2019 feels like a big year for a lot of people.
It feels potent for myself as well. In this article. I am going to share some perspective on cravings: what makes them so hard to resolve and what you can do about all of that experientially.
We all experience our lives in many ways. Two ways that are universal are the story/sentiment experience and the tangible embodied or somatic experience.
One is just Mind/Mind, the other is Mind/Body.
Digging Deep With Inner Work
In order to make this conversation as meaningful and tangible as possible, I am going to start with some questions.
- Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?
- If you have, how is that going for you?
- Where do you feel that the most? Especially the doubt or the defiance?
- What is the one thing that you know will set you off?
- What habit, addiction or trigger is still haunting you from your past?
In my experience, life can be easy or it can create a lot of friction. Most of us experience this friction as a familiar annoying sensation in our bellies. That part of you that knows how to ‘Gut though things.’
Most of us constrict ourselves somatically like we are trying to get at the last bit out of a tube of toothpaste.
When the friction gets irritating or oppressive enough, you will look for something that makes friction go away. When the butterflies in your stomach get big enough, loud enough, or begin clawing their way deeper into you, you will reach for some ‘grease.’
Something, or anything, that will make things better.
‘Healthy Grease’ For The Mind & Body
Some of us choose booze, some pills, some food, some sex, and some of us reach for ‘healthy grease’ like meditation, Yoga, and/or Qi Gong. I am not suggesting that Yoga and Vodka are on the same list of choices; just that some of us can use a spiritual practice the same way some of us use sleeping pills.
None of this is new. Numbing is the new normal.
In order to get deeper into this and, more importantly, how to get into the felt-sense of what is going on, I need to share a couple of important concepts. As I describe them, see if you can feel them in your body.
They are called Compulsive Drive and Comfort Dissociation.
As you read this, ask yourself how much advertising has taught you about your choices. Also, ask yourself and your body how much impatience, distress, and boredom make your choices for you.
Take a deep breath and let it out very slowly. Hold it there. Wait as long as it takes for you to really feel some instinctual impatience. Breathe in. Where is your body calling for some grease?
Breathing is obviously a life or death choice, but it also mirrors your version of short-term gratification.
The drive to live can sometimes feel just like the desire to eat another bowl of ice cream.
Depending on your unique and beautiful way of navigating your life, your compulsions and addictive choices can feel like life or death choices if your life tilts too far out of balance.
No Judgement, BTW…
Compulsive Drive vs Comfort Dissociation
As a clinician with over two decades of experience, I can attest that this is where most of us actually get the experience to grow. Your metabolism has a very impatient and chemically determined Compulsive Drive.
I am sure you have felt that in a thousand ways.
Your Karmic or existential self also has a Compulsive Drive. It is still trying to resolve your childhood, your traumatic experiences, an unfair world, and your questions about the meaning of life.
You and I and everyone else have a Compulsive Drive. It is an instinct and can guide you to your highest potential. It can also turn into a life-destroying curse if you fall into the most dangerous trap ever invented. Comfort Dissociation.
Imagine you are in the middle of a divorce. The communication with your ex-spouse, your children, your friends and the world at large feels incomplete and restless. For the first time in a long time, you are spending time alone – and hating it. The part of your mind that solves problems is working overtime and offers you really bad advice about every 39 seconds.
The desire and drive to just get a break from it all can become overwhelming.
Your need for comfort keeps building. Connection with your family used to make you feel great after a bad day. Now, you will do or try just about anything to feel better, or feel anything, or nothing – at least for a few hours. This is called dissociating or numbing. It is like grabbing a blanket if you are cold or an umbrella in the rain. A safe boundary and container of control. Aaaaaah…
Common sense, right?
This is where many of my patients are stuck. I have at least a decade of my life there. The stress of life builds under the umbrella of Comfort Dissociation until one of two things happens.
Letting Go Of Control
First, imagine a volcano of distress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, paranoia, hypervigilance, or lying.
Any time the volcano starts to get hot and starts threatening to explode, most people up their dose of a stimulant, and/or a sedative, and another not so healthy dose of dissociation.
As the volcano rumbles and groans, the dose goes up. Your responsibilities begin to pile up and the laundry list of apologies becomes even more overwhelming.
At this point, most of us are just keeping up on how fast we are falling behind. At this point, most of us are more invested in our umbrella, our boundaries – the part of us that can separate the good from the bad.
Life can get that weird. Walking around with an umbrella to keep the rain off and believing it can keep a volcano from erupting.
Welcome to the wonderful and terrifying experience of trying to control what happens.
Back to your body for a moment.
Where does the compulsion to control everything that you can reside in your body?
Take another deep breath. All the way in and all the way out. Accept the truth of all of this and take in another deep breath. Hold it in and feel all of the stress and stories you are carrying around every day.
Let your breath go, let your control go, relax your body from your head to your toes, let the past go and finally, let winning some old argument go.
Letting go is like forgiveness. Letting go is the grease that keeps all of our lives and the universe moving and growing.
Facing Your Fears
The second thing that can happen is inevitable. It can take years, months, or minutes. It is a profound willingness to learn and experience the truth. The why…
Why do you need an umbrella between you and your problems?
People hear that question in two ways. One feels like blame and shame. The other invites a deep and personal inquiry. If your life feels like a rumbling volcano of catastrophic consequences – Why?
If you stop allowing Comfort Dissociation to separate you from your life, you are going to feel your life, your fears, your grudges and your deepest and most authentic self holding on to it all.
The next question is where?
Where do you carry your anxiety? Where do you feel empty and hollow? Where do you feel the spark of your authenticity and truth underneath of it all?
Your Brand New Resolution for 2019
I encourage you to make a different kind of New Year’s Resolution.
In 2019, make your cravings, your stories, your umbrellas and your volcanoes your Sacred teachers. Make this year the year that you allow impatience to teach you about patience. Make this year the year that you shift your narrative to your embodied state.
Allow your sentiments become sensations again.
This is a great starting place on your journey of emotional intelligence, and a good check-in if you are well on your way.
What do Compulsion and Dissociation bring into your Life?
Where in your life and in your body do these momentary drives and urges take control of your choices and free will?
If, after reading this, you are wondering, ‘Did I miss something?’
Did you miss the trick to control your craving in some new and mystical way?
Nope. This is just an invitation to Truth and to an embodied awareness of the lies and reactions that you have used to get you this far on your Journey.
It is a new year, so try something new.
Feel it all my friends.
Feel it, love it, grieve it and then let it go.
About Michael Smith
As a clinician at Integrative Health Solutions, I combine the leading-edge sciences of Functional Medicine and Ancestral Nutrition, with the wisdom and vast experience of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This combination of healing traditions helps me understand and respond to some of today’s most complex health challenges in a very comprehensive and effective way. Each of these healing modalities focuses on treating the ‘why’ more than the ‘what’.
I also encourage my patients to include stress reduction and/or trauma release practices like Somatic Mindfulness and Neuro Somatic Therapy to promote healing on the deepest levels possible.