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Today we have Herby Bell joining us on The SHAIR Podcast. Herby is a recovery and wellness coach and you can find Herby at his website, recoveryhealthcare.me and he also has a podcast called Sober Conversations.
“First and foremost, a sober/wellness lifestyle is the only way to go. I know this because I am a man in long-term addiction recovery and I have experienced firsthand, the destructive forces of active addiction personally and in my family. But also, there’s a true, transformational gift in addiction recovery that seems to elude us–until we commit 100%. Commitment includes recruiting help, and I can help.
Addiction affects three out of four of our families and I am comforted in knowing I am joined by many others who are looking to heal themselves–and their families. If you are one of these people, thank you for looking into this work!”
– Dr. Herby Bell
Clean Date: May 2, 1994
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Omar: Herby, let’s dive right in. First, tell us a little bit about what your daily routine is like and how you incorporate recovery in the mix?
Herby: It’s my experience. I love to talk about the experiment of one. The scientific term is n equals one, and the test is me. My experiment of one taught me in recovery that I need to be eating well, I need to be moving well, I need to get exercise. I need to be thinking well, some kind of cognitive or psychological process. I need to work on my emotional intelligence and I need to be sleeping well. I like to call those the high five essential nutrients for my mind, body, spirit. Those things get wrapped into my day on a daily basis. Otherwise, I do get hungry, angry, lonely and tired, right?
Herby: I think it’s different for everybody that way, but those are the basics that generate the good brain chemicals that we need as recovering people to be stoked, and that’s what we want.
Omar: Absolutely. I agree a hundred percent. What about meanings? Do you participate in any twelve-step fellowship?
Herby: I go to twelve-step meetings periodically. I’ve got my favorites. I go to a men’s group regularly and I go to the Church of the Pacific with my surfing practice regularly and I seem to get those vitamins and nutrients I need that way as well.
Omar: Beautiful, beautiful. How do you maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact with a higher power on a daily basis?
Herby: I have a meditation practice and that surely helps if I’m spiritually discontent, that I know I haven’t been quiet. Surfing is a huge spiritual practice for me, and to tell you the truth, the way that we do, it seems to me with twenty-first century brain science and addiction medicine, we know that people in long-term recovery actually rewrite the architecture of their brain. They rewrite the way the brain works. I don’t really make too many distinctions about what is spiritual and what isn’t. It all seems to be a spiritual experience to me, and I’m completely grateful for that. Do you know The Course in Miracles or A Course in Miracles?
Herby: You’re familiar with the idea that there are no special relationships? Everything in creation and in the universe is sacred.
Omar: I’ve heard of the book. I have not read the book, but I can concur with that whole philosophy. I also believe in the ideology that we are all one, and we are all connected to a source or a higher power. I do have that same belief system.
Herby: Yeah, I love that. It’s so fun. It’s like a bouquet of flowers, all inimitably beautiful but all looking a little bit different around the same idea.
Omar: To me, because there’s so many cultures, there’s so many countries, there’s so much diversity that with all these different religions, we’re all really praying to the same God. It’s just through different glasses or just through different perspectives. That’s just basically my belief system.
Herby: I’m right with you. I align seamlessly with those words, and I also have come to understand that atheism or any expression of deep understanding or deep ontology or ontological process has parity with all others. In other words, an atheist doesn’t really subscribe to organized religion but most I’ve met are very thoughtful and look at nature as something really extraordinary or however they do look at it. It’s all good. It’s all God, as far as I’m concerned.
Omar: Awesome, awesome. I agree. Herby, so tell me, how much clean time do you have and when is your anniversary date?
Herby: May 2nd, so twenty-two years this last, just a couple of weeks ago, I guess, or a month ago.
Omar: Yeah. We’re just exactly a month ago today, May 2nd is, you celebrated twenty-two years. That is a huge milestone. I just celebrated thirteen years on the 26th, so May seems to have a lot of anniversaries. I thought that was interesting. I interviewed quite a few people this year that had a May anniversary. I’m not quite sure what the significance is behind that but that’s the way it worked out.
Herby: Yeah. I think that’s really interesting when we do share our stories and I’m sure you’ve got a story why that time is significant for you. I certainly do. It’s different for everybody but I love the idea that April, May, spring-time, lots happened, April and May in my life with respect to some history that I was running from. I think it’s very important, these birthdays, that we anchor in perpetuity, right?
Omar: Number one, when you first got introduced to recovery, what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean?
Herby: When I was first introduced, I think it was just not sticking with structure. I was terminally unique, “I got this,” and I didn’t have the brain map. The way that the brain works, there is an expression that says that the neurons that fire together wire together, so I wasn’t disciplined enough to stick with it one day at a time because I didn’t have the payoff yet. That’s what mastery takes. I like to think of addiction recovery as a practice in mastery. Time in, time out, time in, time out and then time in, I would have regiments like going to three AA meetings a day when I could around my work, and I would have a sponsor and do the steps and really take a look. Discipline really, really worked for me in early recovery and I think that’s what the twelve-step process can do for one. It’s not the only process, but there’s none better.
Omar: At what point did you have your first spiritual awakening, that aha moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time, developed the hope that you could recover?
Herby: I think it was I was sitting in front of a psycho-therapeutic type and going in with my three-piece suit on and those shirts, we wore them as the doctor of chiropractic, thinking I was above it all. The psychotherapy guy sat down with me and looked me in the eye and said, “You know, Herby, you are just so full of shit.” It was the most beautiful thing that … I get tears in my eyes now because he meant it compassionately. He meant it to say, “Son, you’ve really got to get this. I really care about you.” Not, “You’re an asshole.” That too, but … It was just this rude awakening that, “Somebody sees me. Somebody really sees me and I can depend upon something like that.” Maybe that’s not what you were looking for, but that led to more and more opening and just the verve and joy of life and really seeing my entire life as a spiritual experience, just happened to be in this skin called Herby.
Omar: Do you have any books or favorite books you could recommend to our newcomers?
Herby: The early recovery literature’s fantastic, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Reading the stories is a wonderful way to see that there are other people who have had your experience. Just follow your heart on that. I think reading is a beautiful thing to do for the intellect too.
Omar: Absolutely. What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Herby: The best suggestion I have ever received, I think, it was from my dad. That was, “Live through to your heart, son. Live by your heart and true to your heart.” “To thine own heart be true,” right?
Omar: Yes. If you could give our listeners only one suggestion, what would that be?
Herby: I love the expression, I read somewhere recently that we don’t get real until our hair is mostly lopped off and our eyes are sinking into our head, we don’t get real. Every opportunity you have, just celebrate just exactly who you are because that’s exactly why you were born, and then more will be revealed. More along this line of being true to your heart, but it is just so powerful. Then all kinds of information will come to you if you’re not pretending you’re somebody else.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Celebrate just exactly who you are because that’s exactly why you were born.”
Omar: Herby, before we close up, tell us the best way that we can reach you, your website, your social media and the best way for us to find you?
Herby: You can find me at recoveryhealthcare.me, and that’s all one word, recoveryhealthcare.me. My Twitter handle is @herbybell or you can call me, 650 474 9411. I love the expression that all new beginnings start with a great conversation.
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Herby!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.