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Self-Obsession is the Core of the Disease | One addict's Experience


Addiction is a disease of the mind. In the NA Basic Text, within the Step One essay it literally says, "We are powerless not only over drugs but over our addiction as well." That sentence alone could tell us everything that we need to know about the disease of addiction, but there are many others. One, in particular, is the meditation practice encouraged in Step Eleven... "our preliminary practice is aimed at stilling the mind, and letting the thoughts that arise die a natural death. We leave our thoughts behind as the meditation part of the Eleventh Step becomes a reality for us.”


Another way I've come to experience Step One is: "We admitted that we're powerless over the thoughts that show up in our head, and when we bite down on those thoughts... those projections, fortune-telling, and the endless commenting machine of mind... we can make our life and that of others unmanageable." The other side of the coin came for me, with regards to my noisy mind, that even though I'm powerless over the thoughts that show up, recovery teaches that we're not powerless in how we can respond.


Personally, I was really fortunate to grow up right next to the ocean, and even more so as a result of learning how to surf. I can honestly say, the ocean has taught me some of my most valuable lessons about myself, life, and how to be in harmony with it. Some of the basic lessons have been: Patience and restraint... I don't have to try to ride every wave that I see... I can use discernment to notice the quality of the wave, it sucks to ride waves heading for a jetty... to be aware and beware conditions of the moment... I can only surf what's here, and follow the wave of reality, not the wave of the way I might wish it looks like... when I go against the reality of the wave because my head is somewhere other than where the reality of the wave is, that's oftentimes where my problems begin... and once the causes and conditions that brought that wave into being collapse, I have to let go of that experience so that I can be fully present to the reality of the next one.


In the Step Working Guide, there's a useful sentence that's obvious of the result of hard-won experience. It reads: "What makes us addicts is the disease of addiction... not the drugs, not our behavior, but our disease. There is something within us that makes us unable to control our use of drugs. This same "something' also makes us prone to obsession and compulsion in other areas of our lives. How can we tell when our disease is active? When we become trapped in obsessive, compulsive, self-centered routines, endless loops that lead nowhere but to physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional decay." Woe to those of us who do, because that way of being consistently played out in crappy meals that get super-sized into suffering.


When I'm dealing with fellow addicts, and I begin hearing members say... "I think... I think... I think..." My practice is to give them the same gift that my sponsor gifted to me and ask... "Do you think or do you know, cause recovery is about sharing our direct experience with recovery not 'I thinks' about it? It can seem small, but that one simple lesson drilled into me by my sponsor is a vital part of what got me to stop being so hemmed up by our disease of thought.


Just for today, I will not ride every thought that drives by trying to take me for a ride. I will stick with the present moment experience, noticing what's actually happening, rather than the mind's comments about what's happening, so I can relate and respond to the reality, rather than the imagining what's happening.

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