Addiction is not something that only affects “other people”. If you look carefully, nearly all of us have some form of addiction, whether we consider it a problem or not. There are so many things a person can become addicted to: alcohol, pornography, shopping, gambling, watching TV, playing video games, using a smart phone, food, and prescription or recreational drugs.
Yoga teaches us that if we want to solve a problem, we should first try to understand its root cause. When it comes to addiction, we need to recognize that we are all experiencing inner emptiness to one degree or another. We are craving for something to give us pleasure and make us happy.
That’s because as an eternal living being, or spirit-soul, it is actually our natural condition to be happy. However, if we falsely identify ourselves as our body, we will be pulled around by the demands of our mind and senses in a futile attempt to fill our inner emptiness. It’s like trying to fill a barrel with water, but there’s a hole in the bottom and the water keeps leaking out.
If we’re engaging in activities that are detrimental to our body or mind, the more likely we are to experience frustration, agitation, and depression—even to the point of becoming destructive. With this increased emptiness inside, we automatically turn to whatever it is we are already addicted to. It’s a viscous cycle and it’s very, very difficult to break free from the shackles of addiction, no matter what the habit is.
But a yogi understands that we are not the body, and therefore material “enjoyment” will never truly satisfy us. What we need is a higher happiness—we need spiritual food. The real solution to avoiding or letting go of bad habits is to experience and cultivate a higher taste.
I’ll give you an example. I have a Canadian friend. If you were to offer her artificial pancake syrup, there’s just no way she would use it. She’s had a taste for pure maple syrup, and for her, there is no substitute. Once you experience a higher taste, there’s just no turning back to things that may have previously been desirable.
In regards to addiction, the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be more true. It’s much easier to prevent getting a negative addiction to something in the first place, than to break the cycle of addiction.
It’s only common sense that a person will be more likely to get addicted to things like drugs or alcohol if they lack a deeper purpose or meaning to their lives. Through a yoga lifestyle, we can stay grounded and strong within and experience an inner satisfaction that will prevent us from seeking fulfillment in things that only lead to emptiness and turmoil.
Simple lifestyle changes, like eating more healthfully, being aware of our environment, getting plenty of fresh air, engaging in sports or outdoor exercise like swimming, hiking, or bicycling are all positive steps towards preventing addiction.
By following along with the Yoga Wisdom meditations found in my Easy Meditation for Everyone Kit, you can develop a deeper outlook on life. Simply contemplating upon one quote a day can help you experience a more meaningful and purposeful life.
The practice of Chakra Meditation, also in my meditation kit, is a wonderful tool to help you become more aware of the subtle energy flowing throughout your body. If you appreciate that the source of this subtle energy is the jiva atma, or spirit-soul, then you can begin to experience and realize that you are not the body, as we discussed earlier.
There are also several other practices of Yoga Sound Meditation in the kit that people of all ages and backgrounds can apply to experience the inner satisfaction we all seek. Through meditating on sacred yoga mantras, each of us can cultivate a deep, spiritual happiness. By immersing yourself in these relaxing and purifying mantras, you can attain relief from stress and anxiety, achieve mental clarity, and experience a sense of relaxation and inner peace.
And this is only the start! The path of yoga is the path towards true and lasting happiness. Once you get a taste, you’ll have a truly positive addiction, which is sharing that spiritual happiness with others.
Wishing you well,
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Wai Lana Yoga was the cure to stop my smoking addiction of 30 yrs!