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October 18, 2019

Releasing Addiction & Mental Illness through the Teachings of Buddhism.

 

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Addiction doesn’t only apply to substance abuse—alcohol and drugs.

The more I study and learn about the basic teachings of Buddhism, the more I realize that we are all addicts. If it’s not a substance, then we have become addicted or attached to a way of thinking which can keep us locked in our own mental prisons. Or, perhaps, we are addicted to a frame of mind that is actually keeping us from reaching a new level of success or growth.

In Buddhism, the core theme of the teachings states that life is suffering, also called “Dukkha,” which translates to “suffering.” Life is suffering, and in my opinion, we as humans become addicted to it because that is all we know life to be, which is true. But we are so unconsciously attached to it that we’ve forgotten what it feels like to surrender instead of falling victim to the suffering.

The Buddhists say that life is suffering and also explain that everything is changing. Nothing in life remains the same; it is constantly and consistently changing. Buddhism shines an energetic light on the impermanence of everything within this life. As we shift through moods, situations, phases, cycles, and patterns, the practices of Buddhism can help us cope and emotionally survive by cultivating our knowing of impermanence.

But it’s got me thinking more and more about the current world we live in full of emotional trauma, mental illness, and drug and alcohol addiction. Where is the line between a normal dose of life suffering that comes with this ticket to Earth?

In the case of substance addiction, eliminating the substance can lead to rebirth and liberation. However, with mental illness such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety, PTSD, there is no actual physical substance to eliminate. Rather, it’s a way of being, living, and thinking that needs to be rewired and unlearned, if you will.

What Buddhism teaches us is that the past is just a thought in this moment. We are not the past, but the past can easily become a part of our story that continues to play on repeat like a broken record. In order to free ourselves from addiction and mental illness, we have to find the muscle within our minds to reclaim our power and rewrite our story.

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author: Gab Cohen

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