NEW CANAAN — Though the meeting room at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was filled with over 80 people, no one was speaking. Instead, everyone focused on keeping their feet on the floor, their palms up and taking deep breaths at the instruction of Tommy Rosen, a yoga teacher and addiction recovery expert.

“I love to start with a breath,” Rosen said. “My experience in addiction and working with addicts is I’ve never met an addict or person in early recovery who knows how to breathe well. Breathing is key to human beings learning to have the power to change their emotional state.”

Rosen was the keynote speaker at the 4th Annual Celebration of Recovery Luncheon, held at St. Mark’s in New Canaan. The luncheon is held each year by Stamford-based Communities 4 Action, which supports community collaborations and local efforts to reduce substance abuse in Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and New Canaan.

This is the first year the luncheon was held in New Canaan and was the largest one yet, seeing a crowd of over 80 people in recovery or working with the recovery community.

“It continues to grow,” said Ingrid Gillespie, Communities 4 Action’s executive director. “We’re excited to have it in New Canaan because of the wonderful initiatives here.”

Gillespie said the first luncheon four years ago had 13 people but has since grown. It’s become known as a way for people in the recovery community to connect.

“We feel it’s so, so important to celebrate recovery,” she said. “We want people to understand treatment works.”

Maggie Young from Liberation Programs said that as addiction has become more prominent over the years, more people are coming out and talking about their recovery journey.

“There’s been some changes to placing a face on recovery and removing the stigma,” said the director of women and children’s services at the Norwalk-based rehabilitation center. “This is a way of highlighting the success of recovery in people’s lives.”

Young said the luncheon also serves as a networking opportunity for people who provide recovery-related services and is a way for them to share resources.

“We have providers doing good work,” she said. “We don’t often have the opportunity to get together and celebrate that good work.”

Guests at the luncheon enjoyed guitar music and lunch sandwiches before hearing from Rosen, who has over two decades of experience working in recovery and has been in recovery 24 years himself. Rosen talked to the crowd about the challenge of systemic issues when it comes to facing addiction, especially when treatment options are oftentimes expensive and not available to everyone.

“This is what we have and because we know the problem is growing and relapse rates are high, we have to investigate what we’re doing and find better ways of doing it,” the Venice, Calif, resident said.

In addition to needing better treatments, Rosen urged those in recovery to view their recovery as ongoing. He said oftentimes, addicts end up choosing recovery after hitting a point of desperation and struggle to remember that point when things go back to normal. A plan and recovery path, he said, is crucial for successful sobriety.

“If you don’t work with people day-to-day on your recovery, I’m not betting on your chances,” he said. “It’s just the way it is. You go to be around people and you need a path to walk. When desperation wears off, the thoughts begin. This is when a plan and process needs to begin. You’re going to have hard days.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata