Addiction arrises from our search and desire for freedom. We seek a sense of peace through external means. At first we see a glimpse of what pure freedom feels like. We then repeat it, then abuse it, then can’t release ourselves from it. We get hooked on the glimpse and when the glimpse disappears we are only left with a hang over, a sugar low, a feeling of emptiness that we “need” to fill. It is possible to direct this hunger and passion for freedom into a life practice that serves you and continually feeds you joy and ultimately brings you upward rather than potentially downward. Even these practices can eventually become an addiction, but by that time you will have the clarity of mind to admit that to yourself and choose your course of action. The important thing about addiction is knowing that deep down inside we all really know when we are addicted, but we spend 25 hours of our day defending, and justifying the addiction with great excuses that might sound like “I grew up with it,” “I am a guy”, “I am so stressed out”,”My mother is always drunk”, “My parents are divorced”, “thats just the way I am”…sound familiar? If you have a heart beat you have an addictive nature, we are all addicted to the desire to feel, give, and receive love, but because that comes with challenge, pain, sadness, we choose to fulfill that desire by drinking, smoking, sexing, snorting, beating, cheating, eating…etc. Be REAL with yourself, you deserve it! Here is a glimpse into my past, I hope it serves as a reminder that you are not alone, and that YOU can be whoever you want to be. SET YOUR INTENTION for living.
I still remember going to the bar for the first time in a while, and feeling the pressure of friends to drink. Actually the reality was that these friends that at one time seemed to be everything to me suddenly felt more like strangers. Seeing my empty hands they offered to buy me a drink, thinking i must be trying to save money, or something along those lines. After insisting a few times I awkwardly explained that I didn’t WANT to drink. Of course that was too crazy to simple leave it at that; more explanation was needed, I explained “I would rather feel good in the morning to practice yoga”. It was nerve racking to be that honest about what at the time seemed so against the grain. To them yoga was what moms did in front of the television to stretch: a lazy version of old school aerobics. It was that night that I learned who my real friends were. It became obvious that most of them were friends with the cloths I wore, job I worked, town I lived in, beers I drank, and misery I felt (misery loves company) rather then friends with who I was on the inside. I suppose i can’t blame them, after all I didn’t know who i was on the inside for the majority of the years of our “friendships”. Those who were friends with the real me brought me a glass of water in support of my choices, and expressed their admiration. I didn’t know it then but they were the real yogis, no need to practice fancy asana(poses), sun salutations, pranayama (breath techniques) they were already practicing the most important aspect of yoga-love. It was their strength and support that gave me the full courage to continue this path that I stepped foot on. If they weren’t there that night I may have given in, and eventually stepped back into my old world.
I now can go to a bar, party, concert and choose to drink…or not, without feeling any pressure from friends. Partially because I am surrounded by people who truly want the best for me and themselves, but also because I no longer have any insecurity about my social status amongst other people. More accurately, I have full confidence in the choices I make about the health of my body and mind. I have this confidence because i can tell the difference between addiction/attachment, and conscious desire. caffein , sugar, meat, bread, marijuana, sex, asana, and eating in general are some of the addictions that I have battled with.
There is a big deference between being addicted to food and actually choosing to eat it because your body requires the nourishment. If the idea of a ten, or even three day juice cleans (no food, just fresh vegetable, and fruit juice) scares you, and you have a million excuses as to why that is a terrible idea, you probably are addicted. Not that i am an advocate for juice cleanses being that many people abuse them as a weight loss addiction instead of A conscious health choice, but ask your self: does it scare you to not eat for a duration of time? Again, so there is no misinterpretation I am not saying you should starve your self, but with proper guidance it can be beneficial to cleans the body and restrain from habitual eating for a set time period so that you can tune in to instinctual nourishment. Be careful of the “backlash”- coming off the cleanse and returning to a diet that doesn’t serve you…this is another topic for another time.
Caffein was the first and most obvious addiction of mine that I recognized. About Five years prior to taking up yoga i started becoming more conscious about my nutrition. The signs were obvious and I hated them. It started as one small coffee a day, soon it became a large, then two, then three large cups of coffee a day. My personality suffered if i didn’t drink 72 ounces of coffee, which is something like 300mg of caffein? Even worse was that if I didn’t drink my first cup by nine o’clock, a migraine that could rival the pain of an elephant sitting on my head would take over for the whole day and the only thing I could do to lessen it was drink more and more coffee then I normally do. The very phrase “my cup of coffee” as if it is a part of my body/being;i talked about it like it was my right hand.
Insomnia seemed to be common, fast metabolism made me eat till my belly exploded, and my body temperature was always through the roof. The headaches…my gratitude to them because they were what made me decide to quite, I wasn’t perceptive enough yet to know that all of these other discomforts were also results of my caffein addiction. Here is how i kicked it: I replaced coffee with green tea and drank tons of it through out the day until I was addicted to green tea. The good news was I then started replacing green tea with caffeine free herbal teas, until I was simply addicted to flavored hot water which I was more then ok with since the herbal teas had positive health benefits.
Like any addict it wasn’t soon before I found a shiny new drug that had many of the same benefits but less of the draw back of coffee: Yerba Mate (mah-tay). Like coffee it started small and grew to being something I was known for and i even had the nick name Mate! The journey was similar- start small until I couldn’t do without it and once i grew strong enough to admit to it I mustered up the willpower to get myself off of it. I started developing a competitive nature with my addictions- me vs. them-no way My pride would let them win!
Thankfully seeing how addictive I was kept me away from trying hard drugs, but in my teens and early twenties sex seemed to be ok with me. I did sex like a drug, collecting women like beanie babies(even the analogy disgusts me, but thats really what it was like). I still am working through shame and guilt from what seems like another life time yet it still holds a tremendous amount of weight. I have to find compassion for that person because he was desperately trying to validate his existence, and prove to himself that he was worthy of someones trust and Affection. How ironic, trying to feel trusted, respected, loved, adored, admired, and good enough by treating girls with the opposite of what I was looking for. In reality I wasn’t physically violent, and cheating wasn’t something I had the balls to do, and I did care about the majority of the girls. However, I was reckless with their emotions, or Atleast I assume so, I didn’t let them close enough, because that might mean feeling that what I was doing was wrong.
After a while I realized I was having sex with everyone that was willing. Whether or not i was attracted to them became irrelevant so long as they were acceptably attractive to most of my friends. I began having trouble being turned on by anyone, and chalked it up to performance anxiety. That is probably accurate, maybe the shame and guilt finally caught up with me. But in reality i was seeing women as trophies…I don’t know about you but trophies don’t turn me on(to each his/her own thorough!) Oddly enough This was actually a blessing in disguise. It caused me to reflect upon my choices, actions, and motives. I saw how pathetic I had become and knew in my heart, thanks to my loving family and upbringing that I was worth more then that. I don’t know if I saw that the other girls were worth more than that or not yet, but it started me on the path toward really loving and caring about myself and everyone else. I do also have to thank my old band members who were courageous enough to stand up to my behavior. I know how hard that must have been to have a sit down with one of your best friends and tell him that he has a problem. I am incredibly grateful for their ability to unite in what seemed like an attack but was actually the most amazing gift I have ever received.
It was time for change, and despite my fear I decided that for one year I would take an unofficial vow of celibacy. While it seemed like an eternity, it also was one of the most empowering and transformative years of my life. After that year I then fell back into my addiction for a short time, but quickly saw what i was doing and quite again. The second time around proved to be important as it gave me the insight to see when I would have acted on impulse vs. who i really shared a true connection with. During thr second sexless year I Eventually I got lonely and prayer for a girl, an hour later she appeared at sunset. I was hopeful that we would fall in love and have a steady relationship. Little did I know she was just coming out of years of alcohol and sex abuse. She kept me at a distance but close enough to inspire me to read the book that changed my life: Wisdom
Of The Peaceful Warrior. It was this book that led me to try Yoga, which is now not only physical and spiritual practice for me, but a way of life. We grew to be amazing friends and we continue to push each other to live up to our fullest potential. I am grateful that my prayer was answered in the most powerful way, and for her roll in my life. While I ultimately know I will still make mistakes, my intention with sex is to share it with someone special where it is an extension of a connection that is shared, be it in a relationship or while in the dating world. I share this not to pour out my personal life but because I know that honesty allows a space for other people to find comfort in knowing that they are not a lone if they have a past that they would prefer to erase. And that it is possible to get passed it and live a happy positive life.
It takes a tremendous amount of will power and courage to live up to your highest potential. There is nothing harder then deconstructing patterns, impulses, and addictions but the reward is perhaps the most powerful experience: we feel worthy of our own love.
These days I have a cup of coffee only if I want to which is usually twice a year. Sex requires full honesty in order to decide whether it serves the highest or if it impulsive, be it in a committed relationship or not. Of course in a commited relationship you don’t want to be deeply contemplating every time you have sex, that’s not healthy, but still valid to be honest as to whether Or not the sexual side is an extension and
Enhancement of the beautiful connection both partner share, rather then an unconscious validation of the relationship.
As we all know this topic is complicated, and i am no expert. Sex deals with all aspects of our being: physical, emotional, spiritual, hormonal, instinctual, etc. For us to feel truly fulfilled on all these levels it takes absolute honesty and vulnerability. In short it takes courage to be tremendously truthful about your own intention, and have the skill of communicating it with whoever you are engaging with, and they with you. Word of advise, you are not protecting someone with white lies, that simply creates breading ground for mistrust, jealousy, and pain. Communicate the truth.
Food seems less serious, but equally important. For me it is a choice based on my energy level, immune system, and necessity, rather then a habit. I don’t have set times that eat, I listen to my body and let it tell me when it’s time to eat. I do choose to eat meat, dairy, sugar, bread, etc. on occasion and can usually tell if my body is going to be able to maintain its optimal performance or not. It’s a choice because my intention for eating is to feel good, and to have be in balance so I can think clearly and make the better choices. Bread generally gives me the afternoon sleepies, sugar gives makes me feel flighty and leads to a sugar low, meat drains my energy because it’s quite the process for the body to digest it, dairy makes my belly hurt, and gives me phlegm. Have you really paid attention to what your food does to or for you, have you felt it? Why do you eat? This doesn’t mean you can’t eat socially or for taste as well…I loooove food, you just have to think or consult someone who thinks or go to a restaurant that thinks outside the box.
While I strive to maintain the ability to choose my actions and not have to cut anything out of my life completely(unless I choose to), it is important to know that when dealing with stronger drugs like alcohol, pain killers it is wise in my opinion to just cut it out completely and don’t mess with it ever again. Every time I quite something, I fell into it again. Luckily most of my addictions have low odds in terms of death, but I’d your addictions do then just let them go! Write a new story for yourself, you are strong enough and completely worth your efforts.
It is imperative to be clear with what you really want. We often think we know what we want but realize later that it was simply a commercial that told us so, or a craving of something we don’t have, or a validation that we are worth something to someone. Practices like yoga, meditation, zen, journaling, and thai chi are great ways to become clear in the mind. Once you remove the garbage from your thoughts it is easy to set an intention. HOLD tight to that intention because life will test you and place you in situations that will make you forget that you ever had an intention.
Currently my practice is to be fully honest, open and vulnerable. This blog is an daring attempt to take a deeper step into that space. Yes,
It is scary to release this, I fear judgement, and misinterpretation, but if it inspires even just one person forgive there past or to change their current ways for the better, and to pursue a life of honesty, intention, and courage then it will be worth it! If you struggle with addiction, my advice is have an intention for how you want to live and get addicted to creating actions that support your intention- Intention Addict. YOU are worth it. If its white lies that you are addicted to just start by observing how often you say things that aren’t quite truthful, and then attempt to practice fearless yet compassionate honesty.
REMEMBER: Addictions are stronger then Intention, because you have been practicing your addiction for a long time. This means you have to start practicing your intention in every moment, until it becomes your way of life. Your intentions will change, you will also make mistakes along the way, allow for these things to happen but be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable. If you know you cant hold yourself accountable then find the strength to ask someone else who will hold that space for you. that can be a support group, or community as well.
You know where to find me for support or accountability,
Much love and gratitude!