Miguel Rivera has been a member of Shade Tree, a mentoring group in Los Angeles, since its inception in 1996, introducing at-risk youth to traditional Native American ceremonies and ways of knowledge. Miguel is on the Board of Directors of Western Gateway Roots and Wings Foundation, an organization dedicated to bring back rites of passage to youth. Miguel is also very involved in providing healing retreats to veterans suffering from PTSD. He is a percussionist and has taught drumming at Soldier’s Heart men’s conferences.
With those who have suffered trauma and addiction, the resulting negative thought patterns lead to stress. Yoga is meant to heal this stress. Yoga is a very useful technique for learning how to witness the fluctuations of the mind, and how our mind affects our state of being, and vice versa. By learning to develop this kind of awareness, and connecting to our breath, we can learn to develop a sense of calm. Detached awareness, breathing, and calm helps yoga practitioners to counter the effects of stress and anxiety. Not all Yoga positions are comfortable. But learning to sit through the discomfort, and ‘breath through it,’ can become a valuable habit for the one’s daily living.
To practice yoga at Alo House, one need not have any experience. Our yoga instructor meets each client where they are at, and leads students through the most gentle of positions until they are ready to tackle the more advanced postures. Yoga is a great way to trigger the body’s natural endorphin system, and to build strength, vitality, and well-being.
Alo House has taught many of our clients to meditate, something alumni personally credits as the greatest strength of their sobriety. Clients discover a newfound freedom through building a regular meditation practice. In our experience, we’ve found abstinence from drugs and alcohol alone to be insufficient. For some clients, the only true way to achieve what is referred to as ’emotional sobriety,’ and to gain relief from an overactive mind, was by slowing down responses to life. According to Evan Haines (Co-Founder), “Building up this ‘non-reaction’ to life through all its many shades of pain or happiness, by sitting in the stillness of meditation, grants us (as addicts) true freedom, and a maturity never before experienced. I consider this to be the true essence of having what is commonly referred to as a spiritual experience, something any of us can achieve, no matter where we are in the scale of life.”
“All a musician can do is get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in accordance with the natural laws.” – Legendary jazz artist, John Coltrane, on developing a meditation practice.
Equine Vision Ride Program
Here at Alo House we have a riding program that is both effective and one of a kind. While we do a more traditional equine assisted therapy session once a week, even there we add in a bit of riding. On top of that, we offer one-on-one Vision Rides throughout the week.
Gardening at ‘Alo Farms’
Alo Malibu has initiated an exciting, unique organic farm project. Perched over the majestic Pacific Ocean, Alo Farms sits on over six acres of lush, fertile land. With the help of our clients, we have built twenty 16’x4′ raised beds, brimming with rich organic soil. Future plans include an orchard, and livestock. We first adopted six chickens, who were then joined by pigmy goats and ducks.
Presently, we are growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, asparagus, onions, herbs and more! Future plans include an exciting line of products that our clients will grow, prepare, package, and market, themselves, including lavender and lemon verbena soaps, plus barbecue sauces and iced teas.
The entire farm project, and future product line – marketed under the Alo Farms banner – is meant to provide our clients with community economic development opportunities. Not only could Alo Farms provide clients with a source of income and work experience, whether it’s in marketing, horticulture, administration, but just as important, it will give them a sense of self-esteem and build confidence in their ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way.
Additionally, by selling the products in the local marketplace, in stores and at the Malibu farmer’s market, the Alo Farms project will work to remove the stigma attached to addiction, and to the recovery community in Malibu more generally. Local citizens will be able to see us for who we really are – a close-knit community of good-hearted young people who just needed to feel passionate about something, plus a little support and guidance. And instead of being a burden on the Malibu – quite the contrary! – we are providing our neighbors with food and wholesome nutrition.