On today’s Episode of The SHAIR Podcast we have a very special Guest, Nikki Myers the founder of Y12SR the Yoga of 12 Step Recovery. Today Nikki celebrates 15 years clean and shares with us her amazing battle with addiction and inspirational journey into recovery. In this Episode we do a deep dive into relapse prevention that combines 12 step recovery with the practice of yoga, Nikki drops some serious value bomb all over this interview.
I’m also very excited to announce that from November 21 – 28 Nikki will be in here in Costa Rica. She is one of the guest speakers at Tommy Rosen’s 2015 Recovery 2.0 Thanksgiving Retreat right here in beautiful Nosara, Costa Rica. Nikki will be sharing her amazing story as well as an in-depth workshop on Codependency, this is what Nikki refers to as “The Disease of The Lost Self.” Nikki is just incredible and she has a very powerful message.
Nikki’s website www.y12sr.com The Yoga of 12 Step Recovery.
Tommy Rosen’s 2015 Recovery 2.0 Thanksgiving Retreat, Tommy Rosen is the founder of Recovery 2.0. You absolutely do not want to miss this episode with Nikki and I so join us now!
Here are Nikki’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer.
How old were you the first time you drank or used drugs and more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Nikki: I was like 13, but I would say 13 going on 32 you know. It was that kind of thing. It started with a drink and I lost all my inhibition. I closed down a lot due to some early childhood sexual stuff and some early childhood trauma, right. So trauma period and just living in the life and culture that I lived in. I’m an African American woman that lived in the United States and I was born in 1953. There’s a whole lot associated with that period and so when I drank, I felt free for a moment. I felt like I was able to get access to speech and actions. That’s how I felt. I always say it worked until it didn’t.
O: What was the first bottom that brought you into recovery?
Nikki: You know what, my very first bottom, bottom well it’s really strange how this worked out. I saw a friend that I had been drinking and drugging with for years. I saw her in Atlanta and she had found recovery and she told me about the program, about the 12 steps and all of that. I always considered myself a spiritual person and I said I am going to do this and I happened to be going to a church or a spiritual community and one of the things they would have you do is write a letter to God and I wrote this letter to God and I said “I can’t do this anymore.
I see where this is ruining my life. I can’t do this anymore”. And so seeing this friend I hadn’t seen in three years and how she was really doing well in recovery and one of the things she said to me was “if I can do this, you can do this” and that meant something to me. In December of that year, the church mailed the letter you had written the previous year and I got the letter back. Like I said, I always considered myself a spiritual person and I said “I’ve got to surrender” and on December 24, 1987 I checked myself into a rehab center.
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Nikki: Oh, you know, it was just the habit. I had a habit no doubt about it. I had a habit and I was in a mental place where I didn’t believe that I had a choice. I thought that I was going to die an addict and I always say my very first spiritual awakening was really the awakening that I had a choice, that there was a choice here, that there was another set of actions. There were some other things that I could do, that I had a choice. That was a biggie for me because I really, really believed that I had to die an addict.
At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that ‘aha’ moment in recovery where you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed a hope that you could recover?
Nikki: That moment when I realized that I had a choice in this matter and that it wasn’t just a matter of a mental choice, the action associated with that choice was surrender. It was almost the moment that I really got what that phrase ‘the biggest spiritual awakening’ was. I got what it meant to surrender to win. That was actually as a result of my first treatment and hearing information about the disease of addiction and being in a place where after having drugs and alcohol out of my body for a period of time there was a different level of being that opened up, that could hear and see and really be in life in a completely different level of understanding.
It really clicked in about that phrase, surrender to win. It was third step stuff that really opened things up in a whole new level because I never wanted to accept help. It was a sign of weakness to say that you needed something outside yourself or that you needed help or that you know you want to pull yourself up by the boots kind of person. Alright? So to be able to understand and feel at a very deep level that there’s something bigger than me. We talk about the program, a loving caring force that’s bigger than me that was really on my side, because not much had been on my side up to that point, and it’s all the steps. You can’t just stop at three and I know one, two and three are the foundation steps, but you can’t just stop there.
The analogy that we use in Y12SR is that as humans we’re a vessel and addiction turns our vessel upside down so I was in the water upside down for 34 years and then I make a decision and steps one, two and three helped turn that vessel right side up. They get right side up and then four through nine, I was in the water upside down for all those years. My vessel is full of shit! So I got to clean that vessel out and that’s what four through nine do. They clean that vessel out and prepare it for sail and then once I’ve cleaned it out, I got steps ten through twelve about sustaining that. Sometimes maintenance, I like to call it sustainability. It’s about making sure that I am an appropriate vessel to set sail on my spiritual voyage and so you work all the steps. Sometimes I see people that do the one, two and three and they find a sense of foundation, feel freedom, and then let go on the rest of them and that is not a way to sustain recovery. That’s my experience.
Do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to our listeners?
Nikki: I read a lot now. One of the first books that I read, actually my first treatment was a book by M. Scott Peck, which was called “The Road Less Traveled” and what it related to and I still have a really big fondness for that book. What it related to is that in our hearts all addicts are pretty spiritual beings. If there’s a spiritually, we’re not talking religious, but there is a spirituality there and so I love that book because it talks about that. One of the books that I’m reading right now that I love a lot is by a Franciscan priest. His name is Richard Rohr and the book is called “Breathing Under Water” and I love his perspective. He is a mystic and he is a 12 step practitioner and I love the way he talks about how in many cases what we’re addicted to is the way we think, that addiction really lays between our two ears. So those are the two that I’m thinking about right now.
What is the best suggestion you’ve ever received?
Nikki: You know, you hear this often with new comers, but I really, really got it after the second relapse and my sponsor said “come in the rooms, take a seat, just sit down and shut the ‘f’ up”. Old school, right, but that’s what I needed because I was all in my head. I was all in my intellect. I was all figuring things out. I had an answer for everything. I knew why I relapsed and all this kind of stuff . It was at that point in time, one of the best things that anybody has said to me. I’ve discovered there’s a principle underneath that for me: whenever I’m feeling anxious and whenever I’m feeling irritated, sometimes the answer is just to stop, go sit down, close my eyes and just shut up. That means for me to shut my mind down, just shut all the chatter. Just to go to someplace else and to shut it off. So it’s been some of the best advice at many levels that I’ve ever received.
If you could give our listeners only one suggestion, what would it be?
SUGGESTION’S FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“Keep coming back”
Nikki: Just coming back you know. There is a gift here and you said it in the very beginning. Through adversity you can find strength. Through darkness there is light. So I put one foot in front of the other, especially when times feel really rough. You put one foot in front of the other and just keep coming back and that means a lot to me in many ways. I keep coming back to the center and the practices that are necessary for me to be in a place of center. I keep coming back to connection. I keep coming back to the people that I know have my well being and heart. It’s the whole emphasis on keep coming back and what it means at many, many levels that I would just tell everyone, just keep coming back.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Nikki!
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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.