More Zen of Recovery: Breaking the Cycle of Addiction Part II
Our addictions are traceable to our wounded spirit. For sustained recovery, we have to mend.
Most of us don't spend too much time thinking of ourselves as spirit; It seems ethereal, just out of reach of our understanding. We have to start by finding it. If I ask you where your thoughts are, you won’t point to your arm or knees or nose, you’ll point to your head. If I ask where your emotions are, you’ll point to your heart; But your brain and heart are organs made of flesh. Your beating heart is not where those “feelings” are. We aren’t even actually pointing to a material structure inside, but somewhere over our heart. We instinctively know there’s an energy outside of our flesh and blood, but somehow still a part of us.
We, our conscious awareness (our spirit), inhabits (lives within) a body and receives input through its senses. Our mind interprets this input to create thoughts. Thoughts in turn create emotions, based on input that matches our stored experiences. Even the staunchest atheist must confess this is a human condition.
A kind person is said to have a good heart. Yet, the health of the organ isn’t even relevant.
My good friend John has a portable mechanical heart. I consider him in a way, very blessed. He can know this truth of our conscious spirit with absolute certainty. He feels emotions in the same place, and knows they can't be generated by the organ or portable machine, and he most definitely has a good heart.
To people of the East, this is all self-evident. In the West, few of us consider anything so deep. We’re too busy trying to get things that make us feel better, and avoid things that don’t. We’re ignoring our spirit.
Yet, scripture is clear. The oldest book in the Bible, says: “But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” Job 32:8
“And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
So, ask yourself who is reading? Who is aware they are reading? Your conscience self inhabits the body; but you are not your body; and it inhabits the mind, but you are not your mind.
Some time ago, the experiences your mind and heart couldn’t handle, wounded your spirit, and you’re still storing this stuff, just out of reach where it continues to cause harm.
In the original Hebrew Aleph Bet, from where we get our Alphabet, the word for Breath is the same word for Spirit, “Ruach.”
Genesis 1:2 begins “…and the Spirit (Ruach) of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Genesis 2:7 says "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed (Ruach) into his nostrils, the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
We are, at our “Essence” (also “Ruach” in Hebrew!) Spirit, both according to scripture, and by our most obvious experiential evidence!
Your spirit or soul, is woven together soul-to-body by way of the breath. Think about that. Your breath, made of material has an ability to weave together the immaterial, your spirit, to an otherwise lifeless body!
Our breathing is both automatic and voluntary. It is automatically controlled by the brain stem; and can be over-ridden just by our will. Controlling our breath has a most definite immediate effect on our bodies and minds. Anxiety, anger, or fear triggers rapid, shallow breathing. On the other hand, if your breathing is slow and deep, it stimulates the vagus nerves, which regulate the respiratory rate and calms your 'fight or flight' reflex, relaxing your brain.
The West cannot argue that the East’s practice of meditation and yoga with its controlled breathing techniques are not scientific. In fact throughout the Eastern world, it is called Yogic science.
Again scripture precedes this understanding; the Hebrew word “Leb” is the same for mind, will, and heart!
So our breathing offers clues how to reach and affect our spirit, and we can use our will to affect our mind and heart. Michael Singer, author of “The Untethered Soul,” and “Living Surrendered,” says, “The mind is where the soul goes to hide from the heart.” He means we use our minds to avoid our wounded hearts, and we do this to great detriment. Rather than address the wound, we avoid it at all costs and try to cover it with relationships, material possessions, drugs and alcohol. However, nothing outside us can fix the problems inside us.
Like breathing, our thoughts are also both automatic and voluntary. We don’t control the mostly negative automatic voice constantly running in our minds, but we can, through a minute force of will, override it with voluntary neutral or positive thoughts. And we can learn to quiet that voice just long enough to be present with our own ruach (breath, will, spirit, essence).
Singer offers a practical exercise for beginners. The next time you’re in a situation that causes a disturbance; say.... the car in front of you is going too slow; watch your thoughts disturb you. “Why is this person driving so slow, what’s wrong with her? I’m going to be late,” on and on filled with negativity. Step aside and just notice. Don’t judge, just notice.
Notice your thoughts behaving like a maniac, aggravating yourself (read your “self” your inner-being) over something you have no control over. It does you absolutely no good. Now, when you are watching from what’s known as the “seat of witness consciousness,” just relax.
Note, you’re not being asked to relax the mind and its crazy, negative thoughts. YOU relax. Drop your shoulders, breathe deeply and just notice the disturbance. Poof, it’s gone. Then use your mind to over-ride those thoughts. “Well there’s nothing I can do about getting where I am going any faster, I may as well enjoy this time to….watch the scenery, be still inside, be grateful….”
You find your mind complaining about the heat. Notice the disturbance of your mind. Now override these automatic negative thoughts about your body’s discomfort with higher thoughts. “There’s this star, 93 million miles away, and you are literally feeling the heat from it. Amazing! Your conscious awareness isn’t hot any more, its aware that your body is feeling heat. See how this works?
Think of a boat. Now a bigger boat. Think of a ship. Make it bigger. It’s the Queen Mary, the Titanic. You can, with a tiny force of will, think whatever you choose to think.
Through simple meditation, we learn to quiet the mind; and it’s with a quiet mind that we connect our conscious awareness to a cosmic energy (God), that pours forth unlimited creativity, true healing, and peace that passes all understanding. “And the Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:7
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* Concepts of “observer awareness and witness consciousness borrowed from “The Untethered Soul,” by Michael Singer