Some light. Some knowing.

I believe every single thing in our lives is medicine. Every annoying person, every drug or person you are addicted to, every moment of weakness or conflict, is our medicine. It is our opportunity to grow and learn something about ourselves. It’s our opportunity to see our limitations and boundaries. If I imagined everything as a lesson, it made my life easier. So that is what I choose to do. I choose to see the lessons.

If you feel broken you have to believe in this light and good inside of you. It is your guiding light. Your power source. Your hope. You have to see the light and brave the darkness too.

I don’t know if you can hear that or feel that, but just imagine it for a moment. Nothing is blocking you, everything is there to show you something about yourself that you haven’t yet processed. Even the fucked up situations are your opportunity to see and listen. We are not dirty and broken or dark (even when we are we are not really). We are the way we are in this moment in time.

I used to go to yoga after late night bartending gigs. I could barely keep it together in class. My roots felt broken. Just like everyone else that feels broken in some way. Staring at my belly in yoga 12 years ago, hoping it was flat enough for boys to like me. I could never look at my face or my eyes. I would get too sad. Now I don’t think about flat bellies and dudes liking me in yoga. I think about myself liking me. That’s a big enough bite to chew on day to day. I think of myself as my own fucking soul mate. My own best friend. There is no rescuing happening from fantasy relationships. I befriend myself every morning and every night. I say how grateful I am. The years I lied to myself that everything is ok did not help me. Compassion and love helped me, but lying to myself did not help me.

I see now how everything in my life is showing up for a reason. It’s deeper than a flat belly and dudes thinking I’m worth the trouble. Which I can be, a handful for real. It’s deeper than thinking I’m right and you are wrong. Everything is an opportunity to meet the moment or walk the other way.

My heart is open to the idea that every aspect of my life needs some support and healing and feedback, and thank goodness for sobriety, for it is the magic root to take all that good shit in. I don’t drink these days and I don’t miss it. It just makes everything easier.

Building healthy roots would not have happened without periods of rest, detox and self-care. Like extreme self-care.  My sobriety, even the hours I was sober when I was at yoga over a decade ago, were times I was not adding more shit to my problems. Any opportunity to get grounded and solid helps. Every moment helps. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. Every minute I am healing, I help the world. Or at the very least, myself and the people around me.


Lana Lontos is a yoga and meditation instructor and a current student of psychotherapy at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto. She has been practicing yoga for over a decade and is fascinated by the mind-body connection. She is the founder of Big Tree Mind Health and Wellness Blog (www.bigtreemind.com) and is actively involved with The New Leaf Yoga Foundation in Toronto.

Lana organizes international yoga and meditation retreats, creates mindfulness manuals for teachers around the world is passionate about integrating yoga, mindfulness and meditation as a way to work with habit change and addictions. Currently, she is working on a Sustainable Shifts: Mindfulness and Meditation Workshop Series at Moksha Yoga Uptown which focuses on building healthy habits and relationships. The Paradox of Change: A mindfulness based approach workshop and guide. She is teaching a week long retreat in Mexico April 16th, 2017. For more information please contact lana@bigtreemind.com. Vimeo: www.vimeo.com/bigtreemind / Instagram: @bigtreemind / @lontos