From addiction to liberation: Spiritual practices can transform your life

In pursuit of a better life, Kashi Keefe, 24, persevered out of a challenging childhood polluted by drug abuse, criminal culture, and difficulties within his hometown in St. Petersburg. 

Keefe, now living in Davie, used those early experiences as a catalyst to evolve as he discovered the realm of yoga.  

“My first memories were my mother yelling, screaming, and beating me with a belt. At that time, all I knew was a person who was just full-blown… just filled with anger and psychotic and on drugs like a lunatic. That’s what I knew growing up,” Keefe said. 

“On my dad’s end, I always thought he was so cool because he was so laid back and didn’t tell me what to do, didn’t yell at me, and would let me drink and smoke when I was really little,” Keefe said. “I was probably 8 years old when I had my first drink.”

Diagnosed with ADHD and depression at 8, he began using prescribed medications like Adderall, depression medicine, and other drugs. During these times, he became addicted to the medications, and the situation worsened into sniffing crushed-up pills. 

He cycled on and off medications from age 8 to 18.

“From the very beginning, I only knew how to deal with conflict by yelling and screaming and taking pills to alleviate you from being crazy,” Keefe said. 

“I started learning about criminal culture when I was about 12 years old listening to Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy and these other rappers that talk about murder, narcotics, and demeaning women,” Keefe said. 

“It made me hungry for power,” Keefe said.

The criminal culture influenced him to participate in harmful behavior and social misconduct. 

At 12, he got put on probation for possession of marijuana. 

“There were a ton of arrests, almost being killed multiple times by guns, being sexually assaulted while under the influence, and being robbed and assaulted and everything,” Keefe said.   

During his teens, he began getting into trouble with possessing drugs and throwing parties, which led to his conflicts with the police and moving in and out of juvenile detention centers. These centers exposed him to a rough crowd of people and more use of medications. 

To gain access to a large selection of affordable rehabilitation centers, he moved to Fort Lauderdale from St. Petersburg. He went into various detox and rehab centers where he got prescribed medications, which he soon became very uncomfortable with. 

“I just had to sit in hell for a little while,” said Keefe. “Going into such a propaganda machine and a dark place really did bless me in the long run.” 

Keefe spent several weeks in the Destination Hope Treatment Center in Tamarac. He lived with addicts and had a tough time with them. However, he began a two-month period of complete sobriety and immersed himself in another healing alternative — yoga. 

Yoga opened the gates to Keefe’s inner world of suppressed trauma, which led him to seek more answers within the mind/body practices of yoga, meditation, and breathwork.

“There was this time where I cried my eyes out during a hip opener,” said Keefe. 

He discovered the Art of Living program, which focused on these practices. He became a volunteer once he left the rehab center. 

“They saw how serious I was about changing,” said Keefe.

“I moved to Boone, North Carolina, and lived at the Art of Living Foundation Center for a year and was there for all of the primary Vedic yoga holidays and got yoga certified and did intensive daily practice with real yogis,” said Keefe.

He quit drugs and pursued the path of mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. Through the Art of Living, he became well-versed in the teachings and realized he wanted to become a teacher and begin sharing his discoveries and stories of recovery. 

Keefe has been sober for over four years. 

After discovering yoga and various spiritual practices, he makes a living by teaching and sharing the traditions of breathwork, yoga, plant medicine, and health coaching. 

He utilizes spiritual and philosophical principles to teach people who desire to scale their “purpose-driven business” to reach a six- to seven-figure business with their passion. 

He began working more with the Art of Living, doing charity initiatives to provide mindfulness practices more efficiently to people in low-income households and teaching breathwork in prisons worldwide.

He also created Beyond Boundaries Breath Immersion, an online Zoom call filled with knowledge and wisdom breathing. Beyond Boundaries transformed into a multiple-day retreat event where people can camp out and dive into the world of mindfulness out in nature.

Matthew Wetcher is a photographer and videographer, which began as an artistic fascination at an early age. Matthew ventured into digital journalism at Florida International University and is now fusing his passion for content creation with the art of storytelling. Matthew is also admired for his love of philosophy, music, and conscious living.