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Shaman Recovery

From the Book: "The 2020 Approach"

by Don Reed Simmons

We choose which Path we take, knowing our past does not define our future and only serves as a story of our journey up until the present moment. As we change our habits, we change our life. We are not our past. We are constantly writing and rewriting our future through the decisions we are making in the present moment. By remaining Mindful during the process of life, we see, without judgment, the operation of our unconscious mind leading us either into the Light or into the Shadows. Addiction is an energy, just like everything else, and once held in our body, needs a route for exit otherwise it will completely take over. And like every situation in life, you need an exit strategy and a transitional phase. With the 2020 Approach this strategy is based on 4 simultaneous actions: 

Mental - Mindful Meditation to become aware of the unconscious thinking mind and to shift the focus from that which discourages the Spirit to that which encourages the Soul.

Emotional - Discovering the authentic Joy within, even that which puts a simple smile upon your face for a moment, and taking action to bring that into your life. Every day. Finding or creating a community of like minded, uplifting friends and acquaintances. This is also working with the 5 Foundations of 1) Safe 2) Accepted 3) Forgiven 4) Loved and 5) Bountiful to discover how each is either balanced or unbalanced.

Physical - Movement like Chi Gong, Tai Chi are first and foremost with dietary changes. Weekly or daily exercise of walking, running, weight training, biking, dancing around the house etc. “Earthing” activities of being in nature with extended periods of time breathing in the nature of where you are. Specialized regimen of vitamins, herbs and water.

Spiritual - Daily realignment of Self and Source through prayer, reading of inspirational material, chanting, Insight Meditation and/or service to community through the Foundation of Bountiful.

The 2020 Approach is understanding the 5 Foundations:


1) Safe  2) Accepted  3) Forgiven  4) Loved  5) Bountiful


and where the breakdown of those 5 Foundations begin to create separation from ourselves and our desired community.


These 5 Foundations are the roots of our successful living. As we discover one or more of the conditions not met, there is the feeling of separation which will cause a sense of loss and anger and we will seek to escape the negative emotion of the separation through some form of addiction. The addiction creates more separation causing more loss and anger, leading to more desire to escape. And the cycle continues and escalates. Life can be harsh until the individual takes the challenge to change the story of guilt, shame, resentment, remorse, neglect, isolation, abuse and betrayal, which is separation from our authentic self. Addiction becomes a refuge from the pain and suffering of separation and a self fulfilling prophecy of destruction. Eventually the addiction itself becomes a living, breathing, separate personality to the victim, known in certain circles as “The Hungry Ghost,” robbing them of their own authentic personality and keeping them away from the Light of their original Source, which is Love and Self Love. If the addiction makes you feel numb from the perils of life and the separation of self, you cannot experience the joy of moderation and the comfort of community. The addiction is like a dock in a marina, keeping you safe from the harshness of our humanness, yet separates you from the lifeboat of freedom within humanity. 

Addiction is a Hungry Ghost who loves you are addicted and accepts you as you are; forgives you of your suffering by escapism; keeps you safe from other people's demands and abuses and with addiction, you can have as much as you want. Addiction becomes the “friend” you love and hate, and still you have a hard time turning your back on its presence. It is the ultimate abusive partner that, somehow, makes you feel both shameful to stay in the relationship and guilty to leave. It takes courage to stand up against that which is consistent, known and numbing, but ultimately is not good for you. It’s the “Catch 22” effect of giving up that which keeps you “comfortable and safe,” yet detached from others, and that which makes you “whole and healthy” and thriving in life.

Recovery from addiction is taking on a new 2020 Approach where the old model of subjugation and fear gives way to the way of Diplomatic thinking and living. The ability to negotiate with the unconscious mind by listening to what is lacking, and what is needed to feel whole and happy, is now the super highway to a life well lived. The model of Mindfulness is becoming awakened to your thoughts and experiences and having active discernment as to how those thoughts and experiences shape your life without the judgement of yourself or anyone else. When we become comfortable with the illusion of life, through the Mindful awareness that our thoughts create our experiences, we then have the ability to change our story.  Diplomatically and Mindfully we can now create new avenues of achieving the 5 Foundations of Safe, Accepted, Forgiven, Loved and Bountiful through deep awareness of “what is” into the new possibilities of choice and “what will be.”


When explored, the addict will find at least 1 of the 5 Foundations are missing in their life. By identifying which Foundation is missing or suppressed, then works to build up each Foundation to its highest, you begin to see a revitalization of the broken addict into a vibrant, healthy and strong individual. It’s best to be able to have an accountability partner through this journey as community and power in numbers builds a net of confidence and a foundation of Right Thinking. Most important, however, is the dedication to the process and a true desire for the outcome of freedom from addiction.

All addictions are the same with varying themes creating different vibrational breaks of emotions. But all have the same desire: To Escape. It does not matter if your drug of choice is alcohol, drugs, food, sex, video games or even exercise. Addiction is a persistent compulsion to do something without the perceived ability to stop and is an endless loop of desire even after one compulsion is satisfied, another compulsion takes its place. This looping keeps you in isolation from the regular community of your authentic self in order to keep the compulsions alive. This is living in the shadows of despair instead of the Light of Joy.

Why? What happened? When and who? And in the long run does it really matter? There are some who feel they must know all the details. The details, however, only bury you deeper into the rabbit hole of separation and abuse. Another aspect of the 2020 Approach is to be non-linear whereby what happened in the past is another story that may or may not be a part of your future. You get to decide. Would you rather carry the baggage of victim-hood or put it down and carry the empowerment of wisdom? There is a famous parable about the Two Wolves, whose origin is questionable and is widely accepted as a story made up by Rev. Billy Graham to illustrate the inner struggle between good and evil. 


An old Cherokee Chief is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

 He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee Chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”


Humans live in a complex relationship between joy and freedom versus anger, guilt and shame. Guilt and shame can hold a certain necessity in life to help us negotiate between right and wrong. Sometimes our options can be confusing in the heat of the moment and guilt and shame brings us back into the reality of our True Beliefs. Guilt and shame can also be used as a weapon by others controlling our behaviors to suit their own desires, much like cases of “gaslighting” by narcissist relationships. We create habits to obtain a balance between joy and shame, like exercise, dietary choices, relationship commitments and the like. Healthy habits are created by the continual healthy choices we make. Addictions are created by seeking habits to escape circumstances or perceived realities experienced by the individual. When someone feels guilt or shame of an action of escape, and refuses to do anything about it, they will eventually find a hiding place to cover up or excuse the behavior and thus an addiction is born. The Hungry Ghost then takes over. Guilt, anger, shame and remorse are only a few of the thousands of tools the Hungry Ghost uses to bring those in the Light into the shadow of addiction.


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