Episode 43: The Hidden Gifts in our Addiction, Suffering, and Pain

The Journey of Integral Recovery Podcast

Jan 12
the hidden gifts of addiction, suffering, and pain

Episode 43
revealing the hidden gifts in our
addiction, suffering, and pain

“We can never see past the choices we don't understand … You've already made the choice. Now you have to understand it.” – The Oracle, The Matrix Reloaded


I spent many years, both in my active addiction, and before it, running away from who I was. I presented the image of myself I thought the world wanted to see, and I hid away the parts of myself that didn’t fit. I wanted to fit in, to make people proud, to be admired, to be loved. I tried to be everything I thought the world expected me to be. I wanted, desperately, to be enough.

The problem arises when we fail to live up to the standards, the values, the goals, and the societal expectations that we’ve internalized so deeply they felt like our own. Addiction, in any of its manifestations, is an attempt to escape the voice in our heads telling us where we are and what we’re experiencing aren’t good enough. That this moment is not enough. That we are not enough.

Most of the choices we make in life aren’t really our choices at all. Our families and friends, our culture and our society, and our physical biology come together to influence everything we do and everything we believe about ourselves, and we make our decisions accordingly. If we remain unaware of the influence of the four Integral quadrants in our lives, we’re doomed to drift along with the current, even as it threatens to launch us from a cliff edge and send us careening toward rock bottom.

Hitting bottom hurts. It’s a lonely, desperate, miserable place that’s hard to come back from, and it’s not a fate I’d wish on anyone. Mired in suffering, we’re confronted with the realities of our addiction. We can’t go back and change our past. We can’t undo the damage we’ve done. The suffering, isolation, regret, and shame build to a fever pitch that forces us to change or die.

It’s a moment of clarity that gives us a valuable gift: The gift of choice.

With our lives in tatters we have the freedom, often for the first time, to make a conscious choice about who and how we want to be. We can stop cutting ourselves and world off from the truth of who we are what we’ve learned. And make no mistake, every scar we bear tells a story of hard-won wisdom.

The courageous, soul-searching work of understanding ourselves and the choices we’ve made allows us to move forward with integrity and wholeness. In recovery, shame and regret for our past actions can haunt us, but they can also open our hearts to offer compassion, forgiveness, and understanding to others who suffer.

Rock bottom is a radical clearing out of everything that came before. It’s a deep moment of silence, like the gaps between meditative breaths, that offers a glimpse into the eyes of infinity, orienting our lives with meaning, purpose, and divine inspiration. And once we’ve seen it, we can return again and again. In fact, we must. The reminders of our pasts will never go away. Light and darkness are both an integral part of who we are.

Returning to stillness allows us to embrace, to learn, and to live from the totality of who we are, giving back to the world from a place of clarity and acceptance. And that’s the greatest gift anyone can give.

Episode Resources:

NEW: The Freedom of Forgiveness A Guided Meditation for Self-Compassion as Daily Practice by Bob Weathers, Doug Prater, and iAwake Technologies
Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addiction (SUNY series in Integral Theory)
The Religion of Tomorrow: A Vision for the Future of the Great Traditions-More Inclusive, More Comprehensive, More Complete
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Second Edition
Profound Meditation Program
Profound Releasing
Stealing Flow: Complete Brainwave Suite for Flow State Mastery (iAwake Technologies and Doug Prater)
Deep Recovery – a guided meditation from iAwake Technologies

In this episode:

[2:00] How our experiences with addiction and suffering can bring us great wisdom if we allow it into our lives. What is the alternate way of being, the radical new identity that we can create?
[3:57] Recognizing the differences between our pre-addiction and post-addiction selves and allowing ourselves to acknowledge the renaissance of our characters and views.
[5:15] Will we be nostalgic for the “radical clearing” of all that came before when we reach rock bottom? Can we learn to acknowledge and appreciate that moment in our past when we let go of the baggage, the regret, and the resentments that no longer served us as we began to rebuild our lives in recovery? What is the pearl in our past that leads to radical transformation?
[7:11] What do gain by acknowledging how wrong we’ve been and the errors of our old ways of thinking?
[7:46] The gift of the blank slate: For the first time in our lives, we can design our lives and our beliefs and make our choices with full awareness and the power of conscious decision.
[9:13] At rock bottom, there’s no “false self” to defend anymore.
[10:03] The kingdom of heaven is already…but not yet. With a pure clearing out and the radical cutting through of the false self, we’re left with the pure experience of being in the now. And with the insights of those moments of clarity, there’s also a recognition that we’re already…but not yet.
[12:15] Working with the shame of our past behaviors, particularly in our perception of the way others may interpret our histories, and why we must work with this shame in order to continue our growth in sobriety.
[12:45] Using our own histories and mistakes as a tool to cultivate empathy for others who’ve made bad choices, particularly when those others can own their choices and begin the work of rebuilding their lives.
[14:26] The process of healing begins with an honest acknowledgement of our mistakes and the willingness to “grow up”, evolve, and make different choices in the future.
[15:15] The ability to hold the wreckage of our past without shame is what allows us to extend our hands to others in compassion and forgiveness.
[15:35] As we hold the past in clarity, we begin to see it as the past, recognizing ourselves as the people that are now and the people we’re becoming instead of the stale, outdated remnants of our past mistakes
[16:35] Just as many teachers say we carry our wisdom from one lifetime to another, we carry what we’ve learned rom our life of addiction into our life of sobriety. This becomes our touchstone of growth when the addict is no longer the controlling subject.
[17:45] The further we progress, the more we comprehend just how far we still have to go. Our unfulfilled potential and the ways in which we still fall short (even if only in our minds) can be instructive, pointing us towards the work of refinement and mastery.
[20:43] We all dance a healing dance of redemption and forgiveness that requires vulnerability and courage.
[22:21] When we’re truly aligned with our purpose, our work becomes our mission. Our motivation to continue, to move forward, to give back flows naturally from the recognition of what we’re here to do and what we’re able to give. When we do this, we’re supported by the divine, and the spirit of being a channel for something larger than ourselves flow through us.
[24:23] While we would never wish our depths suffering or our past on anyone, we can acknowledge, with gratitude, that this is what it took for us to get where we are and find that evolutionary catalyst that put us on the path to becoming.
[25:15] At the bottom, there’s no choice but to change – our addictions forced it on us. Many others, out in the world, go there their lives with an ongoing background noise of suffering that never pushes them enough to change in a meaningful way
[26:50] The stone that was rejected becomes the cornerstone of the new building…and maybe that’s what’s going on with addicts, who have developed the resilience and grit to lead the way in the journey of growth and evolution.
[27:30] We’re afraid to tell our stories and we’re afraid of what people would think if they knew the truth of our past, but often times it’s only through the honesty of our stories, our truth, and the depths of our suffering that others will reach out to us. Our experience with suffering allows others to trust us to understand theirs.
[28:43] There’s freedom in living in integrity all of who you are. Keeping your truth buried in the background is exhausting, and denying ourselves and our truths is a pathway back into misery.
[29:48] It’s a choice. When we hit bottom, we make a choice about how we’re going to live and who we’re going to be. The ability to do that is the gift of the blank slate that we’re given when all we thought we were is gone.
[30:15] Have you ever heard the still, small voice, in the depths of your addiction, that tells you that you’ve got to get your life together? In the depths of hopelessness, led by our reptilian brains, we can still hear that voice. And that’s pure grace.
[31:49] We may not understand the nature of consciousness, but that doesn’t mean we don’t benefit from the experience of awareness that contradicts our natural urges and reptilian brain drives.
[33:00] We can cultivate our ability to hear the still small voice through practice. Meditation allows us to clear out the junk and begin to listen.
[34:21] What do you hear in the quiet? What do you notice in the gaps between your breaths?
[35:40] When we create a meditative field with fertile ground, we allow whatever wants to emerge the ability to do so. Whether it’s beauty, grace, and wisdom, or the lessons of the darker parts of ourselves, it’s all instructive and it’s all there to work with.
[36:42] Learning to accept the totality of our experience, both the light and the dark, is critical to our growth and evolution. Accepting our darkness can be challenging, but for many, accepting the light and the joy of our lives can be just as difficult.
[37:24] Why does commendation embarrass us, and can we allow ourselves to accept and acknowledge the good the we’ve done and that we are?

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01/12/2018, 46:30, 31.94 mb (Audio)

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