How to Heal Addictions with Mindfulness–In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (Post 1)

Hi everyone. Happy Monday. I’ve been reading a fantastic book that I want to share. Indeed, as I read it I’ll spend the next month or more blogging about it. I’ll highlight the salient points and hopefully, like a book club, interest others in reading it too. And then participate in our question and answer discussions.

Gabor-Mate
Physician, Author and Public Speaker, Gabor Mate

If you’re not familiar with Gabor Mate, he’s a Canadian MD, author and speaker who has written extensively on addictions and other stress related conditions. Currently, I’m reading his #1 Canadian best seller, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.” In it, he details the many stories of his Downtown Eastside Vancouver clinic, where he works as a physician.

Lest you think this book is solely about drug addicts and addictions, let me pop that bubble. Mate masterfully helps the reader understand the nature, scope, and destructive power of all craving, not just to drugs, but to otherwise accepted “addictions” like to work, power, possessions, and success.

Additionally, and importantly, Mate helps the reader understand the mind-body connection. Thoughts and emotions do change our brains, which then influence subsequent thoughts and emotions. After reading his book, you will understand the science behind the difficulty of changing one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Afterwards, this scientific understanding may help engender compassion to arise, when you or someone you know struggles to change.InTheRealmOfHungryGhosts_cover

I’ll even do my best as well to get Dr. Mate to join us in our discussions, so you can ask him your questions directly. So let’s dive in and spend some time learning about the tendency for humans to fixate, and seek happiness where it cannot be found, in the realm of hungry ghosts.

 In Buddhist cosmology, the realm of hungry ghosts is occupied by beings who long for fulfillment and relief, but are never achieve it. Hungry ghosts are ostrich-like creatures with large bellies and long thin necks. Their mouths are so sensitive that they’re unable to eat or drink enough to satisfy their cravings. Additionally, whatever they do ingest, upsets their delicate constitution.

Hungry Ghost
Hungry Ghost

The hungry ghost realm therefore stands as a symbol for addictions of all kinds. Mate’s Downtown Eastside Vancouver patients live in this realm. Shortly into the book however, the reader comes to realize, that we all cycle through this realm at one time or another. The only difference between us and them is just a matter of degree.

Part 1 of the his book details the lives of patients caught in this unmerciful cyclic state. Readers also gain an deeper understanding of the motives, although sometimes irrational, that keep his addicts stuck. As many of you know, I’ve worked in rehab since 2007. I thought I’d heard and seen it all. The depth and scope of suffering of Mate’s patients surprised even me.

If you want to join in and read Mate’s book with me, get online or go to your local book seller today. I’ll be blogging about it Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s until I’m finished. There’s a lot this book can teach us about ourselves. I hope you join us.

Lastly, if you enjoyed this post and think it’s informative, please share it with your social networks on FB, Twitter, Linkedin, and others. I appreciate you helping me get the work out into the world. Thanks.

Mark Pirtle

https://www.skillfullyaware.com

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