The Connection Between Addiction and Disconnect.
I am grounded consistently for the first time in months.
I could not have dreamed of a more ideal scenario for the moment. I live a 10-minute walk to Lithia Park, in quaint Ashland, OR, where the leaves are flaunting their ability to be bright and beautiful while the sky gets grayer and darker. It takes 15 minutes to walk to the co-op. As a foodie, it is heaven to be so close.
I have a space to myself, and in the space I notice the paradox of loving the uninterrupted alone time, and feeling alone. It is also within this space that I see where my mind loves to create drama to pull me out of the present.
It is easy in situations to blame another for how we are feeling — you being here is making it difficult for me to concentrate, you being here is making it challenging for me to stay on task, or get my work down, to be quiet and meditate, to make art, read, dance or sing. In some ways, these can be true statements. But really, it has nothing to do with the other person.
I can choose to do any of these soul-affirming activities whether someone is there or not.
I watch the drama, otherwise called my addictions, creep in to distract me. I’ve become aware of my overuse of screens — computer, phone, social media — watching informative videos that teach me something, reading blogs or articles that inspire me, or allow me to contemplate something worthwhile. These are tools, and I can spend so much time learning that I don’t practice what I already know.
I watched this brilliant short video about addiction.
Essentially, it is not a substance that makes us addicted, it is feeling a lack of connection that leads to filling the void with something: alcohol, sugar, tobacco, marijuana, TV, shopping, sex, gambling, etc. All of these examples are external and tangible. I am grateful to not struggle with addictions such as these.
I notice how the useful tool of social media can become an addiction. There are moments I am using it as the intended tool. And then I’m looking at my phone, without even realizing I made the leap to check what other people are doing in life, to avoid the loneliness I am feeling in mine.
Consider the mind-body connection. If, as an example, I reach for a candy bar when I’m feeling sad, the correlation is created. And the inverse can create an effect: I reach for a candy bar, and now I feel sad. Is it the chicken or the egg?
I see this in Yoga: posture influences emotions. I’m sad, so I’m slouching. But if my posture from sitting at a desk or driving all day leads me to slouching, I start to feel sad.
My addictions are subtle, and still absolutely present: thoughts of anxiety, worry and fear, about the past or the future. I’m reminded of a talk I attended by Johnathon Robinson called Letting Go for Deeper Joy. In the moments of feeling disconnect, can we be with the void and accept that life is a dance between fullness and emptiness?
I may feel empty now, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m back to full. Most of life is somewhere in between the two. This too shall pass. To use a tool Johnathon spoke about, when a negative emotion arises, can I have awareness of it enough to say “can I let go of feeling ____?” When we resist the current existence of the emotion, it clings because the Universe is always creating balance.
Attachment and aversion are two sides of the same coin.
When I’m full, don’t cling or it will pull away. When I’m empty, don’t avoid, or it will stay.
Because our nature is peace, like the ease and vastness of the open sky, when a cloud floats in, can we remember the sky is behind the cloud?
Another tool I appreciate having when the dark clouds roll in is asking myself “What am I feeling in this moment?” or “What is happening right now?” This brings me out of the story and anxiety, and into the present.
The trick is to remember I have the tools. Bringing mindful awareness into tiny moments throughout the days means when shit really hits the fan, you will be ready with your tools. When you drink water, pause. When you eat food, pause. When you hug a loved one, pause and create a bond with that human.
Any moment you have the opportunity to remember “what am I feeling in this moment?” sharpens the mind and connects it with the heart, and reinforces the neuropathway of presence.
We live in a culture that is addicted, and an economy that thrives off of our desire to not feel alone or deep in the void. You can’t buy peace. You can’t order unconditional love. These only come from with-in, in presence and acceptance.
Please share if you have any practices that support you staying present. And ask for support when you are feeling the disconnect. Having a community to lean on means we don’t have to go the path alone, although we must lead our own way. Breath is the most useful thread to the present.
Breathe. And let go. Be still and celebrate.
KristaLove Hagman is a Yoga ambassador, and affection and consent advocate. The practice on her mat supports her ability to be present, compassionate, and playful in life. She is a writer, performance artist, workshop and retreat facilitator, and teacher-trainer, incorporating intimacy, consent, healing touch and earth-conscious living into her offerings. Her background in communication studies and graduate degree in Applied Anthropology inform her ability to assist self-healing through creative-expression and consensual living. Krista Love is inspired when exploring nature’s wonder, teaching Yoga, conversing about the paradox of work and play in human relationships, expressing freedom on the dance floor, riding her bike, and cooking and sharing wholesome food.