As a Catholic Priest working in the field of Addiction and Addiction related ailments such as HIV AIDS, I have found the use of Yoga especially Iyengar Yoga the most effective component of the healing process. This method is now known as Kripa foundation Iyengar Yoga and is being used in over forty countries in treatment facilities.

The Kripa Model of Recovery is based on the self-help programme of the AA. This programme has two dimensions of healing the addict. The first is psycho-spiritual and the second psycho-social. These dimensions make the person find the common golden thread of faith and love in all the twelve steps. However, as St. Paul Said, “I know what is good and know what is bad; yet I end up by doing the bad that I hate”. Merely the study or understanding of recovery makes many get into a relapse-syndrome. This is mostly because the body

often does not respond to the sublime teachings of the Programme. As Jesus said. “the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.

Hence in Kripa, we introduced this element called the “Wisdom of the Body” as acknowledged by the Physician Dr. Walter Canon. This latent wisdom in the body can be explored in a manner that gives the person in recovery an experience of what in Yoga is called “cellular consciousness”. We all know that the body never tells lies. So often we claim to have faith and profess our faith with our lips and voice, however our bodies are expressing fear, anxiety depression and lack of Trust in God. For an addict this path to recovery through the Body becomes an experience of authentic sense of wellbeing. While it is well known that a runner gets what is called a “runner’s high”, in Yoga the creation of Nitric Oxide in the brain helps activate positive neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. In Yogic terms it is the “Ananda-maya Kosha” called the “Blissful Brain”.

The Harvard Medical School along with Dr. Herbert Benson has said in the Medical journal Lancet, “Yoga and Meditation can change a type A personality into a type B personality.” This is the goal of recovery from Addiction; not just staying away from the chemical of one’s choice but to have a change of life-style. The Eleventh step of the AA states, “sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, praying only for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out.” In Yoga, Meditation is the seventh limb called Dhyana. This method of mediation in Addiction recovery has been adopted from the WCCM (world community for Christian meditation). On the occasion of the silver Jubilee of this community founded by Dom John Main, the Benedictine Monk, we brought out a DVD “Yoga for the Practice of Christian Meditation. “The same has been circulated in over 120 countries through Medio Media, Singapore. This teaching of Dom John Main, was originally received by him from Swami Satyananda of Kuala Lumpur of the Pure Life Society. He later on based his practice on the teachings of the Fathers and Mothers of the Church especially John Cassian of the fourth century. All the centres of Kripa have this method of prayer along with the practice of Iyengar Yoga which helps to prepare the body for an authentic experience of healing.

As a Catholic Priest, I look up to Christ as my Supreme Yogi. Jesus said, “the Father and I am ONE” that is the meaning of the word “Yuj” from which Yoga is derived. And He prayed that we may be one as he and the father are one. It is said that the Addict lives in a world with a population of One- just himself or herself!  This causes a void and a sense of Loneliness.
Since Love is an I-Thou Relationship and since this is not available or perceived as such, the addict seeks a substitute. This substitute can be Alcohol, drugs, Sex, Gambling, Eating disorders, Pornography. While practicing the triple discipline of Yoga, starting with the Body, breath and then Meditation, the recovering person journeys from the periphery of the body to the centre.

Since one treats the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, one is able to reach that indwelling Spirit of the Risen Jesus in a very measurable way. In Iyengar Yoga the entire process brings about a “hypo-metabolic condition”. One slows down one’s breath, one’s heart beat and finally one’s brain waves. It is this recent research by a second generation WCCM meditator, Dr. Shanida Nataraja that has titled her book “The blissful Brain”. It is this measurability through the body, that made the scientists like Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical school affirm that our Brains/Bodies and “wired to God.” Hence this authenticity helps a person in addiction recovery to learn how to reverse the misguided thirst back to the original blessing.

Addiction is a frustrated thirst for God. We are born with a thirst for love/God. However according to Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, this thirst is satanically imploded into various kinds of addiction. Hence Dr. Jung said that addiction can only be healed by the formula, “Spiritus Contra Spiritum”. Viz. Only God’s Spirit can overcome the spirit (Alcohol). In Iyengar Yoga we reverse the urge of self-gratification with the practice of self-denial.   For Jesus said, “if you wish to be my Sadhaka (Disciple) Deny yourself take up your cross and follow me” In and through the body the addict is made to live the teaching that true discipleship is a matter of “denying one’s self”, taking up the cross of Reality and being faithful in following the programme one day at a time.

In the field of health and especially in the context of Healing Addiction the specific kind of scientific study and research on Iyengar Yoga is promising the Kripa Model of Recovery to become the most effective in the world.  This blend of Jungian insights and the Iyengar Yoga is now available in my co-authored book by Dr. Ashok Bedi the Jungian Analyst, “The Spiritual Paradox of Addiction”.

Fr. Joe Pereira,
Kripa Foundation

error: Content is protected !!