Thursday, July 10, 2008

The pain under addiction

Carol Howe's book Healing the Hurt Behind Addictions and Compulsive Behaviors taught me a lot about addiction and pain.

  • Anything can be an addiction: cocaine, tea, work, TV, sex, exercise...
  • The reason for an addiction is running away from an unseen pain.
  • You can't cure an addiction if you don't heal the pain which caused it.
Ultimately, Life, The Universe, And Everything* is an addiction, caused by the pain of the (illusory) separation from Source/God. But of course it's possible to use a less absolute viewpoint on it. Somebody is always surfing the web until four in the morning even when he has to be up at seven? Addiction? Somebody is always getting into fights or in trouble with the law? Addiction?

One of the ways you can see an addiction is something which can keep your attention. Or something which makes you feel better for a little while.

How do you heal the pain? Wow, big question. There are many, many methods. Hypnosis, EFT, emotrance, therapy, meditation, etc etc. Of course if you want to get at the bedrock pain underlying all the smaller specific problems, I recommend "quantum forgiveness", as outlined by A Course In Miracles and The Disappearance Of The Universe.

* This of course was the question that Douglas Adams was seeking the answer to in the book of that name.

Marian added something in Comments I had actually intended to include in this post:

"An interesting thing about pain is how often it can be healed by the "not-doing" of refusing the tendency towards aversion (which is another way of saying forgiveness but might be an easier way to understand that forgiveness is not a doing of anything).
In other words if you are willing to shine the light of awareness on the pain, it is seen as dissolving. So you volunteer to suffer for a brief interval while watching the pain dissolve. And then you can see that what actually created the psychological hurt wasn't the pain itself but the aversion reaction.
The mind that wants you to run from the pain, IS the pain.
Shining the light of awareness on the pain, by the way, doesn't mean trying to figure out why the pain happened, or getting involved in finding the "cause" of the pain through mental analysis. Those tendencies are also aversion reactions...
What I'm talking about is just being with it, just sitting in it and feeling the essence of it and watching what happens without thought or judgment about the process."

Indeed. Like the Course says, what allows the pain or the Ego to persist is that we don't look at it. I find that as I have advanced, I have gotten able to see Pain or Fear or Guilt directly as abstract "blobs", and just relax with them, look at them, or even reach out and "touch" them in my mind, and they will gradually melt away. Sometimes it takes some determination and concentration, since the Ego would rather do anything else.

What you are doing in therapy is usually look at your ideas or past events, and when this works, it is because you have also indirectly been looking at the underlying abstract pain. When you don't do that, you can chew over the past or your ideas forever without getting any better.

2 comments:

marian said...

Getting to the bedrock pain--good concept.

An interesting thing about pain is how often it can be healed by the "not-doing" of refusing the tendency towards aversion (which is another way of saying forgiveness but might be an easier way to understand that forgiveness is not a doing of anything).

In other words if you are willing to shine the light of awareness on the pain, it is seen as dissolving. So you volunteer to suffer for a brief interval while watching the pain dissolve. And then you can see that what actually created the psychological hurt wasn't the pain itself but the aversion reaction.

The mind that wants you to run from the pain, IS the pain.

Shining the light of awareness on the pain, by the way, doesn't mean trying to figure out why the pain happened, or getting involved in finding the "cause" of the pain through mental analysis. Those tendencies are also aversion reactions—the addiction to the internal dialogue--the biggest addiction of all and the most culturally accepted.

What I'm talking about is just being with it, just sitting in it and feeling the essence of it and watching what happens without thought or judgment about the process.

marian said...

"When you don't do that, you can chew over the past or your ideas forever without getting any better."

Exactly!

By the way, eolake, we were talking about finding the initial passage in ACIM where he talks about looking at the nature of the internal dialogue (what we call thought). It's Lesson 8.