Meditation Articles Series

Emotional Addictions

The brain is hardwired to resist change.  Thereís a saying in scientific circles that nerve cells that fire together wire together.  This means, for example, that if you never feel good enough about yourself, these neural connections are being reinforced by that belief.  Along with never feeling good enough comes emotions like anger, sadness, frustration, hurt and jealousy.  You become identified with these emotions even if you donít like them.   Never feeling good enough becomes a core belief.  It becomes our biology.  In other words if you are feeling these emotions frequently, itís a sign that your body has become conditioned to the release of certain chemicals.  Even if you donít like the feeling, for example of anger, your body craves it.  You are addicted to the sensations the emotions created. 

I always remember my teacher Goenkaji, in one of his discourses talking about an alcoholic craving the bodily sensations that alcohol created rather than the alcohol itself.  In other words it could have been another substance for it is the sensations that were the addiction.

All emotions whether positive or negative can become addictive.   As we know addictions of any kind create unhappiness.

What to do?

If you are a meditator, you will come at some point to an understanding of the emotions that you are most addicted to.  It may be fear, resentment, anger, sadness, or something else.  Itís crucial to acknowledge that your body craves the sensations that arise from an emotion, even though you donít like whatís happening.  If you are meditating and creating space for yourself, and entering into a state of relaxation the next steps will be easier.  If an emotion arises in meditation become aware of your thoughts that have triggered that particular emotion.  Then accept and allow the emotion without condemning it.  Be aware of where the sensations are strongest in your body.  They are often strongest in the belly, but it could be in another part of your body.  It can seem that an emotion will last for eternity, and the desire to get away from it is so strong.  It may be that you give in to it at first.  If this happens donít beat yourself up about it.  You have begun.  Each time you have conscious awareness of what is happening, you begin to break the neural links that release the chemicals in the brain that keep you addicted to the emotional patterning. 

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