Updated: Apr 19, 2020
I was a few months sober when I signed up for a 3-day NLP course (neuro-linguistic programming). I felt my brain had slowly gained some of its muscle power back and I wanted to feed it with new and useful knowledge. One of the topics covered in the course was hypnosis, and the teacher, Claude Webster, got my attention as I volunteered to be hypnotised in front of the group. I liked NLP but got really hooked on hypnosis. As I always like to try things before investing significant $$ in courses, I went into hypnotherapy sessions with Claude, to test out the approach.
When you first become sober, it’s like a new world, you rediscover everything, without the numbness, and all your senses are waking up… until the issues that made you drink in the first place and the ones you created along the way, start showing up again. You then end up with one big onion to peel.
That session came at exactly the time issues had started to come back up again and I was floored by the experience. It’s as if a veil had been lifted from my heart and I could suddenly see issues and challenges clearly.
And another bizarre thing was happening: every time I left the hypnotherapy sessions, I felt like having a glass of wine. My response to that feeling was always a question: "Tell me, Janylene, this is the glass of what"? My answer in this case: "It's the glass of celebration, feeling that I am progressing." Now that I think about it, it might have been a sabotage glass as well, but I stood strong and the idea of taking up again with my Red friend in a bottle would vanish shortly after I had answered my question.
Those two months of hypnotherapy helped me peel away big layers of my onion. There were things I had tried for decades to solve, that got resolved in a few sessions. I was in a storm and trying to sail out of the chaos, that was the metaphore we used to bring me to the shore.
I knew then I would become an hypnotherapist one day, that I would want to give back the gift I received, but I had no clue it would become a reality two years later. Claude is an artist in his field, I owe him a lot, he made all the rest possible. My emotional roller coaster started to stabilise, which gave me a restful place from which to continue my quest and my journey.
As you can tell, I was very open to trying different things to feel better and one of them was Bach flower remedies. I had heard my aunt talk about their power when I was very young (when she was herself in recovery) and it had stayed somewhere in my brain. I did some research and booked an appointment at Spa Vert, where I filled out a questionnaire. We concluded that I had anxiety about aging alone. Believe it or not, I drank a mixture of flower essences in a water bottle every day for a couple weeks and that fear totally vanished. To this day, it is still the oddest thing and I cannot figure it out, but it worked: that anxiety, the palpitations, etc, are totally gone!! In proportion to the scale of all my issues, this one was a grain of sand, but it is, nevertheless, one thing less I carry with me now.
If I really think about it, when I was still going out with MRFIB (my Red friend…), I had already started building muscles for my Home-Based Therapy. The Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas happened exactly two weeks before my life was going to take a major toll. I had told my good friend and soul sister Josee Ishrawi Marcoux (Ayurvedic doctor, nutritionist, yoga instructor) that I was really tired and that I needed a vacation, and she proposed I sign up for a yoga vacation at the Ashram. It was by a fluke that Josee had ended up spending a few days at my place, and I can see now that that is when she really planted the first seeds to my sobriety, which would materialise a year later.
I had never done yoga in my life, nor had I ever meditated, nor was I a vegetarian, but here I was, signing up for a retreat with no wine, no meat, four hours of yoga a day and two hours of meditation. The thing that really stood out, is that I did not miss wine. I was totally out of my comfort zone, but I did not miss my wine.
I felt connected. I felt the goodness of the people around me, I discovered I had a body that was far more capable than I thought, I was opening up to my spiritual being, I was discovering breathing like I had never done before, I was at peace. I came back elevated, but more than anything, I had started to create a new set of beliefs: I could live without wine, I could feel connection with others, I was able to stabilize my energy (the vegetarian diet and eating twice a day was amazing for keeping my energy levels stable and not have peaks and valleys all day).
Coming back, I kept the Ashram routine and diet for a good six months, which created new habits and helped me a lot to recover because I learned how much of a difference choosing the right foods makes. Later on, I would go for short stays at the Ashram in Val Morin, which always proved to be a great ally of my sobriety.
A big part of my home-based therapy was simply walking. I was covering 60- to 70 kilometers a week. This free, available-everywhere-and-anytime therapy still does wonders for me. While walking, instead of spinning thoughts in my head and giving the monkey mind too much space, I would listen to podcasts of recovered addicts and other experts, like Rich Roll’s podcast, Tim Ferriss, The bubble hour, Brian Rose of London Real, Dr. Gabor Mate’s interviews and my favorite was to listen to the the Bhagavad Gita, A walkthrough for westerners audio book by Jack Hawley. They all made for many miles of learning, integrating, absorbing and feeling better physically and mentally.
I felt I had created a little universe of my own, a safe place, and everyday I felt better -- not always for long or for the whole day, but every day I knew I was moving towards a better life. I had no clue what this life would be to be honest, but, slowly, the fog was dissipating.
The next step was going to last 6 to 8 months and I will talk about it in Part 3 of this Home-Based Therapy series but here's a preview: it was really doing nothing, just letting all the learning sink in, and 240 straight days of Kirtan Kriya meditation.
Janylène Turcotte, Certified Hypnotherapist
CRHA, ACC, C. Hyp, RTT
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I am naming professionals in this article because of their contributions to my recovery. They have not asked me for this, nor I have received compensation in exchange for talking about them - they just deserve it. I am grateful towards them because they are good at what they do and they make a difference in people’s lives.