Meditation and addiction – Part 1


Umang Chhatrola

Advanced Yoga Practices (AYP) Teacher

Much of what we accomplish in life is a result of our habits. Good habits can lead to massive achievements whereas bad habits can make our life miserable. Addictions are also habits. To elaborate, addictions are the habits that are so strong that we are simply unable to stop. Of course, most habits are not inherently good or bad. Being either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depends on the consequences that they produce in our lives. If the consequences of our habits are in harmony with our overall well-being, then they are good. If not, they are bad habits.

Some spiritual teachers have said that all habits are bad. What they mean is that we should be free even of our good habits. Only then can we say that we have achieved liberation. But, most of us can arrive at such a state only after decades of physical, mental and spiritual practices.

We need to form a habit of practicing meditation and/or yoga regularly. In fact, we need to be ‘addicted’ to our transformation in a manner of speaking. Addiction to meditation/yoga is probably the only addiction that is able to transcend itself and fetch our liberation! 😎

What about other addictions? We see people addicted to tea, coffee, alcohol and even to social media these days. As mentioned earlier, these are bad habits that can limit our progress. We intuitively know that they don’t serve any purpose but we don’t seem to make any progress in getting rid of them.

So, how do we end our bad habits? The first step is surrendering to our higher potential. We need to make a commitment to our transformation. Regular meditation practice will go a long way in liberating us from our addictions. We need to keep in mind that tackling addictions alone won’t help us much because they will be replaced by other addictions. We can achieve ultimate victory only if we work on ourselves and transform our lives through transformative practices such as meditation and yoga. If we are to become addicted anyways, why not become addicted to meditiation! 😇

Many meditation/yoga teachers believe that we should give up all the addictions before starting our practices. It certainly does help. But that is like someone teaching how to swim on the other side of the river! How do we get there in the first place?

The best approach is to start with meditation and other yoga practices. Soon we may find bad habits and addictions falling away.

Namaste. 🙏

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Rohit Chopra
Hey Umang I have a question. If we are addicted to something (coffee), how can we let it go ? Sometimes what happens is that I decide to quit but during the day due to work stress or getting tired I feel the need to have a cup of coffee multiple times.
Umang Chhatrola
Hey, glad that you asked. Many articles back we had discussed the cycle of desire actions and consequences. It was mentioned that our actions have consequences not only in the outside world but also within us. They leave strong impressions in our subconscious mind. If we repeatedly take action on a particular desire, the impressions in the subconscious mind become very strong and the desire becomes a craving. That is what an addiction is. Can we suppress these desires/cravings? No. If we suppress them, they will probably show up somewhere else. We can have ultimate victory only if we transform them. How do we do it? Here is where our regular meditation practice helps. However little growth in awareness that we have achieved with meditation helps us when there is intense craving. If we are aware enough, we can ask questions like ”what is it within me that craves this?”, ”what do ’I’ really crave?”. These questions are asked not to get an answer at the intellectual level. The answer doesn't come in the form of a statement. The answer comes in the form of silence. More growth in awareness! So, this way we can transform our desire for an addictive substance to a desire for the truth. Like skilled martial artist,s we use the power of our opponent against him. 😀 As our awareness grows, we are empowered and more in control. The craving may still be there but we finally have a choice whether to act or not. Eventually, as we stop acting on our cravings, they lose their power.
Rohit Chopra
Thanks a lot for the clarification Umang !!