When we first sober up (in inpatient treatment), we take a clinical look at the underlying causes and contributing factors. We learn about the disease model of addiction, about how our upbringing and early childhood experiences shaped the way we feel and function. We learn about unresolved trauma, and discover that failing to heal the deep wounds of the past can result in long-term emotional, psychological, and spiritual upset. We learn about ourselves – about why we are the way we are and what we can do to begin anew. We begin to heal from the inside out; we undergo intensive therapeutic treatment, we are introduced to the 12-step method of addiction recovery, and we receive any additional care that we may be in need of. We begin to feel whole again, after several long months of immense emotional discomfort and honest, thorough self-seeking.
And then, eventually, the unwholesome thoughts and desires of our innate discontentment come creeping back. We begin to feel slightly dissatisfied with some aspect of our lives – perhaps we feel lonely, and find ourselves wanting a significant other. Perhaps we feel like we are not as advanced in our professional lives as our peers, and we find ourselves wanting a pay raise or promotion – or maybe a new career entirely. Perhaps we want more power, more prestige, better health, more enlightenment, a faster car, a thinner frame. Whatever it is, we feel as if our current state of dissatisfaction would be swiftly remedied if only we obtained something more. We find one thing to fixate on, to want, and convince ourselves that once we acquire this thing everything else will rapidly fall into place. We ache and yearn and covet, and cause ourselves much unnecessary pain in the process.
Mindfulness and Letting Go
In many cases, what it is that we want lies outside of our control entirely. Perhaps we want something that we used to have, and lost as a direct consequence of our own self-involved pursuits. Without even recognizing that we are doing so, we cling tightly to misguided beliefs regarding the way that we feel something should be. We cling to resentment, jealousy, anger, and self-pity – we bury these emotions deep down, failing to eradicate them entirely but successfully ignoring them for a prolonged period of time. And then, one day, they bubble to the surface, and we are left desperately wanting and wishing and longing for something we do not and cannot have. These clandestine areas of internal resistance can be brought to the surface sooner, however. Practicing mindfulness can help us to identify deep-seated feelings of fear and unhappiness, and either work through them or reject them as self-defeating. Many will say that prayer and meditation, that bolstering a connection with a higher power and actively seeking spiritual fulfillment, will work to fill the void left by drugs and alcohol. This is true – and it is also true that practicing prayer and meditation on a regular basis will bring to light the truth of this void, and show us that our external wants and desires are nothing more than a lack of acceptance, gratitude, and self-compassion.
What Do You Cling To?
When we practice mindfulness meditation, we are able to see exactly what it is we are detrimentally attached to. Of course, it is unrealistic to assume that unhealthy desires will ever be completely wiped out – even the most enlightened individuals are still human, and still yearn for the unattainable on occasion. Want and desire are often not injurious, and help us to strive towards self-improvement and convalescence on a far larger scale. No, desire is not the culprit. The issue comes when we begin to believe that our personal fulfillment and inner peace will only come with obtaining our desires – that happiness rests on acquiring more. This belief will often lead to resentment, a lack of acceptance, and the exhaustion that goes hand-in-hand with living in a constant state of competition. Meditation comes highly recommended as part of a comprehensive program of addiction recovery. By retraining our thought patterns through mindfulness meditation, we are actually able to create new neural networks. Extensive research conducted on meditation suggests that certain neurological qualities, qualities that work to form character and temperament, can be significantly restructured with a regular meditative practice.
Mindfulness and Next Chapter
When desires crop up, we must be able to recognize whether they are coming from a place of desired personal improvement, authentic and natural, or from a place of dissatisfaction and covetousness, superficial and unworkable. Engaging in a daily practice that teaches us to be more mindful and interconnected will help us to readily identify what type of want is cropping up, while teaching us to be more accepting of and grateful for our present state and circumstance. We at Next Chapter put a heavy emphasis on holistic methods of recovery, ranging from meditation and yoga to art therapy and equine therapy. For more information on our program of holistic and therapeutic recovery, or to further learn how we incorporate mindfulness meditation into our day-to-day curriculum, please feel free to call us today at 1-561-563-8407.