By Sarah Siegel

Lisa Silverman finds lasting healing through holistic practices and shows others the eclectic path recovery can take.

With her unique sense of style and radiant personality, Lisa Silverman has been a brilliant force in Maine’s recovery community for over three decades.

It’s hard to imagine there was a time when she was isolated and self-contained.

However, in 1989, life seemed bleak to her. The only person in the world who knew she had a problem with drinking was her boyfriend. She was young and frequently drank to blackout. He was much older, a drug dealer, and caught up in the relentless machine of addiction.

At one point in their relationship, before Lisa’s boyfriend went to rehab, he told her, “Lisa, you’re one of us, too.”

While initially unwelcome, those words reached a deep place in her. And as a result, she began seeing the reality of her addiction more clearly. Her life was consumed by drinking, drugging and partying, and she had completely lost touch with her dreams.

A month later, she entered treatment and began a process that would lead to profound and lasting healing. After treatment, Lisa spent six months at a transitional recovery residence in Bangor, then stayed on for a year as a live-in volunteer. She found communal living to be deeply meaningful and longed to experience more of it.

“I began to dream about opening a natural foods store and a separate retreat center where people could learn to cook, experience the joy that comes from eating well and become more present in their bodies instead of living only in their minds,” Lisa recently recalled while sitting on a bench in Whole Foods, flashing her characteristically sunny smile.

On a trip to Florida early in her recovery, Lisa was drawn to an area with a farmers market restaurant and a holistic bookstore that offered massage, energy work, nutritional counseling and yoga.

She was inspired to ultimately pursue many of the same practices through an education in cooking, holistic nutrition, breathwork, and meditation.

“During the years I was using substances, I felt very disembodied,” Lisa recalls. “Meditation, eating well and caring for my body in new, holistic and compassionate ways gave me a whole new way of experiencing the world.”

Lisa says she began to experience non-ordinary states of consciousness without needing to use substances through her practice of breathwork, holistic nutrition, and meditation. She yearned to share these experiences and insights with others and to create community structures for this.

For Lisa, coming together with others in sacred community is an integral part of her recovery and her life.

“I think there’s great power in the community because the energy can build when there’s more than one person,” she says.

Inspired by the joy she found through cooking and eating healthy food, Lisa created a cooking school called Five Seasons. She also got deeply involved with Kirtan, which is traditional Indian call-and-response chanting, bringing it to Maine in 2008. “One of my biggest joys is cooking for my Kirtan musician friends, singing with them and then seeing others experience the magic contained within the joyful music gatherings.”

Lisa is immediately warm and welcoming, and her kitchen reflects these qualities. It’s a place where others have experienced nourishment, both physically and spiritually, through countless gatherings she has hosted there.

For many years, her kitchen has been a safe space for women in recovery to gather and support one another and a home for a meditation group, called a Satsang.

For two decades, she also offered macrobiotic cooking classes from her home.

Today, Lisa lives a vibrant life. It’s nourished by deep community roots nurtured over the years, the joy she finds in seeing her daughter thrive, and spending time with her husband and dog. She also loves having her hand in many meaningful endeavors.

Lisa is a community liaison at McAuley Residence, which provides transitional housing for women in recovery from drug and alcohol
dependency. She’s also deeply involved with Kindred Spirits Camp, a summer camp for adults offering nonjudgmental listening, radical acceptance and much more.

Lisa, who teaches breathwork, music and movement at the camp, describes the experience as “taking a shower in unconditional love for a week” and calls it a place where you can “pick your own family members and have them support and love you no matter what.”

Many camp participants develop such strong bonds that they meet year-round to reconnect, listen and support one another.

“Connecting with people at Kindred Spirits Camp is not about doing something perfectly,” Lisa explains. “Instead, it’s about showing up, being vulnerable and allowing others to love you. You don’t need to do anything to fit in, you are loved just because you breathe and are human.”

Lisa knows much about and deeply appreciates such a connection. ‘I’m so grateful for the supportive women in my life who call me on my stuff when I am being too easy on myself and don’t let me get too hard on myself at the same time,” she says. “One of my greatest joys is showing others the eclectic path that recovery can take.”

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