Monday, November 23, 2015

Beating Addictive Habits, Once Again

A habit cannot be tossed out of the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time. (Mark Twain)

A new year is approaching and with it, for many of us anyway, come some new or repeated New Year's Resolutions. We quit smoking only to find that we are gaining weight. We curtail our alcohol consumption only to find an emptiness on a lonely Friday night that we never quite experienced that way. We scale back on our shopping trips, cut our credit cards or our coffee consumption only to find that we are really depressed.

Do I need to go on? You probably can fill in the blanks for yourself.  Don't be upset, just accept the challenge; try your best to change your habit if you expect to benefit from it and just see what happens. With every demon we tackle, with every attempt to take a look under the hood, new spiritual insights come our way, and new, healthier habits will be formed. With every honest attempt at self-improvement, we take in fact a step closer to the Self. 

They say once we still our mind, all the cravings will be gone as well. Yet, how exactly do we do that? Sometimes the way to beat the inner restlessness is all about reminding ourselves who we truly are inside. We spend time with nature, do meditation or yoga; we exercise or simply hang out with old friends or our four-legged friends; just maybe the solution is as simple as  working on something that is truly meaningful to us. Whatever pathway it is that gives us this inner peace and silence, we have to find it!

But then there are also the occasions where we take our first meditation class and feel great, only to find that the positive impact is waning after the second or third session. So what is going on here? Often the process of beating an addiction or a bothersome habit is simply about finding out what is still wrong inside. The restlessness and emptiness that we tried to cement over with our pleasure trips reflects in fact an inner imbalance that we first have to discover and resolve. So instead of wishing away our nagging feelings we should welcome them as harbinger of the necessary change. And if that all sounds a little overwhelming, relax, life is preparing you perfectly for the change that is in store for you.

A spiritual path is the process of understand everything that is going on within. Do we live a passionate and purposeful life? Is there something of the past that we still carry around and haven't healed yet? Are we really bold enough in setting our goals?  Addictive patterns are often a subconscious drive to put our mind to sleep because we don't want to face something that scares us. All of us we have to do some painful soul searching along the Way; the whole point of the spiritual journey is to awaken us from our self-imposed sleep. The solution to the problem is actually quite simple: walking the Way encourages us to fall in love with life yet again. It lets us experience the magic of life just as we experienced it as a child, with open eyes and arms wide open. 

So where does this discussion leave us in the end? Well, let's try one more time to beat that habit that always bothered us. After all, isn't that what we do every day along a spiritual path anyway, putting our best foot forward? Everything is interconnected - our thoughts, our feelings, and the events and people that come into our life. Let's drop a first domino when we make a necessary change and let's see how many others fall with it. Life is working hard to catapult us to the next spiritual level but we have to do our part too. This note started out with one of Mark Twain's priceless observations. The gist of his argument is right, but we don't have to drag anything. Make a change today and let life carry you to your desired destination one step at a time.

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