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Have you worked with people struggling with substance and behavioral addictions?

Over the years, many people struggling with addiction have come to learn Buddhist mindfulness and compassion. One specific example is when I met a woman who came to a retreat and needed compassion more than anything to face a life-long struggle with binge-eating. She depicted herself wandering around like the Hungry Ghost full of self-hatred. Here are her words:

Jack Kornfield_201blkwht_DeborahJaffe“I believed that food had an unparalleled capacity to bring satisfaction and relieve me from suffering. Time and again, I’d reach for the food looking for it to do its magic only to have it turn on me, fail me, bring me untold physical, mental suffering and shame. I became hypercritical of myself in that situation and despaired. As I practiced mindfulness, a freedom came as I was able to be aware of the intense discomfort I was trying to escape from. I started to find that I could recover more quickly and less painfully with bouts of compulsive binging if I could spend even a little bit of time being present with my pain instead of eating more and just trying to avoid the effects of having eaten too much and the remorse of having done it again. I could actually watch myself start down that sad, old path, and as the awareness and kindness grew I realized, ‘Oh. I don’t have to do this, and self-compassion can grow.’ I’m so grateful for the mindfulness and compassion that has rescued me from the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts.”

That’s an example of how self-compassion can help see what is really at the body, heart and mind’s best interest, and how the tools of mindfulness can let you step back and experience things that you couldn’t withstand because of the discomfort and difficulty it brings.



Find Peace


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