Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Unintended consequences are unforeseen outcomes that result from a particular and purposeful action or choice. 

For example, in India, government decision makers offered anyone a cash reward for a dead cobra. Apparently, live cobras are rather prolific in India and causing a public hazard. As a result of this incentive program, Indians were killing cobras by the knot full.

This serpentcide led to the near extinction of the dangerous snake in Delhi. Now we can all wander around safely. Barefoot in the tall grass along the Ganges with not a worry in the world, right? Wrong, once enterprising Indians made the connection that a male cobra and a female cobra get together to make pits of baby cobras…ch-ching! Let’s breed cobras! Well, eventually the Man caught wind of this little scheme and declared that they would no longer pay bounties for dead snakes. As a result of this pendulum shift, cobra breeders all throughout India dumped their nests of cobras into the nearest dusty ditch and went off in search of greener pastures. The end result? A lot more damn venomous cobras then we started with! Haha says the tiny anarchist who lives in my heart.

This is an unintended consequence. 

What we planned to achieve from our master plan does not pan out masterfully. We planted a redwood seed and nothing but weeds grew up. Our ability to make choices and plans comes with a very comical backlash: the unforeseen outcomes. 

Learning how to adapt and recover from these unwelcomed results can be the difference between giving up and moving forward. Choices generate the need for more choices. I hate to quote rap royalty but Biggie said it best. Mo’ choices mo’ problems. Or was that mo’ money? We digress…

Forgiving ourself for their choices

Most people in addiction recovery are suffering from a very precise kind of suffering. Many addicts cannot forgive themselves for their choices. We regret going out one more time. We lament the loss of a friend we could have saved but instead hastened to the grave. We wish we could take back so many things we did and said. Or worse, the things we did not do or say. Alcoholism is unforgiving. It holds grudges. But there is hope. The ability to see the unintended consequence for what it truly is, gives us an advantage when dealing with addiction, and in a much wider scope, our lives.

Unforeseen results

Listen, put simply, we do and say things and as a result, stuff happens. Some we intended and a lot more we did not. However, these unforeseen results themselves have unforeseen results, good and bad. As long as we are moving forward and learning from each choice and each word, we then walk an enlightened path. We have to make choices. 

Even when we refuse to choose, we chose. No decision is a decision. And with these choices, we feel the comfort and the sting. Really the weekly theme runs deeper than unintended consequences. Making brave and compassionate choices might be a better title. Or don’t give up ten feet from the finish line. Or, maybe, forgive yourself first, and then we can move on to forgiving the rest.

I know, this week’s theme is “How Can We Practice Having the Courage to Make Better Choices and the Wisdom to Learn the Double-Edged Lessons in Each Choice.”

Monday, April 9, 2018

weekly theme :: What is Wholistic Treatment?

Wholistic treatment

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

Holistic Origins

The word holistic is misused by wholistic treatment centers, and for that matter, the world at large.  This week at Zen we are going to bring it all back home.  Bring it back down to the grassroots, to its intended meaning and purpose.  Note, holistic can also be written as wholistic even though your spell checker may not agree.  The alternative spelling gives us a much better clue as to the meaning of this misunderstood word.

Holism Philosophy

Holism is where the idea of holistic comes from in the first place.  It is a philosophy that states that the parts that make up a whole are interdependent and contribute to the whole in a way that is more valuable than the individual parts.  “How” the parts connect becomes the important question.  The relationship between the parts.

Keep in mind, each part cannot be understood separately from the whole.  All parts are interrelated thus all parts must be considered.  For example, a person reports they have a shortness of breath.  They are sent to a pulmonary specialist.  The lung doctor only looks at the lungs.  However, he sees that the lungs are being pushed on by an inflamed liver.  Since he is not a liver doctor refers his patient to a liver specialist.  The liver specialist then discovers that the liver is inflamed due to excessive alcohol consumption.  He then refers the patient to a substance abuse specialist who discovers that the reason the patient drinks alcohol excessively is that he is severely depressed.  So, he refers him to a depression specialist.  And so on and so on the drudgery lumbers forward…

A Wholistic Treatment Approach

A wholistic treatment approach to this issue would consider all these factors and contributing forces simultaneously.  See, each issue created a chain reaction that created another series of chain reactions.  How these chain reactions communicate and relate to one another is what wholistic care is all about.  If we isolate a component and only fixate on that singular component it is like giving a free house to a homeless person.  As you wash your hands and pat yourself on the back for “fixing” the issue of homelessness, you cannot help but realize that there is still a potential learning disability, trauma, mental illness, addiction and or a host of other issues that contribute and overlap to the overall identified problem, which is homelessness.  Buying them a house does not remedy the issue.  Only looking at each issue and how it relates to the next can we gain the insight that necessitates and supports true healing and change.    

This week I am going to focus on Chinese Herbal Medicine as a holistic science aimed at treating people for a myriad of health issues. 

I would encourage all staff to think about what special skill or area of expertise you most enjoy and represent and offer that as your contribution to the whole.  Each staff member is a master at a particular group of things.  Present this to the group.  Maybe cognitive therapy is of interest to you.  Or perhaps gestalt therapy is your bag.  Maybe you use music as a way to heal and connect.  Whatever shape this takes please consider how your specialty connects, blends and compliments many others.  Find the connections.

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired by 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, April 2, 2018

weekly theme :: NAMING

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

In my heart and on my mind, love without condition is a truistic sensibility at the onset. It's when variables like definitions, expectations, control or naming adjust our sensibility. For this week's theme, I prefer to go to the proverbial source, David Whyte's book Consolations

"Love too early is a beautiful but harrowing human difficulty. Most of our heartbreak comes from attempting to name who or what we love and the way we love, too early in the vulnerable journey of discovery. We can never know at the beginning, in giving ourselves to a person, to a work, to a marriage or to a cause, exactly what kind of love we are involved with. When we demand a certain specific kind of reciprocation, before the revelation has flowered completely, we find ourselves disappointed and bereaved and in that grief, may miss the particular form of love that is actually possible but that did not meet our initial and too specific expectations. Feeling bereaved, we take our identity as one who is disappointed in love, our almost proud disappointed preventing us from seeing the lack of reciprocation from the person or the situation as simply a difficult invitation into a deeper and as yet unrecognizable form of affection.

The act of loving itself, always becomes a path of humble apprenticeship, not only in following its difficult way and discovering its different forms of humility and beautiful abasement but strangely, through its fierce introduction to all its many astonishing and different forms, where we are asked continually and against our will to give in so many different ways, without knowing exactly, or in what way, when or how, the mysterious gift will be returned.

We name mostly in order to control but what is worth loving does not want to be held within the bounds of two narrow a calling. In many ways, love. has already named us before we can even begin to speak back to it, before we can utter the right words or understand what has happened to us or is continuing to happen to us: an invitation to the most difficult part of all, to love without naming at all."

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired by 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 26, 2018

weekly theme :: DELUSIONS

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

What is a Delusion?

A delusion is a conviction to a belief which can persist in the presence of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. Delusions can manifest as a defense mechanism in order to cope with intense and uncomfortable situations. Delusions may protect an individual from harm initially; such as delusional thinking in an abusive relationship, it will also support and maintain the maladaptive behavior. Delusions can be created by an individual to maintain substance use without facing the responsibility imposed by negative consequences. Delusions can maintain dysfunctional family homeostasis in addition to manifesting and exacerbating codependency.

How can we assist clients disrupting thinking and behaviors fueled by delusion?

We must empathize with those that have manifested delusions as a way to cope. We must also assist clients with raising awareness about those delusions and discovering how they maintained unhealthy behaviors. Let us empower clients to break these chains and develop the courage to make decisions from truth and integrity.

There are several subtypes of delusional disorders and some of these include:

Persecutory Delusions

According to the DSM-IV-TR, persecutory delusions are the most common form of delusions in schizophrenia, where the person believes they are "being tormented, followed, sabotaged, tricked, spied on, or ridiculed

Paranoid Delusion 

A paranoid delusion is the fixed, false belief that one is being harmed or persecuted by a particular person or group of people. Paranoid delusions are known technically as a “persecutory delusion.”

Delusional Jealousy

This usually develops due to a fear that a spouse or partner is being unfaithful. These doubts may be unfounded and can cause severe damage to the relationship. The sufferer usually goes to great lengths to try and find evidence of their partner’s alleged “affairs” and may also resort to a third party such as a private detective to find such evidence. Studies have shown that this form of delusion is more common in men than in women. It is sometimes called morbid jealousy or pathological jealousy.

Erotomania or delusion of love

In this form of delusion, the patient is often firmly convinced that a person he or she is fixated upon is in love with them. This obsession leads to stalking, unnatural jealousy and rage when the object of their affection is seen with their spouse or partners. Erotomanis often concern a famous person or someone who is in a superior status and usually there is no contact between the patient and the victim, who has never encouraged the patient. Erotomanic delusional disorder is also referred to as De Clerambault’s Syndrome.

Somatic delusional disorder

In this disorder, a person is convinced something is wrong with them. This type of delusion may often lead to multiple consultations with physicians, surgical procedures, depression and even suicide. Some individuals may also develop tactile hallucinations and feel the sensation of insects or parasites crawling over their skin. This is called monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis and forms part of somatic delusional disorder.

Induced delusional disorder or folie a’ deux

This is a rare form of delusion where two people who are usually in a close relationship, are completely isolated from others physically and culturally and share the same delusional system of grandeur or persecution, for example. One of the partners may be the dominant personality who influences the weaker personality into adopting the delusion, in which case the psychosis mainly affects the dominant person, with the other rapidly recovering from the delusions once they are separated from them.

Delusions of Grandeur 

Someone might, for example, believe they are destined to be the leader of the world, despite having no leadership experience and difficulties in interpersonal relationships. Delusions of grandeur are characterized by their persistence. They are not just moments of fantasy or hopes for the future.

It is important to differentiate between Delusions of Grandeur and simple hopes for the future.

Symptoms of Delusion of Grandeur

How delusions of grandeur are incubated vary greatly in their content, but they are similar to one another in that they involve the persistent belief in one’s own grandiosity. 
Here are a few common examples of delusions of grandeur:
  • The belief that one has a special relationship with a supernatural entity. Cult leaders, for example, might believe they can communicate with a god or that they are a manifestation of a god on earth.
  • The belief that one has a special relationship with a famous person or authority figure, such as the president.
  • The belief that one has a unique destiny. These destinies often involve power, fame, fortune, or supernatural concepts.

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 19, 2018

weekly theme :: INNER TRUTH

inner truth

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

There are two many good quotes about truth to share in a timely fashion. 

My two favorites are:

There are three sides to every story: yours, mine and the truth.
– Robert Evans, filmmaker

Three things shine before the world and cannot be hidden.
They are the moon, the sun, and the truth.
– usually attributed to the Buddha in a paraphrased version

The sort of “truth” we will be exploring this week will pertain to inner truth. 

The truth about who you are and how you shape your reality based on this inner truth. The Greek word for “truth” is aletheia. This word means literally to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” It conveys the thought that truth is always there, always open and available for all to see, with nothing being hidden or obscured.

In Chinese philosophy “Chung Fu” or Inner Truth has three distinct images or ideas associated with it:

One is the wind blowing over the lake stirring the surface. 

When the wind disrupts the surface of the water, we see ripples. These ripples are a physical manifestation of the wind’s effect on the water. This unsettled water expresses the visible effects of the invisible. Inner truth is like the wind in this example. What we feel to be our truth will manifest itself in the “agreed upon” real world.

The second image is of a baby bird being held down by its mother’s foot. 

This expresses the idea of brooding. Brooding in this sense means how a mother bird cares over her young. Some mama birds over-brood their babies and the hatchling grows too large for the nest and falls out before learning to fly. Under-brood and you miss the hints and clues. Correct brooding means actively listening to what another person is expressing. Paying close attention to something or someone is how one broods. The baby chick will give the signals, the mother only need to have the desire to be aware. In order to care for the flightless hatchling, the mother listens closely and reads the signs honestly.

The third idea is listening to others. 

The last image offers clear instructions on how to practice Inner truth. Receiving what others say and do with an open heart. Attacking people with YOUR preconceived plans and opinions is never the path to inner truth. Only paying close attention to the stirrings of others can you find open-heartedness. An open heart allows inner truth to penetrate just like an egg is warmed by the light and heat and “quickened” into a living thing. That empty space in the egg is key. Inner truth is also an empty space in you that is filled by showing interest and compassion in others. The source of a person’s strength lies not in her self but in her relation of that self to other people.

Remember the three sides to every story quote? 

“There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.” Well there is more to that quote that always gets left out for some reason.

“And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.”

Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.

Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.

Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,

There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.

But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,

They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.

And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,

Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.
- Ta Chuan

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 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