One of the issues many recovering addicts face is a fear of going outside their comfort zone. For example, 12 step programs work so well in many ways. The steps are designed to bring about a freedom from addiction and from the various issues that trigger it. The 12 step program provides a great mutual support system for people in recovery. The program becomes like a home or a family. The recovering addict feels safe there.
But even when recovering addicts are finding freedom in certain programs, like the 12 step program, there are often leftover addictions, self-esteem issues and relationship triggers that continue, sometimes even after years of being in the program. These issues can easily lead to relapse. It can be difficult or even scary to reach outside the comfort zone of one’s beloved program to find something that complements the program and helps deal with these remaining issues in a different way. We are creatures of habit and are often resistant to change, even when change may benefit us.
If you are someone in a 12 step program experiencing hesitation about trying Natural Rest for Addiction, let me assure you by telling you part of my background. When I first got clean and sober years ago, I was an avid 12 stepper. Some of my friends in the program dubbed me “The 12 Step Poster Child” because of my undying commitment to the program. I attended meetings virtually every day. I was involved in all sorts of service committees and sponsored many others. The 12 step program provided a solid foundation for my later development of Natural Rest for Addiction. I find the two programs not only compatible, but highly effective when used together. Today, we see many 12 steppers at the Kiloby Center for Recovery. Many of our online clients and facilitators have their roots in a 12 step program.
Natural Rest for Addiction, including the Living Inquiries, can easily complement and enhance 12 step and other programs very well. We find that most people feel no need to completely abandon the program with which they are currently involved (e.g., NA, AA, OA, etc). They can begin using Natural Rest and our Living Inquiries to untangle the remaining issues in order to deepen the recovery they are already finding in their programs.
Step one of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” Other 12 step programs contain similar first step wording. But it’s not always easy to admit our powerlessness and begin moving in the direction of a life without drugs or alcohol. Sometimes we just need a little help with that first step.
With the Compulsion Inquiry, which is one of the Living Inquiries, we speak to how will-power doesn’t work and then we provide an alternative that allows clients to stop trying to control their addictive behavior and relax into the powerlessness and surrender of the present moment. We help clients untangle the thoughts, emotions and sensations that arise the moment they feel an urge to reach for an addictive substance or activity. The Compulsion Inquiry assists clients to really experience life-changing powerlessness. The First Step can really come alive with the Compulsion Inquiry.
As recovering addicts climb through the steps, Step Four can be very challenging. Step Four says, “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” There is a tendency to get stuck there precisely because a personal inventory can bring up lots of uncomfortable feelings and thoughts about the past. And that word “fearless” can be a show stopper. How can one make a fearless personal inventory when such an inventory itself can bring up such fear? How does one move through that fear without getting stuck?
With the Living Inquiries, we approach this personal inventory in one of two ways: The Unfindable Inquiry and the Anxiety Inquiry. As the name suggests, the Anxiety Inquiry untangles the thoughts, emotions and sensations that are leading the addict to perceive a threat in their lives. As we guide the person through the inquiry, they cannot find a threat anywhere, after looking in all the thoughts, emotions and sensations. This untangling has a powerfully beneficial effect. It leads the person to experience that fearlessness called for by the Fourth Step.
The stories of the past that get unearthed in the Fourth Step are what we call “deficiency stories.” These are stories of lack. And lack is the fuel for addiction/relapse. Examples of deficiency stories are “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unworthy,” “I’m unlovable” or “I’m unsafe.” These stories are not really who we are. They are old scripts that the mind begins to believe at an early age. They are then carried over unconsciously into adulthood, where they fuel addictive tendencies as we reach outside ourselves to drugs and alcohol to medicate the painful emotions that accompany these mental stories. With the Unfindable Inquiry, facilitators of this work guide clients to see that the story is not who they really are. They literally can’t find that self who is unworthy, unsafe, unlovable or not good enough. In the release of that story, moving through to the next steps becomes much easier.
Natural Rest is easily applied to the other steps. For example, Step Eight says, “We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” We use something called the “Boomerang Inquiry” to release the stories of deficiency that caused the addict to harm others in his or her various relationships. The Boomerang Inquiry, by itself, has the power to naturally harmonize relationships so that making amends feels natural and authentic.
Perhaps, above all, the kind of presence work we do in Natural Rest is a way to deepen into one’s connection with a Higher Power. As we lose identification with the stories of lack or deficiency with the Unfindable Inquiry, we begin to rest in the present moment, into a deep and profound surrender. We feel more connected to our bodies, to others, to the world around us and to the present moment. We find a deep and radical acceptance of what is. We move beyond just thinking about a Higher Power and into grokking the realization of it with our whole being. We discover for ourselves a thorough and life-changing conscious contact through meditation, as the 11th step suggests.
If you are currently involved in a 12 step or other program and are looking for a way to complement your program and to push you a bit further into the freedom you really want in your life, consider trying Natural Rest. The Kiloby Center for Recovery LLC in Palm Springs, California is doing this kind of work daily with people coming into recovery for the first time as well as people who are already involved in 12 step programs or who have relapsed after being in 12 step programs and who need a big boost to their recovery program. After leaving the Kiloby Center, many of our clients attend 12 step groups and/or natural rest groups to find the follow up support they need.
If you still find yourself hesitant about adding Natural Rest for Addiction into your 12 step program, consider this: If you were diagnosed with cancer, wouldn’t you look for a variety of treatments and approaches that could help you? Wouldn’t you do anything to save yourself? Would you just do radiation or chemo or would you also research how your diet and lifestyle can be changed? Wouldn’t you also look into ways in which to mentally and emotionally deal with the diagnosis? And if you found additional ways to treat your cancer that really work, wouldn’t you add those to your regimen? When we care enough about ourselves to be truly free of addiction, we will go to great lengths to recover. Those great lengths may include moving beyond our comfort zone to find other programs and methods which are fully compatible with the 12 step program.
Scott Kiloby’s book, “Natural Rest for Addiction,” forms the basis for the Kiloby
Center for Recovery