One cos­mic day

Think of your re­cov­ery as a road trip in which you can’t see your fi­nal des­ti­na­tion, only the stretch of road ahead.

Living Now - - Contents - by Jost Sauer

One main­stream re­cov­ery con­cept I do like is liv­ing one day at a time. Make it a day aligned with the chi cy­cle and then re­peat it as many times as pos­si­ble for the rest of your life. As you’ve prob­a­bly no­ticed by now, align­ment will en­tail ma­jor change from a day in the old drug life­style. So don’t jump up at the crack of dawn the day af­ter quit­ting drugs and then try to align your en­tire life with the chi-cy­cle.

Just get­ting out of bed might be a ma­jor chal­lenge, so fo­cus on nu­tri­ent ther­apy first and work to­wards hav­ing three nu­tri­tious meals a day. Take lit­tle steps to­wards es­tab­lish­ing parts of the rou­tine when you can. For ex­am­ple, you could be­gin do­ing some gen­tle ex­er­cises or tai-chi later in the day when you feel more up to it, rather than early in the morn­ing. Once you get a rhythm es­tab­lished, then move to­wards align­ment.

Have a no-rule day once a week, so that you don’t feel trapped by rou­tine. Sleep in, eat what­ever you want, break the rou­tine, but al­ways in a way in which you are able to ‘re­turn’ the fol­low­ing morn­ing (so no forty-eight hour drug or booze ben­ders). Over time your no-rule day ac­tiv­i­ties will be­come milder (6 am is a sleep-in for me now). The more chi you build, the more your sense of pur­pose and hap­pi­ness in­creases. You’ll start want­ing more of that and will nat­u­rally avoid ac­tiv­i­ties that have a neg­a­tive im­pact on this. Live one mys­ti­cal chi-cy­cle day at a time

Stick with the pro­gram

Your mind will prob­a­bly still be in ‘enemy of Dao’ mode when you be­gin your life­style shift. You won’t be­lieve how many ex­cuses it will come up with for stay­ing in bed or skip­ping break­fast or gen­er­ally avoid­ing the process of find­ing your cos­mic self. Time and time again I see peo­ple quit drugs, take up the chi cy­cle, be­gin to feel change and then sud­denly re­ject it. They tell me it’s not for them or the tai-chi teacher was a loser, the gym sucked or ev­ery­one in the health food store was a weirdo, or they find some other rea­son to give in to the old ac­quired habits. This is a nor­mal part of the process, and every time you make your­self get back on path you build your willpower and chi.

Peo­ple around you are not go­ing to be liv­ing with the chi cy­cle ei­ther, so keep in mind that you’ll have to overcome not only your own re­sis­tance, but also so­cial pres­sure. Long be­fore I knew about chi, I’d re­alised that I needed a tightly sched­uled health-fo­cused life­style just to stay sane and func­tional. So I re­fused to ever shift from my rou­tine for any­thing. This cre­ated on­go­ing fric­tion with fam­ily and friends. I was ac­cused of be­ing a fit­ness freak, of be­ing antisocial or dif­fi­cult. Un­be­liev­ably, one close rel­a­tive who’d spent years telling me what a drugged-out loser I was, ac­tu­ally told me that I was more fun on drugs.

But af­ter I quit drugs I sim­ply couldn’t af­ford to fol­low the ran­dom life­style of the nor­mal world. No ex-user can – ever. We need to live in a very dif­fer­ent way. I wasn’t able to ex­plain any of that back then though, so all I could do was say ‘no’. Turns out I got that right. Even back in an­cient times, the Daoist sages saw how dam­ag­ing try­ing to fit in with so­cial ex­pec­ta­tions could be to an in­di­vid­ual’s health and hap­pi­ness. Their so­lu­tion was to say ‘no’. This is con­sid­ered to be one of the most pow­er­ful ways to build chi. Since you’ve bro­ken all the rules al­ready, you are in a great po­si­tion to say ‘no’ to so­cial ex­pec­ta­tions that will make it im­pos­si­ble or dif­fi­cult for you to stick to your chi- build­ing life­style.

While you’re at it, say ‘no’ to the things that make you want to do drugs too. Try not to watch movies or lis­ten to mu­sic that makes drug use look cool and fun. This is tricky, as pop­u­lar cul­ture is sat­u­rated with drug ref­er­ences, but do your best. Don’t hang out with your drug-us­ing par­ty­ing friends, or let them crash at your place, while you are frag­ile and prone to re­lapse.

Try say­ing ‘no’ to neg­a­tive thoughts too. It will be tempt­ing to be­come fix­ated on what is wrong with ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one around you af­ter you quit, but this is due to in­ter­nal or­gan im­bal­ances; it’s not an ac­cu­rate read­ing of the world. Counter this neg­a­tive pull by seek­ing pos­i­tive in­put of any sort that re­in­forces the idea of achieve­ment through move­ment. Read or watch in­spir­ing sto­ries about peo­ple – sports stars, artists, ac­tivists – who achieve against the odds. Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the power of this ma­te­rial and go for any­thing that works for you.

When I was go­ing through the worst of my post-drug de­pres­sion I used

to watch the early Rocky movies. Rocky lived in a world of phys­i­cal and emo­tional pain, and he faced re­sis­tance on every front, but he kept fight­ing. His drive to keep mov­ing for­ward helped me hang on to that at­ti­tude in the face of my own over­whelm­ing de­sire to give in. No one could un­der­stand why I kept watch­ing those movies, but they didn’t wake up each morn­ing and im­me­di­ately think of dy­ing.

Ev­ery­one will have opin­ions on how you should be liv­ing and what you should be do­ing af­ter drugs. But the more you align with the chi cy­cle and the more chi prac­tice you do, the less in­flu­ence this will have on you. In the Dao De Ching, Lao-tzu states that you don’t need gov­er­nance if you know the way from within. Chi-cy­cle align­ment pro­vides a set of guide­lines to live by. It har­monises you with nat­u­ral rather than man-made laws and, as a re­sult, you will al­ways act in a man­ner that is ben­e­fi­cial to your­self and oth­ers. Say­ing ‘no’ is one of the most pow­er­ful ways to build chi

Ev­ery­one’s a win­ner

An aligned chi-build­ing life­style is a win-win so­lu­tion for ev­ery­one. It is well worth the rel­a­tively small dis­com­forts of ris­ing early and re­peat­ing a rou­tine. And re­ally, if you ever want to feel more than nor­mal again, there are no other vi­able post-drug life­style op­tions. The fun drugs have run their course; we’ve es­tab­lished that you can’t go ‘back to nor­mal’; just be­ing healthy and fit isn’t enough and the other op­tion, of be­ing med­i­cated for the rest of your life on non-fun drugs, is just as bad as be­ing on recre­ational drugs (and you don’t even get the highs).

But if ev­ery­thing you do, from get­ting up in the morn­ing to go­ing to bed at night, con­trib­utes to build­ing chi, then ev­ery­thing feels a lit­tle more ex­tra­or­di­nary every day. You will even­tu­ally start look­ing for­ward to the next day to con­tinue this long slow high. So take it day by day.

Think of your re­cov­ery as a road trip in which you can’t see your fi­nal des­ti­na­tion, only the stretch of road ahead. Just as each sec­tion you travel re­veals the next, each time you take the cos­mic op­tion to build chi – re­gard­less of how small or in­signif­i­cant it might seem – it will in­tro­duce a pos­si­bil­ity, evoke a feel­ing, and con­nect you to some­thing or some­one. Every move­ment cre­ates an­other, and all sorts of pos­si­bil­i­ties open up. Ex­tra­or­di­nary lives un­fold one day at a time

Hap­pily ever af­ter drugs

Be­gin this jour­ney by re­think­ing your past from the per­spec­tive of ev­ery­thing you got right, in­clud­ing: pri­ori­tis­ing your in­ner state, want­ing to es­cape re­al­ity, ex­plor­ing the mys­ti­cal, re­ject­ing so­cial false­ness, tran­scend­ing lim­its, feel­ing en­hanced and chas­ing your dreams. Then use chi as the medium to find your cos­mic self.

Start your re­vi­sion of your past from the sec­ond time you took drugs. My the­ory is that no one knows what’s go­ing to hap­pen the first time; it’s when you de­lib­er­ately at­tempt to re­cap­ture what did hap­pen, that it gets in­ter­est­ing. You might think you re­peated drugs just for fun or ‘ for laughs’, but when clients tell me that, I al­ways point out that there are amuse­ment parks for fun.

These are much cheaper than drugs and re­move the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting ad­dicted and ru­in­ing peo­ple’s wed­dings (yep, did that) or par­tic­i­pat­ing in il­le­gal fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties (yes again). For laughs, there are jokes or the op­tion of chuck­ling away with your friends in front of sit­coms. But it’s not quite the same, is it? If it was, you wouldn’t be read­ing this book.

Af­ter decades in this busi­ness, I be­lieve that the de­sire to re­peat drug ex­pe­ri­ences comes from a long­ing for mys­ti­cal con­nec­tion. Ac­cord­ingly, the term ‘recre­ational’ is mis­lead­ing; con­trary to pop­u­lar opin­ion this is se­ri­ous busi­ness that you have been en­gaged in. We are all fa­mil­iar with that clichéd movie scene in which a char­ac­ter takes a mind-al­ter­ing sub­stance and, sud­denly see­ing the non-or­di­nary world open up in front of them, gazes around with an awestruck ex­pres­sion say­ing, ‘ Un­real, man’. This is sup­posed to be com­edy, but when you are high and see the uni­verse ex­pand, or love ev­ery­one un­con­di­tion­ally, or are able to lis­ten to some­one ram­bling on about noth­ing and be present, say­ing ‘real, man’ would be more ap­pro­pri­ate, be­cause some­thing about your true cos­mic na­ture has been re­vealed.

What ev­ery­one thinks of as un­real – the mys­ti­cal world, the one con­cerned with destiny and spirit and soul – is the per­ma­nent one. What ev­ery­one ac­cepts as be­ing real – the ma­te­rial world – is, in fact, tem­po­rary. It is when we find our­selves believ­ing that the ac­quired world and our jobs and end­less emo­tional dra­mas con­sti­tute the full ex­tent of re­al­ity, that we should look around and say, ‘ Un­real, man’.

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