Saturday, June 21, 2014

Achieving emotional release through love: The liberating elixir of life

On Friday 13th June 2014, residents at SHAFA HOME Delhi had their fourth session with Mr. Shree Kumar, experienced life-coach, renowned motivational speaker and master of EFTT. Today’s session was all about 'finding personal freedom through love'. Like last week, the session took on a discursive format then transitioned to practical work. Today we considered love and its impact upon the individual. Love means different things to different people, for some these four letters evoke severe emotional disturbance, re-opening old wounds allowing unpleasant memories of the past to flood in…But enough of this negativity we think!!
It’s time to close that chapter of our lives and re-view love as a transformational force that begets mental and emotional liberation. Ever heard the saying “love can set you free?” Mr. Shree certainly has and wants us to see that too! Love, when harnessed and channeled in a proper and effective manner can be the force that breaks the vice-like chokehold our irrational and negative self-talk has on us; once and for all.  

 In our active substance use, our perception of what love was had become deeply skewed. We didn’t know what meaningful love was anymore. This is one, clear hard fact Mr. Shree did not have to tell us, we knew it for ourselves from past experience. Was it people? Was it possessions? Was it obsession?  Over time, our definition of love had become progressively cheap, superficial and one-dimensional. We threw the world “love” about like kids throw cricket balls. In active using, love was something exclusively interrelated with our hedonistic, self-seeking lifestyle; we loved the physical effect of our drug of choice, we loved people who gratified us physically, we loved money, we loved substance-enabling situations. Honestly speaking, love resided in the pursuit and consumption of our addiction.
 Based on resident’s experiences and Mr. Shree’s expertise, the fact of the matter we had muddied the pure and beautiful attributions of love. Love in our minds was basic, crude and self-gratifying. This session invited us to go beyond physical dimensions of thinking; today we embarked on thinking on a spiritual level. When Mr. Shree made his signature serene entrance into the ‘asha grah’ hall. Many of our residents felt initially cynical that they would be investigating “love-shuv” nonsense…Amongst the smirks and rolls of eyes it seemed to be that many feared to enter its territory. Rest assured, Mr. Shree’s cool, calm grace put our whirling minds at rest. He started is session in his signatory way:  relating from personal experience. He explained that when he was younger he had also faced a lot of emotionally scarring events. He nearly traded his hope for permanent misery, but one pertinent and powerful thing stopped him dead in his tracks. Our wide-eyed residents wanted to know what his magic was!
This is when we learnt our first key lesson of the session: Shree Ji kept his heart and mind open to miracles. God’s benevolence and mercy sends these miracles to save us! Despite life mercilessly battering him with misfortune, he kept his mind positively tuned to receive insight and knowledge to sail through his troublesome times. Against all odds Mr. Shree survived his bleaker moments to become the respected success he is today! How did he do it? By practicing meditation and staying receptive to higher knowledge, keeping faith in better times to come! Meditation allows an individual to still his racing mind in order become spiritually receptive to knowledge from higher realms. Meditation is looking for God within ourselves. God and love are synonymous concepts. World-over God is the supreme and everlasting source of love. Within every single human being is His divine spark, so in this way we are all mirrors of each other wherein God’s beauty and magnificence radiates all around us. When we can learn to open our eyes to the world around us, then we are able to listen to our intuition to find new ways of thinking and behaving. 
 Love is when we endeavor to see God outside of ourselves. In our fellows, in weather, in nature…God permeates and resides in everything. When we are appreciating and respecting His creation in a noble and dignified way, this is true, mature and sincere love. Loving is the highest and most creative form of energy. Love can make a person more caring, compassionate and empathetic towards others. When people are better able to understand their peers, then they can help others and simultaneously become willing to receive help from others. We all need assistance to move forward in life. Once we break down our self-defense barriers and allow help to pour in, then we can emotionally and mentally grow into the people we yearn to be! Strong, positive, cheerful and peaceful. Those qualities we thought we would never be able to emanate and achieve actually come to exist within us. Seriously!!  
Mr. Shree also told us that within love lies forgiveness. When an individual starts loving, they start releasing themselves from their self-imposed incarceration by being kind and merciful with their inner-self. Since addicts spend unnecessary lengthy amounts of time carrying an immense amount of guilt upon their shoulders, we felt it would be incredibly beneficial if we could learn how to heal ourselves of this problem – As the session progressed into the EFTT practice, one of our courageous residents volunteered himself to work alongside Mr. Shree at the front of the group.
Today residents went beyond physical healing and attempted to use EFTT to heal psychological problems. Through an NLP practice called “re-framing” he was encouraged to view that particular moment in his life which evoked his intense shame and guilt, as if it was being projected on an auditorium screen and he was a spectator. Then he was to imagine he had a smaller double of himself whom he was relaying love and forgiveness to. The second part of this exercise involved EFTT. A unique set-up statement dedicated to the day’s topic was repeated for 5 cycles with full gusto by all participants. Avinash was amazed to see that his prior guilt rating of 8 had diminished to 3. Not only had the session been a great success for him, it had also been a worthwhile investment of time for the rest of our residents, judging by the warm hugs and genuine appreciations flying round the hall! - “Love truly makes man a better and kinder human being”.   

 All-in-all, this session was a fantastic blend of both cognitive analysis and spiritual thinking, our participants were challenged to break with their old and rigid notions. Burying old hatchets and embracing our brothers and sisters is the ultimate. If understood properly, love can become a super-powerful adhesive, able to re-attach all the fragmented and splintered pieces of our self-esteem and confidence; remodeling us into new individuals. No matter how many times we may have fallen over in the past, it is never to late to pick ourselves up and move on! Our ongoing thanks go to Mr. Shree Kumar for his time, effort and dedication with our residents at SHAFA HOME. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

How busting your groove beats the recovery blues !

On Wednesday 11th June 2014, residents at SHAFA HOME Delhi were gifted with their sixth meeting with the fantastically charismatic Ms. Maheshwari Jani, experienced behaviour analyst and master of neuro-linguistic programming. In this session, our residents investigated why dance is a crucial part of therapy. This age-old art form physically expressing the freedom of the soul not only reveals our innermost emotions, creativity and coordination, it also releases stress by channelling coarse negative emotions into a harmonious rapture of bodily symphony. Nobody needs to be the next Hrithik Roshan or Kareena Kapoor to take part in and enjoy the energetic and furious fun of dancing! All it requires is genuinely willing heart and a sprinkling of imagination...then anyone can well and truly become ‘footloose’!
Resident’s know to leave their inhibitions at the door every time the vivacious Ms. Jani enters the house; it’s high time for smiles, surprises and a riotous blast of shout-out-loud excitement! This session would demonstrate just that! Today residents were coaxed to leave their comfort zone and embrace a new and fresh image of themselves as happy, confident and expressive folk. Many of our residents are dealing with low-self confidence and suffer from shyness and negative self-image. So, the resounding consensus of both staff and residents was that a session on self-expression would be a fantastic addition to their ongoing portfolio of knowledge.
Rest assured, Maheshwari Ji’s plan for the day would soon shake off our resident’s blues. They formed groups of three and were instructed to show each other their ‘groove’. This was the preliminary activity that was designed to melt the ice and facilitate the residents to feel comfortable in each other's presence. Then all embarked on a brief dance warm-up to vitalize and energize themselves and then launched into the morning’s educational frolics. For the next two hours we would break from our sedentary routine. This wasn't going to be like any ordinary session, we all knew we were going to be up and bounding about in no time!
Resident’s then had to imagine themselves as human paintbrushes...The ‘painting’ exercise required us to move our arms and legs artistically coordinating our limbs. A few minutes into the exercise, it was noticeably evident to see that the initially hesitant residents were now slowly breaking through their inhibitions. Did it matter what others were thinking? A lot of our residents were slithering on the floor like snakes, but were smiling and giggling! It was beautiful and heartwarming to see them getting in touch with their inner, innocently happy-selves that they had neglected for an incredibly long time while in active addiction. This exercise had an underlying message applicable to life: We should not be moved by other's judgments, nor should we try to copy anyone else; since in doing so, we lose our own unique charm. Only we truly know of our capabilities, strengths and working points. We are entitled to feel joy, not be bogged down by other's negativity! The truest trend-setter on life’s dance floor is the fearless and optimistic individual. 
Next, residents played “pass the basketball”...standing in a circle, residents used their imagination and creativity to generate sequence of steps before calling out another resident’s name and bouncing the ball to them. This tested how well they could perform on impulsive. The wider message behind the activity was that life constantly throws situations our way that test our reaction speed. The question is “Are we able to demonstrate the aptitude to perform a set task that has a time-bound limitation with calm, cool composure? Our residents sure did!  
Chocolate is a winning incentive to hook anyone's attention, our SHAFA residents are no different. When we heard chocolate involved, of course we wanted to know more!! Maheshwari Ji encouraged the residents to visualize a goal they had in life; whether it was ‘go to college, get married, start a business etc.’ Residents were instructed to creatively form a dance-step routine while moving towards the chocolate [imagining their particular goal in their mind]. Each resident had to demonstrate the unique pursuit of their goal and audibly express their joy and gratitude for accomplishing it. Some members gracefully pirouetted, while others performed a bhangra and break-dance fusion. The common factor? All met with their goals and happily munched on their prize!
The next two activities had our resident's joining pairs, the first exercise they would take it in turns to be each other's shadow. The aim was to seamlessly copy each other's movements. This allowed our residents' ingenuity and innovation shine through in all its glory. When asked why this was done, members chirpily expressed that it tested their leadership and communication skills.
Establishing trust was the primary objective of the second exercise. We were instructed to place our hands on our partner’s shoulders, close our eyes shut and place blind faith in our companion to lead us round the hall without bumping into anyone else. As the “conga line” of pairs wound its way round the ‘Asha Grah’, beaming smiles and emphatic congratulations emanated from residents’ faces. This exercise urged us not only just to trust in our environment, but also to remember we are all team players. We can only avoid collisions in life if we follow our own path with our eyes wide open, totally aware of where our route is taking us. If it won’t lead us to our desired destination, only our hands can change it!   
Behind the razzle dazzle, Maheshwari Ji was asking us this important question...”can we dance to the rhythm of life?”  Life’s pace is constantly chopping and changing it’s up to us to match our stride alongside with the changing scene, without losing our unique sparkle. If we choose to remain rigid and inflexible, this is to our detriment only. The rest of the world will inevitably continue however we will be the ones who lose out on the opportunities life has in store for us.    

This session superbly added to residents’ self-efficacy beliefs, self-empowerment and positive self-image. Everybody had a smashing time swaying and sashaying their troubles away not to mention receiving a yummy chocolate reward for busting great moves! We learnt nothing in life ever remains static; it’s up to us to boogie along with the beat. Our deep and sincere thanks to Ms. Maheshwari Jani for a brilliant session!    



Thursday, June 19, 2014

In Pursuit Of Moksha Through Inner Happiness by Mr. Shree

In the last fortnight Mr. Shree Kumar, experienced life-coach, renowned motivational speaker and master of EFTT has presented two sessions at SHAFA HOME, Delhi regarding the 'meaning of happiness' and 'finding personal freedom through love'. These sessions lasted for 2-3 action-packed hours incorporating discussion, question and answer and practical EFTT (Emotional Freedom Tapping Technique).     
 As addicts, we have subconsciously 'hard-wired' our brain to perceive, consume and digest the negative aspects of life and totally become oblivious to the great opportunities life throws at us. All the resentment, pain, anger, hurt, shame and guilt that used to bubble away inside us could not seemingly be subdued without a drink or a drug. The vitriolic poison we had fed ourselves and our seething resentment against the world gifted upon us salient ongoing justifications to continue using our substance. We were walking around with our eyes tightly shut to reality…even now in recovery, many residents wonder exactly what happiness looks like. It is all well and good to say we love [whatever it is we love] and feel happy [doing whatever it is we do]…but the real question etched on our pensively contemplated faces is…”how did love and happiness free us to achieve our potential?” We felt it was high-time for Mr. Shree to bestow upon us some of his pearls of wisdom.
The session initially began on a discursive level and then slowly transitioned into “hands-on” EFTT practice. Braving the intense humidity, our residents were not deterred to put in their very best effort to stay awake and alert...residents discussed their happiest moments in life and what their personal definition of “happiness” was. Many of the residents gave the typical answers of “being with family, opening their own business, being rich” etc. But these were all generic answers. Mr. Shree urged us to think out of the box; to delve below these surface level explanations…
Mr. Shree recalled his fascinating personal experiences. It became evident to see that below his calm and composed demeanour, he had also faced some intensely rocky patches in his life, nearly throwing his life severely off-course. Threats of infertility and a near-on collision with alcohol addiction did not force him throw in the towel and admit defeat. He embraced life’s challenges and proactively sought to find solutions to his problems. Mr. Shree never resigned himself to doom and gloom. Through placing mind-over-matter, he freed himself from his seemingly impossible troubles through the practice of EFTT (emotional freedom tapping technique) and by remembering the blessings, life was continuously giving him. This need to ‘constantly see the positive side of all negative situations’ is what he was emphatically conveying to our fresh battalion of soldiers. Happiness lies in facing, fighting and conquering challenges and overcoming self-limiting beliefs.
 Our residents were visibly moved by his earnest and humble admission that despite life’s hard knocks, Shree Ji never rendered himself to being a “loser” or a “failure”. Happiness for him did not lie in materialistic pursuits; it wasn’t how much money he earned, or owning a Rolex watch or Lamborghini… One astute young resident chipped in with his opinion. For him “happiness is the feeling of contentment and buoyancy without relying on an external, temporary stimulus…when he would stop relying on his friends, family, and teachers etc. to validate his greatness would be the day he achieves total, unbridled happiness”.
Our residents then moved into the EFTT part of the session. After taking feedback from last week’s experiences, Shree Ji embarked on creating a new set-up statement geared around the day’s topic and discussion…”right now, today, at this very moment…even though I had fallen to great lows in the past and destroyed my happiness, I accept myself, love myself and open myself to new insights and new possibilities in life…I will find my happiness within myself and appreciate how life is shaping me…” Our resident’s were asked to give their initial physical and emotional tension rating on a scale of one to ten – 7 was the average. After 3 cycles that number reduced to 3 or 4. EFTT had been a great success for our residents today. Not only did it get them up and active on their feet, it re-affirmed their sense of capability and self-reliance. EFTT at a practical level is a cognitive way to ‘short-circuit’ our deep-rooted negative thought patterns. These negative thought patterns manifest on a physical level; psychosomatically causing ailments and pains in the body. The session closed with all residents embracing each other with hugs and appreciative words of encouragement and hope. After all, to keep it you have to give it away!
      
Essentially, "it all starts in the mind". Whatever seems to occur in our lives is a direct consequence of how we decide to channel our thoughts. After all, a well-known ‘neuro-linguistic programming’ (NLP) maxim proclaim “where thought goes, energy flows”. Feeling happy is a decision only we can make for ourselves, no-one else can give ‘happiness’ to us on a silver-platter. Consider this analogy…Life throws everyone lemons, but the fact of the matter is, wise people choose to utilise those lemons to make sweet lemonade. Others absentmindedly choose to chomp through the acrid rind and swallow its eye-wateringly unpleasant juice, unaware of the fact lemonade can be made. Life is a succession of choices and actions. Happiness lies in selecting the most fruitful choices that can bring us opportunities to triumph at life. Once we initially open our rusty floodgates and allow joy and positivity to enter our lives, we will be pleasantly surprised with the successive oncoming presentation of life’s beautiful gifts for us!
A warm and sincere vote of thanks to Mr. Shree Kumar for presenting an endearing and super-engaging session from all of us at SHAFA HOME.    





Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"An audience with Neil Paul: Creating positivity, productivity and inner-power!"

During April and May 2014, experienced addiction counselor and motivational speaker Neil Paul has presented five 'life-coaching' sessions at SHAFA HOME, Delhi. The sessions' themes have revolved around challenging negative thoughts & behaviours and developing the necessary skills to establish a healthy relationship with ourselves, our peers and our conception of a Higher Power. These sessions last approximately two hours and take a discussion-cum-Q and A format. Sessions are attended by all residents and staff members.
 In our first session we considered the various ways substance-abuse had affected our work-life, family-life and health. Several members were asked to stand and give a short introduction regarding the effect their addiction had in these three core areas of life. We learnt that not only had it affected our lives in these areas, it had also viciously corroded our rational thinking and problem-solving skills.
 Neil Paul incorporated aspects of 'cognitive psychology' to highlight certain ideas such as strengthening our internal locus of control and discerning short term vs. long term goal setting. He stressed that we needed to organise our "mind-clutter" and then re-structure our brain with clear, tangible and achievable objectives & goals. The session drew to a close with members giving a short speech on their dreams in life. Whether it was becoming a professional footballer, a travelling journalist or opening a hospital, it was evident to see that our shadowy pasts had not robbed us of the light for a promising future.    

          In active addiction, we filled our minds with negative self-agreements such as how useless we were and our inability to be productive members of society. Neil Paul's second session aimed at eradicating our false justifications, in order to rebuild our self-esteem and confidence. With the collaborative efforts of one of our senior counsellors, a slide-show presentation highlighted positive vs. negative attitudes, the 3 types of behaviour: passivity, assertiveness and aggression and "how to assertively say no". One resident asked how to be assertive successfully. Many of us felt that in asserting our needs we fall short of our intention by coming across as threatening and arrogant. In an animated and heated discussion, we could figuratively feel light bulbs switch on above our participants' heads as they learnt a variety of techniques to identify 'relationship-forging' and 'relationship-destroying' manners of behaving. The discussion then transiently progressed to the topic of assertion. We were given a list of implementable strategies on how to assertively and firmly decline a request without offending or disrespecting our peers.
          Both staff and residents alike experienced the second session to be tremendously useful! Life in active addiction skewed our ability to firmly say "no" when faced with situations compromising our physical and emotional well-being. 
Neil Paul's third session involved us listening to four short stories entitled "Where's God?", "The Monkey And His Apple", "Death At A Funeral" and "The Learned Pandit". The purpose of this exercise was to consider the underlying message behind each tale. Essentially we were encouraged to utilise our mind and embrace a new outlook on life. After mentally digesting each story, several members stood up and briefly explained what they had learned. One expressed “to harness positivity and triumph over personal strife, we have to remember our Higher Power is constantly protecting us...we need to strengthen and renew that relationship on a daily basis". Another member told the group "if we want to maintain that feeling of joy, we need to make a solid effort to be grateful, when life throws sour lemons at us as well when life is fantastic". The resounding notion from our members was that we needed to constantly remember nobody can hinder our personal growth but us. Only we are in charge of our thoughts, feelings and actions. Nobody else can be blamed for our shortcomings. Personal responsibility is the key to breaking free from the shackles of our past failures. 

So far, our residents and staff are deeply impressed with Neil Paul's sessions. We feel they echo the SHAFA ethos of pro-activity, reliance upon the individual's own abilities to progress in life and willingness to accept feedback in order to further our personal growth. If we can act upon these points, then the sky is the limit for us!
    

To view more pics please click on the link below:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The therapeutic community -My analysis of the TC model based on my experience within the therapeutic community


SHAFA HOME uses the ‘Therapeutic Community’ (TC) modality in its de-addiction treatment. It is the most prolific, largest and well-known centre in India to have implemented this form of treatment into practise. SHAFA HOME’s aim is to detoxify, correct and rehabilitate its patients within a community setting.
This article will give you an insight into the TC model of de-addiction treatment. These main topics are addressed:
-          What is a ‘therapeutic community’?
-          How does a ‘therapeutic community’ operate?
-          What is the daily routine within a ‘therapeutic community’?
-          How does TC life benefit the individual?
-          When was the concept of ‘therapeutic community’ created and how has it evolved?
-          Why is there a ‘need for the ‘therapeutic community’?
What is a ‘therapeutic community’?
A simplified explanation of the Therapeutic Community is a group of people who by following certain salient inter-personal principles and guidance have overcome their maladaptive, compulsive and obsessive behaviours produced by their past isolated and hazardous lifestyle (demonstrated within their substance addiction). 
After having learned and implemented the knowledge that has aided their self-improvement during their treatment period in their day-to-day living, they endeavour to help their younger peers establish and enhance upon their own self-improvement. Thus a continuous chain-of-assistance continuously exists. Within the TC the majority if not all of the volunteer and senior staff are recovering addicts themselves. At SHAFA HOME we believe that only a recovering addict can best understand and help another addict on their journey.
How does a TC operate?
The TC works on the fundamentals of total autonomy, self-management and equality of all; regardless of gender, colour, religion, upbringing etc. It also functions on secularism.
TC functions upon trust, mutual concern, responsibility and honesty. In the TC, all residents work together for a common purpose; to observe and correct each other’s unacceptable behaviour in a mature and non-judgemental manner, without feelings of superiority or domination over anyone else. This is called the ‘confrontation and pull-up programme’ at SHAFA HOME. The ‘programme’ is by far the most important activity undertaken in the TC.

The TC operates on 2 levels: that of a family and also of a small society. On a social level residents in the TC represent the demographic diversity of the general population. On a family level newcomers play the role of children, as they grow older in the treatment programme, they become an older sibling, then a parent and lastly a grandparent; watching over and directing the entire family.
 In the community, there are different jobs associated with different family roles. The newcomer starts as a general worker assigned to a department. Over time, as they demonstrate their personal growth, capability to handle responsibility and act with discretion, they progress to becoming part of the RamRod team (TC ‘policing’ team), then to becoming a department head (HoD), an acting-chief, chief and lastly co-ordinator before their discharge from treatment.
In SHAFA HOME there are 8 departments altogether. House-keeping, record-keeping and kitchen. In our “senior house” in Uttarakhand there are 5 more departments: maintenance, pet-care, landscape, creative and PQS (programme quality section). 
The fundamental goal of skills development is for mental and emotional growth. This growth is tantamount to maturity. These different roles and responsibilities all add to this. During the TC programme duration, the different roles undertaken by the resident increase their inter-personal skills [along with empathy, compassion and assertiveness], self-efficacy beliefs (“I CAN” beliefs) and self-worth and confidence.
Not only do residents progress up the ‘family and job hierarchy’ they also progress through the attainment of the 4 stages during the span of the 12-month treatment. Each stage has its own specific requirements, the resident needs to meet and demonstrate before its attainment. The 1st stage (which is normally given when the individual shows they are able to take personal responsibility), 2nd stage (given at 3 months), 3rd stage (after 6 months depending on personal accountability) and 4th stage (after the re-entry stage, when an individual is ready to face the outer world). This stage is more about ‘Follow-up‘ and ‘Future Planning‘. An individual is supposed “to give it back“, to share with others what he has learnt by providing his voluntary services. 
The TC a peer-conducted environment. This means it is self-governed by the residents for the residents. While there are senior and voluntary staff members, they play a ‘behind the scenes’ role; taking care of administrative duties and paperwork, conducting Individual Counselling sessions (I.C’s) with residents and facilitating sessions. The staff gives their feedback to the director of the TC, who oversees the entire management and functioning of the community.
The TC places a heavy emphasis on living within rules and regulations. A TC has major cardinal rules and house rules. If boundaries are encroached then there are sanctions; the intensity depending on the breach of conduct. This requirement to remain within the bounds of the rules and regulations conditions and shapes the resident to behave correctly.

What is the daily routine in a TC?
The TC follows a 17 hour day wherein residents wake up at 6am and sleep at 11pm. Within the day residents work within their designated departments, participate in the therapeutic sessions, complete their “programme”, engage in I.C’s with their counsellor, eat their meals, have free-time and then meet with their peers to evaluate their day before sleep. SHAFA HOME’s full routine is available on request.  
How does TC life benefit the individual. How does TC life ‘treat’ the patient?
First and foremost, we need to be aware that using the addict’s active addiction period, their behaviours and actions had isolated themselves from the world. Their social skills were negligible along with the motivation to partake in constructive activity (anything other than the procuring and using of their substances). TC life tackles apathy, perceived helplessness and inferiority through “hands-on” kinaesthetic learning to achieve self-improvement. A resounding notion in the TC is that personal growth is only ever demonstrated through an individual’s actions rather than his words.
 In a TC an individual learns how live within a family unit and in a society. This group setting allows a person to improve their ability to compromise and also teaches them the importance of following and respecting rules and regulations. Life in a TC pushes an individual to develop his ability to make rational and logical decisions; only doing things that will benefit himself and his community. An individual also learns the immense importance of thinking before speaking, considering the impact of his words and actions. Small but extremely important deficiencies in an individual’s character are highlighted and addressed in a TC.
Life in a TC also puts weight on the importance of ‘respecting others’. Since each individual resident learns and improves from his peers, there is a need to respect and be grateful for the input of others. 
The TC puts a great emphasis on positive reinforcement; if an individual demonstrates good actions then they will get good given back to them; in the form of privileges and progression through the hierarchy. Negative behaviour and actions have their ‘consequences’ and sanctions. Addicts did not have a sense of “positive fear” during their substance period that should have kept them within their limits. The TC uses ‘learning experiences’ (consequences) to input this ‘positive fear’. If they behave with half-measure i.e. (do not work to their potential) or demonstrate outright breaches of conduct, then a sanction is given as preventative measure that avoids the repetition of that same negative behaviour occurring in the future. Sanctions include regression within the hierarchy (“being shot down” from their role), removal of privileges, washing the entire communities dishes singlehandedly, temporary isolation from others etc. Though these seem harsh, they prove effective in preserving residents’ ongoing personal growth and progression through treatment.   
Over the span of the 12-month treatment program; being in a TC environment improves an individual’s independence, self-confidence, self-esteem, discipline, patience and reliability. Living in a TC also provides a person with the basic life-skills and elementary employability-skills they need to establish themselves in life. The tight adherence to rules and regulations also instils a value system within the individual. This ‘value system’ heightens an individual’s morality and ethical standing. It also inculcates an individual to be grateful and thankful of the small things in his day-to-day life that prior, he would not have thought twice of.
 The distance and limited contact they have with outside society gives the individual ample time to focus on his personal transformation. The distance also gives the individual a necessary period of reflection to carefully consider what he had inflicted upon his family and loved ones.
Basically an individual learns the importance of establishing balance in his life –, a balance of work-time and leisure-time, consuming a nutritionally balanced diet, when to speak and when to listen, when to assert oneself and when to understand another etc.  
Living a life of moderation and temperance is a key theme in TC life. The individual learns there is a time, manner and place for everything.  There is also a manner of speaking properly and asserting one’s needs and opinions without disturbing the balance and atmosphere of the community.
When was the concept of TC created and how has it evolved since its creation?
The idea of the therapeutic community dates back 200 years ago as a self-help community that teaches, heals and supports the individual through teacher-to-pupil modelling and learning.
In effect, it was the first treatment program designed to address an individual’s dysfunctional and non-productive living style. The root cause of this is their maladaptive behaviours.  
The earliest modern TC’s were established in the USA in 1960 with treatment programme duration of 2-3. Since then, the TC has exploded on a worldwide-level and has an average stay of 12 months. Some centres offer outpatient services while the majority provide an in-patient service.
No two TC’s are alike. Each self-contained community follows its own daily routine and activity structure. The common binding notion is seen in the goal it sets to accomplish for the individual – to learn the necessary behaviours to successfully live life and face challenging moments without the need to pick up a drink or drug to cope. 
Why there is a need for the TC?
You may be thinking, when there are different treatment options regarding de-addiction, like the 12-steps, why send my dear one to a ‘therapeutic community’? What does a TC do that another centre does not?
TC can be likened to a ‘finishing school’ for people who cannot demonstrate social dexterity and emotional intelligence. Personal mannerisms, body-language, thought-patterns and speaking style are dissected, discussed and improved upon. These manifest an individual’s personality traits such as impatience, dishonesty, arrogance etc. (problems which any addict faces in active using). These behavioural traits are a platform leading the individual to obtaining and consuming substances.
The TC has proven to be a powerful treatment approach for substance abuse and related living problems. It offers long-term and intense treatment in a ‘half-way house’ setting. Although residents are not exposed to the outer world until the very last stages of treatment, the system of the TC models the real world in a safe environment, where help is constantly on hand. Being in a TC teaches an individual how to live and tackle life’s inevitable issues at the point they arise. The resources to overcome problems lie within the individual. It is their responsibility to unlock their potential.
While the 12-step programme of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous is effective for many recovering addicts, these 12-step rehabs put primary emphasis on staying sober by attending AA/NA meetings, reading the list of prescribed literature and doing the written step-work associated 12-step programme. Personally speaking, from my own opinion I have attended 12-step rehabs and meetings and find that this model of treatment theorizes what should be done in order to remain sober. It dissects what and wherefores of sobriety at an intellectual level, rather than implementing the knowledge preached, this treatment approach is less dynamic. With the TC model, recovery is a double blend of implementing new thinking patterns, behaviours and newly acquired life-skills along with the theoretical knowledge and education of how to stay sober.        
 In TC, the aim is placed on a person’s entire psychological and lifestyle change, a process which only begins with sobriety. Sobriety is the tool to allow the mind to think and act clearly, rationally and logically. This psychological change cannot be achieved through intellectual or literary means; rather it involves “hands-on” action...change by doing! Newly demonstrated, positive skills are mastered by repetition. Only then does progress solidify and flourish.
Rather than preaching to the patient methods and tricks of living a substance-free life, the TC teaches the individual how to behave and live in harmony with others; In the TC, there is a strong need is to re-educate a person on what is correct behaviour and incorrect behaviour, re-encourage a person to view themselves and the world from a different angle, be willing to accept help and guidance from those who have turned their lives around for the better.

It is clearly up to you to decide whether you feel the ‘Therapeutic Community’ experience will benefit your loved one. Our website, YouTube and Facebook page has videos and more information regarding our treatment. Do not hesitate to visit us to find out more!



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Maheshwari Jani’s 5th session: Transforming stress to success!

On 1st June 2014, Maheshwari Jani, behaviour analyst and master in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) presented her fifth Sunday morning session at SHAFA HOME, Delhi. This endearing session, attended by all residents and staff was all about stress. The session covered 3 sub-topics: the root causes of our stress, how it manifests within our lives and how we can effectively tackle it. After the end of last week’s session on dreams, residents proactively gave feedback that a class dedicated to stress was definitely needed. It’s a common notion between our residents that their new recovery life brings with it a great deal of tension. Unfortunately, this tension is a major progress inhibitor for their mental and emotional growth. However, we need not fear because Maheshwari Jani was here to lead us through another exciting and engaging session. Even SHAFA’s director made an appearance to take part in the fun!
Maheshwari Ji entered the ‘Asha Greh’ hall and was met with her signature sea of applause. Our members’ faces lit up with anticipation and curiosity. Without saying a word, she opened a bag of balloons and threw them out amongst the residents. Participants smiled with glee like little kids in a sweet shop! Without explaining why, they were instructed to blow into as many balloons as they could with full effort and concentration. We quickly came to know our first activity was to rid ourselves of whatever pent up aggression, tension, stress we had brewing inside us by channeling that negative energy into the balloon and sealing it there. The technical term was called “stress displacement” through experimental learning; a kinesthetic (“hand’s on”) dynamic approach. That was the first part of the “balloon game”.
The second part consisted of our residents tying two balloons to their left and right ankle and then popping their neighbours balloons but trying to save their own. This got our residents jumping, joyous and laughing as the cacophony of loudly bursting balloons filled the hall. The second part of the activity came with a salient and crucial message - no matter how hard they tried to keep their stress-balloons intact to themselves, in the end their balloons were guaranteed to explode.
Ms. Jani’s game effectively demonstrated that the healthiest form of stress management was to LET IT OUT!  Letting it bubble and simmer away would have disastrous consequences which would kill whatever progress we were making in our lives. We addicts have an alarming propensity to consciously hide away from our stresses & tensions rather than face them head on…this has led us into all sorts of predicaments in the past. We needed a new tack, a new solution…our past coping methods had not only brought us pain, shame and misery; they had not tackled the root of the stress.     
Next, she emphatically fronted our residents with a question; what were the main reasons of their stress? Residents gave the usual reply of family, finances, the programme duration etc as their primary sources of stress. But these were superficial, immediately-focused “auto-pilot” responses that scratched at the surface level only. If we wanted to take the stress out of our life, we needed to see where it all started to unravel.  Maheshwari Ji
coaxed one courageous young member to delve right into his stress. He was instructed to close his eyes, breathe deeply into his feelings and visually imagine himself moving back chronologically through his adult years, then his teenage and childhood years. This exercise involved a NLP technique called “bridging the gap”. He had to run through the events of his life to pinpoint the exact event which triggered an offsetting spiral of negative feelings which then brought their consequences. Pinpointing the exact event allows us to objectively make a link between our past response and our present response. We are placed in a better position to evaluate what works well and what does not. This allows us to be mindful as to how we can modify our future response to stress-causing stimuli.
Ms. Jani then asked us what we can actively do to combat our feelings of stress. Members piped out a variety of ideas such as, writing it out on paper (“literary expulsion”), going for a walk, reading, listening to calming music, and talking to a friend, family member or counselor. After all a problem shared is a problem halved! The very fact that residents were expressing their contributions showed that residents were mentally shifting their perspective on life; searching for possible solutions to their problems. This highlighted their personal growth and progress within treatment.
The last activity involved a guided meditation wherein Maheshwari Ji led our residents through a five minute visualization exercise in which their stresses & tensions attributed a colour, form and physical tangibility. Residents were told to imagine their stress physically decreasing in size, the intensity of the intense, unpleasant colours harmonizing and their problems becoming lighter and lighter; eventually disintegrating into air.  
Maheshwari Ji instructed the residents to take their seat and assimilate the morning’s experience. She asked the residents how they felt before and after the activities…many replied that initially they were irritated and mentally unfocused; with several small bothers whirling around in their mind. After, they felt energized, mentally clearer and stronger to face the day. It was fair to say that the session had successfully shaken the drowsiness out of our family member’s Sunday-morning sluggishness. Eyes were opened to a different view on stress. Rather than portraying stress as a havoc-wreaking demon, it can also a positive force too. Stress allows our mind to be kept constantly active and solution-orientated. Stresses and tensions also allow us to be grateful for the positive and helpful people and resources.
Our sincere thanks goes to Ms. Maheshwari Jani for her superb session.

   

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

'Pranic Healing' – Recovery through harnessing the power of Life Energy...

Over the last two months, residents at SHAFA HOME, Delhi have been attending 'pranic healing' learning sessions hosted by the Delhi-based Yoga Vidya Pranic Healing Trust. Our sessions occur twice a week for an hour, wherein all residents and staff members take part. Pranic healing is an ancient science and art of healing that utilizes prana (life energy or “the breath of life”) to heal the entire physical body. Prana exists and is transmitted through the sun, wind and earth. We have a physical body and an ‘etheric’ (energy) body, this body interpenetrates the physical one. Conventional medical science focuses solely on healing the physical body, while pranic healing works on the healing etheric body. Through collecting, channeling and transmitting prana, we heal the diseased area in the etheric body. By healing the etheric body, the physical body gets healed simultaneously. Pranic healing is not based on any occult magic; rather it is based on natural science.
Bodily ailments such as the common cold, joint pain, asthma, broken bones etc. as well as a variety of other physical problems can be effectively healed through this holistic approach. Studies have even reported that people with major illnesses and diseases such as infertility, TB, cancer etc. have shown to make mind-blowing improvements.  
This approach to pain reduction and physical healing is an alternative to medical science, which often involves the patient having to rely on chemical methods of curing ailments. Pranic healing does not promote this whatsoever; it focuses on harmonizing the body's natural prana balance. From a spiritual point of view, prana congestion in the etheric form is the core reason behind the physical body not being able to function optimally.
At first, when our residents came to hear that they would be given the chance to discover the cosmic energy of life, many were left a little baffled and confused...What on earth was this “airy-fairy, hippie” nonsense? How could we possibly integrate this into our daily treatment programme? We then met with our visiting teachers. They enthusiastically and charismatically convinced us that in no time we would become students of divine science and masters in healing our own illnesses. A few raised eyebrows could be seen, low murmurs could be heard...”could this actually work?...let’s give this a try anyway”.                 
Our teachers explained to the residents that Pranic Healing consists of a series of physical and emotional healing techniques; ranging from ‘Invocative prayer’, ‘Divine Healing affirmations’, ‘Super-brain Yoga’, ‘Meditation on Twin Hearts’ and to more specialized practices such as ‘Prana Absorption’ ‘Scanning the Etheric Body’ and ‘Prana Transmission’. These exercises are designed to deplete localised areas within the body of excess prana accumulation. Around the room, bioplasmic waste disposal units consisting of Quartz crystal, sea-salt and mineral water are placed around the room to absorb the diseased prana which is drawn out of the body.  
Our residents were so impressed by ‘Super-brain Yoga’ that they have incorporated it into their daily morning routine as a way to energize, vitalize and invigorate themselves to face their day.  
When asked for feedback, many of our residents have expressed that over these 4 weeks, many have noticed an improved concentration span, lower stress and anger levels, regularised blood pressure, a decrease in digestion problems, as well as improved sleeping. Residents experiencing physical pain also commented that the intensity had dramatically reduced with each session.
Residents who did not entertain any spiritual beliefs prior to these sessions have commenced upon a regular routine of elementary meditation and prayer to a “Power greater than themselves”. At SHAFA we feel this is a fantastic change to have occurred since the SHAFA philosophy puts a belief in a Higher Power at the forefront of recovery. These residents have remarked that they feel more peaceful and accepting of themselves and more accommodating towards their peers and mentally resilient to deal with stressful situations they encounter.     
It is evident to declare that pranic healing has so far, been a resounding success among our initially cynical members.

 We are opening curious minds to a totally different method of pain-reduction and healing, which in the past they may have relied on chemical substances to control. We eagerly anticipate these sessions continuing into the future as they offer a unique and useful tool within the recovery treatment process. We feel that 'Pranic Healing' perfectly complements SHAFA’s treatment programme. It fits with our ethos of harnessing the power of the mind to combat life's inevitable problems. This is why it has such a major appeal amongst all of us. Our continuing gratitude and thanks is sent to Master Choa Kok Sui (Pranic Healing’s founder) and the Yoga Vidya Pranic Healing Trust!  
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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Delving into Dreams! Another endearing session with Maheshwari Jani...

On the 25th May 2014 we had our fourth Sunday morning session with Ms. Maheshwari Jani, visiting behaviour analyst and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) master. We explored the fascinating topic of ‘dream realization’ and ‘goal achievement’. In the 2-hour long session attended by both residents and staff, Ms. Jani implemented ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming’ exercises; to prove that our dreams are much more closer to reality thank we perceive them to be. The power of positive thinking and lucid visualization is immense!  
In active addiction, we shut our eyes to the opulence of the world around us and refused to acknowledge the bountiful wealth of opportunities thrown in our way for our personal growth. We became apathetic and our mentality grew weary and hopeless. We simply did not feel we could escape from the vicious circle of substances and feeling of uselessness. In our drinking and drugging haze we frittered away precious time and resources that we could have put to good use to lift ourselves out of our self-inflicted quagmire. Due to this, we never reached out and embraced these golden opportunities to realise our dreams. We never mustered up courage or discipline to take steps into creating them as real and tangible achievements for ourselves.
…That was all about to change when Maheshwari Ji stepped foot into the ‘asha grah’ hall!
She livened up the drab and dreary Sunday morning atmosphere with her winning

enthusiasm and emphatic personality. To start the session, she asked us “Did we have dreams?” initially there were blank looks plastered across the majority of residents faces as many were a little confused. “Dreams…What dreams? The ones that come at night?” one young member asked his neighbour. She asked us again, this time more fervor and passion, with her signature beaming smile and direct gaze. “Did we have dreams of who we would become in the future? Did we have goals and targets we wanted to achieve?” Yes…Yes we indeed did! Finally the penny dropped for our residents…Today we would explore our ambitions and aspirations.
Maheshwari Ji took no time in setting our eager family members to work. They split into groups of six and discussed their individual concepts of dreams. At first members  were apprehensive to speak, it was clear by the demeanours of many this was a emotional topic to delve into – of course they had hopes, goals and dreams to achieve but substance addiction had brusquely shoved these all aside. After 5-10 minutes the icy atmosphere warmed up and family members cheerfully and conscientiously dived deep into the topic to explore all areas. …The mood significantly became more optimistic and energetic when Maheshwari Ji circulated around all the groups to check how we were doing. She was impressed with our residents’ creativity! Even our staff on duty; Ravi Sir Ji interacted with our keen participants and was moved by their sincerity to openly express their thoughts and feelings. So far the session was proceeding ahead brilliantly!   
Maheshwari Ji then called on one brave member to stand before his fellows and share his dream. She utilized a Neuro-Linguistic programming exercise called “Timeline Stepping”. This exercise sought to project the individual’s dream from a mental image to a physical representation by employing  the use of all five senses in the process. Our member closed his eyes and was told to consider the time it would take before he achieves his goal – “2 years”. Then he had to close his eyes, stand on an imaginary line and root himself firmly in his surroundings. Then he mentally cut the timeline into 5 segments of 4 months. From 24 steps he would walk to his first 4 steps. He had to vividly visualise the scene; what could he see happening around him? Who was he with?
What sounds could be heard? Etc. Basically the aim was to start with the end goal in mind and concentrate on the precise details during the dream-realisation process. It was obvious to see that our resident was passionate about his dream from the elaborate details he expressed. Residents and staff alike commented that there was a definite increase in his confidence to make his dream a reality. Great success!   
Next we would set the cogs whirring in our brains by embarking upon a writing task. Maheshwari Ji then told us we would complete a ‘dream depiction’ exercise using the ‘SMART’ model of thinking.  Residents took pen to paper and considered 4 pertinent goals and dreams they had. These had to be specific (i.e. precise), measurable, approachable, realistic and time-bound. Our participants were instructed to write starting “I AM… [a happily married author etc]” rather than “I WILL BE…[goal].By a mere alteration of the words residents used, they increased their level of certainty that the dream would actually happen. The writing task placed huge importance on creating an actual plan-of-action to use in order to make their mental dream vision a concrete reality. After 15 minutes, several members were chosen to give their feedback to the group. It was clear to see that despite years of addiction, our budding residents still had the real possibility of a shining future ahead of them!    
As the session wound to a close, Ms. Jani left us with a
motivational message: No matter what went wrong in the past, we need to forgive and be patient with ourselves. We only have today to improve on ourselves. We can and will meet with our dreams. Our happiness should be for today. We are physically, mentally and emotionally growing stronger. We are overcoming our self-limiting beliefs…We are one step closer to achieving our dreams.   
 All in all, this session was another resounding success from Ms. Jani’s genius. The clear reality is that if we want to succeed, we cannot afford to just have a vague direction of where we want to go. We need a clear-cut vision of what we want to achieve. We also need to be willing to put in time, effort and dedication otherwise our goals will undoubtedly gather dust. The successful way to embark upon projects is with the end in mind. In addition to this, we should continuously fill our minds with positive self-affirmations. If we do this there are no boundaries to the success we can achieve! 
To view more pic's click on the link below :-