I am very excited to be going to see Russell Brand tonight in Cardiff.  This is the second time I will be seeing him on his ‘Rebirth’ tour, having enjoyed the first one so much that I bought tickets to see him again the following day!

Since the last show, at which I was able to gift him a copy of my book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, Russell has released his own book on Recovery.  It is called Recovery, Freedom from our addictions, and it is a very good book.

I am working through it slowly, enjoying deepening my understanding of the 12 Step program, something that I am not really familiar with.  Russell is very good at explaining the concepts and work of the program in a very easy to follow, inspirational and humorous way (you would expect humour from Russell wouldn’t you!)

Through telling the story of his addiction and long road to recovery, Russell helps the reader to understand that while there might be obvious addictions such as drugs and alcohol, once those are cleared, there are other problems below the surface that need to be addressed in order to live a happy, balanced life.  In Russell’s case, once he took drugs and alcohol from his life, he sought gratification in fame, money, power, emotional reliance on other people, and, rather famously, sex.  It is quite beautiful to read the once famously licentious Russell Brand talking about the joy and peace he now finds in a commited relationship (he and Laura are now married), domesticity and fatherhood.

The message that comes through the book loud and clear is that addiction is an attempt at solving a problem, and the attempt to solve the problem then of course, becomes an even bigger problem in its own right.  Furthermore, sobriety is not the solution to life’s problems, but it makes it a lot easier to start to address the underlying problems.  Addiction doesn’t start with a drink, a drug, or that first experience of whatever you become addicted to.  Addiction starts with a feeling that you want to hide from.  The 12 Steps helped Russell to come to terms with his own feelings of self loathing and shame that he had carried with him since childhood, and now that he has a tool to help him process his emotions, he is stable and able to deal with what life throws at him.

That recovery is a deeply profound and spiritual journey is clear.  Spirituality (not to be confused with religion) is a connection to the divine as the individual understands it.  It is not a set of rules and dogmas as laid out by a religion.  Russell talks at length about God, but makes it clear that his relationship with God is ‘as he understands it’, and that he was able to work the 12 Steps without any religious beliefs.  Indeed, at the start of his recovery, he was a committed atheist.  It is very clear that you do not need to believe in any sort of ‘mainstream’ god figure to follow the 12 steps, but that doing so will open you up to enable you to find your own connection to god as you understand it to be.

This is a really good book which will help you to understand the nature of addiction and recovery, get a far deeper understanding of a very famous man you may think you know, and learn some powerful ways to transform your life.  I highly recommend it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book, share your views in the comments below!

I had thought that I might follow the 12 Step program that Russell describes in his book.  He provides a series of soul searching questions that you can ask yourself if you want to beat an addiction or just make your life better.  The questions are very powerful, and have given me much pause for thought, but I have also realised that, for me at least, Yoga provides me with the tools I need to keep mind, body and soul together.  Through Yoga I not only have tools to improve my physical health and mental wellbeing, but to reflect on my life in a very similar way to that recommended by the 12 Step program.  I will almost certainly use some of the questions Russell provides in my Swadhyaya, or self study practice, but I have committed to a far more focused and dedicated yoga practice instead. Tomorrow (October 12) is my 3 year soberversary, and I will be celebrating with a long yoga practice in the morning before attending the AGM at NewLink Wales in the afternoon! 

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Esther Nagle
Teacher, writer, speaker at Balance and Breathe
Esther is a former alcoholic, smoker and all round stressed out mess. She found the path to health, happiness, freedom and joy through Yoga. She is a passionate advocate for the power of Yoga, and time in Nature, in bringing balance to life, and giving you control over your health, happiness and wellbeing.

Esther is a powerful public speaker, writer and author. Her first book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, has gained many 5 star reviews and has helped many people along their recovery journey.