Monday, March 12, 2018

weekly theme :: Anti Self-Improvement / Self-Improvement


Are you searching for what you already have?

Self-Improvement seems like a good idea, at first blush. 

Who doesn’t want to improve? However, have we stopped to think about who or what this “self” is that desires improvement?

This self you call you. 

Are you the sum total of remembered events? Are you a narrative story in which you are the star? Are you the voices in your head? This week I really want us to look closer at what we mean by Self-Improvement. How can we improve upon a self that is really just a construct of our left brain. Look it up. The left brain is notorious for cooking up all kinds of stories about who we are and what we should be. Scientists have referred to the left brain as the Interpreter. Tests have concluded that it is the left brain’s function to create order, meaning and a linear storyline of who we are. What we forgot to mention to everyone is that YOU are not your left brain. In fact, you are not even the voices in your head at all. Ancient mystics and now modern science agree, the essential YOU is the space or venue in which these thoughts and ideas come to play. Look up studies by Dr. Michael Gazzaniga regarding the left brain. Explore the writings of Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass and Alan Watts. The idea of self is a fascinating topic that we only rarely scratch beyond the surface.

Self-improvement is ungraspable until you let go

What we want to show our students is that self-improvement is ungraspable until you let go. Stopping addictions are impossible to do by trying not to do something: do not drink, do not overeat, do not smoke, do not seek out dysfunctional relationships. There is no quicker way to do something than to promise yourself you will never do it again. It is only by letting go of the obsession that we find freedom.

That which we grasp at, eludes us.

Ironically, that which eludes us will curl up by our feet and surrender if only we would stop chasing our own tails. Instead of self-improvement, seek stillness and silence. Self-improvement is a byproduct of doing that which you enjoy. It happens spontaneously. It never happens by design or because you try desperately to make it so. Go try to fall in love or try to find contentment. Go searching for peace of mind. None will be found because you cannot find what you always had from the start.

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired with Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.
126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, March 5, 2018

weekly theme :: SELFISHNESS


Author: Ryan Thompson

To be selfish is to be inconsiderate of others and to be primarily or solely focused on personal profit/pleasure of any kind regardless of impact on others. Selfishness stems from ignorance of others (self-absorbed), intentional disregard of others (self-seeking), focus of how situations, environments and events are directly impacted or impact the individual (ego centric), focus on importance of self and a sense of superiority over others regardless of truth (egomaniac, i.e. narcissistic).

Why are people selfish? 

Children often start developing empathy as early as age two and can soon begin to exhibit an understanding of empathy and can acknowledge that other people have thoughts and feelings of their own. Humans can naturally regulate empathy through competent parenting and healthy socialization. So, what happens? Why do people become selfish, self-absorbed, ego centric and narcissistic?

There are many reasons why people are motivated to selfish practices. 

A child brought up with excess often learn that they can get what they want through demands, which leads to entitlement. A selfish individual becomes limited in perception and are concerned with how much can be taken without sharing and how to give as little as possible back. Selfishness also manifests due to fear of insecurity which can develop from a myriad of sources such as an unstable home, abuse, mistrust and a lack of development of empathy.

“Selfish” or “Self-care”.

The idea of selfishness can also come from a black or white perception which easily becomes muddled. A.A. and twelve step groups often coin the phrase; “A.A./N.A. is a selfish program”, meaning that there is a primary focus on a recovering individual whom goes through a process of intense learning of self-awareness and personal responsibilities that require a focus on self to be a better individual through actions that reflect an adherence to a transpersonal commitment. These actions also include how an individual can utilize their strengths and experiences to be of service to others, creating a loop of meaning which includes the importance of fellowship and consideration of others. So is it a “selfish” program or is it “self-care”. While working with “selfishness” we ought to consider assisting clients to differentiate self-care from selfishness. Many clients minimize their problems through identifying personal processing as an act of selfishness and to be avoided. Other clients may compare their problems to others, minimizing their problems and presenting that their issues are not that bad, while the truth will continue to cause pain through delusion because of self-absorption.

How can we assist clients...

... in raising awareness of how their own personal fears and mistrust keep them in a selfish pattern of behavior, but at what cost? The cost of selfishness is usually isolation, loneliness, delusion, superficial relationships which can all be significant factors in the maintenance of co-occurring disorders and substance use disorders.

Challenge selfishness.

To challenge selfishness, we can assist clients in differentiating self-care from selfishness. As past or current patterns of selfishness are brought to awareness, we can assist clients in raising their perspective to also account for how their actions will impact others. We can aid clients through empowerment and encourage them to take advantage of their choices to engage in actions that reflect integrity which include learning to set healthy and assertive boundaries which allow for a healthy and sober lifestyle. We can assist clients in becoming aware that by challenging underlying issues which allow for selfishness to occur we can find the courage to become vulnerable to pursue genuine and authentic relationships. This can open realities to discover the value in the compassion and company of others.

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired with Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.

126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, February 26, 2018

weekly theme :: CHOICES

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

Gong Fu or Kung Fu (功夫) literally means "energy/hard work, time/patience." It is commonly misunderstood to mean a particular style of martial art, but it actually refers to anything that takes a large amount of time, patience, and energy to accomplish. For example, if someone is learning to play the piano that is their kung fu because it will require a lot of time and energy to become proficient in that art. The concept of Kung Fu applies to the martial arts as well, but in the west, we tend to assume it is exclusively a martial arts term or a particular style of martial arts and it is not.

Make your way. 

Please notice how I did not say discover your way or find your way or seek your way. I said: make your way. Make it. Create it. This world seems to take equal parts pleasure in creating and destroying. For something new to emerge, something else needs to evaporate. Appearing and disappearing. So to create this new path in which you will travel with contentment and satisfaction you must first dismantle your old way of living. Only makes sense. We can't walk two paths at the same time. Time, as most of us perceive it, is moving constantly in a singular direction. Living a life walking two different paths would necessitate 2 of you. Psychologically this happens in the form of a mental split. The psyche either stands at the crossroads unwilling to choose a course or it desires to choose both courses at the same time. Both choices usher in a litany of material impossibilities, however, from a thinking perspective, we are literally stuck — Out of synch. This is the important part. Either path is the same. The path makes no difference nor cares to label itself one way or the other. By my choice and my willingness to move forward singularly, and assuredly that my path is mine alone and it is ever evolving and growing grander and richer and satisfying with each step we move forward. Every path is filled with pain and pleasure and ups and downs and there is contentment in all of this when enlightenment strikes you. It seems to favor decisively moving singular targets that walk decisively singular paths.

Blah blah blah. So what does that mean or prove? 

Understanding what was just explained is not enough. Believing it to be true is not enough either. Although it does shorten the process slightly. Practicing as if it were true seems to be the action that gets the wheels turning. In other words, behaving as if it were true. It is empowering to practice as if you could dramatically alter the course of your life with a mere one step in a particular direction. Any direction. You can live any life you can imagine, or at higher levels, I suspect, live an unimaginable life. No need to plan out each step. Just keep moving forward. A Chinese sifu once said that if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. The idea that you can stand static still and neither move up or down is really a slower version of moving backward. Getting stuck mentally or emotionally in the past whilst your physical body moves uncompromisingly forward in time causes an existential paradox. Do you realize how much mental strain and internal resources it takes to keep you running counter to the flow of the entire universe?

Either you choose one or not choose one. 

Either way, you made a choice. Decisions made by indecision are still, guess what, decisions. Good and bad are only labels we apply to things based on our preferences, agendas and points of interest. The words themselves mean nothing. They are a choice you decide to apply to situations, people, places or things that you believe do you harm or at the very least, not in line with your preference.

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired with Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.
126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, February 19, 2018


living Sober flowing with Stillness


Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

If I had an hour to solve a problem 
I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem 
and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.
— Albert Einstein

How Often Do We Flow With Stillness

This happens a lot. We do something messed up and waste a bunch of your time and everyone else's time. By the time we sober up, to what we so exquisitely shattered, we quickly start to repair the damage. Like a cat who fell off the sill, we scramble to our feet as quickly as possible and hastily strut away with some salvaged grace, almost as if no calamity had transpired at all. In such a hurry to save face, coupled with the feeling of "getting on with it already," we foolishly rush in where angels fear to tread.

There May Be a Flow to Things

And a way of tuning into the language of this flow. A way to ally yourself with the very current that propels us all forward and back and around again. It is so easy to finally identify the source of a discomfort and quickly fall into the trap of remedying it like chop, chop c'mon right now. But discomforts are a timid sort of prey. If you spring too fast on them, you'll spook them. Practicing stillness in the midst of change and confusion is a powerful tool. In no time, our discomforts will be eating from our hand and rolling in ecstasy at our feet. Not being in too much of a hurry, has its benefits. There is a reason "stop and smell the roses" is a cliche. it is because it is true. time and time again. We can be in such a hurry we brush past the sweet smells of bloom and then curse that too too busy world for its foulness.

Practice Listening, Letting Go, Humility and Awareness

This week's theme is about taking that sacred, quiet moment and keeping it for yourself. A small moment to just take it all in in one big gulp. If that sentence didn't make sense, read it slower, especially between the two "ins". Flowing with life infers letting go of the wheel for a little bit. Trusting in the celestial pacing of things.

Identify Moments

Try to identify moments in your life where "by rushing in" to get involved. Even with the most angelic of intentions, led to an uniquely worse set of circumstances, all thanks to you. Think back in life to the moments when one more play on the bench may have been the better bet. Instead trying "to be" this week lets try "not to be". Try not to be in a hurry to fix things. Practice listening, letting go, humility and awareness this week.

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired with Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.
126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, February 12, 2018


future self love preparation

Don’t Let Your Farmer Collect Garbage. It's all in the preparation. 

There is a person you will never meet in the present. 

Though you feel her nearness and you may even catch a whiff here and there of her scent, she and you will never meet eyes. You will always be intimate strangers. There is a person you will never know and yet know so well. In fact, he will be the sum of all your nowness. It’s hard to show kindness and respect when the object of your kindness and respect is your future self. Your future self is like the friendly farmer who harvests all the experiences (seeds) you set into motion in the present. 

Sorry future friendly farmer self. 

There are no apples to harvest because I planted oranges. Or, sorry future farmer self, I planted nothing. All I did was make your farm empty and overgrown with regrets and missed opportunities. Then your future farmer has no time to farm because he has to deal with the garbage you left for him everywhere. Your farmer is now collecting garbage. Are you satisfied?

This week we are going to practice showing love and respect for our future selves. 

By doing small things, itty-bitty routines, and tiny baby step advances, we gain momentum. Momentum that will carry and propel us into the realm of our future selves. Of course when we arrive at our future it will no longer be future it will be now, but this isn’t a sci-fi movie and we don’t have time to goof around. Know this, our future selves will cheer us and write songs about us and look back fondly at the past-you-self that has made all this future awesomeness happen.

Start small.

what would you like to have happen in the future? What small things can I do now to work toward that vision of the future?

Sample Student: Well, Matt, I would like very much to not go to jail when I go home to Shitsville, USA.

Matt: Super idea. Jail is depressing. Have you alerted your PO that you have left the state but are receiving substance treatment and look forward to rehabilitating yourself?

Sample Student: No I have not done that.

Matt: Then your future self is set to only collect garbage.   How does that make you feel?

Sample Student: Poorly

Matt: Yes, your future self also feels poorly. Let me help you call your PO and get things rolling in the right direction.

Sample Student: Sound good.

Connect in the moment.

The ability to connect to the present moment and shape it in a way that makes a future, unknowable version of yourself grateful, is asking a lot. It depends on you loving yourself enough to do something about it. This week we will learn that our future selves are worth it and what to do about it.

Call or contact Zen Recovery PathOur community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired with Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group and Movie with Meaning therapies.

126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, February 5, 2018

weekly theme :: THE JOURNEY OF A HERO, PART II


“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. 
I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or 
I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have—life itself.” 
~Walter Anderson

Now that clients have explored and defined what a hero means to them, it is time to become the hero in their own lives.

This week's task is to help clients take the positive characteristics and traits they identified and assist them in strengthening their own internal resources, or more specifically, the hero within.

Call or contact Zen Recovery PathOur community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired with Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group and Movie with Meaning therapies.

126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, January 29, 2018

weekly theme :: HERO'S JOURNEY PART 1

hero Journey

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver


In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.

HERO ˈhirō/

noun a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. synonyms: brave person, brave man/woman, man/woman of courage, man/woman of the hour, lionheart, warrior, knight

There is no greater tragedy than a hero split apart from himself. 
 Torn between self and this darker, other self. Fighting to subdue what is within and make things whole again. Awakening to an enlightenment. 
 - Sifu Mathew Carver

The idea of heroes runs deep throughout every culture throughout the ages. 

Certain people stand out amongst the rest and accomplish deeds that far exceed the reach of more pedestrian folks. What makes a hero? Is it what heroes say that makes them different or what they do? Are heroes defined by their actions? What aspects or characteristics do most heroes share? Is there a way to cultivate heroic qualities in ourselves?

Joseph Campbell is a good place to start when talking about the significance of heroes. Also exploring the world of Marvel and DC comics, who have created many of the modern day archetypes for superheroes, is a good place to explore.

Who were your first heroes? 

This week’s theme will lead into a follow up theme the following week which will explore how we deconstruct these hero archetypes and create the hero within ourselves. We can also tap into the mythic cycles in Norse, Greek and Egyptian Mythologies and notice the common themes and issues.

Call or contact Zen Recovery PathOur community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired with Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group and Movie with Meaning therapies.

126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930