Day 17: Addiction
Today was a Monday which meant I had to drag myself out of bed to spend the rest of the day at school. I’m graduating from my school this quarter and I am ready to leave as soon as I can! But in the meantime I’ve been getting irritable seeing all the same people and their unchanging or worsening attitudes throughout the year.
It made me realize two things: How I’m changing, and how my tolerance and self-control fluctuates depending on where I am. In my office, it seems that I’m incredibly irritable and generally angry. It doesn’t help of course that a lot of unpleasant people frequent the office and tend to bother me.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but I’m also a borderline internet addict. The Internet definitely has a special place in my heart, and I can be on it for hours on end. There is a distinction between research, email, and pleasure but the line between research and pleasure can blur and I may end up on the deep end of an internet relapse.
I had one of those relapses today. I’ve been focusing on how to “communicate” my blog to people (A.K.A. promote it) and a lot of good advice for having a great blog comes from the Internet. Well, I began getting sucked into that deep end pretty quickly and soon enough I was on Digg.com for no good reason. My guilt for cheating on my New Age rules was overridden with a burning desire to explore more internets. I was rapidly losing myself.
In church yesterday I realized there was a list of events going on at the church during the week. The one I attended today was called “Buddhist 12 step study program”. It sounded New Age enough, and I was interested to find out what it was about. I was imagining it to be some kind of workshop where we learned about Buddhism in 12 sessions.
It was fatefully a place for addicts of all kinds. At first I wondered if I should leave but they seemed very inviting and I felt I had something to learn from this. The sessions were based around a book called “Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path to Recovery” by Kevin Griffin. The author as apparently an addict himself but Buddhism brought him back from the brink. Everyone would go around and talk about how their week was and then we would meditate for 20 minutes.
The meditation strategy was really good. We had to count with every out-breath up to 10 then start over again. Still, no matter the strategy, I SUCK at meditating! I know this is my ego talking, that I’m identifying, defining, and limiting myself, but I’m just sick of trying and failing. I usually just fall asleep. The most upsetting part is seeing my boyfriend open his eyes and look like he was just on a different planet. He’s already really good at meditating, and here I am SUCKING. I know that it doesn’t help that I have ADD and insomnia because I think so much I can’t sleep but it’s still discouraging when you’re just sitting still for 20 minutes either worrying or passing out.
I really want to have an honest to goodness meditation before this month is over. No, I WILL have a successful meditation session before this month is over!
One thing that really struck me in this session was the idea everyone held on to that desire is the cause of all suffering. It seemed like sound logic, yet thinking about it further I found I didn’t want to lose desire. I want to want things, I want to pursue my wants, and I want to get what I want. I think even when one doesn’t get what they want there is still a learning experience behind not getting it. Whenever I envision having no desire or having enlightenment I imagine some monk just sitting there all day with a gentle smile on his face…and that vision isn’t appealing to me.
I feel like flaws, pain, indulgence all of those “dysfunctions” have a function. Even when I go to a loud party with obnoxious idiots I learn something. Wasn’t there ever a time when you did something completely unproductive and learned a lot from it? Wasn’t there ever a time you ate a carton of ice cream and enjoyed every second of it? I’m not saying we should all be as indulgent as we can, but I think removing all dysfunctions is dysfunctional.
Can we really deny our true natures completely? We’re all animals after all, right? Noah always talks about how long it took us humans to realize we’re all just animals, but how much have we realized that, and are we really just animals if we can deny our own natures, our own inherent instincts driven into us from when we needed to survive with them?
The deer stays on the road when it sees a car heading in its direction. It does so because in the wild staying absolutely still helps keep the predator from knowing its location. But when the predator is a car, it can’t deny its nature even knowing it is fully illuminated and thus the predator could see it anyway, even knowing the predator is already “attacking”. Are we much different? We all hate war and violence but we all give in to it fairly easily: it’s our nature.
Oh my god just get out of the way!
My concern is with denying who I am; I like who I am! I could be more laid back and also more organized but I’m always working to better myself, to work on my flaws. But now my perceived strengths are my flaws, and how do I renovate myself without losing my integrity?
Anyway, besides that whole inner debate and the crappy meditation the meeting was great. I felt like my problems were so incredibly miniscule and the concepts they talked about reminded me of the book I’ve been reading and also my own journey. The spiritual aspect of it all was surprisingly grounded in reality so that I could see the rationale behind it. Spirituality doesn’t have to be confusing or cryptic, but many times it is.
After meditation we read from their book. I really liked the strategy they had for reading: everyone read a paragraph aloud in rotation instead of being assigned to read a certain number of pages/chapters like a reading group. It made me feel included; that even though I hadn’t been there at the beginning I was still very much part of this group.
The reading talked about the 5 hindrances in meditation:
- Restlessness and Anxiety
- Sleepiness and Dullness
My biggest hindrance by far is sleepiness, then anxiety, and then doubt. This book didn’t just tell us the problems; it offered solutions for each hindrance. So next time I’m nodding off while meditating I’ll open my eyes and take some deep breaths.
Finals have been creeping up on me, so things are getting a little hectic. When I got home today I made garden burger with Vegenaise and organic ketchup. Yum! I have to agree with myself though; Garden burgers are pretty damn good for not being beef burgers. Noah even likes them: he made his with hummus and mustard so he’s even a step above me.