“Fear is the natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” Pema Chodron
The Buddha taught that we “mistake suffering for happiness.” Humans invariably find a way to ease the pain of lost pleasure, if only temporarily. We get hooked on things or use some form of chemical prop to keep pace with our stress-oriented culture. This temporary ease may come from using substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, prescription or recreational drugs. Other addictive props include television, food, exercise, gambling, dieting, shopping, or work. Done long enough, addictions become the heart of our existence and take courage to give up; but one proven method is with meditation.
The Transcendental Meditation Organization (TM) has done extensive research into the effects of meditation on the mind and body. These studies show that sitting quietly with eyes closed for 15-20 minutes twice a day, can help people reduce their use of alcohol, cigarettes, and nonprescription drugs. The effects are based on fundamental and naturally occurring improvements in the meditating individuals psychophysiological functioning.
Meditation teaches us how to wait, to see something through to the end. Waiting requires patience and an internal stillness. To wait through our desires is what is called for from the spiritual warrior. A warrior accepts the challenges that life presents without complaint and strives to live a life of integrity and passion in each moment. The ancient Celtic oracle of divination, The Runes, say that “The battle of the spiritual warrior is always with the self. Funding a will through action, yet unattached to outcomes, remaining mindful that all you can really do is stay out of your own way and let the Will of Heaven flow through you.”
Ironically, addictions are often a vain attempt to be present in the moment. People use addiction to forget the past by running away from previous actions, pain and regrets. They use them to avoid their fear of the future either because it appears empty or there is more harm to come. People use their addictions to try to hold on to an immediate pleasure that is a fleeting illusion.
With meditation there is no running away. Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says you must get to know your fear, look it straight in the eye. Let your fear help to liberate you from old ways of seeing and thinking about your life. It takes tremendous courage to confront what scares you; but rather than flee, consider yourself lucky to have an opportunity to hold yourself in a place of love. With love comes understanding and acceptance. With love comes forgiveness and with forgiveness comes a way to let go of destructive addictions.