The process of moving past addictive patterns is exactly that, a process. Which in itself can be pretty disappointing when you are suffering. You just want it to be done with.
Before you even get to the stage of doing something there is usually a period of blissful ignorance. You genuinely haven't connected the dots and are unaware that you have crossed that invisible line from usage to addiction. The seed of suffering has been plated.
This can last weeks, months, years, or decades. Perhaps a lifetime for some people. For me, it was only a matter of months.
Although this may feel easy, it’s also dark. Ignorance is called avidya in yoga, and is considered the root of suffering. The potential for change or growth is lacking in this state. There is no impetus to do anything differently.
The dawning of awareness is both a blessing and a hell. Once we become aware of our suffering it is like the light has been turned on. Just like Miss Clavel from the Madeline children stories who shone her light into the dark dormitory and said “ something is not right “. It is the beginning. For transformation to take place awareness of suffering is needed.
For many of us, this stage is really awful, and lonely and can last longer than perhaps is necessary because we live in a society that is clumsy at dealing with suffering.
We lack a wise lens with which to view our personal suffering. Without a framework to understand our suffering, the tendency of the mind is to fall into fear, blame, self-criticism and shame. This compounding of the original suffering is something most people battling addiction are familiar with.
If we understood that the journey of being human is about facing and healing our own shadows perhaps we would find it easier to work skillfully with them when they arise.
Unfortunately, we are like gherkins, being pickled in a sour brine. The brine of modern-day western society is predominantly materialism and consumerism. No wonder we collectively struggle with how to deal with our own suffering. The solution will never be in money or things.
Luckily for all of us, the human spirit is strong, and always there. Once that wee voice inside starts telling you “something is not right “ all you need to do is turn towards it. Turn up the volume of your inner voice and the journey of healing and transformation will begin.
In yoga, the opposite of avidya ( ignorance) is vidya, clarity. Once we have clarity it is easy to know what to do next. Clarity can come like a bolt from the blue, a moment of insight, or some call it divine grace. Or it can be the consequence of ongoing practices that slowly clear away the fog, the veil. Either way, when clarity comes it brings with it hope because we can see. We can see what is, so we can then see what needs to be done if “ something is not right”.
Yoga shows a step-by-step way to clear away the things that are keeping us in ignorance. It's not a quick fix, nor is it for the faint-hearted
, but it IS one way of freeing ourselves from addictions.