The Grappling Alternative; By Adam

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Samantha Matern (AKA: Sam, Sami), has a Masters in Counseling Psychology, a Doctorate in Jurisprudence (law degree), and is registered and certified in Addictions Counseling. Samantha is also a Certified Addictions Educator and is currently teaching at Santa Barbara City College.

Professor Matern recently asked a class of her students if they would like their work published on our website, and social media channels.  Many volunteered, and I have been given the arduous task of deciding which papers to publish.  This in no means is indicative of one paper being better than the other.  I have not met any of the students, therefore it is not favoritism either. Over time, we may very well publish them all.

We would like to thank the students for their honesty, vulnerability, and dedication. While we were given permission, last names will not be printed as a right to their privacy.

The Grappling Alternative; By Adam

Learning how to live and succeed as an addict in recovery can seem overwhelming. After the initial 90 days, around the time the pink cloud is starting to wear off, reality sinks in. What does the addict/alcoholic do with their spare time? By this point, habits have been changed. The addict/alcoholic cannot hang out with old using buddies or frequent the same places they once drank and used in. There are many types of recovery support programs and finding the right one can be intimidating and confusing.

From my personal experience, using a combination of positive outlets has been successful. I believe that 12-step based groups can be comforting and enrich the quality of an addict/alcoholic’s life. The 12 steps have been a major key in my road to recovery. I am also very passionate about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a form of grappling, which incorporates Judo, wrestling, and joint locks. One of the many things that I appreciate with the Jiu Jitsu is the sense of community that comes with the practice of the art. Specifically, I have been very impressed with some of the people I have met who started to train Jiu Jitsu, and have been able to remain completely abstinent from drugs and alcohol.

While I can attest to the value and utility of the 12-step program, it does some shortcoming. In particular, some of the drawbacks to the 12-step program are that an addict/alcoholic must concede to a higher power. In addition, when it comes to drug and alcohol use, the addict/alcoholic must admit that they are powerless. To remedy this situation, one must turn their lives over to a power greater than themselves. One of the positive aspects of a 12-step program is an inclusive community, everyone is welcome no matter their age, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. As a member of a 12-step group ascends through the steps, they will clean up the wreckage of their past and understand a new freedom. Another fundamental part of a 12-step program is that the old timers must help the newcomers to sustain their own sobriety.

Similar to a 12-step program, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu everyone is welcome. Once a person starts training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they will form a very powerful communal connection with their training partners. Although there is system of belt rankings (based on experience and acquisition of skill), the brazilian Jiu Jitsu school, or academy, is an almost egalitarian gathering place. The raw honesty of Jiu Jitsu practice strips away much of the contrived hierarchal pretense found so commonly in other forms of social interaction. The sense of community leads to a level of involvement with your training partners, where people will be held accountable for showing up to train and questioned if they stop coming to the academy. Another direct correlation between Jiu Jitsu and a 12-step program is that Jiu Jitsu classes are taught by the more experienced members. In most gyms, black belts teach the techniques to the class and then help any student who might be struggling with understanding the technique. This is similar to an old timer helps a newcomer through the steps. Another benefit from training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a positive increase in self esteem. As a person becomes more involved with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they will improve their overall health and in turn, most people choose to eat a clean diet to ensure the most nutrients for their body. Lastly, as a person becomes better at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they are rewarded with a higher rank in the form of colored belts starting at white, then blue, purple, brown, and finally black. This provides a demonstrable symbol of commitment and achievement. One dissimilarity I do see between a 12-step program and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there is no work on cleaning up the wreckage of one’s past and making amends to all who have been harmed. Although, the reflective practitioner of Jiu Jitsu will look back at their training and think about the way in which they could improve in the future.

I have met many people through training who say Jiu Jitsu saved their life. Two men that come to mind were both former gang members as well as heroin addicts. One of these men has been clean and sober for 15 years now and is no longer an active gang member. In addition, he has achieved the rank of black belt. The second man has been sober for 5 years. He is excelling through the belt system and is no longer an active gang member. Both of these men have respectable jobs and are positive members of society. This is very encouraging for their peers and the younger generation. In conclusion, I want to make it clear that I am not saying that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is better than a 12-step program. For me, a combination of both has been extremely beneficial. I do believe that the similarities between the two might be some indication as to why people can remain abstinent and better their lives through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


Holding Your Own; Trust What YOU know

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It can be difficult to trust ourselves, to return and re-align with our natural given intuition and instincts. After years of avoiding, neglecting, or allowing others to dominate or oppress us, we can finally discover just how far away we have moved from our true self. When we find a coach or teacher that can show us the way back to ourselves, we need never doubt ourselves again – we can think, move, feel, and make choices with complete confidence and certainty. It is an amazing way to live! ♥ Samantha Matern –



From the Language of Letting Go:

“Trust yourself. Trust what you know.

Sometimes, it is hard to stand in our own truth and trust what we know, especially when others would try to convince us otherwise.

In these cases, others may be dealing with issues of guilt and shame. They may have their own agenda. They may be immersed in denial. They would like us to believe that we do not know what we know; they would like us not to trust ourselves; they would prefer to engage us in their nonsense.
We don’t have to forfeit our truth or our power to others. That is codependency. Believing lies is dangerous. When we stop trusting our truth, when we repress our instincts, when we tell ourselves there must be something wrong with us for feeling what we feel or believing what we believe, we deal a deadly blow to our self and our health. When we discount that important part of ourselves that knows what is the truth, we cut ourselves off from our center. We feel crazy. We get into shame, fear, and confusion. We can’t get our bearings when we allow someone to pull the rug from under us. This does not mean that we are never wrong. But we are not always wrong. Be open. Stand in our truth. Trust what you know. And refuse to buy into denial, nonsense, bullying, or coercion that would like to take you off course.Ask to be shown the truth, clearly—not by the person trying to manipulate or convince you, but by yourself, your Higher Power, and the Universe.

Today, I will trust my truth, my instincts, and my ability to ground myself in reality. I will not allow myself to be swayed by bullying, manipulating, games, dishonesty, or people with peculiar agendas.”

If you’re struggling, please get in touch. I’ve provided my email address (above), and a contact form below. My phone number is listed at the top of my website. If you’re not an existing client, the 15-minute consultation is free of charge.


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Friday’s Quotes – C.S. Lewis

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Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.


We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will, therefore, draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork, you must make a decision.


We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.


Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.


If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.


Clive Staples Lewis wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. C. S. Lewis’s most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics in The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Learn More About C.S. Lewis


Bonds of Self

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Serenity exists between acceptance and willingness. Acceptance allows us to find peace in the world, and willingness allows us to be released from the bonds of self.

Acceptance does not mean we are in agreement, it does not mean that it gives permission or that we acquiesce. It is a completely different experience to truly find what is in the present moment.

Almost without fail, when we lean into that which is difficult with the mindset of  “I am willing to be willing” to accept we almost immediately will we be given direction, or find an intuitive solution as to the action or lack of action we must take next.


Who & What to Trust

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Wisdom will always be loving, it will never be cruel, and it will always be in consideration of all living beings. That is how you know who and what to trust.


Fear; Past or Future

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When we are afraid, the fear is only connected to either one of two things, the past or the future. More specifically if I’m afraid it’s because I’ve already had the experience and I don’t want to experience it again. Or, it’s because I’ve never had the experience but it just doesn’t sound very appealing. Either way, in order to decrease fear I have to make a new relationship with it, so I begin looking at the past experience. I see that I don’t want to do it again-I didn’t like the experience but in all reality, I survived. I then start looking for the fear of the future or the fear of the unknown. Realistically and objectively, I just don’t have enough evidence to judge it as good or bad or terrible or tragic. In reality, it could be the best thing that ever happened to me! That’s not to say that I welcome it. That’s not to say that I want this tragedy bestowed upon me, however, realistically, ask yourself how many times have you heard someone tell a story of a tragic situation that ended up being the best thing that ever happened to them? It happens ALL the time! One episode of Oprah will tell you that!


Chocolate vs Vanilla

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Whatever you tend to will grow.  Tending is a form of attention. If my thoughts are the seeds, what seeds am I sowing?  Which Garden am I spending time in? The shit garden or the peace garden?

If someone doesn’t like you it says more about them than it does about you. If someone likes you it says more about them than it does about you.

Getting our feelings hurt because someone doesn’t like us is like vanilla getting its feelings hurt because someone chose chocolate.