Polar Vortexes. Worldwide government overthrows. Financial market swings that make Lindsay Lohan look stable.
There's no question there is massive global flux. Great tumult, but also a coinciding collective awakening towards mindfulness and heart-centered living as a way to deal with it. We're reaching for new solutions.
Increasingly popular yoga, meditation, conscious eating and spending, even corporate culture -- mindfulness in every aspect of our lives is raising our consciousness in evolution.
Many of us are put off from beginning or adhering to a spiritual practice because of an innate sense of unworthiness within. In a catch 22, it's only when we allow ourselves the vulnerability of seeing and being in that unworthiness, that it begins to dissipate.
The higher we rise in consciousness, the less small "s" self we experience, and the more capital "S." (Let's call it higher Self, Source, Universe, you can deem it whatever you want; the intelligence we're connected to which is bigger than us.) The more Big S we have, the more flow in our lives and the more connected we feel to others.
As we let go of the small "self," we become witness to our thoughts. Sounds sorta scary, but it's actually completely and utterly freeing. The pinnacle of this is what yogis for thousands of years have deemed "Mukti" or liberation. Ethereal in concept, yet these days, it's amazingly quite real.
For better or worse, the nature of the mind is to compare and contrast. Much of our lives -- all of our lives -- are spent judging others and ourselves. So often, when we set out to spiritual practices, we want it to look perfect. We feel like frauds if we have too much to drink, lash out in anger, or would rather watch Bravo than CNN.
And on the flipside, tightly sewn into Western culture is: you have to be "good" to be spiritual.
I've heard teachers proclaim they refuse to teach a student who "_____." (Fill in the blank for that teacher's personal Achilles heel, whether it's drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, meat.)
It's irrelevant how "good" we are; all we can do is start where we are.
With a gentle awareness and intent to be real, any pattern can be disrupted. We never fix anything that's broken, we only uncover the bliss we inherently are.
Addiction is a total lack of awareness. A person is totally merged with this (misperceived) sense of small self, some call it mind or ego. There's no space between an urge or desire and its execution. Even if the head says, "you shouldn't" there is an involuntary physical action to reach for the cupcake, drug, cigarette, perhaps a less-than-stellar guy or gal.
As we consciously evolve, the more distance we have between these two selves. The small self is inherently more selfish, and the bigger Self is more (literally) self-less.
What's most fascinating is that when we show up, the addictive patterns, thoughts, desires, fall away naturally. There's no need for challenges or willpower. All that's necessary is intent and a soft focus to show up to the mat, the pillow, juice bar.
It's the unconscious that governs these patterns. All of these mindful practices inherently loosen the unconscious patterns so that they can release.
One particular vice I used to have was vodka. I'm Polish. I was "nursed on it," I joke sometimes. (Like all decent jokes, it's funny because there's probably some truth to it.)
Vodka was my escape: my spiritual kryptonite. With awareness and practice, here is how any pattern frees:
An incident happened where I was set off into a "negative" emotion; we'll call it a "charge."
A charge happened: I went straight to the bar.
(Enter yoga, meditation, blessings, self-reflection, etc.)
A charge happened: (There was an opening, a breath, I saw myself wanting to go straight to the bar. I noticed it was a reaction. There was a space there. I began to see ... I considered not going.) But still: straight to the bar.
Charge: (A few more moments of awareness ... one day ... the decision to sit down to meditation rather then go to the bar.) Then after the meditation: straight to the bar.
And one day, finally:
Charge: and sitting down. Dealing with it. Being with it. Being able to finally be in the reality of the moment. Not needing to go to the bar.
After that day, I've been able to enjoy martinis because I wanted to. Not because I needed them. Not to mention, they're far less frequent.
Of course I'm not saying it's admirable or necessary to drink to grow one's consciousness, all I am saying is, it's possible. Obviously for addictions that are life-threateningly dangerous, abstinence and medical supervision should be involved.
But for the rest of us -- most are addicted slightly to one thing or another. We know our vices. Yet, whatever you resist, persists. So if it gets you to the mat, the practice, the meditation, that book that you feel drawn to, if it helps, keep martinis on the menu. Soon enough we'll need them less and less. Namaste.