Saturday, June 2, 2012

Life does get better without Tobacco

World No-Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on May 31st. It is meant to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption across the globe. The day is further intended to draw global attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and its negative health effects, which currently lead to 5.4 million deaths worldwide annually.

At SHAFA, we celebrated this day by having a debate session on the topic, Does Life get better without Tobacco?” in which the participants, comprising of staff and residents, came out with the following conclusions:

"So go ahead and make your quit plan - you can do it!" - Ravi Ji, Project Manager.
"In your tobacco-free life, you can look forward to fewer coughs, colds, sore throats, and easier breathing (within days!), as well as fresher smelling clothes, fewer facial wrinkles, lower insurance rates and lots more money saved up to spend as you choose - there’s no downside" - Jasveer Singh Brar, Peer Support Counsellor.
"It doesn't take long to get the body rid of nicotine, the drug in tobacco that smokers physically depend on. But it can take time to adjust to the idea of not having cigarettes around as constant companions" - Vijay, General Member.

"There may be other triggers for your emotional desire for a cigarette long after the physical craving has gone - so be prepared. If you are alert you can prevent the temptation to smoke from weighing you down" - Saurabh, Co-ordinator.
"Ask yourself what triggers you to light up. Could it be certain drinks such as coffee or alcohol, or activities like watching television, talking on the phone, or driving?" -  Marco, H.O.D.
"Of course there are no hard and fast rules to tell exactly what will happen when you give up smoking. Some people don't put on any extra pounds at all, some gain more, and some will actually lose weight. For those who do put on a few pounds, the average gain is about 3-4 kgs. (6-9 lbs.) - not a lot. On an  average, people who quit smoking eventually end up at about the same weight as people who have never smoked." Pradeep, Chief.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just another ‘Family Counseling Meeting’ ... with a difference this time.

Till now all our family counseling meetings have been mainly about residents in treatment, problems which family members face and finally about the treatment process which we follow at SHAFA. However, on this Saturday, we thought that every time we talk about various associated problems, so this time let us concentrate and have focus on our own selves, do a little self-introspection and hence get closer to our master, to our high power.

Reciting of 'Gurbani' was the ultimate way of achieving this. Gurbani is a sort of celestial melody used for offering prayers by the Sikh Gurus. These Shabad's combine the beauty and significance of inspirational poetry with melodic excellence. They produce a feeling of the super conscious and link human consciousness with the supreme reality. Guru Ramdas calls it Anahad nad - heavenly strains containing unending nectar.  Bhai Surinder Singh Matharoo was invited to organize 'Shabad Kirtan' on this occasion. 

Even if one does not know ‘Gurbani’, but by simply following the recital of it, the sounds  feel so mesmerising and sends a strange echo to our heart that one keeps on reciting it even for the whole day. We did see the tears in people’s eyes, we did see them totally in a different space, as they were engrossed in singing ‘Gurbani’. All family members old and new residents and volunteers had a gripping experience. Finally, the program had to be stopped against every ones wishes. Our residents served everyone with Prasad, Pakora and Tea. Every one seemed to have enjoyed the evening. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Today as I woke up early in the morning, my feet felt the floor, I was feeling alone, I was feeling the pain of my past and the feeling that I have to carve out my future alone. The raffling sound of flowing winds compelled me to see out of window, I was awed to see the clouds in the shape of huge balloons; the rainbow in different colored ribbons; the chirping sound made by the birds, my favorite koel singing some tune; flowing winds moving the clouds across the blue sky, and the trees dancing to the birds tune. Seeing the work and wonders of our mother nature, tears came to my eyes. I could clearly see my own mother in between those clouds with open arms, ready to hug me, ready to hold me when I felt lonely, ready to offer me her security, warmth and solace, when I need it the most. “I love you my dear mother”, you have built an ocean of love in my heart. I thank you and thank God, for sending you to be there in my life for me.

At my New Home, “SHAFA HOME”, we had a full week of celebrations on the occasion of  “Mothers Day”. All my brothers wrote quotes, made greeting cards and designed small bouquets to share their feelings for their dear mother. One of the resident expressed how he always used to react badly with his family due to addiction and how his behavior never allowed him to express his love for his mother and understand his mother’s love for him. Today was a turning point in his life too, he stated that how today he was able to understand the importance of relationships.

The idea seemed to have got across, to realize the importance of parents in our lives, to leave our ego and anger behind and to move forward in our lives with love and gratitude for our nears and loved ones.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

“Bhajan Sandhya” ... An evening with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s philosophy of peace is that “unless we have a stress-free mind and a violence-free society, we cannot achieve world peace.” To help individuals get rid of stress and experience inner peace, Art of Living offers stress-elimination programs which include breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.

Representatives from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar organization, “Art of Living” conducted “Bhajan Sandhya” at Shafa Home, Delhi Project site. This spiritual musical event was attended by our residents volunteers their families and staff members.
During addiction, the residents never used to socialize with their families or become a part of such events. For them, they and their “drug of choice” used to be their power, their higher power,  their God. This was our way to make them realize the truth and an effort to make them mend their relations and socialize with the other world.

The whole atmosphere was filled with joy and spirituality. Residents may not have understood the lyrics or may not have followed the tune, but most importantly they were participating and singing freely.

As they say the entire universe is made up of ‘rhythms’, when we participate or sing in a satsang, the ‘rhythms’ help us to reach our inner self. One can experience a peaceful, calm and blissful state of mind.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bhagwan Rajneesh Osho - A Workshop on Stress Management

Recently a Dance Meditation / Stress Management workshop was organized in SHAFA HOME, Delhi, by a representative  practising Osho's concepts.

The session started with an explanation that rhythm, attentiveness and an intuitive state are typical qualities of many types of meditation and dancing, even dancing which is recreational rather than meditation. Any kind of dancing can be meditative, but there is also a classification of "sacred dancing," which is the use of dance to explore and express our identity as soul.

Mr. Dua, the Osho practitioner added that it affects the functioning of our brain; for example, the repetitiveness and non-rationality. Indeed, we experienced it and when we did, it practically filled the air in SHAFA with happiness and joy.

For those two hours, each and every resident and staff member were involved in this session without having any other negative thoughts. We experienced that there is no need of any mood altering substance, drugs or alcohol to release the stress or to enjoy any moment. All we need is to take a step forward and involve ourselves and make those moments memorable.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ABC of Building Healthy Relations

Addicts during their drug use are finally left with little or no relationship with their family, positive friends, society, neighborhood and not even with their pets. During their treatment residents and their families always talk about how to make them value and mend their relations? Will they ever be able to understand and correct their perception towards people? And will they ever have healthy relationships?

To start an effective discussion and try to find answers on this subject, Shafa invited Mr. Neil Paul, expert speaker and eminent professional on anger management, marriage counseling and relation building. He started with quotes by famous people on relationships, classification of relationships, their need and the most important thing, “what do we mean by healthy relations?” In the answer he gave 3 keys to healthy relations which were Communication, Trust and last but not the least Respect ,which should come from  both ends.

Residents were very excited and enthusiastic during the presentations. In the end, lots of questions and doubts were put up by the residents, which were clearly answered by the speaker. Members seemed very relaxed and satisfied after the session. Some of the residents commented that they really realized what they had lost in their past due to their misbehavior and addiction.
ABC of Relationship
A -  Awareness        B -  Balance           C -  Choices

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

“Every Accomplishment starts with the Decision to Try”

It has been quite some time, that we have been discussing about theatre and dance as a part of our treatment modality. The time has come to see our residents live on stage. This will help them to regain confidence in front of the outer world, their real world.

Soon “The Beginning of UTSAV, 2012” will be organized, where our residents would showcase their talent and prove that they are capable to accomplish anything in this world, whatever they strive for and that too without the use of any drugs / alcohol or any mood altering substance.

The event would be a learning experience for them and part of their therapy too, because they need to learn to step forward, otherwise, they would never come out of this whirlpool.

However, we strongly believe that this will only be possible by your support and appreciation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shafa Residents at “European Film Festival” ……………….. Surprised ! ! ! ! !

We have been updating you about our activities through videos. Hope you are abreast with it and liking them too. But from your feedback's and comments we realized that our film making skills are not upto the mark and needed lot of improvement.

To horn our skills and to understand the art of film – making; our Creative and Business Development team visited a “European Film Festival” and watched few movies there. They went there to understand the art of film – making, shooting a movie, how documentaries are shot, how script is prepared and different angles and  lights to be used during filming. Shafa Graduates and few re-entry residents had this life time experience. Although, it was their first day, yet they plan to visit the festival on other days too. Hope you notice and observe our new skills and learning from the new videos which you will receive.

Residents need to learn new skills to keep pace with this world and not lag behind in any field. That should be the ultimate goal of any successful treatment.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

! ! ! ! ! A Milestone is Achieved ! ! ! ! !

Five years in recovery, five years away from drugs, five years of new life ……. How was this possible?? Rajan, one of the SHAFA Graduates celebrated his 5th recovery birthday and spoke about his experiences and feelings today.
He had taken a leave from his job and came to SHAFA two days in advance. This showed his commitment towards recovery, towards his new life. As the clock struck 12 O’clock, he was woken from his bed by more than 50 residents wishing him happy birthday. He cut a cake in the midnight, was given birthday bumps and later everyone danced in this excitement before going to sleep.
Then the next day started with celebrations again. Residents had also planned for grand feast; they had made egg sandwiches for their breakfast. Later the theatre team put up a musical act on this occasion. Rajan shared his hope and happiness with the new residents. That was a real eye – opener for them. Their questions showed their thought clarity and curiosity to know more. 

Rajan resolved everyone’s queries with his personal experience and first – hand information. A greeting card prepared by residents and a gift from the whole SHAFA Family was given to him on this occasion as a token of love and affection.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rang Barse - Showering Colours!

It was Holi - "the festival of colors" and Holi during addiction meant “license to use drugs”. But we at Shafa break this myth and celebrate  Holi without the use of any mood altering substance.

This time the preparations for this day had started a week back. Deciding the menu, ordering sweets and buying organic colours. Celebrations started one day earlier with Choti Holi. Prayers were held according to the Hindu religious beliefs, followed by HOLIKA DAHAN - burning of fire, symbolizing the victory with a dance night as final culmination of the day.

The next day was “Holi”, the main day. The day of rubbing colours on each other. Residents were excited from their wake-up, with big smiles on their face. The sounds of 100 residents echoed in the whole environment, wishing each other Happy Holi. The excitement, the happiness and the feeling of togetherness could be seen in putting colours on each other, lifting each other and throwing them in a pond of water mixed with colours. In between residents enjoyed fruits and sweets. The residents experienced something new today - celebration and enjoyment is possible even without drugs.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Virtual Reality - Opening the Gates of Shafa Home

What is the magic?? How does one get treated of addiction?? What happens on the carpet?? What is this programme?? Do they beat up my kid?? Does he behave properly inside?? Do they give him medicines?? Is he allowed to smoke?? Do the counselors lie that my son dances every Saturday?? Do the counselors lie that my father plays Holi and celebrates Diwali?? How does the Therapeutic environment work?? How do I ensure my brother would not run away from the centre??

If I sit down and start asking you, there would be a thousand many questions and doubts running through your mind concurrently. And I acknowledge your suspicions looking at the sorry state of TC’s and Rehabilitation Centers in India. I was just talking to my parents the other day and was asking them what made them choose Shafa Home, because they had quite a many options to choose from. Their answer was ‘transparency’. Although transparency for them was just the feedback they used to get from the counselors, however, deep down in their hearts they were ambiguous about my situation and recovery. My father said “I had never thought that you would come out and not drink”. They were just banking upon sheer luck and the expertise of the Shafa Home Faculty.

Till I had made it to 6 months my parents had only a superficial belief in Shafa like most first timers, always wondering what happens on the other side. They used to call up several times and ask as to what I was doing, what I was eating, how I was sleeping and all sorts. They used to come once two days before the meeting and then early on the day of the meeting just to be sure of things. They used to stand outside and steal a look at the terrace to see if I could be seen. They used to look at the stage chart in the ‘Ashagraha’ and find my name there and wonder when would I top the chart. They used to proudly show my name on the ‘Best Member Name Plate’ to other family members. They used to constantly fight their paradigm and say all is well. In spite of the re assurances give by the Counsellors and Staff at Shafa, they always had this thin line of doubt as to what happens beyond Ashagraha.

I completed treatment and entered the transition phase, and am still moving on positively for the past around three years, however, my parents still have this quest, as to what happens inside the four walls of the Shafa Home, that keeps me moving on.

After I became a staff at Shafa, me and Ranjan Ji decided to start this blog and reduce the distance between the in and out of Shafa Home. We started showing what was happening at the other side of the line. We started writing to let people know the recovery recipes of Shafa. We started showing our viewers the amazing world of Shafa. The interaction between Shafa Home and Family members began to grow. We had walked past the conventional methods of getting in touch with the outer world. We had started sending messages for Family Meetings, Holi, Diwali etc. We had started sending blog links on mobiles. A facebook account was made to get into social networking. Pictures were being uploaded to let the world see us through the internet.

It was time and I moved on to more complex things in life like job and family etc. There came a new set of recovery addicts working as volunteers who took the responsibility of taking Shafa Home to the next level....the level of Virtual Reality.

I was sitting at home the day before and was working on the internet and suddenly came across some videos which were shot by the recovery addicts of Shafa and were uploaded on the youtube. These videos were the virtual reality of the much sought after question: WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE SHAFA HOME?? There were videos of the residents dancing, there were videos of the residents playing ‘Gaddhe wali Holi’ in Kotdwar, there were videos of residents doing yoga, there were videos of the success stories of recovery addicts. It made me sit and think for a while and be proud that these recovery addicts may have been useless people at some point in their life but today they are bridging the gap between the two worlds.

This article comes in as a note of appreciation to all those people, all those proud recovery addicts who have put in their share in purpose to bring Shafa to such a level of virtual reality and transparency. I also request all the people who follow us on our website, facebook, blog and twitter to go ahead and mark their comments on the work we are doing, so as to enable us to keep up the good work.

And for all those of you who are curious to know WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE SHAFA HOME?? Go home, surf the net, catch the videos on youtube, find the pics on facebook, read the articles on blog and follow us on twitter!!

Signing off for now 

Arijeet – Ek Sudharta Hua Nashebaz        

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Killing the Curiosity

What do you understand by the different  ‘stages’ of  treatment for addiction? What is  the treatment all about? How does a resident go through changes during these various ‘stages’ and what makes them understand those changes?

During one of the family association meetings, all these curiosities were answered  by the staff and the re-entry residents of SHAFA. The families were detailed about the three stages that an individual goes through and the re- entry residents shared their experiences and talked about the learning’s that one goes through these each ‘stage’. They explained the similarities between the different role of an individual while they were at home, as a father, brother, husband etc. and their roles they perform in SHAFA family as a General Worker, HOD, Chief and finally as a Co-ordinator.
In the end, they talked about the role of SHAFA and of families in helping the resident to stay in recovery after treatment. All this resulted in clearing their myths and perceptions about treatment. This helped their faith to grow and gave them a hope that one day their most near and dear ones, who are today known as addicts, will have a very bright and beautiful life waiting for them.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Family Ties....... the Bonds get Stronger.

This time it was their day to celebrate 27th Wedding Anniversary in SHAFA, amongst SHAFA FAMILY members. Parents of one of the re-entry residents, Saurabh, decided to make their bond of love and togetherness stronger with SHAFA Family.

It was really a happy but strange feeling. Resident’s celebration can be explained but what made them decide to come, celebrate and share their happiness with us. We really value this emotion, we felt overwhelmed, we were privileged to have them among us.
The best part of the celebration was when they enacted their marriage ceremony performed 27 years earlier, in the traditional Indian way of exchanging  garlands. This was an ecstatic moment for everyone.

In the end they thanked everyone, gave their blessings to all the residents and left with tear in their eyes. They were tears of happiness and hope. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shivratri has a different meaning at Shafa

On this Shivratri i.e. 20th February 2012, SHAFA broke the myth within the addicts that using mood altering substances can help them to attain Lord Shiva or achieve serenity. The myth which says that some drugs are prashad of Lord Shiva.
Residents decorated their surroundings with bright colours, they gathered to make preparations for the evening. They presented activities based on mythological stories, sayings, prayers and myths associated to this beautiful festival. They started with Shiv Vivah, marriage of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. Then they performed a skit on how innocent Lord Shiva was, by performing “Bhasmasur”. Later, they performed a small play which conveyed how people or fake yogi’s and sadhu’s are misusing the name of Lord Shiva and selling drugs to the younger generation. In the end they did Aarti and prayed for a better life, peace of mind and serenity.
Everyone was happy to see that today they are not into addiction. They wanted to convey the truth to others that they cannot achieve Shiva by doing drugs or substances which slowly and gradually poison all aspects of their life. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wake up Dude.......... Its Valentine`s Day

Now, this is called treatment ... getting connected to the mainstream of the social environment. As addicts lose their emotional belongingness to the people or things around them, they tend to go deeper into their web of addiction, which they have woven around them.
Readers must be wondering as to what are we trying to convey, as it has no connection with Valentine’s Day ... Let us make it clear, what does an addict loose the most during his addiction days? His contact with his own self and his love for himself. He keeps piercing his own veins for injections, he vomits blood because of alcohol and still continues to consume alcohol ... then how do you expect him to love himself, how do we expect him to love his wife, children, girlfriend, pets, parents, job etc.
So here lies the connection -  celebrating Valentine’s Day does not only mean expressing your love for the beloved. It means expressing our love for everyone whom we love. And someone who cannot love himself cannot love anyone else. Hence, one should learn to love thyself first ... express this love for thyself ... celebrate this love for thyself.

This year the re-entry residents from SHAFA expressed and celebrated their love for themselves by watching a musical theatre. For the first time they were doing something for their own self. They were feeling good about themselves. They were amongst bigwigs of the creative industry, they were feeling a part of the mainstream of society. They were rubbing their shoulders with the so called “normal people” of this society. They were learning to adhere to their rules, mannerisms and learning to behave normally with them. They were very subtle in their behaviour, they were not loud and showed respect for others and themselves too.

This was their way of 'celebrating a new life and celebrating Valentine'.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Finding New Ways To Know Thy Self

In continuation to her last session Dr. Neelam from Jamia University, New Delhi, visited SHAFA. Session started in the same style, as she asked one of the residents to sing a song, as an “Ice Breaking” exercise.

She asked the residents to gather at one side of the room and introduce themselves. The rule was that while introducing themselves they must speak about their limitations and then move on to other side, talking about the change that had happened while their stay in SHAFA. The group responded well, they could feel each other’s feelings and emotions through their words. The purpose of the session was to make them identify their various limitations and how to correct and handle them.

In the end she noted down the problems that can occur after the treatment and the steps to remember that can save them from those problems.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Celebrating Differently

SHAFA believes in “Healing the Feeling”. On 9th February 2012 one of the residents of SHAFA celebrated his 38th biological birthday.

The staff of SHAFA had planned a surprise; they had invited his family on his birthday. They had arranged a cake and sweets for the residents and everyone present. He met his family which was very heart warming. This was followed by a cake cutting ceremony.

The resident shared that he doesn’t even remember the last time he celebrated his birthday with his dear ones, his family and that too without addiction/ substance. Even the family members added that they are delighted to see him so happy and to see him to move on with his life.

Touching Another Milestone

On 11th February 2012, three residents of SHAFA entered the final stage of their treatment. They completed their three stages and stepped into their fourth Stage i.e. Follow up Stage.

The three were very happy and the residents could feel their joy.  This made them more excited and enthusiastic. Later they were introduced to the families of the residents, they shared their past, what they learnt from their present and what they have planned for their future. They shared their changes, their experiences and their learning’s in SHAFA. The family members present there asked them questions and cleared their doubts.

In the end all three were applauded with greetings and good wishes. They were given discharge bumps to wish them good luck and to make them remember what they have gone through and what they have learnt.