Society demands the addict to “stop” yet has no real grasp on what recovery means to begin with. To a lesser degree, we all play out escape behaviors, saturating ourselves with unreality and ideals, falling into the traps of fabricated definitions of humanity. Yet we demand the addict to stop and do everything wrong to make him stop because the addiction, although more or less in all of us, is more visible in the drug addict. The remedy for any addiction is reality, a reality that questions one’s purpose, what the world is, and who or what created us— and in turn live according to such questions. But as long as we turn away from reality, we turn towards addiction and enable others to continue the path of a diluted and destructive existence.
Shuffling papers, meeting with clients, crisis interventions, meetings, family contacts, documentation…Getting busy, staying busy, feeling productive. And then a shadow emerges out of a corridor, a half-broken figure, contorted, confused and healing- to thank you but you can’t remember for what… a smile and then you remember you only placed your hand on his shoulder and uttered four words. The smile is reciprocated and you realize that this whole time you’ve been busy with nothing and the most productive thing you’ll ever do is tell someone “I’m here for you.”
The soul requires your attention. If it’s depression or anxiety we experience, before we seek to medicate, we need to ask ourselves how much time are we spending nourishing our souls. While we may spend time balancing the physical and social aspects of our lives, the soul may remain neglected signaling ‘hunger’ through the pangs of restlessness and melancholy. Often, someone who is experiencing a generalized form of anxiety or depression will discover that little time has been vested in soul-enriching activities that restore emotional and spiritual balance. So before a discussion on medications takes place, an exploration of wellness activities should be discovered. These may include:
Meditation has been proven to significantly reduce anxiety. In fact, there is research proving that meditation is just as effective as prescribed medications in managing anxiety.
Reading increases awareness and can help improve the ability to understand what is going on within you. It also helps with shifting focus away from what you are experiencing to being in tune with the plot and characters of the story.
Laughing or even the act of smiling releases pleasure creating chemicals in the brain, giving off a sense of well-being. Engaging in content or with people that make you laugh is a sure way to combat the imbalance of ‘feel good’ neutrotransmitters in the brain of those suffering with depression and/or anxiety.
Many times, our moods are worsened by overthinking or catastrophizing. A “keep it simple” approach in which we spend time devoted to the deeper part of ourselves is important as a starting point to manage our moods before reassessing and exploring further solutions.
“Pick me up and throw me where you will. Wherever I land I shall keep the god within me happy…” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
I’ve heard many stories from people in recovery dealing with obstacles, some so severe I wondered how they were managing to stay clean and sober. Some had lost their homes to foreclosure. Some were laid off from work. And some had even lost children to illness. In every account, the same statement reappeared at the end of each share, “But I didn’t drink” or “I didn’t pick up”… “no matter what.” These people were living proof that something profound had taken place within, a spiritual awakening. Though the external reality of their lives were constant and difficult, there was a wise and directing consciousness beneath what they presented. This consciousness was impenetrable- although their lives were shaken, they were far from broken.
Recovery is spiritual awareness. People become aware of the divinity within and make a decision to honor it on a daily basis. Outside circumstances such as death, divorce, and financial problems cannot influence the spiritual life within. Many people in AA refer to this idea as the “98 Burn”, a statement made on page 98 of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book text which states “job or no job, wife or no wife…burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone.” While our world may be shaken or everything seems to be crumbling down around us, we must acknowledge the god inside us, unfazed, smiling, and always willing to direct us towards the next step. Stability, healing, and recovery depend not on what happens to us but on the reckoning and daily practice of honoring the divine life within.
Man envies every least deserving thing. He strives and dies for the things that should always be allocated at the background of reality. The promotion, the size of his home, his bank account, the attention given by others, where his kids go to school, where he dines and gathers- all take center stage and consume the pathway to his purpose. And nature which seeks to teach him how to live, how to be happy, is altogether ignored, kicked away like an orphan who incessantly begs for loose change and crumbs. He seldom ponders the trees that show him how to weather the inevitable storms, to stand strong through the turbulence, to accept harmoniously the place it’s been given, and to fall gracefully when it is time. It’s tragic that we often fall prey to the erroneous escapes of life’s struggles-the pill, the powder, the bottle, the dollar, the relationship, etc- through self medication and yet, often ignore the guiding example of nature. Nature stands still, stoically, through both the pleasant moments and drudgery of existence. It doesn’t rebel nor complain about what should or could be… it stands and exists in perfect harmony with what is and what has been given. If you’ve run out of answers, if there’s no more ways to escape left in you, switch your focus to bringing nature and life center stage and lessen your priorities on those things that hinder.