Meditation and addictive and unwanted behaviors we all engage in–
We all have deep patterns in our nervous systems, software patterns, that strongly tend to reactivate in certain situations. These come from all sorts of places, pre natal, birth trauma, early childhood, later trauma, habits built up gradually from a little “hiccup” and also habits entrenched from a single overwhelming experience. The net result is the same. When one of those patterns get activated, we will almost certainly react to it in our own stereotypical way, repeating things we don’t like about ourselves and our behavior and also, simultaneously, deepening the pattern by practice/repetition.
We do that because when the pattern activates, deep down in our physiology we secret messenger molecules, hormones, neurotransmitters…(psychoneuroimmunology blah blah blah, mind and body are not two separate things, they are one thing looked at from different perspectives). Those in turn cause all sorts of activity on cellular and musculoskeletal levels which in turn generate sensations of various intensities. That concert of sensations, we either crave or hate, grab for more or try to push it away. The way we do that last part is the reflexive actiing out, the cravings, the compulsive eating, or gambling, or video game playing, or sex, or rage attack, or name it and claim it!
In my experience, the ONLY way to finally overcome these patterns is to train ourselves to tolerate increasingly strong sensations, both the ones we want more of and the ones we want less of, without reacting to them on any level. If we do that consistently enough, the pattern starts to extinguish, gets weaker, and finally vanishes. That leaves us free! We can respond to our environment, both inner and outer, in appropriate and creative ways instead of reacting reflexively in stereotypical patterns.
In over 45 years of experimenting and working on just this issue I have found a particular type of meditation to be the one thing that really works directly on this issue at the deepest level. Everything else I have tried, a number of other forms of meditation, cognitive psych, Jungian psych, behavioral psych, Reichian psych, various other mind/body modalities, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, crystals, psychic healers, I have made the rounds, absolutely nothing compares.
For me this has specifically been Vipasana meditation in the style taught by S.N. Goenka. I think maybe not for everyone; it is a very demanding and rigorous practice and at first not at all pleasant for most, though as time passes, it can get mighty fine in there Likely other modalities will work for other people but the bottom line of all this is building tolerance for any and all sensations without the compulsion to act, not reacting. Cravings will vanish, addictions will melt away, freedom will become more and more a reality…
If you examine your neuro-electrical-chemical responses to stimuli in a lab, you will find electrical impulses, adrenalin, serotonin, dopamine, cortisol, etc. If you close your eyes and look at the same thing by turning your attention inward, you will find subtle, body sensations. So in short you are not addicted to chocolate, or gambling, or bowling. You are addicted to the sensations exposure to those things generates in your body. And you don’t hate Bob or Sally; you hate the sensations exposure to them generates in your body.
Also, your body reacts with much the same responses to your thoughts; if you think of chocolate or Sally, you will either crave more immediately or really want none of that, depending on which on it is.
The body will have its reactions but if you train yourself to not react to them, you will be free of addictions regardless of whether or not those sensations are present.
Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac., Health Coach (now in Ecuador!)