Paskel: Everyone is an addict
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on April 15, 2014. Posted with permission.
Yogi Eric Paskel startled me when he said, “Everyone is an addict.”
My defenses began to rise.
He explained that addiction is a fixation on anything outside the self that you believe can deliver your happiness. Anything. Drugs and alcohol are givens. But he also included romantic relationships, clothes, cars, money, prestige, jobs, adventure, and excitement.
These enticements are cunning, baffling and powerful, and no one can escape this definitional dragnet.
“So much time is wasted worrying about marriage, jobs and money. When people lose these things, they act like their worlds are destroyed. That’s no way for a human to live,” Paskel said.
“We continue to smash our heads against the wall because our happiness is dependent on some external agency,” he said.
This is the hallmark of addiction. It’s clinging dependency despite negative or even catastrophic consequences.
Paskel spoke from experience. Like everyone, he has a story.
He said he knew from childhood that he was destined to become an addict. He was never comfortable in his own skin, and he never felt part of the world. This made it easy to pick up the booze at age ten. He was getting high at age 12. By 14, he was snorting cocaine. By 15, he was dealing drugs and smoking crack. He was thrown out of two high schools and the family home, and he had been held up at gunpoint.
Thirty-two days before his eighteenth birthday, he was living in a friend’s attic, listening to Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman and filling a pipe with lint picked from the carpet. He caught a glimpse of his shadow on the wall.
This was his bottom.
He entered treatment on January 24, 1986. He’s been sober ever since.
At 46-years-old, he is the founder of Yoga Shelter with studios in Michigan and Los Angeles. His brand is aptly named as it’s intended to be a shelter from the BS.
He learned ten years into his sobriety that yoga was going to be essential in his ongoing recovery because as soon as he stepped to the mat, he couldn’t hide from himself anymore. So he didn’t come back for three years.
Yoga offers a spiritual roadmap to find your individual truth, he said. And that isn’t always comfortable.
Yoga and recovery are spiritual kin. The practice of Karma Yoga, recognition of actions and consequences; Bhakti Yoga, the devotion to a higher power, a connection to the divine and universal abundance; and Jnana Yoga practice, the submersion in reality, filling our heads with the greater principles of living and nobler intentions – these yogic traditions are the heart of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
Paskel doesn’t pull punches, and he keeps it real: “Yoga is not about poses or poseurs. It’s not about trying to master a physical position. No matter how beautiful your warrior is, it doesn’t make you a warrior. Yoga is not standing on your head; it’s getting your head out of your ass.”
Eric Paskel will be visiting Ruby and Pearls in Ft. Myers for a three-part weekend workshop, “Rock and Flow,”on April 18 and 19. It’s a combo of bootcamp, dance party and group therapy. Visit RubyandPearls.com for more information. Stop by Paskel’s website: www.yogashelter.com.