Meditating our way away from addictions.
Addictions come in many different forms. We can all think of stories of people addicted to drugs and alcohol. One of my uncles struggled with alcohol. He was a very giving, loving person, but the years of drinking truly destroyed his life. His daily use of alcohol aged him and cut his life short. Before he died, he had turned into a mean, unhappy man. It’s sad to think how his life and happiness was so cheated by his addiction.
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Editor: Muhammad Talha
We Must Treat Our Wounds Properly
When we have something inside of us that is upsetting and emotionally charged, we have two options. The first option is to feel our feelings, heal, and move on. The second option is to repress our feelings and hold them in. Emotions work the same way as a physical ailment such as a cut: I can clean and treat the cut and it will heal properly. If I instead take pain killers, neglecting the cut itself, it won’t hurt anymore but the wound will only get worse, perhaps getting gangrene and even killing me. We need to feel our feelings, get over them, heal, and move on. It’s pretty simple actually, but it’s very hard for many of us to do. Why?
A Little Pain is Healthy
In the short term, addictions work; they take away the pain now. When you have to feel something, like that cut, it hurts at first. It can hurt quite a bit to clean that cut and take care of it properly. It can hurt quite a bit to clean out an emotional wound also. We often just rather not feel any pain. If we turn to our addictions, they’ll turn off the pain almost instantly. Addictions are anything that turns off our emotions now.
We are all familiar with alcohol and drug addictions, but there are an infinite number of things that we turn to in order not to face our feelings. We may work too much or overeat. There are also more subtle forms of addictions. There are people who may put all their energy into raising their children so that they don’t have to deal with an unhappy marriage. There are those who, every time there is a problem, run away from the problem and move on to something else. We must remember that turning off our feelings doesn’t work. It’s important that we face them. Just like we wouldn’t ignore a serious cut, it’s important for us not to ignore emotional wounds. Even subtle ones matter!
Slow Down and Take Stock
There are an infinite number of addictions, so it’s important that in order to avoid addictions, we do a lot of soul searching. On a regular basis, we must remember to slow down, look at our lives, and ask, “How am I doing? Am I avoiding looking at something inside of me that requires some attention? Is there anything that I’m using on a regular basis that I can’t walk away from?” Meditation and meditation retreats are very important for our minds and health, for they help us to look at ourselves so we can know how we are doing.
We must remember that we are not smarter than addictions! Addictions can be very subtle and can sneak up on us. We must be aware of how things are going in our lives. If we’re turning towards something that we can’t seem to walk away from, and we know that it’s causing us or others suffering, we must look at it and say, “Hmmm, what’s causing this?” Don’t judge it, just look at it and spend some time exploring it. If it’s a feeling that needs to be healed, then heal it. If it’s a habit, walk away from it. This is the best way to treat addictions.
Distract and Refocus
Remember, our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. Addictions are fed by thoughts, by creating stories like, “Oh, it would be so great to have that right now.” However, if we distract our minds with something else, the desires slowly get weaker and go away. They may keep trying to come back, but if we continue to keep trying to refocus our minds, with practice they will really go away.
It may overwhelm us to realize how many things we are really addicted to, and so I truly encourage everyone that in order to truly be happy, we must allow ourselves to have some quiet time. The peace and tranquility afforded by our meditations are very important, because without these we really won’t know ourselves. Knowing ourselves is truly half the battle in conquering our addictions and achieving happiness. We can do it; it just takes time, effort, and awareness.