As we begin our four part series on the topic of addictions, we will start with a possible “Why” we have addictions in the first place. Without repetitive patterns of thought, would we be prone to addictions? Technically, we are often addicted to the stories we tell ourselves.
Although there are many definitions for the word addiction, for the purpose of this community conversation, I will use the following: Addiction is a primary, chronic brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry gone astray. Okay, maybe I modified the more academic definition, but I do believe that there is something to be said for overthinking being a very important issue for individuals starting many common addictive patterns. When a particular conversation, situation or reactive thought process makes us mentally exhausted, emotionally drained and feeling out of sorts, we often turn to an activity which, when repeated frequently and compulsively, can become a problem.
These uncomfortable feelings triggered by overthinking can add an extra three cups of coffee, a spontaneous purchase and four hours of mindless Netflix series viewing to one day alone. Our modern lifestyle gives us access to an incredible variety of “comfort” everything to help medicate our discomfort. Simply continuously thinking about a looming deadline at work can cause us to eat an entire tablet of chocolate in one sitting and possibly begin the habit of relaxing with a glass of wine every evening.
The question is, “Do our thoughts cause us to respond in this manner or have we, as a modern society, been conditioned to turn to these addictive behaviours to feel better?” The answer may be a combination of both. If so, then the solutions can be found within the individual and the collective community.
Recently, mainstream media is beginning to cover new areas of scientific research such as neuroplasticity and epigenetics to name only a few. The first refers to ones ability to regenerate our own brain, while the other allows for the environment and lifestyle choices to positively impact our health, both on a cellular and community level.
The good news is that we can empower ourselves and retrain our thoughts. In his new book, Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon, Dr. Joe Dispenza states that we are quite literally supernatural by nature if given the proper knowledge and instruction, and when we learn how to apply that information through various meditations, we should experience a greater expression of our creative abilities; that we have the capacity to tune in to frequencies beyond our material world and receive more orderly coherent streams of consciousness and energy; that we can intentionally change our brain chemistry to initiate profoundly mystical transcendental experiences; and how, if we do this enough times, we can develop the skill of creating a more efficient, balanced, healthy body and a more unlimited mind.
Stated in another way, just as unconscious overthinking can create patterns of unhealthy addictive behaviour, reversing the thought stream to tune in to a more balanced way of being is also an option. In the words of Lester Levenson, “One of the things that happened in my process to love all was I discovered my identification with others. I saw that we are all related, we are all inter-connected. Each mind is like a radio broadcasting and receiving station; that we are all tuned into each other unconsciously-that we are just not aware of it”.
Imagine if we helped each other tune into thoughts that matter consciously so as to create empowering patterns of behaviour. The possibilities for individual and collective well-being in the Comox Valley would be off the charts.