Friday, 5 April 2013

addiction, hemispheres and spirituality

I know Russell Brand isn't everyone's cup of tea due to his 'offensive' manner and warped sense of humour   See my blog post on 'taking offence' and you will see what but I personally think of taking offence (DON'T) and if you don't like his sense of homour don't watch him.  Whatever you think of him I think he has some very interesting stuff to say about addiction.  For example he was invited to speak at a Committee on addiction which you can view here and also I recently found this video on YouTube - Russell Brand on drugs, Savile and yoga.  I love his thoughts on drug addict rehabilitation: that addiction cannot be overcome by giving someone a different type or form of addiction but needs to be tackled by abstinence-based recovery whilst at the same time looking at our spiritual selves.  He states that
  1. addiction is a health matter
  2. people who are addicts need to be dealt with with compassion
  3. addiction is symptomatic of emotional and psychological difficulties as well as a spiritual malady
  4. abstinence-based recovery is the key
  5. all 3 areas (emotional, mental and spiritual) need to be dealt with
I know Russell Brand talks about addiction mostly from the viewpoint of drugs and maybe alcohol but I believe that a similar approach can be taken with all addictive behaviour although with some this is more problematic than with others.

Here are some of the common addictions that are known about:
sex addiction
love addiction
computer-use - game-playing, surfing, on-line gambling

An addiction is hallmarked by the impaired control over the substance (food, drink, drugs, etc.) or behaviour (falling in love, shopping, exercise, etc), preoccupation with substance of behaviour, continued use/behaviour despite consequences and denial of these behaviours.  Also the need for immediate gratification (short-term reward) regardless of the long-term costs.

Obviously abstinence-based recovery with some of these might make life a bit boring but still some of Russell's approaches I reckon would work.  For example, I know someone who is a love addict.  He has moved through his whole adult life from one relationship to another with very little time in-between to spend any significant amount of time really looking at the route cause of his addiction.  It seems from the outside that he reckons he was only addicted to one of the people he attached himself to and therefore now he isn't with that person he is 'cured.'  I reckon the analogy here would be a cocaine addict now being recovered by being addicted to methadone and so nothing has really changed at all.  An abstinence-based program would tell this man that he needs significant time by himself (not in a relationship) to really face his addiction and find the emotional and psychological basis for it.  At the same time his abstinence could also give him time to find the spirituality help that 'fills' the gap that a relationship 'filled' before.  I can see it in scenario how Russell's idea would work unfortunately denial is a great defence and that isn't what this person has done.  And I can sort of see why because no-one can know how long this person would need to abstain from 'being' with someone for it to really be long enough.  Co-dependency is a tricky thing that way and not at all like drug addiction or alcohol addiction and I feel some of the other addictions listed above could easily have the same problems.  Can you really never clothes shop ever again if you are a clothes addict, can a sex addict really abstain for ever and can a work-aholic really afford to just give up the day job?  Obviously not and this is where Russell has obviously thought it through (bless his Jesus-like hair and beard) because I believe the key here is the spiritual element.  The idea that human beings are more than just physical beings with emotions and intellect has been around for a long time.

Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist who realised one morning she was having a stroke and therefore paid very special attention to what was happening to her whilst the stroke progressed.  Here TED talk explaining the experience is really worth watching here because it shows us that there is more to us human beings than just a physical body with a bit of intellect and emotion thrown in for good measure.  "I am an energy-being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere.  We are energy-beings connected to one another through our right hemispheres as one human family."  She concludes the talk with the following "So who are we?  We are the life-force power of the universe with manual dexterity and two cognitive brains.  And we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world....I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner-peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be."

I believe that 'running our inner-peace circuitry" means tapping into our spirit and finding ourselves there.  Brand does it via Kundalini Yoga, I do it via Shamanic journeying, my DH does it via walking through the woods and being connected to the earth, others do it via praying or meditating or just spending time by themselves.  Whatever your thing is, make sure you do of much of it as you need, when you need as often as you need and be aware that when you are 'out-of-sorts' that is probably an indication that your inner-peace circuitry needs some attention.

With regards to addicts of any kind the one thing they all have in common is the incessant left hemisphere chatter (as Jill puts it) that stops them from tapping into their right hemisphere and holds them captive to their addiction.  If you are constantly thinking about where your next 'fix' is coming from then there is no space for your spiritual side. If you are constantly finding the next 'job' to fill your time with or the next 'shag' or the next 'meal/chocolate bar/snack' or the next 'partner' who is going to make you feel ok/whole/worthy just for a little while then there is no peace and the cycle starts again.  Anything that fills your brain with endless chatter is stopping your right hemisphere having its time.

So although Brand may not be your cup of tea he is at least out there spreading the word in his own quirky way and I just thought I would add my own little thoughts to his.

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