12 Steps to Samadhi...for those on the Yoga Path
Updated: Oct 5
I love the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for a template to use for self study. l I believe they are a guide to becoming centered as a human being. The core themes that appear are those of honesty, faith, surrendering to a higher power, acceptance, forgiveness, service to others and the encouragement to follow a vein of spirituality. In many ways the steps parallel the journey of the yoga path through the eight limbs and kriya yoga.
One day, I was standing gazing a an insanely gorgeous sunset from my parents deck in Grand Junction and out of nowhere I began to write out these steps for people on the path of yoga. I have kept them to myself for many years. I recently read these steps out loud for the first time with a group of yogis in recovery and was encouraged to share them publicly.
Here they are and as we suggest a lot on this recovery path...take what you need and leave the rest. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!
Step 1: When we are triggered or feel powerless by a situation that usually involves another human being and we are flooded physically with uncomfortable feelings or rasas we become fully aware that our emotions are about to become unmanageable. We touch the ground, feel safe and solid knowing our feet are under us. We surrender these reactions to our breath so that we can pause and respond, practicing ahimsa rather than reacting and causing harm.
Step 2: We come to believe that the power of our breath will restore us to sanity. And as we breathe, inhaling and exhaling long, smooth breaths, we begin to feel calmer in our prakriti and we awaken to the feeling that in our breath lives purusha, or our higher power.
Step 3: We make a decision to use this deep breathing as a way to ground ourselves into the present moment where we are able to allow our higher power to show us that we really can care for the Self, we can Self-regulate and Self-soothe. And we say: Everything is ok, we are safe and the higher power of our understanding has a plan for our life.
Step 4: Once we are present, we are able to practice self awareness through svadhyaha and look at our parts in the unmanageable situations in our lives. We write out the story of our reactions seeing them as teachers that have given us the gift of learning. We trace back in time habitual reactions or samskaras and inventory them to look for a constant theme. We are fearless in our inventory and draw upon the breath to stay steady and grounded.
Step 5: We speak truthfully , satya, the constant themes and samskaras to ourselves, to our higher power and to another yogin. We feel seen, we feel heard and feel loved. We breathe in this love and let go of the grip of the stories of our lives.
Step 6: We become entirely clear with the reactive themes and stories. We let ourselves move and enjoy vitality in our beings. We become willing to release these samskaras to the breath, to the higher power so that we can remember the truth of who we are.
Step 7: We are humbled at our ability to pause, to stay present and to not get hijacked by our emotional shortcomings. We recognize the power of the Self and allow ourselves to be guided by this realization.
Step 8: We look at ourselves and ask ourselves if we have harmed people with our reactions. We make a list of those we harmed and become willing to make these situations peaceful. We remind ourselves that we did not know how to access our calming breath and we now know in this present moment the Self is wise and knowing.
Step 9: We make amends to ourselves first by having a daily practice or sadhana. We acknowledge in our practice that we need to stay aware of all the nuances and fluctuations of our rasas. We accept our emotions and our innate goodness. We live fully in the present moment with changed behavior. The people in our lives begin to see our inner peace and we become living amends to all.
Step 10: We continue to practice Self Study or svadhyaha daily. We stay awake in the present moment of each day, discerning truth from non truth and we access inner guidance and knowing. We choose compassionate words towards ourselves and others and when we are neglectful we admit this in the day so that we do not bring these riotous rasas into the night.
Step 11: We pray and we meditate. When we are quiet, we feel the breath of power moving within us. We deepen our conscious connection to the Higher Power, the Divine and experience fullness of the universal presence as the dynamic reality of our lives. and we space with others who are suffering. We remember the words of a great teacher: Inhale, and Divine approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and Divine remains with you. Exhale, and you approach the Divine. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to Divine.
Step 12: Having had awakenings of consciousness throughout these 12 steps we experience profound connection with the higher Self. We glimpse moments of samadhi. We practice the principles of the yamas and niamas in all our interactions. We become clear channels, our awareness of the breath of power propels us in to a life of service holding sacred space with others who are suffering. We are prepared to carry the message of truth out into the world and support the awakening of others to their true identity of wholeness