Recovery from addiction, self absorption, behavioral deficiencies, and even old world thinking are one in the same. The first thing that is needed for change to take place is desire. Many times it also takes outside pressure to make “flip the switch” in our brain.
Closed-mindedness is the enemy to change. Most of us have a desire to be “right” about how we do life. We spend an enormous amount of energy on proving ourselves to be correct and in the process making other “wrong.” Denial is a defense mechanism of the ego that we use to shield ourselves from criticism. The willingness to address this denial and closed-mindedness is critical to change, and ultimately, happiness.
Opening our minds to ideas that may seem foreign or “wrong” doesn’t mean accepting these things as true, it just means that we are willing to look and listen, maybe even try it out. We can always go back to our way of doing things if these new suggestions do not bring us to a greater place of joy and freedom. After all, isn’t joy and freedom what we are all looking for here? I haven’t met anyone who truly lives just to be more miserable. Yet some people spend a great deal of their lives, maybe even all of their lives, unhappy.
I’m here to say it doesn’t have to be that way.
Life is constantly changing. That is what life is all about. Everything is in motion at all times. It is certainly true that people are changing all the time. Resisting this change is where our unhappiness is rooted. Going with change, and accepting it, opens us up to feeling better about situations that we are not really comfortable in. Finding an attitude of gratitude, even for unpleasant experiences, will serve our happiness better in the long run. One of the most profound statements to come from CwG is “what you resist, persists.” The follow up to that is, “what you look at disappears.”
Developing a practice of quieting the mind is key to handling the stresses of life with more control and confidence. The minds of the addicted are constantly racing. The unharnessed mind is the enemy to serenity and peace. Many times in our lives our conflicts escalate because we don’t stop to think about the appropriate responses. Our society pressures us to have quick replies, and immediate results. We constantly find ourselves falling into the rabbit hole because we don’t stop to take a breath and quiet our mind before we fire off a retort.
Saying yes to opportunities that stretch our comfort zone often reaps fantastic rewards. If you have ever seen the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey I have found this practice to be very much like the movie. In our active spiritual life we are inspired to call forth new experiences in our lives. We set our intentions on whatever it is, we say a prayer or two requesting things, then we sit back and wait for them to appear, only to be disappointed and discouraged.
We ask,”what is the problem?” I have done all the right things, set my intentions, prayed, put into place a mantra or incantation practice, and I still have not experienced what I asked for. We assume that God said no.
Well God never says no. The answer is always yes, and it is always immediate. The problem is, in most cases, we didn’t know what to look for. Many times the experience is dangled in front of us, but the road looks too scary or risky and we turn back. Sometimes we say no to things that appear out of the blue because we are skeptical or cynical.
Being aware that life is a contextual field reminds us that where one thing exists the opposite must also exist in order for us to fully grasp the grandness of anything. So if the opposite is presenting when you ask for a thing, bless it and thank it for its presence, for without the opposite we cannot appreciate the fullness of a thing.
So here is a quick list of my favorite practices. These are the things that I find expand my consciousness, while at the same time opening up more space for me to experience happiness, joy and freedom, the holy trinity of a wonderful life.
1. Yoga – Healing the body, focusing the mind, tending to the spirit. You cannot beat yoga for finding peace. Side benefits: the people you find in the rooms are on the same journey as you. Looking for peace, health, and love. Not just looking, but creating.
2. Reading – Find the books that open your heart and your mind. Study them deeply. If you find something that works, keep on doing it. Then share it. What you give to another you give to yourself.
3. Communicate- And when I say communicate I do not mean talking only. Listening is a lost art in our culture. So far lost that is really all people want from others is that they just listen. You don’t have to have the answers, in fact, you shouldn’t have the answers. We all have our own answers; many times we just need another to be a heart with ears. Listening, not judging or condemning.
4. Drop expectations – When we expect things to appear there can be only two results. One, we get the thing. Two, we don’t. And if we expect something and get the opposite result, suffering can take place. It is great to have a preference for a result, but expectations usually end in letdown.
5. Be creative – And I don’t mean painting pictures or drawing elaborate plans, although those are wonderful things to do. What I mean is intentionally create your state of being. Decide before hand what it is you wish to be, and then be it.
6. Step outside your comfort zone – It has been said that if your palms aren’t sweating, you aren’t living, and I believe that is true. Great joy can be found in putting on our big boy and girl pants and living on the edge of comfort. Sometimes this just looks like starting a conversation with a stranger on an elevator instead of staring at the wall wishing the doors would open.
(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional and Recovery Advocate. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, recovery coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery. Kevin has a passion for holistic living, personal awareness training, and physical meditation. You can visit his website Life After Addicton for more information. To connect with Kevin, please email him at Kevin@TheGlobalConversation.com)