Using The Work of Byron Katie in Residential Treatment for Alcoholism
The Early Days of 12 Step Recovery
Recovery from addiction began with one alcoholic, Bill W., talking to another alcoholic, Dr. Bob, May 13, 1935, in Akron, Ohio. We continue sharing experience, strength and hope with each other, one day at a time, and hopefully, we continue growing and changing. The 12 Step Literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Al-Anon, etc., are treasure troves of this recovery design for living. AA and other 12 Step program’s General Service Conference-approved literature reflect the group conscience of the Fellowship of the individual 12 Step programs. This is where the program of recovery, and how to live it is spelled out precisely.
Alcoholism and other forms of addiction became to be understood as a malady of body, mind and spirit. Ongoing sobriety is described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as “a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition”.
Therefore, spiritual exploration, development, and practice are important in healing from addiction and finding ongoing peace of mind in continued sobriety.
Other Sources for Spiritual Guidance in Recovery
Traditional Spiritual Scriptures
In addition to AA’s and other 12 Step groups conference approved books, there are countless other valuable texts. The world is full of literature and writings from other sources and languages that recovering people use daily. These ‘adjuncts’ to 12 Step Literature prove to be invaluable for many, including this writer. All of the spiritual traditions have scriptures containing spiritual truths. Christianity, Zen, other forms of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and so on, can teach us how to live without suffering. In the spiritual sessions at Serenity Vista Addiction Recovery Retreat, we often use various scriptures for explorations in spiritual growth.
The ‘Gurus’ or Teachers
In the same way that Traditional Scriptures provide literature and teaching, there are also countless ‘independent gurus’ or spiritual teacher/guides. These guides, living or dead provide direction and inspiration for the spiritual seeker. We introduce to our guests at Serenity Vista a variety of these teachers. Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Rumi, Adyashanti, and Abraham Hicks. As an example, Wayne Dyer is awesome and sweet, he is gentle, easy to understand, watch and listen to. Dr. Dyer resonates with most everyone watching his films, of which we have three. You Can Heal Your Life, The Secret, What the Bleep Do We Know, and Poet of the Heart are just other film examples that engage and tantalize the imagination and hearts of our guests.
Using Byron Katie’s The Work in Drug/Alcohol Treatment
New to our pantheon of spiritual teachers at Serenity Vista is Byron Katie’s The Work. The Work has come into our awareness here at Serenity Vista like a laser-sharp beam. Not all guests are ready for this focus, but some are. Byron Katie’s The Work stands alone and apart from our regular spiritual teachers. The Work of Byron Katie is not an easy or soft way. It works like a compassionate scalpel.
Who is Byron Katie?
I’ve gathered Byron Katie’s story from listening to hundreds of her videos and audiobooks. From her website (http://thework.com/en/about-byron-katie):
Byron Katie became severely depressed in her early thirties. For almost a decade she spiraled down into rage, self-loathing, and constant thoughts of suicide. For the last two years she was often unable to leave her bedroom. Then one morning in February 1986, she experienced a life-changing realization. There are various names for an experience like this. Katie calls it “waking up to reality.”
In that instant, she says,
“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
That is the very short version of Katie’s (as she is generally called) story. Katie is very open regarding her early membership in a 12 Step Program. In her earlier tapes and videos, it is easy to pick up on her 12 Step references. That is if you already have an ear for them.
90 Day Programs Allow Time to do The Work
Many of our guests of Serenity Vista who stay the full 90 days will complete a thorough Step 4 and 5. These 2 steps are a sweet dovetailing of The Work. Within Step 5, The Work of Byron Katie can be used on stubborn resentments. It is sharp and can be very quick.
What makes Serenity Vista a Different Kind of Alcohol & Other Drug Rehab?
Serenity Vista is a different type of addiction treatment center. It is different because it has a holistic offering with an eclectic, yet very carefully coordinated complement of therapies. Spiritual exploration and development (not ‘religious’) are important aspects of the program. A wide variety of spiritual teachers are introduced, including Byron Katie.
Each guest has their program designed specifically for their needs, their learning style, their personality. Daily nature walks, canine companionship, exotic and delicious fruits and other fresh colorful foods, yoga several times a week, massage, horseback riding, and more.
Comprehensive therapies addressing all areas of a person’s life serve to uncover hidden resentments, beliefs, and motives. Three 12 Step Meetings a week to facilitate fellowship and identification. The guests learn from other AA members how they stay sober, one day at a time. Sometimes guests have previously made a decision that the 12 Step programs are ‘not for them’. These guests still enjoy learning from ‘the experts’ on how to live sober.
Because the program offers compassion empathy, love, and understanding, guests display a willingness for challenge. Accepting this challenge, the guests are therefore stepping always just a little bit past their comfort zone. Which is a good thing, because that is where the healing happens.
Byron Katie understands depression, addiction, and challenge. Furthermore, Katie is a beautiful woman inside and out, resonating with a power greater than ourselves. She is continuing to dedicate her life to others. Consequently, her tireless persistence in carrying the message of hope is helping alleviate suffering in the world. In fact, this is done one thought at a time. The Work is “4 questions and a turnaround”. Simple, but not really easy. Byron Katie helps us learn how to question our thoughts. Wayne Dyer says,
Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.
Byron Katie’s The Work offers a way to make that change, and then thereby incorporate it into one’s recovery. Serenity Vista has a dozen or so of Byron Katie’s DVDs in the film library.