After promising daily spills, I have ended up a little tongue-tied. What makes me think, says the inner voice, that my expressions of mundane life could be of any interest or merit? Well, perhaps they aren’t. But my exercise, my challenge to myself nonetheless, was to share.
As part of this challenge to myself, this exploration of pleasure, I’m abstaining from a few of my habitual comforts for the duration. In the interest of not succumbing to replacement pleasures, not being seduced by numbness, and allowing my body’s natural chemistry the opportunity to provide me with some euphoria via the miracle of natural endorphins (which get suppressed by intervening chemicals like alcohol and sugar.)
It’s good to give up our habitual comforts for a stretch from time to time. There’s surely a reason that most spiritual paths include traditional times of fasting or abstinence. We need to spend some time awake to our sensations and give our bodies and intuition a chance to breathe freely. Sure, it’s uncomfortable – but that’s the idea. To allow a raw interface with the natural discomfort of existence, and to know ourselves better by observing how we respond.
I’m reading Tommy Rosen’s book about addiction. His idea is that all of us can benefit from examining the roots of addiction, because we all struggle with addiction in some area of our lives. He defines addiction as any behaviour you continue to do despite the fact that it brings negative consequences into your life. He says
Addiction carries a frequency all its own. If your mind-body is attuned to the frequency of addiction, you will be under the influence of the energy addiction brings. It will affect the way your entire reality unfolds for you. Your thinking will skew negative and feel quite loud, if not completely overwhelming at times. You will have a sense that something is lacking, and you will be disconnected from your body and intuition. Instead of living a life that attracts harmony and flow… you will feel like you are swimming upstream in life.
The idea is, if we can break the chains of habit that bind us to false, numbing ‘pleasures,’ we can begin the process of connecting more directly with life – engaging in authentic experience, which includes discomfort and pain, but also gives access to deeper more authentic levels of pleasure than we can experience if we are habitually numbing ourselves to discomfort through our ‘addictions,’ whatever they may be.
Maybe this is why we are so attracted to the idea of ‘cleanses.’ We really do crave that direct contact with life, that direct access to our bodies and intuition, that comes from taking a break from our habitual coping mechanisms. But maybe the ‘cleanse’ needs also to include lots of room for self reflection, as well as lots of room for healthy pleasures and comforts.
What habits bind you? How can you begin to gently loosen their grasp, and reclaim your vivid experience of life’s raw and authentic feeling?