What Are You Addicted To?

Dr. Purushothaman
January 12, 2014


Have you ever done a Vision Quest? I recently went on one in the Arizona Desert. Although they are not easy, I have found each one very rewarding and worth the challenge.
One of the biggest challenges of a typical Vision Quest is giving up what you think you need. On a Vision Quest you give up food: fasting for at least a day and as many as four. You give up comfort; you are sleeping outside on the ground with just the very basics. You give up entertainment: no cell phones, newspapers, TV, internet, or books. There is just the sound of the wind and the stars in the sky to entertain you. You give up companionship; a Vision Quest is done solo. You are alone and isolated (at least from people). And you give up safety; it is just you alone out there with the wild beasts, creatures, and creepy crawlies of the night.
One of the major breakthroughs on a Vision Quest is this discovery: you don't need these things as much as you THINK you do! The key word here is THINK. If that THINKING is not challenged, it tends to go on running our lives… for better or worse. What you can learn on a Vision Quest, by challenging your Beliefs, is that you are whole and complete, safe and empowered, inspired and cared for, with far less stuff than you think you need. With this new knowing comes peace, true freedom, and your authentic power of choice. These are things worth "Questing" for.
In many ways what we are talking about here is addictions, things we think we need, or have to do, or can't live without.
Let's have a look at the word addiction: Ad-dict: from the Latin addicere, to give assent. 1) to give oneself up to a strong habit, 2) to make become addicted; addiction.
When we think of "addiction," we typically think of the people who are abusing drugs, i.e. the drug addict. However, in reality, addiction is a far more prevalent and widespread challenge. Look carefully at the definition of addict above. To be addicted, you only have to give yourself up to, or over to, a strong habit. Drugs are just ONE of the habits we humans can give ourselves up to.
The problem with addiction lies in this notion of "giving oneself up" to something. You are literally giving up to and giving your POWER over to, something that is apparently "more powerful" than you. In this manner, the addict makes himself or herself powerless. Ouch! Every time you engage your habit in this manner as an addict, you reinforce your powerlessness and weaken your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies. This is the pain, and this is the loss, experienced by an addict.
So what are you addicted to? How about Starbucks? Are you one of those millions of people who "can't start your day" without your morning cup of Joe. Really? You CAN'T start your day? Notice the powerlessness in this statement and the giving over of one's power. You feel you "have no choice, you have to do this." These are the words of an addict. Whether addicts consciously realize it or not, they are suffering because of it.
How about TV? Gaming? Alcohol? Shopping? The Internet? Or email? Oh, there's one for the masses: email (or put in texting for the younger crowd). I recently heard on the radio an announcer say "Studies show that decreasing time on email can significantly improve productivity, but changing that habit is very challenging because it is an ADDICTION." People feel powerless. Can you relate?
Even so called "good habits" can become detrimental addictions if we become powerless in our choice to engage them or not. Take, for example, work. You're called a work-a-holic if you're addicted to work. What starts out as a good thing - being productive, serving others, and doing a good job - becomes detrimental when you lose your freedom of choice. People in this boat will say things like "I have to work late, I have no choice." They are affirming they are powerless. We can put exercise, sleep, sex, eating, and all kinds of things into this category that are good and healthy when freely and appropriately engaged and chosen, but then become detrimental and even damaging when they move over into the category of addiction.
So why do we do this? What is underlying our addictions? Good question. My answer: FEAR. Fundamentally what is driving the addictive behavior is a fear of something. For the email or text addict it might be something like "I'm afraid I'll miss something important." For the work-a-holic it might be something like "I'm afraid my boss and colleagues will not approve of me." For the caffeine addict it might be "I'm afraid I will not have the energy and drive to think fast and succeed." For the social drinker it might be "I'm afraid of people; I may be awkward and rejected." Afraid, afraid, afraid. Fear, fear, fear.
Addictions are challenging to overcome because to achieve it you must FACE YOUR FEAR. To restore your peace, freedom, wholeness, and authentic power of choice you must embrace and face your fear, whatever it may be.
I am very intimate with this process. For me, addictions cloud my channel with the Divine. My tolerance for my addictions has been greatly decreasing over the years. When I give my power over to something outside of me, I am saying to myself, "The Divine in me is not powerful enough to overcome this addiction," and "This thing outside of me is more powerful than me." When I engage my addictions I am saying no to the Divine power within. I am saying "I need this to feel good, to be OK, to be safe." And on the flip side I am saying "I do not feel good, I am not OK, and I am not safe" (therefore I must engage this addiction to fix that). These are affirmations I am not interested in affirming!
As a social drinker of alcohol for most of my life, I have given up alcohol for all of 2012. I'm nine months into my challenge - and doing just fine. It is a spiritual practice for me, a sacrifice to the Divine in the greatest of ways. Each time I wish I could have a drink - usually weekend social events - I embrace the Divine within affirming "I feel good, I am OK, I am safe, etc." without alcohol. And you know what, I am! Plus, I've discovered a whole new world of fabulous non-alcoholic drinks.
Restoring your power can become addictive! I've now moved on to caffeine. Having been a black tea drinker for a number of years, I am moving to herbal choices and other no or very low caffeine options. In this process I must face my fear of "I need caffeine to be sharp, energized, and productive." Instead I affirm "I am sharp, energized, and productive" without caffeine. And you know what? I am.
Releasing your addictions is about restoring your power. It's about restoring your connection to Source and knowing yourself as whole and complete (without whatever you feel you must have). And that's the real truth for each and every one of us. Your wholeness, completeness, freedom, love, and inspiration are always inside waiting for you to choose and embrace in each and every moment.
Try this:
Become aware of things you might be addicted to. Jot down on a piece of paper a short (or long) list of these things to which you are giving over your power. As you look at that list, for each one, ask yourself "What fear would I have to embrace if I were to stop this addiction?" Write down whatever fear comes up for you.
Next, take one addiction, and for a minute or two, just embrace the fear you identified for it. Take a deep breath and just let it settle in - do not resist it. More often than not, the fear is not as scary, or real, as our minds make them out to be. If you "stand up" to that fear, very often you'll find it melting away, sometimes slowly over time, sometimes quickly.
Then ask yourself, "What would be available to me if I were to stop this addiction? What are the potential benefits of not engaging this anymore?" And make your list of benefits if you were to release your addiction.
Finally, perhaps ask yourself, "Which one of these addictions am I ready to release and evolve beyond?" If none, that's fine, perhaps a time will come later. If it is time, then start moving in that direction. Take the first step, whatever that may be for you to gently, awake and aware, day by day, restore your authentic power of choice.
Congratulations you're one step closer to your mojo!

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