For countless Millenia Mankind has had a constant relationship with two things… The Mind and Alcohol. The two are intrinsically linked. As an individual I am no different. We all live with our mind, so that relationship is without dispute, but as for alcohol, well lots of people don’t drink so wheres the relationship there? Certain religions and cultures forbid the use of alcohol so again how could they be classed as sharing a relationship?
Any divorced parent will agree that their ex spouse still has some baring on their life, they affect things, stuff, decisions in a way that can be both positive and negative. Alcohol affects everybody’s life regardless whether or not we are the one participating in its consumption! Its important for me as an ex drinker to state firmly here and now I am in no way anti drinking! Drink can mean joviality, companionship, relaxation and many other things to those who can ‘take it or leave it.’ To those who can use it responsibly I say “Fair play to you, please feel free to enjoy” To those who cannot (myself included), all I can say is there is way to live that provides everything that alcohol promised, gave a glimpse of, then cruelly ripped away. A way of living that provides all these things and so much more.
Addiction (Alcoholism in terms of numbers outweighs Drug Addiction by about 50 -1) is the biggest killer on this planet and has been for centuries. Not heart disease, not cancer and certainly not war. At first glance people will dispute that, but lets look a little deeper.
How many innocent people, either as a passenger, occupant of another vehicle, or a pedestrian have been killed by a drunk driver? How many suicides are down to an addict giving up hope? How many murder victims, remembering most were killed by somebody they knew, were the victim of a person under the influence? How many of them have been executed or confined to a life in prison? How many kids lives have been ruined before they have even started because of a parents relationship with drink or drugs? Without even mentioning the huge numbers of people who die as a direct result of their drinking and drugging! Im sure you can add many other examples to the list but I’m getting a little tired of the morbidity all ready. It aint exactly jolly reading.
How as a species could we let this happen and still for the most part be completely ignorant of it? Simple… the mind!! Addiction has very little to do with the substance of choice and a lot more to do with the mind. Not in a way that current drug and alcohol agencies would like to think – duel diagnosis… “do they drink because they are mentally ill or are they mentally ill because they drink?” The short answer is… Neither or maybe both, who gives a shit! That question is as useful as shooting at the moon. Its totally irrelevant and skirts round the real issue, and thats a form of denial… addiction loves that shit, feeds on it! Take another spin of the wheel and tune in next week!! Addiction is a spiritual illness that shreds the mind and ravages the body, it destroys both. But they are just symptoms. It is a sickness of the soul, that sickens both body and mind (regardless whether we are drinking/using or not) and it is progressive – that opens up a voracious debate by ‘experts’ who have never experienced it…or have they?
Addiction is not the only soul sickness… The question should be is the soul sick because we are mentally ill or are we mentally ill because the soul is sick?
The whole world is sick, everybody – myself included, along with the Dalai Lama! All suffering to various degrees on different levels. Why is that? The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety (that may surprise a few ‘experts’) it is connection! That is where the mind fits in with this intrinsically linked little web. We as a species totally identify with our own mind and therefore disconnect with all things over time in a progressive manner. The more we disconnect the sicker we become. The difference between addiction soul sickness and those who have no destructive addictive behaviours is an awareness. I knew something was wrong long before (long as in my few short years on this planet at the time) I picked up a drink. I instantly knew how to treat that from the very first moment I had my first drink! The uncomfortable feeling in my own skin that progressed in me over time can most easily be described as instincts in collision! A massive ego at war with a huge inferiority complex coupled with what is described in the Doctors Opinion in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as “A feeling of restlessness, irritability and discontented” “…unless he can again experience the ease and comfort provided by taking a few drinks, drinks he sees others taking with impunity!” Those who can take it or leave it… I cannot, like millions of others ‘I Drank, I Sank and I Stank’ (The stinking bit came later). It almost destroyed me at the end and thoughts of suicide were creeping up my ‘to do list!’
My journey in AA consists at its most basic level with remaining connected to those others who were aware (all be it on a subconscious level) of this before treating it with alcohol. People who were completely relieved of its symptoms by consuming liquor, continued to do so until arriving at the jumping off point. People who at the last gasp found a way to live that provides everything that alcohol promised, gave a glimpse of, then cruelly ripped away. A way of living that provides all these things and so much more. A way of treating something that is progressing regardless of whether we are drinking/drugging or not! A way to grow and a way to go!
As for the mind… Its not you!! It appears so at times (we are conditioned that way) but once you experience taking a step back and watching it the illusion is shattered! This can only be achieved by meditation and the awareness it gifts.
The mind is fully autonomous, like the heart, it does its own thing and keeps going regardless. Like the heart it can go at different speeds depending on how hard we push it. It can also slow down as we give it a break. Thats were meditation comes in. Sitting still in silence, holding our attention on one thing. We cannot stop the mind anymore than we can stop the heart. Even in deep meditation, focusing completely on the natural rhythm of the breath, a thought will pop up at least every 3 – 5 breaths. Watching it sail by without engaging with it, seeing its insignificance without judging it, the thought quickly passes. This is a skill that develops over time with practice. This provides the awareness necessary to observe the mind as a separate entity. Along with the abhorrent, disturbing and sometimes downright hilarious thoughts the mind will throw in there to grab our attention and have us engage with it again. Scary at first until over time you get to see it as a naughty schoolboy! We learn to ‘watch’ the mind and become aware of who is doing the watching.
The mind is the chief provider of fear. The Amygdala at the lower rear area of the brain is a throwback from primitive days. Its main role is to produce the fight or flight instinct required for survival. However since humans now face different challenges today other than been eaten by wild beasts and things of a similar nature, the Amygdala kinda gets confused! It creates fear over any little thing. Again producing an illusion. Always time related… Past or Future! Never in the present moment where reality lives. This is not real and another attempt by an imposter who wants you to engage with it other than connect to reality! The mind itself is frightened of the present moment and of reality. It strives to delude and keep you in denial, reason been… how can it control you if you can really see things as they are?
This post for the everyday inspiration challenge asked for suggestions through the contact page and I have chosen these two, one each from Mick and Mel…
Mel – “Write about your story. What makes you seek help from AA, when was your turning point?”
Mick – “You have wrote now a couple of times of how the mind controls us and how we are not our mind and that its just another part of our body. I find this really interesting and hard to get my head around. If we are not our mind then who is driving the bus? My mind is probably the only thing I listen to and reason with. So If we are not our mind then who are we? Is it something that you have to discover for yourself ? Can you give a bit more insight on this troubling matter?”
Thank you to Mick and Mel along with the others who submitted suggestions. I hope my answers (in a roundabout way) gave some understanding (from my perspective, somebody who can still on a regular basis slip from awareness to been controlled by my mind. From time to time still feels like saying ‘Fuck it’ and going right on one with the drink! Then I remember… there is a better way).
“To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.” ~ Lao Tzu
“The voice in your head is not who you are. It’s just an excitable commentator – You are the game.” ~ Mark Rice Oxley.
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki
“We are all here because we are not all there” & “I came for my drinking and stayed for my thinking” ~ Heard in The Rooms.
D&O in Fresno