Friday, February 19, 2016

Addiction – Fine lines

Changes in life, my increasing attention to my meditation practice (supported by the wonderful talks provided at our Monday night meditation by Sharon Cohen) and the ever-growing body of understanding of how our brains and bodies work have all contributed to  my increasing awareness of fine lines in our existences.  I feel them as fine lines because, as ”spiritual beings living a physical existence”,  we live in physical bodies working with physical brains that are both miraculous and limited.  The combination of miracle and limitation seems to precipitate some adventures in this life that require awareness for us to foster health and make the most of being here.  Without awareness, we can wander from the healthy side of some hard to identify line to a less healthy side and not really know why.  More importantly, we don’t know how to get back to the healthy side when we inadvertently wander too far over the fine line we didn’t see.

I mean, think even of scar tissue.  It is the body’s way of stabilizing the area around an injury with the goal of preventing pain and promoting healing.  However, scar tissue has its limits in terms of the benefit it can provide and the body doesn’t seem to have too many ways to undo scar tissue when it is no longer beneficial.  

To me, addiction is similar.  As Gabor Mate indicates, addiction is "human development gone askew".  As he also shows us, addiction is, in fact, a continuum.  When the dopamine and opiate pathways that create many of our most critical human tendencies, e.g., caring for our children and attaching to our parents among many others, are pushed beyond some difficult to anticipate limits, it is very difficult to rewire the patterns they create that are no longer beneficial.  How do we stay on the healthy side of things or recognize if we are no longer there? 

Addiction arises not only with respect to substances we ingest.  Unconscious viewpoints that were created during our childhoods, before we had adequate power or resource to deal with stress in our environments, create habitual patterns for many of us.  These habitual patterns of thinking and responding keep us from taking full responsibility in our lives!  How many of us have "habits" of low self esteem or anger that rises up and takes us over when we just think of a certain person or situation?  How many of us suffer from views of and vows about money or ourselves or other people that keep us from living as freely and joyfully as we could?   Feelings created by experiences in the past and synthesized by a complex interplay of chemicals in our bodies that keep us from being fully aware and responsible for our own happiness are all addictions. Some allow us to continue to function, some don't!

I will not try to summarize huge body of information on addiction but would like to provide some links to sources of information from a few of the amazing humans who have studied and are studying our addictive tendencies.   

The Buddha gave us all a good start by pointing out how our aversion to discomfort and addiction to comfort create suffering of all sorts.  If you Google Buddhism and addiction, you will find a number of helpful blog posts on this topic, including Marc Lewis and his blog.

The Buddha’s wisdom came from simple observation of the human condition without the benefit of supporting evidence from brain neuroscience.  Scientific and psychological research about the brain, ever increasing in speed since over the last century, has validated the existence, evolutionary benefits, and modern-day challenges of our aversive and addictive tendencies.   The Buddha’s Eightfold path and the writings of many researchers and recovered addicts both lead us to understand that the human capabilities for compassion, mindfulness, right effort, and right action, are needed when dealing with addiction.   It is good to know that all these states can be cultivated.  We can understand ourselves and others and switch back to the side of health when we have crossed a line somewhere.

This week, an internet conference called Recovery 2.0, hosted by Tommy Rosen, is offering us the opportunity to listen to approximately 5 speakers each day who are helping humans increase awareness of and recovery from addiction of all sorts.  The talks are free for 24 hours and you can have recordings of them all for $97. It is already day 3 of the conference – I just listened to a great interview with Jack Canfield about his new book The Thirty Day Sobriety Solution - so though we’ve missed some of the free talks I’m sure many of the speaker’s websites are full of information.

One place to start regarding food addictions, Susan Pierce Thompson has developed a Brightline Eating program for those for whom a 12-step program doesn’t quite fit.

Dr. Gabor Mate’s book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Close Encounters with Addiction is an amazing, rich, and compassionate and deep look at addiction.  From his website:

From street-dwelling drug addicts to high-functioning workaholics, the continuum of addiction cuts a wide and painful swath through our culture.  Blending first-person accounts, riveting case studies, cutting-edge research and passionate argument, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction … takes a panoramic yet highly intimate look at this widespread and perplexing human ailment.   Countering prevailing notions of addiction as either a genetic disease or an individual moral failure, Dr. Gabor Maté presents an eloquent case that addiction – all addiction – is in fact a case of human development gone askew.
Alice Stone visited my website and asked me to pass on links for, which raises awareness on the dangers of addiction and helps local communities stay drug-free and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, which also promotes drug abuse prevention and treatment. They’re both organizations that work hard to improve the community around us.

Thank you, Alice, and all people who are helping us with improve our awareness and compassion around this complex issue.  There is A LOT Of information on the web.  May we all find joy in discovering the ways we are not able to support our own health and more joy in seeking the support and inner strength to change.

"May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering".

Friday, November 1, 2013

It is a big week.

Though the temperature is cooling down and days are becoming shorter, and less sunlight can make me struggle to stay positive, autumn is the season of metal, which, when healthy, is about connecting with the divine.   This week and weekend are filled with impressive reminders that life itself is divine.  Each breath brings the divine into our lungs.  And how about these brilliant showings of something special:

Orcas surrounding a ferry laden with tribal artifacts, in Puget Sound reminds us that all living beings sense more than we often acknowledge

Solar eclipse on Nov. 3 reminds us of our place in the universe

National Bison Day on Nov. 3 reminds us of our connection to the earth and all other living beings

Day of the Dead, Halloween, All Saints Day, All Souls day reminds us of our connection with those who have come before us

People choose to open their hearts and remind us of our connections to those who are living

It is a big week!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

walking slowly and singular pleasures

Although I have been hesitant in the past to blog, last week was I was visited by an inspiration that blogging could actually be a pleasurable way to record the singular pleasures or awakenings of a day.  Perhaps a personal journal is just as good a place to write about such things, but how would someone who might want to be able to use my salves, or to come have a reflexology session be able to read that?  Would he or she really need to?!  I don’t know, but to whomever would like to read what I would have written in my journal if I had one, here is what I wrote.

Today, a desire emerged from somewhere to reinitiate my blog with the singular pleasure of my walk on Patterson Mountain with the dogs.  Many walks have lead up to this walk, but during this magical evening walk, I had the singular pleasure of being completely aware of how walking more slowly allows many good things.  It allows me to more easily stop and smell the roses, it allows me to maintain a comfortable posture with more core support (so that I can actually walk farther without any low-back pain), and it allows my olden doggie to easily keep up and feel important because she has time to smell the chipmunks while the younger dog is oblivious to how fast or slow I am walking as she covers many miles for every step I take.  Walking slowly brings us all together in a happy way.

I also enjoyed the singular pleasure of complete awareness of how our eyes are able to integrate form and color across great distances and shades of light.  It feels right that our eyes, for those of us who are lucky enough to still have our sight, are so much more able to do this, and provide so much more satisfaction in what they find, than our cameras.  As grateful as I am to be able to record beautiful sights with my camera, the moment of putting it into my back pack as the light became too low for it to be useful, provided me the deeply satisfying and singular pleasure of dropping, unencumbered by a filter, into the sights, sounds, and smells of the evening.  So much sensation and experience I hadn’t realized I was keeping out, just by carrying a camera.  Releasing it to my backpack released me to the evening.  I felt the heavy evening air rush up to meet my body.  I felt I was in a bowl thick with the sounds of insects and moving air.  The air, the plants, the earth were colored.

All that pleasure from walking slowly and allowing my senses to do what they evolved to do.

I will describe the reasons for my hiatus from blogging in the next blog.

Lucinda Tear practices reflexology and creates herbal salves and potions in the Methow Valley, on the east slope of the North Cascade Mountains, in Washington State.  She loves living there.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

spring magic

I wish I had had my camera tonight to take a photo of hail stones covering the ground between all the new and the fading wildflowers.  A black cloud opened over my neighborhood and poured out its unexpected contents - stopping cars on the road and changing my gardening plans.  After it all passed, the evening scents were amazing - the balsam root and lomatium and bitterbrush and even the fading lupine came alive again as if it were two weeks ago when they were at their peak.  I feel so lucky to live in a place where this kind of magic can visit and I can, so easily, go out and see it, even breath it in.  May you all find some unexpected magic to fill your lungs and heart.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Spring has sprung - Wood element thrives!

Wood is the element of spring in Chinese 5-Element Thinking and it represents qualities of growth, change, movement, and the irrepressible urge to push forward and up - even through cracks in the cement.  People can feel like life starts to move really quickly in spring and the changing of the gears from winter's quiet to spring's action can be a little hurkey-jerkey at times.  I sometimes feel that I have to hold on to my hat!

If lots of projects to begin and winter-things to put away begin to feel like too much and especially if that feeling of too much leads to self criticism (why can't I do it all?) it can be helpful to find some quiet moments to touch base with what still lingers of winter's water - deep, still, quiet, wise water - to help us remember what is most important to us and to feel a well-spring of satisfaction in what we do choose to do.  Even asking questions like "What is important to me?" and "How can I feel that more?" can help ground us in times when things feel they are moving a little too fast.

Of course, there is also just enjoying the ride and going with all the great, outward moving, expressive, change-the-world-for-the-positive energy of spring and letting go of any encumbrances that prevent us from enjoying all the newness.

Today I joined a group of volunteers on a roadside planting project along Highway 20 between Winthrop and Twisp that my lovely friend Joyce keeps alive.  In spring and fall, we weed invasive plants and plant native plants along this section of road.  I have not been involved as long as many of the valiant "road warriors" as Joyce calls us, but I have been learning alot over the few seasons that I have participated.  Because this spring has been warm and dry so far, an invasive, annual grass called Poa bulbosa was already starting to seed and the natives that have been planted were looking a bit parched.

Small projects like this fit into and are affected by a larger ecological landscape and it can feel discouraging to try to remove weeds that are actually better adapted to disturbed roadsides than are native plants.  Invasive weeds are strongly "wood" - they can and do push up through concrete - better than some of the more delicate native plants.  Their ability to invade and take over is actually part of the ecology of ecosystem recovery - rapidly colonizing and reproducing plants are designed to repair and cover the earth after disturbances.  These days, we humans create many small and large disturbances of the earth as our populations grow and we extend the areas we affect by our residential, industrial,  infrastructural development.  I once read a beautiful poem about how weeds are the blanket that mother earth pulls up to cover herself after she has been raped (I am still trying to find that poem and will post it here when I do - it was in a catalog of Horizon Herbs).  This poem changed my feeling of anger and frustration about the aggressive nature of weeds and the way they can overpower native plants to one of gratitude for their swiftness and put the responsibility for their take over of native plants back squarely where it belongs - in our hands.

In the same way that we can forget to priortize the protection of landscapes we love and that nurture us by our need to push ahead and develop, we can let our time be over run by weedy deeds - things we don't really need to do but that we just start doing, one after another, because...because....why was that again?.....   What are all the ways we can balance the joy of newness and creation and pushing forward and doing with wisdom and reverence for what is valuable?  This spring, I would like to live with this question for a spell.

Monday, December 31, 2012

National Foundation of Women Legislators promotes Reflexology as "as part of a holistic, comprehensive, and patient-centered approach to care."

At the end of 2012, three reflexologists who have worked hard for many years to bring reflexology into mainstream acceptance were again successful in developing recognition of reflexology's health benefits.   Over the course of three years, Paul Harvey, Christine Issel, Bill Flocco, and reflexologists in Florida, Iowa, and Georgia were invited to attend events sponsored by the National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL) where women legislators were allowed to experience the benefits of reflexology.  As a results of these experiences and discussions with Paul, Christine, and Bill, the NFWL adopted a resolution that encourages state and national organizations to join the NFWL in supporting reflexology, "as part of a holistic, comprehensive, and patient-centered approach to care."  Lots of WHEREAS and lots of good to come.  Image below from Bill Flocco's website.

Lucinda Tear is an ARCB certified reflexologist practicing in Winthrop, Washington, in the heart of the Methow Valley.

Monday, December 10, 2012

a post for possibility

This may be a stretch for some, but it's reaffirming and positive if you can let it be.  Danielle LaPorte Cosmic Radio

Lucinda Tear is an ARCB certified reflexologist practicing in Winthrop, Washington, in the heart of the Methow Valley.