Here today, I’m sharing more than a few excerpts from a small but mighty book that helped me gain and maintain my sobriety. Deepak Chopra’s gentleness has always been highly attractive to me and it allowed me to remain open to his advice as I made the decision to become a nondrinker. I’m not suggesting that just because it strengthened me this book will work for everyone or even any one, but I do want you to know this book exists – in case you didn’t already. It helped me, and it just might help you too.
From Deepak Chopra’s book ‘Overcoming Addictions: The Spiritual Solution’
“I see the addict as a seeker, albeit a misguided one. The addict is a person in quest of pleasure, perhaps even a kind of transcendent experience – and I want to emphasize that this kind of seeking is extremely positive. The addict is looking in the wrong places, but he is going after something very important, and we cannot afford to ignore the meaning of his search. At least initially, the addict hopes to experience something wonderful, something that transcends an unsatisfactory or even an intolerable everyday reality. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in this impulse. On the contrary, it provided a foundation for true hope and real transformation.
I’m tempted to go even further in this characterization of the addict as seeker. In my view, a person who has never felt the pull of addictive behavior is someone who has not taken the first faltering step towards discovering the true meaning of Spirit. Perhaps addiction is nothing to be proud of, but it does represent an aspiration toward a higher level of experience. And although that aspiration cannot ultimately be fulfilled by chemicals or by compulsive behaviors, the very attempt suggests the presence of a genuinely spiritual nature.” Pages 4-5
“….we need ecstasy. We need it in the same basic way that we need food, water, and air, yet this basic human need has been scarcely acknowledged in contemporary Western society. Over the last thirty years we have made great progress in recognizing the deterioration that has been taking place in our physical environment, and in reversing these trends. But at the same time we have failed to acknowledge our spiritual needs with anything like the same fervor. I see the problem of addictive behaviors as a direct result of this fundamental oversight.
In every culture and every historical epoch, human beings have felt the need for ecstatic experience – for a kind of joy that transcends everyday reality. Various cultures have tried to satisfy this need in many different ways, and some have been much more spiritually oriented than others. In the nineteenth century, Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky asserted that people need three experiences from their society in order to be content: miracles, mystery, and spiritual guidance – and that these three experiences are much more important to them than the satisfaction of their material needs. Perhaps the addict believes he can gain access to miracles and mystery through his addiction, and this prospect becomes even more enticing in the absence of guidance for the spirit. Rather than seeing addicts as simply weak or even criminal human beings, I choose to see them as people who are responding self-destructively, but still quite understandably, to the spiritual vacuum that exists amid our material abundance.” Pages 8-9
“Joy is a return to the deep harmony of body, mind, and spirit that was yours at birth and that can be yours again. Once this has been recaptured, there is no need for stimulants, depressants, or anything else that must be bought, hidden, injected, inhaled, turned on, or turned off. You needed none of these things in childhood, when a sunny day and the love of your family was enough to fill you with joy. That openness to love, that capacity for wholeness with the world around you, is still within you. If addiction has been a part of your life for some time, you may feel it is impossible to regain your pre-addicted self. But it is possible. In fact, it’s inevitable, when you let go of guilt and recrimination and begin to bring joyful experiences into your life. The suggestions below are intended to help you do that.
Because I don’t want these suggestions to seem in any way like a list of commandments etched in stone, I’ve put them in the form of questions. Please note that none of these questions says anything about addiction, nor is there any mention of abstinence or avoidance. These are simply things you can do to open yourself to health, to joy, and indeed to life itself.” Pages 122-123
Beginning on page 123, Deepak Chopra offers his twelve points for replacing addictive behavior with true joy in living. These are only the actual questions; please refer to the book for detailed explanations regarding each one.
- Did you get the right amount of sleep last night?
- Did you start your day with nurturing activities that strengthened you in body and spirit?
- Did you find real pleasure in your work?
- If you felt angry at someone or something, were you able to express this is a constructive way?
- Were you able to experience nature today with awareness and appreciation?
- Did you find time for enjoyable activities or exercise?
- Were you able to spend some quiet time by yourself?
- Did you laugh with real pleasure today?
- If you felt tired or under stress, were you able to rest for a while?
- Did you take your meals in pleasant surroundings, with company you enjoyed?
- Did you show love today to friends and family members?
- Did you freely and joyfully receive their love in return?
“If your life has been damaged by addictive behavior, the very fact that you are reading [this book] suggests that you are participating in the important shift in perspective that’s now taking place, away from the illusory pleasures of substances and stimulants, and toward the inner joy – the genuine ecstasy – that is to be found in your spiritual self. Starting right now, be proud of your sincere intention, and begin to enjoy the truly infinite possibilities that every moment of your life holds forth.” Page128. Click to view on Amazon.com and to view on Amazon.ca
In 1998 Deepak Chopra wrote this little treasure, OVERCOMING ADDICTIONS: THE SPIRITUAL SOLUTION and more recently he co-wrote FREEDOM FROM ADDICTION with David Simon in 2007. I deeply appreciate how these books help outline positive behaviors we can focus on and move towards as we outgrow and overcome destructive habits. May we all find and celebrate our inner peace and shine our peace out to the world. May peace prevail. Namaste. Gina
[Images sourced from Google.com]