Following post is contributed by our member teachers Raven & Erin
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ADDICTIONS & WHAT THEY CAN TEACH US
I have never really seen myself as someone with much of an addictive personality. I don’t drink coffee, can come and go from alcohol and don’t smoke etc. But having read Raven’s blog post below, I now realise there are still some addictive patterns and behaviours I hold that allow me to avoid being with my present state feelings i.e. unworthiness, fatigue, sadness etc.
I use sugar to cover my feelings of sadness or when I feel like I need some comfort.
I use work when I’m feeling a bit out of control or when I feel unworthy or incapable.
I had some awareness around these behaviours already, but what I really received out of Raven’s teachings below is that when you frame addiction as the attempt to solve the problem, not the problem itself, you can start to bring greater clarity as to why you are reaching for these addictive things in the first place.
So, for me, my reaching for sugar is often coming from a place of fatigue, a lack of self-nourishment and rest and a disconnect from my pleasure. A positive replacement for this could be running myself a bath, taking a nap, self-pleasure or catching up with a friend. It also doesn’t mean that I can’t ever eat sugar, but if I do, brining mindfulness and presence to the experience with clear intention is important rather than mindlessly eating a packet of biscuits when I feel a bit sad to supress the uncomfortable feelings.
Same for work. Working itself isn’t a problem, but when I feel myself over-working to the point of exhaustion, I try to bring greater awareness to the energy underneath that is driving that. Am I coming from a place of passion and inspiration or a place of fear, lack or unworthiness? When I have greater clarity around this, I am able to shift my mindset and enjoy the process of working a lot more. I can let go of the things that don’t matter a little more easily and also get less tired as I am not pushing myself to succeed from a place of lack.
So, I encourage you to read Raven’s words on addiction below and to start to explore this in your own life.
ADDICTIONS BY CHANTELLE RAVEN
Just like symptoms are not the problem, addiction isn’t the problem. Addiction is our attempt to solve the problem and the problem is, once again, the inability to truly be with ourselves and our direct experience.
We are not taught how to process difficult emotions through the body, so we tend to distract ourselves with a variety of different addictions: pain medication, food, TV, coffee, sugar, romantic fantasy (love addiction), masturbation, cigarettes, shopping, sex, drugs, alcohol, work or other addictive behaviours.
Many addictions will very temporarily return the body to ease, for a few moments, then we can end up feeling worse than before, once the initial relief fades. However, the nervous system remembers what created the ease and repeats the actions. This can ingrain a pattern, which then becomes an automatic reaction each time uncomfortable emotions are present.
When you are stuck in addictive patterns, you are not usually in present time awareness; you are acting off instinct, driven by reactions from the past.
Sometimes stress levels are so high, or emotions are so overwhelming, that we want to totally disconnect from our body and numb the spiralling mind. If we are not consciously processing stress and emotion by discharging the energy and coming back to ease, we will try to find ease through our addictive patterns instead. This is where learning about other ways to bring yourself back to a state of ease and to work with stress and emotions can be incredibly useful. You can check out our previous blog:
The most important thing is to bring awareness to the addiction and replace it with a more positive addiction.
Through bringing awareness to the situation, you may start to notice when your addictive pattern arises and rather than judging it or resisting it, you can ask yourself: is this the most loving thing I can do for my body right now? If the answer is no, breathe deeply into your body with compassion and ask yourself some other questions without making yourself wrong: What do I really need? Addictions drop me out of myself, can I drop in instead? Can I choose a healthy addiction to replace the unhealthy addiction?
Human beings are addictive by nature. So, the question is not about stopping or refraining from addictions, but rather, to gravitate towards positive addictions.
Bliss is hardwired within us which means that if we are not feeling a state of bliss, we go searching for it. The interesting thing about using outside sources to find bliss, is that some of them are not good for us and create dependency. This is why people experience withdrawal symptoms. They have stopped the “drug”, whatever it is (pain medication, phone addiction, love addiction, Netflix etc) and their body is not producing that bliss or relaxation from the inside, so the person will feel an intense craving that can be quite agonizing.
To get to the other side of the withdrawal or craving phase, we need to discover that the feeling which the addiction give us already lives within us. This is where the subject of positive addiction comes into play. What will help us to draw our own bliss into our daily life?
Ask yourself what is the FEELING that I want from this addiction? We tell ourselves that it’s the “drug” that we want but it is actually the feeling – so, what else will give you this same feeling? Intimacy? Spending time with someone I love? Getting creative? Spending time in nature? Cooking? Dancing? Meditating? Japa with your mala beads? Massage treatments? Listening to inspiring audios? Explore!
I encourage you to think about your current addictive patterns and behaviours and to start to bring awareness to them to shift into a more positive space.