Desire and Addiction (Part 2 of 3): Voices of Longing Calling You Home

Tara Brach


We are discussing tonight. The second part of what's now a three part series on working wisely with desire addiction and I start with Buddhism because the Buddhist talk about the Middle Path as many of you know in approaching desire and it's to me desire with without any grasping but living at fully living fully what our hearts are experiencing with an open heart and wide open hand. I mean I love the cartoon of a dog and the caption is Zenda dreaming of a medium-sized bone. So this is our opening to exploring Some more work with desire and addiction and in the Buddhist cosmology one of the universal psychic domains is called the realm of the Hungry Ghost and the hungry ghosts are being who are drawn pictured with these narrow necks in these large bellies and it represents the fact that the riddled with desire but they're unable to satisfy themselves and really this refers to the universal way that we human suffer that we we all experienced to a degree that sense of something's missing. Now's not enough. I need something more. There's a kind of leaning forward so that the next moment contains with this moment does not and when it's intense it leads to craving and to addiction so whatever the degree of wanting mine that you may discover in yourself grasping when you investigate will take you from the one place where love and awareness and realizations actually possible. It takes us from French. Any amount of wanting and we're not really fully here to contact what we truly long for. I remember a long time ago. I heard a little story of a conversation between a man and God and the man said to God. How long's a million years to and God said a million years to me is one second and then the man said how much is a million dollars to God said well? A million dollars is one penny so the man screwed up his courage he said God. Can I have one of your pennies and we know it that when we're caught in wanting mind we lose sight of what truly matters to our hearts so the key inquiry and we'll explore this in in this class is what drives. Montaigne grasping an addiction and when we examine what we find. Is that under all of them? There's the stress of unmet needs in other words when our needs for belonging for love refueling seen when they aren't met more wired to grasp after some substitutes give us a sense of reward. And we get just enough reward from the substitutes to keep us hooked now some grasping an addiction substitutes are culturally accepted. My for instance. The unmet needs for feeling loved and respected and secured fixate on accumulating wealth or a. Hologram ARE ON POWERING OVER PEOPLE. Control and dominance are maybe in deceptions spinning things. It's assume will happen. Our maybe our substitute is exercise and we over exercise addicted to exercise. I can speak personally that over the years. Jonathan my husband and I've kind of tracked where we go for substitutes and the paired substitute we both end up going towards our combination of caffeine and then over work I mean there's some soothing and and pleasure reward from fuelling productive and we have shifted our caffeine and take over the years. We're both now during Macci which has in many ways as a as a very healthy green tea and it's still a addiction. It's not for us because if I stopped. Let's say tomorrow I'd have headache and I'm attached to it. I wouldn't be as productive so Jonathan because of different challenges of sleeping has decided. He's GonNa try to wean himself an experiment for a month without the Macho. Not so I thought I'd share with you. I just sent him something I encountered. It's a cartoon and it's got these two homeless guys that are sitting on a park bench. One sang to the other. I USED TO BE A. Ceo of a multinational had three homes private jet and then I switched to decaff. So here's the deal with substitutes and substitute gratifications. That are condone. We can still be hooked and we're hooked for good reason. We're afraid of being without them. They satisfy something. But some substitutes as we know are considered bad they're not societally condoned and they cause more obvious harm and this is where we're talking about the addiction to substances to gambling to sex violence to anger and when an addiction to a substitute is not condoned not only. Is there the suffering of the addiction? But then there's the added suffering of social condemnation and self condemnation and we're going to spend some time with this piece here because you might consider if the cause of addiction is UNMET NEEDS. How do you imagine condemnation impacts the addictive patterning? What we find is that it intensifies it it intensifies our needs for feeling worth and value and belonging and then it just drives the cycle of addiction the single most crucial part of healing addiction that I have found in my life and working with others is removing condemnation. I can speak for myself that probably the most challenging addiction for me In My late teens and early twenty s was overeating binge eating at times and really through the years. The single factor that most unhooked me was learning truly the process of self compassion. So that'll be. The focus of this talk is how do we bring compassion to ourselves when we're caught in addiction and it begins for some people are maybe let's say it's most helpful. When there's some understanding about how biologically and psychologically compelling addiction is beyond any sense of our own control. Read you a quote this is Robert Freedman and he's from Cornell Medical College as a psychiatrist I have yet to meet a patient who enjoys being. Addicted to drugs are compulsive overeating. Then it goes on to say we now have a body of research that makes the connection between stress an addiction definitive neuro. Scientists have found that food recreational drugs have a common target in the reward circuitry of the brain and that the brains of humans and other animals who are stressed undergo biological changes that makes them more susceptible to addiction now. Stress is a kind of a vague big word. So let's let's anchor this little bit. What happens when the brain is stressed by UNMET NEEDS? So let's say as a young child. You've been neglected or abused and what that does is it creates biological changes in the brain that the animal make you more susceptible to addiction and the way it happens. Is that that stress. As a young child creates fewer dopamine receptors. At means that you then become more driven to seek substitute rewards to compensate rewards like Saxon Food and money and drugs because they release dopamine and they have a sense of pleasure so craving fixate on behaviors that will light up the pleasure centers in the brain. And here's what happens. After that. In time the brain rewires and the use of the substitutes further decreased the number of receptor. So it takes more and more to get a reward and the craving gets stronger. In other words this less sensitivity to the rewards also and I didn't know this 'til recently with less dopamine receptors due to that stress. There's less activity in the prefrontal. Cortex which means that impairs critical thinking and the capacity for restraint

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