This is an article by a friend who found he could make some really positive changes in his life, in his drug use, and his mental health, using a type of meditation called Vipassana. I’m very interested at the moment in how one can find ways to achieve a sense of balance, moderation and positivity in one’s life – especially when trying to deal with issues around controlling one’s drug use; – It seems society’s laws and regulations (namely prohibition) and our consumerist cultures, have conspired (amongst many other things) to ensure personal drug use gets very hard to manage at times and our mental health can be quite traumatised by what the world/life tends to throw at us, day in, day out.
Giving it all up altogether isn’t always a satisfactory answer, sometimes its about looking at our whole life, through our minds eye – the way we actually think about things – and ourselves. If we can start to find some peace of mind and positivity in there (inside) then we become better equipped to be able to deal with what is important, or necessary, rather than what we THINK is the problem. We all need to feel valued, purposeful and useful. I’m just wondering if maybe building some good foundations in our lives, especially within our mind, enables us to deal with the problems more effectively. And ok if that means giving up all substances, so be it, but sometimes that inner strength leads to finding, finally, moderation and control. Here is B’s article about his experience of using meditation as a tool to find his own inner balance. I really think there is something to be said about meditation and mindfulness. Any drug user worth their salt/substance knows there is way more in our brains/souls to be discovered and utilized! Take it away B!
Vipassana Meditation and Well Being
It is said that most if not all people who attend meditation retreats have undergone
their fair share of suffering. This certainly applied to me when attending my first
Vipassana meditation course over the Christmas of 2008; I was looking for an end to
this suffering, having come to the realisation that the various recreational drugs I had
been using (and more often abusing) to appease it were in the long term making it
worse. These were pushing the problems back – just a temporary fix – my main
problems then probably having been anger, frustration and alienation from the world.
I had done a period of my life homeless and lost good friends, many gone too early
from poverty and drugs, and from my teenage years suffered mental illness (many
labels ranging from anxiety and depression to possible bipolar or schizophrenia).
My experience of prescribed drugs over all these years was that they had only ever done
more harm than good with their nasty side effects. Vipassana offered ‘a
straightforward, practical way to achieve real peace of mind and thus to lead a happy,
useful life’. As soon as I heard about it (originally from a youtube video, then further
researching it online) this was appealing. Translated, the word means ‘to see things as
they really are’. And it was free – with donations in money or service only accepted
on completion of a ten day course. (The courses all around the world run by
Does it really work?
For me personally, practising Vipassana these years since then (sitting and serving
several ten day courses at the UK’s main centre Dhamma Dipa in Hereford during
this time) has vastly improved my mental health (better than anything else I have
tried), and whilst maintaining daily sittings at home, has maintained my peace of
mind. It has also helped sort out long term cannabis dependence (and an online poker
playing problem also) by showing that addiction to these or anything is craving to
physical sensations, not accepting the reality as it is. Something I have found in my
own experience is that when staying mindful and equanimous accepting the reality as
it is, the bad stuff passes away quicker for not lingering in aversion or clinging. This
is not to say that unfavourable things won’t still happen, but in seeing that all is
impermanent and ever changing, one learns to deal wisely with the ups and downs of
life, without drowning in the lows or getting overly-elated in the highs. The practice
does not change the sometimes crazy and erratic nature of life, but moulds our
relationship to it in such a way that we can stay connected to peace, love and
happiness no matter how rough the terrain may be.
Here is a terrific 10 minute video about Vipassana (also on B’s page) which gives a good insight into how it works and why it can be so useful. Further Links on B’s page (link above).