St. Joseph Institute would like to share a recent interview by Kurt Angle, alumnus of our inpatient program. During this candid conversation with ESPN Radio, Kurt reveals the extent of his addiction, as well as the pains and triumphs of finally achieving sobriety, noting St. Joseph Institute as the rehab facility that saved his life and recommending it to anyone looking for substance treatment.

Earlier in 2016, Kurt was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame. Kurt has been a professional wrestler in the WWF, WWE, and TNA, racking up 13 world championships, including an Olympic gold medal. In fact, he has been described as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. In the midst of his career, Kurt battled with substance use and has since made a full, sustained recovery. We congratulate Kurt and encourage you to read and watch the interview about his inspirational journey.

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meditateAt St. Joseph’s, we appreciate that the road to sustainable recovery can be long, winding, and unique for each individual. There is one strategy that all people suffering from addiction can add to their arsenal – something that we incorporate into our traditional services, groups, and medical treatments. As you may recall from time spent at St. Joseph’s, we encourage those on any step of the recovery process to explore the practice of mindful meditation.

Meditation is not the legs-crossed, loud-humming, floating-on-a-cloud-to-enlightenment that is often portrayed in the media. Mindfulness meditation for addiction recovery is a legitimate, scientifically supported method for engaging more closely with your innermost thoughts, feelings, and temptations. What’s more, meditation can be practiced by anyone, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs.

Before recapping how to incorporate meditation into your daily routine, let’s begin by highlighting some of its benefits. Everyone – whether they’re dealing with substance use issues or not – can gain from meditating. Meditation is an opportunity to step back from the clamor of everyday life and look inwards. For most people, sitting quietly is a lost art. Being alone with our thoughts can be scary. Mindfulness invites us to sit, breathe, and consider those thoughts without judgment – to consider ourselves and our actions without judgment. So, what can meditation do for you in your road to recovery?

St. Joseph’s Institute believes individuals in recovery who incorporate meditation are better equipped to:

  • Handle the extreme highs and lows that often occur during early recovery.
  • Traverse cravings that often creep up throughout the recovery process. Meditation helps individuals realize that they don’t need to be victims to their thoughts, nor must they act on them when they could lead to destructive behavior.
  • Avoid a relapse by spotting warning signs early. More self-awareness can have long-lasting and positive effects.
  • Manage interpersonal relationships. People who practice mindfulness meditation grow to be more patient, understanding, and slower to anger. Applying those traits to relationships with family and friends, especially while recovering, can make a world of difference.

How can you begin or develop this journey towards a more mindful recovery? Most meditation practitioners aim to meditate every day, ideally at the same time each day. Like practicing for a sport, your meditation practice will benefit from consistency. Start with 10 or 15 minutes; then, build your way up to longer sessions. Find a quiet place. Choose a comfortable sitting position. Take a few deep breaths – and then allow your breathing to return to its natural state. Observe your breath. Close your eyes and focus on the air rushing in – and then out of your nostrils. When a stray thought or mental chatter distracts your focus, don’t be alarmed. This is normal. Acknowledge the thought – whether it’s about your next meal, an argument with a friend, or a craving – and try to let it float away. That thought is just a thought; it doesn’t define you as a person. Return to your breath.

As discussed at our facilities, there are many methods of meditation and you will find what works best for you. While “sitting” can initially be challenging and consistency is key, it’s important to remember that meditation for recovery can be practiced anywhere at any time. It doesn’t require any special equipment or expensive training. Outside of a daily routine, meditation can take the form of a few deep breaths outside of a liquor store, a reminder that you have the choice not to go in. It can be a calm moment to collect yourself before entering into a social situation where you know there will be substance use. It can be a chance to refocus on your goals before a call to your sponsor.

Take this opportunity to learn more about mindfulness and its benefits. Recently, the New York Times published a comprehensive introduction to meditation. If you’re still not convinced, read more about the science behind meditation for recovery.

If you haven’t meditated already, today’s the day to start.

Some research sources used for this article:

From mindless mess to mindfulness: Meditation practice in recovery

Mindfulness Meditation in Recovery

Meditation for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Recovery


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10-Hardest-Life-Fish-BowlHow do you react to change? Do you seek it, always hoping for something new and exciting? Do you dread it, structuring your life to avoid or delay it? Do you deny it altogether?

We all know that change is a condition of life. Without change, nothing would renew. But change can feel like death; it can initiate a grieving process for what we must lose in order to make way for new growth. How we react to the deaths that change brings determines how much we will deepen our understanding of ourselves and of life.

When we fight against change, we seek escape routes that can lead to addiction. When we try to force change to prevent boredom, we open ourselves to equally damaging behavior. Both reactions are based in fear. We fear what we cannot control. We fear what will arise in the quiet space of no-change.

St. Joseph Institute has undergone a major life change. Its founders, Michael and Jenny, have retired, leaving their legacy in the care of Summit. In one way, nothing has changed: St. Joseph’s retains its unique approach to recovery founded in holistic treatment and spiritual development. In another way, everything has changed: the website, the leadership, the marketing strategy, the range of treatment modalities, the number of residents, and more.

Change is frightening. Many of us who worked here under Michael and Jenny’s direction have mixed reactions: we are sad to see them go and worried how the change will affect us, but we also feel excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Many of you may also be wondering what will change. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Pennsylvania leads the nation in overdose deaths among young adult men (link). Summit has the resources that will allow us to expand our reach and our services to better address this epidemic that over the last decade has killed more than twice as many Americans as homicide.
  • Not all rehabs are equal. We stand out from other rehabs because of our focus on holistic treatment. But not all holistic treatments are equal, and we will invest our resources into discovering which treatments work best for addiction, are supported by research, and can be made accessible to all residents as part of the cost of the program.
  • The success rate of even the best recovery programs is abysmally low. Our country desperately needs to know more about the causes of addiction and how to keep people in recovery. Summit desires to work with St. Joseph’s to conduct addiction research.
  • Because Summit owns many addiction treatment centers all over the country, our network of resources has suddenly become vast. Even here in central PA, we are now connected to and share information with two other centers equality committed to quality recovery programs. This makes it much easier for all of us to find the best care for clients.

Feeling good? We hope so. But this still doesn’t get to our point about change. Thoughts of opportunity or loss are thoughts of the future. Clinging to memories and “the-way-it-used-to-be” are thoughts of the past. But the future and the past are not real. The only reality is the reality of the present moment.

Consider this quote from Buddhist monk Pema Chodron: “When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.”

When we let ourselves not know, we surrender to the present. We give up our desire to control. We see our weaknesses without scorn, and we see our power without arrogance. We see that where we are in the present moment is always exactly where we need to be.

And so we say a fond goodbye to Michael and Jenny and wish them adventure and delight as they enter the next phase of their lives. We say hello to Summit and to change, looking forward with excitement even as we stay grounded, trusting that St. Joseph’s will always change and grow and always be exactly where it needs to be.

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