Recently I have become very bored.
After having bested my goals and fulfilled last year’s resolutions, I am looking for my next challenge in life.
This combined with my current effort to reduce my dependence on addictive behavior has led me to feel a bit empty and hollow.
Things like caffeine, digital entertainment, and snack foods have gotten me to the point at which I’ve been able to actually recognize the addictions.
Just because the snacks I consume are healthy (nuts, for example), doesn’t mean the way in which I am consuming them is healthy or good for me.
I’ve found that even decaffeinated tea can be abused in an addictive way.
Recognizing these things as addictions that can be difficult.
Mindless consumption in general is a very bad habit that can have hidden effects on your health. Many people don’t realize this because when they hear the word “addiction,” they usually think of hard drugs like heroine or meth.
But addictions can form from anything that triggers a dopamine neurotransmitter release in the brain. This causes a person to seek out that experience over and over again.
Most people today have their fair share of addictive behaviors…whether it’s shopping, spending, watching, working, or consuming…there are too many things to count.
As you start to remove these things from a person’s habitual behavior patterns, their brain will have to readjust to a lower stimulus of dopamine-releasing activity.
What this might do is cause you to feel tired, depressed, and/or bored…which is exactly what has happened to me.
After having finished several very exciting and challenging goals, I have found myself in a somewhat stolid position in life. And when I combined this with my ambition to remove additions, my brain is very much confused as to why there is such a sharp decline in dopamine-releasing behaviors.
I haven’t smoked weed in over two years. I haven’t smoked a cigarette in over one. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in months. And now I’m trying to eliminate all processed foods, including coffee and tea.
But how much of this dopamine-releasing behavior is good? How much of it, if any, is necessary?
In other words, outside of food and water, what other things could you consider a “need” that is not traditionally defined as one?
What happens when a person removes all addictions from their life?
Is there a certain balance or degree of natural, dopamine-releasing behavior that is healthy for you?
To what degree to you give in to certain impulses that might help you to attain gratification? Is there a difference between immediate and delayed gratification when it comes to a happy, healthy, and balanced mood?
These are things that many people don’t know the answers to. At best, we can draw a pretty convincing line between hardcore addictions and enjoyable activities that become habits. Clearly, one seems to be more destructive than the other.
But when it comes to the continuum of all addictions…do we aim to minimize the number of addictions or simply balance them with our lives?
After all, what fun is being alive if you can’t enjoy it?
Some people say spiritual enlightenment is directly correlated with dopamine release in the brain. But what came first, the chicken or the egg?
Maybe the dopamine itself is a necessary feature of being alive, by creating rewarding experiences that motivate you to do interesting things. Perhaps the dopamine isn’t the cause, but the effect. And the effect can be bad or good depending on how you choose to release the neurotransmitter.
Drugs and gambling, for example, produce the same neurotransmitter as, let’s say, creating a sculpture or listening to music. Which one of these activities would you choose if you had to arbitrarily pick an addiction?
The choice is pretty obvious, I suppose.
But even something as innocent as exercise can be a dopamine-releasing activity that could have negative effects on your body. Some people are literally addicted to exercising and they might not realize the eventual wear and tear that it has on their bodies.
What about meditation? Studies show that meditation releases dopamine.
Sounds great right?
Well I knew a guy that said that if he didn’t get his four (yes, FOUR) hours of meditation in the mornings, then he was completely useless for the rest of the day.
And, no…this guy didn’t have telekinetic powers or the ability to astral project into alternate realities…he was just a regular guy who couldn’t seem to tolerate life unless he spent four hours everyday in a a sub-conscious state.
I don’t know about you…but to me that seems unhealthy.
We didn’t come here to be asleep all day…or to be drugged out…or zoned out…
We came here to be alive and to have a human experience. We came to be conscious and alert. And we came to mingle with the people and be present in what it means to be alive on planet Earth.
Arguably one of the best ways to experience what it means to be alive here on Earth is to do as the earthlings do.
All of these things are important to fully experiencing this world. And I believe them to be good, in their own way.
The problem with these activities comes when you can no longer let them go…
Once you realize that your addictions are no longer serving you in the same way that they used to, then there’s only one logical conclusion: let ’em go.
Easier said than done, of course.
I have realized recently that I am currently addicted to caffeine.
I know that it’s not good for me anymore. It used to be. But it’s not any more.
Regardless, I can’t seem to let it go. I don’t want to let it go. I love caffeine.
Besides, I’m a little pissed off to be honest with you. I don’t wanna fucking let it go. It’s my only fucking thing.
I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t gamble, I don’t shop/spend, I don’t eat crap food…hell, I don’t even really drink coffee anymore. I have a few cups of tea per day. Why in the hell do I have to give that up?
So there’s some resentment there. But soon I will realize that I’m no longer experiencing a net benefit to drinking caffeine in any form. And soon I will give it up.
Because, deep down, I understand why this is happening to me.
I realize that the reason why my former addictions are falling away is because I’m growing consciously. And that might sound a little strange and/or condescending…but all it really means is that I am growing to a deeper level of awareness about myself and the experience of living in this body.
I’m not even 30 years old and my body already cannot handle the majority of things that other people’s bodies seem to be able to handle. The truth is, however, that their bodies can’t handle it…they’ve just adapted to be able to tolerate it.
And then 10, 20, 30 years down the road…all of a sudden…BAAM: major health issue.
Look at most people’s bodies. They’re ridden with disease and inflammation. We just can’t see it until it’s too late. And then we label their condition some general word like “cancer.” We have so many diagnoses that we don’t understand. And at the end of the day they are just labels that mean very little.
All of these conditions stem from the same separation anxiety that causes people to have addictions in the first place.
The only problem is, the vast majority of people never get to the point of realization that their addictions are actually slowly killing them. For one thing, they’re too wrapped up in their day-to-day existence to even notice. And for another thing, they are so brainwashed by society telling them what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s acceptable.
It’s only been recently that people have actually begun to believe that smoking cigarettes is bad.
And people still think drinking three cups of coffee in the morning is good for them.
Or waking up at the same time and going to work for the same number of gruelingly long hours everyday.
These things aren’t good for people. Yet, millions and millions of people are doing these things every single day until they die.
Not once do they even stop to notice that what they are doing is trying to find a suitable replacement for their connection with themselves, nature, and God.
It’s something we can’t easily comprehend on this material level. Some people have, I suppose. We call these people “enlightened.”
Studies show a strong increase in the levels of dopamine with those who often report feelings of enchantment and bliss in their lives.
But almost none of these people have rampant addictions to help them create this dopamine artificially…their brains do it automatically.
This tells me that it is possible to achieve bliss-like states of being and extremely high dopamine levels outside of the earthly realm.
And here is where I am: at the crossroads of giving up my addictions so that my brain can adapt and learn to produce its own dopamine.
I am at the point in my life where I need to start making decisions: do I want to continue living the human experience and getting my dopamine that way? Or do I want to endure a period of discomfort and boredom in order to transcend my current modalities of dopamine release?
I’m sure there is no “correct” answer. And it actually might make sense for me to go deeper into the human experience with this new-found level of consciousness. I believe there is information there for me. There might be a lot to learn and a lot to share with others.
But I also believe that at some point, I will have relinquished all of my addictions and fixations to the bodily experience. I hope that one day all souls will arrive at this point.
There is nothing wrong with seeking an earthly experience. But once you have, why would you bother to keep living it? Why not move on to something “higher?”
Seeking outside sources of dopamine release only demonstrate that the person has an intense urge to maintain their own self-will and not let it merge with a greater reality.
Addictions are fear-based behaviors that allow you to hide from your true self as a transcendent spirit. The constant pursuit of feel-good brain impulses is only a distraction to prevent you from experiencing the fear/discomfort/boredom/etc. that’s involved in aligning your will with a greater will.
To do so will ultimately feel like a loss of self, which can be quite scary for people.
But when you’re ready to experience ego death, then it will come much more naturally. And I think it’s quite reasonable to assume that ego death can be facilitated by experiencing everything that the human life has to offer…perhaps even at the point of nauseum.
That’s sort of where I am.
I’m doing things that I know aren’t serving me but I’m not quite ready to give them up. Which is 100% okay in my book.
I’m not going to force myself to do something because I feel like I should. I already know I should. And now I am waiting for the time to come when I want to leave these old devices behind.
This is okay. All is okay. I am okay.
For right now, I am enjoying being in this state.
It’s an interesting study into what it means to be human.
It is a universal law that anything in nature that is incomplete will seek its own completion. Atoms and humans alike do this all the time, every day.
And that’s okay.
But the things we’re attempting to complete ourselves with will only do so on a temporary basis.
And that’s okay too!
The purpose of time is to no longer need time. And it’s illusory nature effectively means that you have an unlimited amount of it in order to learn to dismantle the further need for it as a necessary teaching device.
So the conclusion of this article is two-fold and somewhat paradoxical:
- Enjoy this life and everything it has to offer.
- Realize that all external means to complete yourself will be short lived and that aligning yourself (and your will) with the eternal creator is the only true and lasting path to happiness, bliss, and peace.
And remember that it is much easier to make life changes when you are patient, gentle, and loving with yourself. I know that sounds fruit…but — seriously — don’t worry about forcing yourself to be a certain way or give up doing certain things. Guilt will only slow you down in the long run.
Allow yourself — even if just for today — to live the life you want to live.
Experience it. Enjoy it. And…when the time is right, move on.