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Featured Guest: TJ Woodward, Spiritual Care Counselor, Foundations San Francisco

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My guest today is TJ Woodward, an inspirational author and spiritual care counselor with the Foundations San Francisco outpatient program. For this interview, he joined me at the Innovations in Recovery conference in San Diego to describe the vision behind his new book Conscious Recovery: Viewing Addiction Through the Spiritual Lens. Also, he shares how his journey toward awakened living has helped him return to a place of connection with his essential self.

Woodward’s journey began as a child, when he moved from feeling connected with himself and the world to developing the pain that led him to start abusing substances. “I had the experience of coming into this world with absolute awe and curiosity about life,” Woodward recalls. “And then something happened around age seven for me and I had an actual physical sensation of closing down and shutting off. And from that moment until age 13 or 14 when I discovered drugs and alcohol, I lived in a state of disconnection, a state of separation, a state of very deep pain actually.”

After finding recovery in his early 20s, Woodward’s journey drew him to reconnect with himself and the world in a spiritual way through what he calls “awakened living.” “I find a lot of spirituality really looking outside of ourselves and looking toward something, like how can I attain something,” Woodward explains. “To me, living an awakened life is simply returning to that place of inner spaciousness, that place of an absolute oneness and a connection with source.”

One of the root causes of addiction that Woodward sees is the trauma of experiencing the sad realities of the world and how that can separate us from the truth of who we are. “Even coming into this world as a spiritual being and then being taught all these things about the world – about competition, about fear, about separation – that’s fundamentally a traumatic experience,” Woodward says. “There’s an innate knowing within each of us of this way of being that’s much more loving and much more peaceful in the world.”

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