To paraphrase Mr. Lennon, “And so this is New Years… and what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun.”
Log on to anyone else’s blog today and you’ll read a lot of nattering on about the endless parade of New Year’s resolutions. Log on to a spiritual counselor’s blog and you’ll get an earful about how resolutions never work, but intentions do. Log on to my blog and I’m talking about addiction on the one day of the year all the amateur drinkers are out there on the streets making a lot of noise when high falutin’ spiritual people like me are inside meditating at the stroke of midnight. And of course, since this is my blog post, that’s not really what I’m going to talk about at all, but let’s get this party started ‘coz midnight is gettin’ close!
First, are you familiar with the term, “chasing the dragon“? It’s been rolling around in my head a lot lately and I’m going to go with the first definition in the Urban Dictionary link there because that’s what rings true for me when I think about the term.
I’ve been using the term beyond the context of drug use because this kind of addictive behavior can also pop up as a pattern of thought. It’s especially pervasive around the holidays because we tend to give “special days” such as Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, our birthdays, anniversaries and etc. extra emotional weight. So if we have had wonderful experiences of Christmas in the past, but this year things don’t look or feel the way we would like them to, sometimes we pull out those old emotional ornaments, those ghosts of holidays past and we look to comfort ourselves with our emotional memory blankets. Emotionally we are chasing the dragon trying to get back to that place where we’ve convinced ourselves that everything felt good and right.
We do this with relationships too. Ever notice how that boyfriend or girlfriend you were always fighting with can suddenly transform into the long lost love of your life when scented with the absence that makes the heart grow fonder? Ah yes, remember that night when you had your first kiss? Remember how he or she made even a trip to the grocery store an event? So now you go to the grocery store and find yourself getting sentimental over the spaghetti sauce that trips that emotional ripcord. And while you are there in the pasta aisle mooning over what’s his or herz namez you don’t even notice the attractive guy checking you out over by the Kraft dinners.
We do this with our spiritual lives as well. We begin mediating and get past the initial unfamiliarity of sitting still –being instead of doing – and we move on to a somewhat comfortable phase. And then we have this, “OH MY GOD!” fantastic 360 degree mountaintop consciousness experience one day and then, the next day? Nothing. Thoughts like, “My nose itches”, “I’m hungry” or “Did I remember to buy creamer for the coffee the last time I was at the store?” pervade the meditation instead.
Inside we find ourselves longing to return to that blissful mountaintop experience. That first kiss of spiritual intimacy. And then, ah, the game is on! Emotionally and spiritually you are no longer experiencing reality as it presents itself to you, instead you are chasing that dragon, that spiritual high that you felt when you were at the meditation retreat or with that group or alone in your bedroom.
It’s like the story about Buddha achieving enlightenment underneath the bodhi tree. How many of his students heard the story and ran out searching to sit under the same tree, sitting in exactly the same pose hoping to catch enlightenment via the “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” rule?
So what’s the point? The point is when you are emotionally, spiritually or mentally grasping for a memory or trying to recreate an experience, no matter how comforting or pleasurable it might be, you are stunting your own growth because you are missing the next experience that is right in front of you.
Because what is in front of you in the next moment, in this moment and in every moment is this vast and open field of limitless possibility. And the truth is that this opportunity is open to us all the time. Our “New Year” can start whenever we choose. We can put down the pipe of our addictive thought patterns and emotionally free ourselves.
How do we do this? We WAKE UP. And the good news is that there’s support available. Join a meditation group, find a spiritual community or find an experienced spiritual counselor to work with like me!
The nice thing about New Year’s is that there are so many other people considering change in their lives right now that the YES factor supporting us is HUGE.
Hey, Happy New Year! And if I don’t see you somewhere soon online or IRL, I’m with you in the YES factor in 2011!
Love & Blessings,