Addictions, Emotions and Mindfulness

We are all searching for wholeness, be it consciously or unconsciously …

If we are searching consciously, we will choose activities to enhance our growth and evolution such as spending time in nature, eating healthy food, exercising and seeking spiritual connection through meditation, prayer, reading, writing, dancing, painting or whatever form of inquiry or expression inspires us.

If we’re not searching for wholeness consciously, however, we will still be searching for it unconsciously. The unconscious search for wholeness will usually take us down the path of addiction – addiction to alcohol, drugs, sugar, cigarettes, shopping, gambling, porn.

When viewed through this lens of seeking wholeness, we can have compassion for ourselves or others who are in the grip of addiction. Sadly, the path of addiction will never serve us.

Do you struggle with addictions? Your body is your temple. We all know this – your body is your vehicle that transports you through your life and so it makes sense to look after it – yet for some of us the body becomes a rubbish tip, even with the best intentions.  None of us intend not to look after our bodies, and yet we sabotage our bodies in so many ways. And one of the most common ways is with addictions. Addictions come from a desire to run away from yourself, from fear and not knowing how to love yourself.

“Alcoholics are drunk with their thinking before they are drunk with their drinking” – Louise Hay.

Addictions never serve you, because the initial high eventually wears off, causing you to need more and more of the substance you’re craving and feeling less and less high, more and more depressed, and often leaving a path of destruction behind you or within you.

Louise Hay tells us that smoking is really about “putting up a smoke screen”. What don’t you want to face? Alcoholics often suffer from feelings of futility, guilt, inadequacy and self-rejection. The use of recreational drugs really comes from a desire to feel connected and to feel a higher level of consciousness. The problem is, when we use drugs to get that high, we can’t sustain it. What goes up must come down. The Beatles eventually realised this and chose transcendental meditation instead of drugs. Sugar is a common addiction, particularly for women. We’re craving sweetness because we are not sweet enough to ourselves.

If you’ve got an addiction, go back to the thought just prior to the thought that you need a drink or a cigarette or chocolate or whatever it is you’re craving. The prior thought is what you’re trying to shut down with the substance. Your uninvestigated thinking is the problem, not the addiction!

“Alcohol is honest and true; it promises to get you drunk and it does; it promises to make things worse and it does. It’s always true to its word. It’s a great teacher of integrity. It doesn’t say “drink me”. It just sits there, true to itself, waiting to do its job.” – Byron Katie.

There’s nothing evil about “the drink”; it is what it is. It’s our toxic thinking and our toxic emotions that need healing.

Emotions have a huge impact on the body. There is nothing more toxic than toxic emotions. They will kill you far more quickly than bad food, alcohol, cigarettes or anything else. Why is it that some people can smoke all their lives and live to 92 and others die of lung cancer at 57? The likely cause will be unresolved emotional issues. It’s the same with alcoholics – some will live a long life and others will die young. There’s a big difference between drinking to be joyful and drinking to drown your sorrows; eating to savour a lovely meal or eating to stuff your painful feelings down.

Emotions come from thoughts. Thoughts come from the mind. The mind can be our servant or it can be our master. That’s why we meditate. To become mindful and less fused with our thoughts and to master our emotions.

If you have a strong addiction, the craving can feel overwhelming. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself in your struggle. Own your addiction; admit to it. If it has become a serious problem, seek support. It’s very hard to do it alone. There are 12 Step programs for most addictions now. Surrender to the Higher Power and ask to be healed of this addiction.

You can also use mindfulness to help with the healing process. When craving comes, sit with it for at least fifteen minutes. Feel what it’s like to crave. Just sit and feel the feelings. Notice your emotions. Notice your physical sensations. Notice your thoughts. Continue to be kind to yourself. If you give into the craving afterwards, slow down the process of what you are doing. Light and smoke the cigarette slowly, mindfully eat the chocolate or drink the drink. Really notice what you are doing and how you are feeling while you’re doing it. In this way, you are bringing presence and spaciousness into your actions and you become more conscious, and that is what we are all here to learn.

Your body is the loving reflection of your mind.