How to Heal Addictions with Mindfulness–In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (Post 2)

In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts Cover

Welcome back to our review of Gabor Mate’s Book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. I want to share a few bits from Chapter 3. Specifically, the premise that Dr. Mate puts forth that addiction is a “flight from distress.” He’s very explicit. “Far more than a quest for pleasure, chronic substance use is the addict’s attempts to escape distress.” What he’s saying is this, addicts are compelled to use substances and engage in behaviors in order to feel better. More often than not, in the background, there’s some painful circumstance or condition.  

AddictDepression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD and or any number of other chronic stress-related conditions push an addict to seek relief in their drug of choice or in medicating behaviors. Interestingly, Mate points out that the same brain circuits that feel physical pain are also active during experiences of emotional pain. ‘When people speak of feeling emotional pain, they are being quite accurate.’ Mate states very strongly that ‘hurt’ is at the center of all addictive behaviors.

In my next post we’ll explore the hallmarks of addiction.

For those readers who would like to go deeper, way deeper, check out the work of Eric Garland.

Feel free to comment and ask questions. If these posts are helpful to you, please share them with you social networks.

Baboons have something to teach us about kindness, health and happiness

Hi all, Lynda and I watched a National Geographic documentary last night on stress. If you consider watching it, be forewarned. It starts off pretty scary. It suggests that the way we live is killing us. Specifically, this documentary warns us against relentlessly driving ourselves, but also acknowleges that our cultural and social pecking orders also add a heavy burden of stress. It uses a troop of baboons to gather most of the data to support stress as a killer.

Snuggling-Baboons1If you watch it, I suggest watching it to the end. The message turns 180 degrees from how baboon culture conspires to make life a living hell for most all its members, to how, the troop  can change and live more peacefullly and therefore more healthfully. The moral is this: If baboons can learn to live with more kindness and compassion, and therefore live more happily and healthfully, so can we. If you’re looking to destress and find more peace in your life, we’re publishing an online course to help you do just that. We’re calling this course True North. It becomes available this Sunday, June 1st. If you’d like more information on True North, visit this link. Wishing you health and happinesss, and the same to your troop as well.


Learning to Unfuss Your Self

Mark as a baby When I was a kid, I don’t remember people thinking that I was spoiled, but I do remember being overly sensitive. If there were wrinkles in socks when my mom put on my shoes I would throw a holy fit. I’ve always liked things to be just so. I can recall my Dad even telling me to “unfuss myself.” So I guess that’s my life’s journey, learning to accept and allow.

I want to be as transparent as I can; just because I meditate does not mean that I’m a very highly realized person. Like you, I’m doing my best, and any spiritual growth I may achieve comes with effort, patience, and practice. I know that if I don’t engage in my daily spiritual practice, the peace and happiness I currently enjoy might slowly fade and I could turn fussy again.

Mark 44 years oldLike a lot of people, my journey to self-discovery began with a painful “bottoming-out” experience. This experience was so potent that it rocked me to the core. The cliff notes version is that I had a thriving business, a title, and a healthy income stream; basically my life and identity seemed solid and unshakable. Then, within a very short time it all collapsed. Afterwards, I was depressed, scared, and furious! I was forced to deal with powerful emotions that I’d never felt before. As a result, my health deteriorated quickly, and I was given a fist full of pills to cope with the intense emotions and the stress-related illnesses (insomnia, depression, chronic pain, anxiety, addictions, and more) that arose in the wake of those emotions.

It took me a couple of years to realize that the pills wouldn’t (and couldn’t) heal me. Looking back, it’s clear why not. I could not stop my mind from replaying my trauma over and over. It was like being stuck in the self-made movie theater of my mind, forced to watch the saddest, most scary and maddening film ever produced, and the one where I was cast as the main character. And, I had no idea how to get up and walk out of the theater.

Mark at 48 years oldThen, as grace would have it, I learned to meditate, and my life began to change for the better. Meditation taught me to watch the mind-made movie. It helped me to separate myself from that drama. More importantly, I could see that “I” was not the main character in the drama. Instead, I learned to identify with the quiet still space of the mind. Like existing only as the “Space” inside “the theater.” That shift from identification with the self, to identification with the “Space,” changed everything. In Buddhism, they have a funny saying, it goes: “no self, no problem.” Jesus communicated a similar sentiment when he told his followers to “deny the self.” I’m calling it “unfussing the self.”

I’ve created a 13-month program, that comes with a book and 40-guided meditations. It will teach you how to dis-identify or unfuss yourself too! When you do, your life will change for the better. Also, I tell my clients that ‘I come with the program.’ Meaning, if you need support, just contact me. I want you to be happy. For more information on the program, check out the Courses section of the website.

Many well wishes,