Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I am not an addict.

I took a Meditation class last summer, learning that, at its most basic, meditation is a practice of being present in the moment: not escaping it, nor over-analyzing it. Facing each moment for all it is and asking “What’s happening now?” The idea isn’t to become lost in thoughts, profound or otherwise, or even observations, but instead letting moments pass through you, instead of focusing on the past or future of a moment. Keeping yourself conscious, instead of on autopilot.

One concept explored was addiction. The instructor asked us to consider the act of eating. He explained that we may have plans to eat at our favorite restaurant and, throughout the day, look forward to eating our favorite meal. When the dish arrives, we relish in the smell, look, and taste…but after a few bites we’ve fallen back into conversation and are absent-mindedly taking bite after bite. The instructor said he used to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every night before bed. As this became a daily activity, it was no longer about making each bite its own experience, but more a quest to finish the pint. It became an addiction for him. The more addicted you are to something, he said, the less pleasurable it is. Something that once was savored in each moment is lost with the quest to have more. We get confused when we think having more is the way to achieve satisfaction. The instructor told us that only when we find the actual source of satisfaction can we lose the addictive desire. (This practice can be applied to any situation where you might not feel like yourself.)

I agree fully with the instructor’s message, but we have distinctly different experiences with ice cream. I have, even since I started this blog, gone weeks without consuming ice cream. This wasn’t to prove the “power of self-will;” I just didn’t think to indulge.

More importantly, when the instructor spoke about taking a bite of ice cream and not fully experiencing each bite, I had no idea what he was talking about. I do not ever take ice cream for granted. Actually, it makes me more than a little giddy.

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