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Friday, August 26, 2016

Oh the Temptation!

I’ve noticed something interesting.

There have been several times where I have taken a break from alcohol. A month or so or maybe more. I didn’t necessarily do it because I was out of control, but I felt like I needed to re-center my life, choices and have a clearer sense of self. Of the times that I have been sober, it seemed as if alcohol was more abundant and free for my taking. People were more gracious in offering free drinks and generous with their finances. Of course, I had to tell them that I was taking a “break”. Some people responded with surprise and others were quite supportive. I refused to get very dogmatic about it and I didn’t see a point in trying push my beliefs or goals on other people. It actually gave me a fresh perspective on how people in my life interact under the popular liquid influence.

This isn’t about alcohol. This can relate to a multitude of things. Maybe you were or are trying to give up sugar, carbs, complaining, masturbating, sex, cream cheese, Netflix, old Full House reruns, YouTube binges, Television or drugs. It seems that we notice it more and more when we make a conscious effort in abstaining or simply curbing it from our current lifestyle. We know that cupcake will light up our pleasure sensors, but we also know that in an hour we will regret it. That regret may spin us into a shame spiral where we hold on to our ideals and punish ourselves for deviating from our no sugar diet mission statement.

“ You’re on your second day of no sugar, but Suzy brought donuts into the break room at work. You tell yourself, “ Of course this happens when I decide to give up sugar”.”

( You notice these things because your mind wants to trick you. When you make a conscious change, these “temptations” are merely just small awakenings that you weren’t necessarily conscious of before. Think about it. If you are so conditioned to a certain pattern, routine or ritual, you thread that in with daily tasks that soon become unquestioned and relatively unimportant in your development. )

Some of us like to punish ourselves. It makes sense. Pain and pleasure go hand in hand and we might get some great pleasure from the pain. We might get enticed by the burn of lifting weights and tie ourselves to a strict and disciplined routine. Does that do anything for us? When pain becomes pleasure, how are we using it to expand our consciousness or grow internally? Our mind loves it. It loves the structure, routine and the continual and persistent pushing of our pleasure buttons.

Is it our resistance that gives the illusion that our abstinence is harder to achieve?
Does temptation become stronger because we are depriving ourselves from the bad habits that we ingrained into our past lifestyles? Most certainly yes.

When we get stuck in patterns that are unhealthy, we get use to them and ultimately become unconscious to the effect it has on our health and lives. We overlook addictions and see them as just ways of coping through our internal and external problems. It creates negative feedback loops. Booms and Busts. When any ounce of insecurity arises, we quickly and unconsciously gravitate to for instant relief. We see these patterns as small habits that we should break, but the work to change it seems way to arduous and daunting.

When we become conscious of our addicting and unmindful behaviors, we tend to demonize them. They become our hurdles. Our enemies. The things that are in our way and must be consciously and vigilantly avoided. We label them as “bad” or “wrong”. We put up more defenses and walls around ourselves instead of simply relaxing with what is going on within us. When we get so use to lustfully grabbing for instant reliefs from discomfort, we drift farther from our authenticity and vulnerability. When we are vulnerable, we can open up and really be curious and not critical of the illnesses of our body and mind.

If there is a certain thing you want to stop doing, there are some simple things that don’t require you being aggressive or resistant to your inner turmoil.

The First thing is not to demonize your vices. This places you in a victim-hood and grievance mindset that will ultimately play you like an old stringed puppet. It is important to simply feel what it does to you. Recognize it, but don’t try to “analyze” it. When you analyze something, you are picking it apart and trying to escape the effect it has on you. It implies division and measurement which is all part of the monkey mind. This traps you back into the “ Resistance is persistence” model that you have so conditioned your mind and ego with in the past.

In fact it is all about being one with that craving and feeling. You may feel it more in your head, your stomach, your neck or your jaw. These cravings and impulsive thoughts have direct effects on the body. Just think about how all of your passing moods make your body feel. Now think of all the times that you have simply tried to reject or escape those feelings. You suppress and repress them. And they come back a knockin’!

So Feel it. Feel how that craving arises. Don’t bother trying to intellectualizing it. That would be escaping it. Bypassing it. Putting a critical eye in order to get rid of the craving.
Simply tell yourself out loud or in your head that you are feeling that triggering craving again. It may be weird. It may be uncomfortable, but the first step is stepping outside of your rigid and routined comfort zone. Accept with your entire body, mind and breath that you are feeling what you are feeling within that moment. Don’t be drastic in trying to get rid of it just yet. When you can accept what is, you start living more presently and with more attention and awareness.

“ Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.”

Most of us have heard this phrase. This goes against pretty much all I was just talking about. When we label temptation as evil, we are escaping and demonizing it for the sake of control. There is no good or evil on these terms. There is only self. The self that is product of time. The self that is the frappe of the unconscious, subconscious and what we sometimes think of as “I”, “US” and “ME”.

Temptations like many things in life, are our teachers. Teachers that allow us to awaken to new opportunities in every moment. Teachers that lead us into self knowledge and the willingness to observe with a non-judgmental eye.

Temptations are the tricksters that take us from “What Is” to “What should be”. You see them as temptations because your self is holding your “self” to a higher standard. A standard based on illusion. A standard that all of us what to work towards for the sake of our “Future Self”. We think that is we simply cut out, give up, or minimize these so called temptations, we will be more productive, virtuous, content, able, willing, kind, helpful or stronger. It is us saying, “ I must stop the things that do not work for me in order to achieve a new level of consciousness that I not now possess.” See what is going on here? Refrain from analyzing it or picking apart. Let is soak up in your sponge brain. Let it sit there without trying to find and answer or a curve that completes a circle.

We all feel like we could be better. This is remarkably human. It is there for a reason. We all know that there are certain things that do not “serve” us in our consciousness. In our current situation or mindset. It seems to ring true that if it doesn’t serve you, you should certainly drop it. Sometimes the idea of “dropping it” is a form of resistance. We imagine these thoughts ( which we now know to just be “thoughts” ) as a crumpled piece of paper that has no value in our life. But what if it has more value than we think?
It may not bring us happiness, solace, joy or the advancement of self knowledge, but it does bring us an opportunity to awaken. Awaken to the present moment. Awaken to the progress of self knowledge. So all in all we may realize that what we think doesn’t serve us, does serve us in the most important way. You sit in the darkness to let the light shine in.

As you unravel your mind coil with the power of self knowledge, you will see that that one piece of pizza will not set you back. A couple of drinks become less daunting and more enjoyable when enjoyed with your attention. You can invite those temptation demons in and have drinks with them in your head. Make them laugh. Enjoy their company with kindness. See what happens. See how those temptations act when you don’t meet them with resistance. Oh the temptation to succumb to temptation! Let the temptation tickle you with its tentacles. Let is come in and spread out. Don’t act on it. Don’t resist it. There is no use in trying to destroy it. It is simply passing through like a lonely octopus, but if you try to poke it, his/her eight slimy tentacles are no match for your delicate and protected fingers.


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