Buddhism and Addiction

In this talk, part of the series “How Do You Want To Live?”, the focus is on how prevalent addiction is in American culture, especially if “behavioral addictions” involving the internet, gambling, overeating, etc., are included.  During the talk, the correlation between the Buddhist craving and clinging concept and contemporary scientific understanding of how the brain operates “addictively” is emphasized, and how the effects that practicing mindfulness of breathing meditation can be of great benefit in overcoming addiction.  The 11th step of the recovery oriented 12 steps, such as found in Alcoholics Anonymous, involving daily meditation and prayer, is correlated with basic mindfulness meditation practices.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  BUDDHISM AND ADDICTION NOTES

The focus for the next talk will focus on any broadly unbeneficial effects of consumerism as a follow-up to this talk, and how Buddhist principles and practices can contribute to building a more adaptive and spiritual lifestyle.


Dukkha And Addiction August 28 2019

This discussion combines Peter’s 33 year history as a mental health professional, certified as an addictions counselor, combined with 37 years practicing mindfulness meditation.  Addiction is described as a behavioral disorder that may or may not include substance dependency, laying out five criteria for a behavior to qualify as addictive, referring to the work of Anne Wilson Schaef that suggests American culture experiences addiction at an epidemic level.  Peter also described addiction as a full rendition of Buddhist craving and clinging and as a maladaptive attempt to avoid or dull aversion, with desire as the enticement.  The Four Noble Truths concept of Buddhism was reviewed to suggest effective intervention into the addictive process.  The practice of mindfulness of breathing meditation is suggested as allowing a person to be aware of and tolerant regarding the urgency of craving and investigating the distorted beliefs that are always associated with an addictive process and then using detachment and renunciation to avoid acting out the addictive routine and instead understanding and modifying the distorted selfing story to address the root causes of the addictive process.   Meditation is not the sole resolution of the problems of addiction; the practice is a foundational companion for practices such as the 12 step systems of various recovery groups (Meditation and prayer are step 11 of the 12 steps).  The explanation of addiction was followed by discussion among those attending regarding the issues of addiction in the U.S.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Dukkha And Addiction Notes

The next talk will focus on sampajjana, the four clear comprehensions of Buddhist commentary as a valuable tool for understanding and adapting effectively to the complexity of current American culture.  Please note that a major hurricane is predicted to pass over the Florida peninsula over the Labor Day weekend and this may postpone the usual meeting and posting for a week or so.


The Four Noble Truths And Addiction October 31 2018

This talk explored the addictive aspects of contemporary consumer culture and what the principles and practices of the Four Noble Truths has to offer in addressing these problems, personally and socially.  As a Certified Addictions Professional, Peter discussed addictive processes as manifestations of craving and clinging, the essential characteristic of the First and Second Noble Truths.  During the discussion, Peter described the strongly irritating nervous energy that permeated his body for much of the prior 45 minute meditation as an example of being directly aware of dukkha, the urgent aversion to the experience and the practice of mindful discarding of any clinging to ending the sitting practice as a way to overcome distress and confusion, creating serenity and minimizing the likelihood of any maladaptive addictive avoidance. He also related mindfulness meditation as supporting the intention of the 11th Step of AA and other recovery movements.

This was followed by discussion of the issues of an addictive culture and appropriate self care.  One participant quoted an excerpt from  Refuge Recovery (a contemporary Buddhist alternative to 12 step groups) views about addiction that is similar to what the current discussion addressed.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk: BUDDHISM AND ADDICTION NOTES

Next week’s talk will focus on how contemporary eating habits affect one’s personal well-being as well as how the increasingly destructive agribusiness practices are harming the environment.  The emphasis of the talk will be on how the Four Noble Truths principles and practices can be applied to “wise eating”, having compassion for oneself as well as the environment.


Codependency And The Dharma

Two weeks ago, the posting focused on Addictions and the Dharma; last week’s focus was on Relationships and the Dharma.  It seems reasonable to discuss how addictions affect relationships in the form of codependency.  Peter, who is a Certified Addictions Professional, described the history and dynamics of codependency, followed by how Buddhist principles and practices, particularly craving and clinging can help to understand codependent roles, and how mindfulness practices can interrupt the codependent relationship patterns through increased self-awareness and self-discipline.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Codependency And The Dharma

Next week’s discussion will focus on the congruence of the 12 step concept from Alcoholics Anonymous and other self-help groups and Buddhist principles and practices.