Indiana & Yoga Magazine Summer 2016 Issue 1 | Page 43

FEATURE: YOGA AND ADDICTION RECOVERY Photography: Courtesy of Rolf Gates covery but it was yoga that helped my long-term recovery from the physical, mental, and emotional effects of trauma…trauma is held within the physical energetic and emotional bodies and cannot be processed intellectually. Yoga asana enables an individual to move into unprocessed experience held within those layers of ourselves and it enabled me to feel settled, grounded, and safe.” One of Gates’ legacies will be the Yoga, Meditation, and Addiction Recovery Retreat, a weeklong immersion into the intersection of the mindful sciences and addiction recovery. He was inspired to launch the conference after watching President Obama “go above and beyond for his community.” Gates felt called to go above and beyond, too, so he built an annual retreat with big-name teachers from scratch. “President Obama’s message was that those who can give a little more to their community because of talents, wealth, or other privileges should.” Held annually at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif., the retreat can INDIANA & YOGA MAGAZINE ISSUE I cost as much as $3,835, a price tag that would be prohibitive to most struggling or new-in-recovery addicts. But Gates maintains that this conference helps a broad audience find the benefits of yoga and meditation through a trickle-down effect. “I spend most of my time reaching addicts and non-addicts through mainstream yoga venues…the more yoga grows within mainstream settings, the more individuals have been inspired to bring what they learned into other settings like the military, the prisons, and addiction treatment facilities. The recovery conference is one of the ways I support this dynamic within the larger yoga community.” Another way Gates gives back to the community is through his writing. While working on his first book, Meditations From the Mat, Gates discovered that he loved the “creative and artistic process.” He’s since authored Meditations on Intention and Being. Gates’ take on meditation is all about appreciating the world as it is, even when that world seems unsafe or combative. “Yoga prizes two basic capacities: awareness and compassion. The outcomes... depend largely on our ability to foster positive working relationships with those around us. From this perspective, yoga is a fit for just about anyone in any situation. For example, my son trains at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym in town with fighters who, on the surface, aren’t about awareness and compassion but he has formed powerful, positive bonds with his coach and the other athletes, which has helped in every facet of his training. I believe the key ingredient of the success my son has had as a fighter comes from the ability to form positive relationships” Gates can relate to that. He feels that he was able to complete Ranger School, one of the most intense trainings of the US Military’s Special Operations, because of his ability to foster relationships. To 41