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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Addiction comes in many forms: sugar, food, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling, drugs, smoking, working, TV and Internet.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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Some people go in and out of their addictive behavior easily. Some struggle an entire lifetime trying to destroy what I call a  dragon. The...
Some people go in and out of their addictive behavior easily. Some struggle an entire lifetime trying to destroy what I call a  dragon. There is a purpose to your addiction that you will only be able to see once you get to the other side.

Getting to the other side may be the hardest thing you will ever do. It takes acknowledgment of your helplessness, surrender, education, support and sheer brute willpower.

This is how addiction works from an Ayurvedic perspective in body and mind. The energy of the addiction is the force of The Wind (Vata). The addiction initially creates an uplifting and euphoric feeling. The Wind begins to blow through your body and mind and you feel enthusiastic, creative and wonderful. You have increased energy. However, the Wind tends to burn out quickly, so the feeling doesn’t last. You have to consume/do more and more to continue to get the uplifting feeling.
Using or participating in the activity of our addictions gives our bodies the same reaction we get to the taste of sweet.

The sweet taste, or the bodily reaction, makes us feel nourished and loved. A little bit of the sweet taste can make you feel safe, secure and comforted. We naturally crave this sweet taste to balance and ground the energy of The Wind. The sweet taste is heavy and dense. It is found in comfort foods and the heavy American diet of meat, starches and sugars. In excess, it causes you to gain weight, accumulate toxins and ultimately leads to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression.

Back to The Wind. You begin to crave the euphoric feeling so you consume more and more of the source of the addiction.  Finally The Wind energy gets extremely aggravated. Sleep patterns are disrupted, digestion becomes irregular and shakiness may develop. You may become exaggerated in your speech, have an inability to focus or to concentrate, and be unable to listen to others. You may find yourself talking excessively and even rambling. Your dreams may become chaotic, and if you are deep into your addiction, you may experience a distorted sense of our shared reality.

Your life starts to go out of control, yet this dragon has you so firmly in its grasp that you can’t even see that your life is out of control. In fact, you may feel that you are operating better than ever and think that you can take on more and more. Long-term thinking is impaired and you find you are making spontaneous decisions that your deluded reality believes to be good. At this point, loved ones and friends may start to make comments about your behavior that don’t seem significant to you or you disagree with them. You ignore their concern.

Over time, The Fire or Pitta gets involved. You may begin to feel stressed, even when participating in the behavior you crave. The life you have created for yourself is becoming hard to manage. Perhaps you are grumpy and short tempered with those around you. You start to feel that there is not enough time in each day to get everything done.  You become resentful of the happy people floating around you in their stupendous states of bliss. In your mind they appear to be idiots without purpose. You believe that people don’t understand you and aren’t supportive of you. You become critical, judgmental and controlling. You are living in fear, but you can’t define the feeling as fear. It simply comes out as anger.

At this point, your health starts to really suffer. Your skin is ruddy. Perhaps you are breaking out with acne or suffering broken capillaries, redness or irritation. Your eyes are bloodshot and glossy. You’ve put on some weight from your overindulgence or you are malnourished because your digestive fire has been extinguished. Your blood pressure may go to a high level and you experience headaches, stressful sleepless nights and upset acid belly. You are convinced that no one really loves you, and whether you will admit it or not, you are even more convinced that you are unlovable. You begin to alienate the people in your life, perhaps even eliminating them. You make really bad personal choices that can even put you in harm’s way.

If The Fire doesn’t completely burn you up, The Earth or Kapha moves in. Now you feel completely miserable. You may be overweight. You are lethargic. You are depressed. You are full of despair and perhaps even suicidal. You now know without a doubt that no one loves you and that life is not worth living. You begin to accumulate clutter. You lay on the couch. Every movement seems like impossibility and you can’t imagine a way out of your current situation. You are drowning and can’t even muster the energy  to raise your hand to greet any of the hands still being offered to you for support.

At this point, something needs to happen. Often this is the point where your addiction, that dragon living inside of you and controlling you, begins to fail. Now it doesn’t even matter how much you consume/do, you never feel that sweet high from it. You never get a euphoric feeling. Your health may completely give out. Your loved ones may abandon you. If you are lucky, you’ve hit rock bottom.
This is the turning point where most people will get down on their knees and plead for help. There is a divine spark inside of you and it does not want to go out. It’s a survivor. Rely on that spark to get you on and then off your knees.

Getting Off Your Knees
This part is misery and bliss at the same time. You surrender. You know that you can’t stay this way. You seek out help in the form of prayer, education, group therapy or individual therapy. Now the real work of getting those elemental forces under control can begin.

Change is hard. Breaking an addictive behavior is not easy. Some people can do it without help, but most can’t. Most people need support of others. The energy of the out-of-balance doshas is strong and it takes time to bring them under control. While you are busy bringing them under control, they are fighting you as well as that dragon that doesn’t want to lose its host.

Here is what happens to your elemental forces when you quit your addictions. All of the forces become simultaneously aggravated in an extreme way. You feel numb, super stimulated and out of your skin all at the same time. You sleep a deathlike sleep of exhaustion interrupted by insomnia. You crave sweet and are repulsed by its taste. You can’t taste. Lights are too bright. People talk too loud. Silence destroys you. You worry, you stress. You are grumpy.  You are a overwhelmed by your emotions. You are excited and depressed.

Imagine an ocean experiencing a tropical storm. Imagine the force in that ocean creating those waves that are crashing onto the beach. The wave pulls out and then comes tearing back in. Now imagine you put up a wall about hundred yards from the beach. The wave continues to pull back, but when it comes crashing in, the wall stops it abruptly. The wave surges over the wall and then recedes only to begin its approach again. In time, the wave adjusts knowing that the wall is there, but initially, the wave is just as powerful and wants to take the wall out of its path. This is how the energy works in your body, too. The elemental forces are in full swing; they want to take out your wall.

The doshas will come back to balance the same order that they went out. First The, Wind, then Fire, then Earth. The Wind element will initially become very aggravated. Your thoughts will race and your cravings will make you feel insane. You will find you have excess nervous energy and nothing to do with it. You might shake and experience tremors. Sleep patterns are interrupted and you will become anxious and worried. You will crave sweets and salts. This is a critical time for distraction, rest and support. If you are addicted to a substance, you will withdraw physically and mentally during this phase.

The Wind will begin to calm and The Fire will move in. Now you will feel like taking some kind of monumental action. You may get angry at yourself, others and your life in general. People will annoy you. You become short-tempered. You may experience heart palpitations, sweating and heat throughout your body. You may begin to feel empowered and this is when the idea of testing your new sense of strength arises.  You feel sure that you can have just one drink, one cigarette, one cookie, one shopping trip, etc.  But then you fail, and fail again,  finally coming to terms that your source of addiction must be avoided at all costs.

The Fire begins to settle and The Earth will move in. A “now what?” feeling settles over you. You’ve gone for some time without your dragon and you begin to address the real dysfunction of your addiction. This is a boring time of hard work. You realize that you are just like everybody else. You realize that you’ve made a mess and that only hard work is going to get you out of the mess. You review your regrets and past mistakes. You get quiet. You spend time alone. You do intense soul searching and shifting.

You wake up and the notice birds are chirping with the energy of The Wind. You feel okay. Your first thought is not of your addiction and you notice this. Your second thought is that your addiction actually served a purpose.  Stay on the path.
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