A drunk calls 911 on his cell phone to report that his car has been broken into. He is outraged as he explains his situation to the dispatcher: “They’ve stolen the stereo, the steering wheel, the brake pedal and even the accelerator!” he screams.
The dispatcher says, “Stay calm. An officer is on the way.”
A few minutes later, the officer radios in. “Disregard the call,” he says. “He got in the back seat by mistake.”
Addiction is a loaded word and a sensitive topic. It is a way many humans give away their power to a state of mind produced by ingesting a substance, or being with another person. It would seem after years of evolution developing our brains and shaping our minds, that sometimes the main purpose for many is to get a little bit out of our minds, no? Or at least a little bit alongside of them. Humor does the same thing, but in a less loaded way. Hearing the words, “So, a man walks into a bar” can change our whole thought framework in an instant – kind of like having a drink or a smoke.
One of the cartoons I saw a number of years ago has stuck with me this long time. It showed three men, two Pilgrims in their wide-brim hats, wearing amazed expressions & an Indian brave, who was walking away from them. One of the men is holding a large tobacco leaf & saying, “He told me to just roll it up and smoke it!” I think the visual stuck with me because at the time I was smoking cigarettes & my thought was, “what a way to win a war!” I think for many, addiction is a kind of war within. It produces casualties, it does damage, it seems controllable when the result on most levels is destructive to so many areas – health, relationships, jobs and souls.
I didn’t like myself much when I lit up. But that didn’t stop me. I kept the habit going for years at a time; I’d take it on, give it up & then suddenly start again.
Human bodies are predisposed to addiction. We love when the pleasure centers light up & start to hum. It’s really a challenge on so many levels, from getting the goods to taking them into the body, and then dealing with the results of that intake. It’s a flawed reasoning process that says “How can anything so good be so bad?”
It isn’t limited to humans either. Animals develop addictions. There are stories on record of elephants rampaging through villages to get a fix of rice wine. Monkeys and giraffes find fermented marula fruit and imbibe to the point of morning hangover. Ants kidnap Lomechusa strumosa beetles, carry them home & ingest the oil the beetles produce which has a similar effect on them as cannabis. So the next time you see an ant staggering around, have mercy… Horses crave locoweed and farmers have to eradicate it wherever they find it because a tipsy horse is downright dangerous. Dolphins bite off just enough of the poisonous pufferfish for its psychoactive venom to get them high.
Cravings are in our cell structures as well. Recent scientific evidence has shown that mice who were given almonds that made them sick not only avoided ever eating almonds, but so did their offspring down many generations. That holds up the idea that alcoholism is an inherited disease through bodily predisposition. Since history shows that the first of the harvest was always set aside for fermentation, we can safely say liquor’s been around since hunters became gatherers.
And it can be a lifelong struggle to deal with that craving that’s as much a part of mind as body. When I smoked, I was able to isolate the craving to my tongue. Isn’t that a crazy thing? But it was my truth. Out of my whole body, it was my tongue that wanted to smoke.
When I was in massage school, the first topic addressed in the Diet & Nutrition class was that salt & sugar are considered to be drugs. They alter the state of the body. Again, down through history, it’s been traced back that the early settlements were almost always within reach of a local source of salt. Yes, we needed it to preserve and flavor our foods & to help bodily functions, but in the medical world, salt can be classified under drugs.
Addictions come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Only when they are detrimental to our bodies, societies & functioning do they become a problem. But by the time they are a problem, they are also well-entrenched in our reality & thoughts of functioning without them are equally problematical.
While drugs seem to produce a kind of “miracle state” in us, it was similarly a miracle which got Bill W, founder of AA, to stop drinking.
Here’s a quote from the “History of AA” on their website today:
In the early 1930s, a well-to-do Rhode Islander, Rowland H., visited the noted Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung for help with his alcoholism. Jung determined that Rowland’s case was medically hopeless, and that he could only find relief through a vital spiritual experience. Jung directed him to the Oxford Group.
Rowland later introduced fellow Vermonter Edwin (“Ebby”) T. to the group, and the two men along with several others were finally able to keep from drinking by practicing the Oxford Group principles.
(As a side note, It was from these 28 Principles that Bill W distilled the 12 Step Program. There’s a handout of this on the information table if you’re interested.)
One of Ebby’s schoolmate friends from Vermont, and a drinking buddy, was Bill W. Ebby sought out his old friend at his home in Brooklyn to carry the message of hope.
Bill W. had been a golden boy on Wall Street, enjoying success and power as a stockbroker, but his promising career had been ruined by continuous and chronic alcoholism. Now, approaching 39 years of age, he was learning that his problem was hopeless, progressive, and irreversible. He had sought medical treatment at Towns Hospital in Manhattan, but he was still drinking.
Bill was, at first, unconvinced by Ebby’s story of transformation and the claims of the Oxford Group. But in December 1934, after again landing in Towns hospital for treatment, Bill underwent a powerful spiritual experience unlike any he had ever known. His depression and despair were lifted, and he felt free and at peace. Bill stopped drinking, and worked the rest of his life to bring that freedom and peace to other alcoholics. The roots of Alcoholics Anonymous were planted.
Would you agree with me that Rowland, Ebby & Bill W. all experienced a miracle, in their individual ways?
What is a miracle? A Course In Miracles tell us “prayer is the medium of miracles. It is a means of communication of the created with the Creator. Through prayer love is received, and through miracles love is expressed.” My interpretation of the word “medium” here is the same as when they talk about the contents in a Petri dish being a medium for growth. So prayer grows love.
ACIM also tells us “the Holy Spirit is the highest communication medium.” And the very first principle of the Course is, “There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.”
I heard somewhere or read somewhere while in the midst of my smoking days that I needed to ask the Holy Spirit to take away the craving. I wasn’t sure why the Holy Spirit – maybe the rest of heaven wasn’t on-call for this particular addiction. Maybe Holy Spirit carried the beeper. But it made sense to me when I understood that Holy Spirit is also the voice of God, constantly keeping a divine two-way communication going. I understood that I had to listen to another voice, to stop hearing that enticing song of tobacco in favor of a new melody.
I needed to stop affirming what Matthew Fox (a contemporary mystic) calls “spiritual powerlessness” in favor of stepping forward under its strength & shielding. At the same time, I asked to be free from the habit, I was also asking tobacco to let go of me. Early on, I got that that tobacco, as a powerful spiritual presence, wanted to express itself through me. But these cigarette dreams were cutting off my real sources of growth – kind of in the way they used to say “smoking stunts your growth.” (By the way, I didn’t start cigarettes until I was in my forties, so it has nothing to do with how tall I’m not.)
It was hindering my growing up metaphysically. This wanting, this dependency, this feeling of incompleteness that surrounded me at times & called me forth to light one up, had to be disallowed in favor of allowing my heaven to occupy its place my soul.
Let’s hear some quotes from various Unity writers about smoking:
Believing in faith is the key to the whole process of healing and cleansing. As Jesus said to the woman with the issue of blood, “Your faith has made you well.” (Mark 5:25-34). You must have absolute faith that the Christ Presence that is your true, eternal spiritual identity is stronger than the desire to smoke, which is simply a function of this limited human illusion. I tried to quit many times without success, until the day when I sat quietly and said, “My limited ego self cannot stop smoking—in fact, my limited ego self doesn’t want to stop smoking. But there is a power within me that wants only my highest good. I surrender to that power now. I am willing to not smoke, and I surrender my heart and mind to the Power within me that can make the right choices on my behalf.”
I never had another cigarette from that moment. And it wasn’t really a struggle, except for a grieving process as I released my old friend, the cigarette. I know without question or doubt that the same spiritual energy lives in you, and that in surrendering to that energy you are free of limiting and addictive choices.
Letting go of anything requires a process of grieving. Putting down my smokes meant adopting something else to be my friend in close places, my buffer against discomfort. Learning not to make that next buddy a bowl of ice cream took a lot of willpower. There are many rich blessings of body, mind and spirit that result.
Call upon your guardian angels, your Higher Self. Ask for the help of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because dissolving the energy of negative ideas is not ours to do alone. Calling upon the Christ Presence within us and around us can provide a source of strength in the moment.
“If we are doing our part, keeping ourselves a clear channel, others will see it. We will be called children of God, because that is what people will see and experience when they are with us.”
“Today I affirm that I remain centered and focused on my spiritual possibilities. I release all judgment of self and others, as I feel the love that is God channeling through my heart and into every cell of my body and mind. I choose to live this day in that energy of love, to claim for myself the kingdom of heaven and to discover my role in bringing that kingdom into full expression everywhere. Thank You, God!”
Allow your resistance to melt into the ground at your feet. Begin to release any anger or judgment of yourself, believe in who you are and what you do enough to say “no” to what no longer serves your highest & best good. If you find resistance in any area, honor it. Let it know you will be back. Every choice you make now about feeling tethered by an old habit can redirect you to a fuller understanding of Spiritual Truth. You have so much inner & outer strength on tap. Reach in to find it at need, reach out to express it in love.
Don’t forget to love yourself the best. It is exactly who you are!
Close your eyes. Breathe deeply.
You are sitting in your favorite chair at home.
As you sit quietly, you hear a gentle knock at your door. You are expecting someone, this is a familiar sound, so you stand up & walk easily to open it. Your favorite addiction is standing outside, waiting to enter. You invite X in and you both sit down across from each other. You know everything about this guest, who in turn, knows everything about you.
Breathe deeply once more as you ask questions in your mind. Your first question might be:
“Why are you in my life right now?” Wait for the answer, listen well.
Does the answer make sense? Consider the words you have heard.
Ask your second question:
“Are you willing to let me go?”
What is the answer?
Keep breathing. Open your heart to your comfort level.
Now it is time for your third question:
“May I let you go?” Check in with yourself as you ask this question. Where does it resonate in you? Heart? Lungs? Chest? Head? Breathe in & send your breath to that area of your body.
What is the feeling coming up as you ask it? Breathe into the feeling as well.
Sit for a moment with it. Be aware of all you are feeling.
Now it is time for you to walk your guest to the door. You open it and gently invite your guest to leave your beautiful, satisfying, heavenly comfort zone.
Shut the door & lean against it for a moment as once again you breathe.
When you are ready to come back to your body, let your eyes open. Rejoin us here in this gathering; look with love into the eyes of the person on your left and right. You are beloved here.
Bless yourself with their loving gaze in return. Accept it fully as you know you are worth every spark of this light.
Over the next couple of days, I want you to remember this exercise. If you choose to do so, revisit this meditation. See how the answers change. Allow them to change. Invite them to change. Direct your energy into the beauty of knowing what you wish. All of it has validity; all of it has value. Own it. Stay in the space it creates for you & feel honored. Bless yourself with the time to do this.
Live in grace. Aho!