Addictions – Part I: What are you addicted to?? 你对什么上瘾了(一)?

 

all words & images remain the copyright of Shantih Shala Holistic Arts

The other night a very peculiar thought came to me.

I was wondering, if I were to be ‘cursed’ with an addiction, and if I had the luxury of actually choosing what kind of addiction to be ‘inflicted’ upon, what would it be?

Naturally, a little bit of indulgence from time to time is normal. A craving for chocolates, for instance, is quite innocent (as long as that person doesn’t swallow 10 family-sized chocolate bars themselves all at once). Having an addiction means possessing obsessive thoughts and fanatic behaviour, losing control over intense cravings and indulging in practices that far exceeds safe, healthy quantities.

Addiction is a common phenomenon as old as time. Common addictions usually include addicted to alcohol, food, drugs, work, pain, sex. Due to the high stress of modern life, new addictions have emerged over the years like addicted to exercise, internet usage, video games, television, shopping and gambling.

So what kind of addiction can I imagine myself being able to tolerate more, given the circumstance that I already have this addiction? I began to question myself, even at a dangerous rate that is classified as an addiction – what is (still) acceptable to me? What is my tolerance level? At which point do I draw the line? What are the lines that I dare to cross if forced? What are the lines that I won’t even go near? These questions gave my mind a major workout as I thought about my boundaries, what discipline meant to me, what is permitted, what is forbidden, and what I deem acceptable. Furthermore, what is forgivable and what is unforgivable.

Having an addiction meant that my will has failed me. Temptations, cravings, desires and urges would have consumed me entirely. There is no room to think and feel, just a blind urge to take in more and more. It must be such horror to be a slave to these demands and cravings, to keep trying to satisfy an insatiable appetite that never knows when to stop.

I wondered at which point my will shatters? More often than not, perhaps it is more likely that the basic, animal instincts and obsessions easily overpower the mind. How much pressure can the mind take before surrendering to the body? How easy is it to give up the body and let the mind takeover? In this context, the mind will be the manipulative force, convincing and controlling my body – the ‘victim’ of what is right and wrong, what should and shouldn’t be done. Sadly, an addict is a person who has lost touch of reality in some ways and does not have the ability to make distinctions any more.

Naturally, there will be no sense of balance whatsoever. Often with addictions is that what is considered ‘normal’, ‘healthy’ and ‘acceptable’ is completely out of ordinary proportions. Food addiction is a fine, classic example to demonstrate the value of consumption in an addiction. The main types of food addition are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. The former one is based on the addict not taking any food at all to the point of starving themselves, hence the quantity is zero. The latter is where the addict is binge-eating way beyond healthy limits, then forces the food out of their bodies afterwards; hence the quantity is in excess. Needless to say, both diseases are equally dangerous as it wrecks havoc on the entire well-being of the victim.

Indeed, to what extend does one follow the standards we set for ourselves? Why is it that sometimes the body is so eager to follow all the dangerous standards the mind so unconsciously, foolishly sets? Why is it that even though the body is resisting, sometimes it still allows the mind to brainwash itself into taking more, or completely rejecting everything altogether? We all know that the mind can be merciless just as it can be merciful. On the other side of the spectrum, there is also the situation where the mind loses all logics, just weakens and surrenders blindly to all bodily cravings. When this happens, the common excuse probably sound like, “I can’t help it. My body won’t let me.” Here is a classic example of the addict conveniently, irresponsibly taking on the victim role and refuse to change their ways. It is much easier to escape into the “woe is me” self-pity excuse than to be responsible and make efforts in helping ourselves.

Another question then arise – what amount is involved to classify a phenomenon as an obsession? How much is too much? One can argue all is relative: too much for me can mean just right for someone else, not enough can mean too much for the next person, and on it goes. One can also argue with the saying, “One man’s poison is another man’s nectar” (modified from “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”). Obviously every individual has very different concepts of what is enough, what is excess and what is insufficient.

Therefore, our lesson is learning how to gauge what is just right for us. Age, sex, body type, personality, health, medical history, background, diet, lifestyle and culture all contribute to the person we become. As we age, and with continuous changes to our lifestyle, especially mood shifts in our emotional wellbeing, our bodies, mindsets, preferences and tendencies also change accordingly.

Real balance is achieved when there is overall harmony within the individual – the body, mind and soul functioning well together as a complete unit. In other words, these main aspects of our being are connected to each other. When a person is experiencing an addiction, these aspects are totally disconnected from each other. Hence the mind is either a slave to the body, or the body is manipulated by the mind, or the soul feeds on the body for salvation; or perhaps, a combination of all these tendencies playing out in different facets of the addiction, all contributing to the detriment of our health.

Stress, pressure from family, friends, work, society all contribute to the emotional landscape of every one of us. However, the root cause of addictions is due to an extreme lack of self worth with the victim. Having very low or sometimes even no respect and self-esteem for oneself, the victim believes their addictions are the only way(s) to improve themselves, to be liberated, to be happy and to be accepted by others.

In others words, they are convinced it is not possible to just be themselves as they are. Addicts often are very pessimistic people, convinced they are not good enough in various/many ways. They tend to live in denial, thinking that perhaps they will be saved if they punish themselves enough. The dangerous misconception of consumption is a prominent element to the degree of the addiction. Addicts somehow believe that by taking in more, regardless whether they could handle the quantity, the better it will be for them, the easier they will achieve their results.

In the case of a perfectionist, they will do whatever it takes to achieve their desired results. Often making strict, almost impossible demands, it is imperative that they never fail and must meet all the high expectations of themselves. If and when they do get the results they want, the greedy, egoic voice in them convince them to get more in order to be even better. Ergo, the obsession continues and the addiction becomes an endless vicious cycle.

Addicts seek solace from the outside to replace the depressing, longing emptiness they feel inside. They turn to an external source, often a substance, object, person and/or certain behaviours to hopefully stop, numb and block out the pain and suffering within them. As we know, pent up emotions like fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt, shame, loneliness, negativity can sometimes be so consuming that it actually paralyzes us. Without knowing any outlet to release these blocked emotions, they bottle up these emotions until it becomes poison inside them. Worst still, the absence of Self-Worth and logic sets the stage for any ideas/concepts/beliefs, however dangerous or ludicrous it may sound, to be swallowed up by the hungry mind and fragile heart. Once an idea corrupts the mind, especially if the substances and practice does indeed help offer temporary escape and happiness, the addict then desperately dives into the obsession to continually find relief and happiness.

Often the ‘mental programmes’ stuck in their minds will probably be along the lines like, ” I’m not good/rich/beautiful/slim/powerful/strong/successful enough”, “I don’t deserved this”, “I can never be like that”, “I need more”, “I can do better than this” and so on. Whatever the content may be, all programmes share a common trait – all are putting himself/herself down. In other words, it means there is no Self Love.

If we love ourselves enough, we would not bring any harm and violence to the body in any way. In Yoga Philosophy, they urge Yoga practitioners and anyone seeking truth to practice Ahimsa, meaning ‘non-violence’. Violence comes in all forms – physically through abusing and mistreatment of our bodies, mentally through disempowering and obsessive thoughts, emotionally through negative and paralyzing feelings.

When we force ourselves to do more than what the body can handle, therefore resulting in pain and injuries, we are abusing ourselves. When we keep telling ourselves that we are not good enough, we are not respecting our limitations at all and totally rejecting ourselves. When we constantly dwell into strong, negative emotions to consume us, gradually to become us, we are destroying ourselves from within. In other words, we are denying ourselves of any possibility of love, peace, joy, abundance and nourishment because we feel we don’t deserve happiness.

One who loves himself or herself is able to give and receive love equally. Love can be expressed in the form of compassion, care, acceptance, peace, passion, integrity, power, strength, stillness, nourishment, respect, faith and so many others. Any empowering thought or quality that creates a positive feeling and response has the ability to strengthen the mind, soothe the soul, raise our inner vibrations within the subtle energy body and aids the body’s self-healing mechanism, hence promoting a general sense of wellbeing.

Love can be found in everyone of us. However, not many people know how to give love to themselves. Most people only know how to get love from others, or sometimes they don’t even know how to, or in total opposite, it becomes an obsession of demanding love from others as they desperately try to fill the hallowing emptiness inside. The only way to overcome this is to learn to cultivate Self Love. We must learn to love ourselves unconditionally physically, mentally, emotionally. Only when we learn to love and respect ourselves first, then we can receive the same from the outside world.

When we fully accept ourselves, to just be ourselves, be loving, kind, patient to ourselves – there is no more pain and suffering. Allowing ourselves to be human, to experience a myriad range of fluctuating emotions is not only natural but essential in maintaining a healthy emotional existence. When we accept and allow imperfections, vulnerability, mistakes, and more importantly – time and space, to be ourselves, that is the turning point of our spiritual growth.

Reconnecting to the body, mind and soul is the first step in cultivating Self Love. When we offer full compassion to ourselves – consciously listening to our bodies, minds and souls without any judgment, expectations and control, our inner voice begins to speak. Real authenticity in the form of sensations, thoughts, emotions and feelings start to arise within, showing us who we really are – our Real Self. As we become more aware, we establish a stronger contact with our body, mind and soul. Gradually they connect with each other even more, allowing the inner dialogue to be even clearer. What eventually happens is a highly sophisticated communication system that reflects only real, honest messages that keeps us in a balanced, optimum state.

To deny ourselves of love is to deny Life itself. Only when we learn to give and receive love, can we truly live well. Hence, addictions will be immune to a person who loves himself/herself as it is a form of pure violence.

As I end, I invite you to indulge me with your answer from the same question I asked myself: “if you were to be ‘cursed’ with an addiction, and if you had the luxury of actually choosing what kind of addiction to be ‘inflicted’ upon, what would it be?”

After you have found your answer, ask yourself why. Perhaps these questions might help discover aspects of yourself never before known to you. Perhaps it could even bring about an awakening.

All answers will be kept confidential, and I thank you for your kind participation. I hope these questions, among the other points made in this article may provide you some food for thought.

 

Part II will follow soon….



All words & images remain the copyright of Shantih Shala Holistic Arts

一切文字于图片属于 Shantih Shala Holistic Arts 版权所有

 


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