February 25, 2015

Breaking the Addiction to Pleasure.


Once, when I was having some issues, my kinesiologist put things into perspective by saying, “This is merely a granule of sand in the grand scheme of things.”

The image this evokes is one of vastness, lifetimes a plenty, starry skies where this experience is just one star in the entire galaxy.

It helps me breathe. It helps me take a step back. It helps me surrender and trust the unfolding of life.

But that is not to say—when this granule is being experienced—it doesn’t hurt like crazy.

When a good friend of mine is hurting, he says, “It’s kinda nice to feel the hurt.”

I always like coming back to his perspective when I am hurting.

He likes listening to music that stirs the hurt. He sits in it.

He acknowledges that he’s hurting and that it’s going to pass—eventually. But in the meantime, he feels it.

I’ve been reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart—Heart Advice for Difficult Times.

When I started reading it, I thought to myself, “This will be interesting—this will be good for my clients.” But true to form, as I made my way through each chapter, I realized how each word was speaking to my own life.

A good chunk of the book talks about how addicted we are to avoiding the pain.

As soon as we waiver from pleasure, we do whatever we can to get ourselves back—back to the comfort of it.

“When pain arises, we reach again and again for something that will blot it out. We may drink or take drugs or just chew gum or turn on the radio. There are, of course, endless ways of seeking pleasure and avoiding the pain.” ~ Peme Chodron

But living life this way means we are only allowing ourselves to experience one side of us. It means we are potentially discounting this granule of sand which holds within it wisdom of 1000 years, of 1000 generations past, of our soul.

And denying this means we are not living a truly awakened life.

When we’re in the thick of it, when it feels like our hearts are being stretched to the point of breaking, when we feel overwhelmed it feels as if we have truly been abandoned—this is when we need to sit with our pain.

Let it show us the wisdom it holds.

I recently made a decision to end something that was compromising my self-respect. Making and following through with this decision was painful, to say the least. It had given me pleasure, comfort and an old way of being.

And in the aftermath of making this decision, my head was straight in the cupboard more times I could count. Whatever I could consume to suppress my anxiety, my sadness, my loss was down my throat before I knew it. I also called numerous friends to talk it through and justify my decision—and then I stopped.

I stopped and let myself feel what I needed to feel.

It was then, the floodgates opened. I did my best not to judge myself for the choices I had made. At times this worked. I was compassionate, kind and soft with myself. At other times I was right in the boxing ring, giving myself a good beating. Then I’d stop again.

I’d breathe, go back to feeling what I needed to feel.

This lasted a few days, but as the surrendering took over and the resistance broke away, I received the wisdom I needed. It felt raw and real and even though it was painful, I wasn’t rushing to get out of it. Curiosity took over, I wanted to hear what it had to say.

This idea of living a truly awakened life means we are okay with the duality of our existence that is pleasure and pain—we welcome it.

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that’s life.” ~ Pema Chodron

Whatever granule we’re experiencing, whether we perceive it to be good or bad, welcome it for what it is. Choose to feel it.

Witness the want to run away from it, if we perceive it to be painful. And if we run, so be it.

But with this awareness see if we can bring ourselves back to feeling it, even so.

And then put it into perspective. In the grand scheme of our existence, of our many existences it’s simply an experience bringing with it soulful wisdom.

Welcome this, embrace it and let the magic unfold.



3 Steps to Learning to Experience Life Fully.


Author: Clare Woodward

Volunteer Editor: Melissa Horton/ Editor: Ashleigh Hitchockc

Photo: Tim Keegan, Flickr

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