Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

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Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:00 am

I just had a major relapse and I am now going through severe withdrawal. I dont know if you guys can remember me at all but I have found lots of help from all of you lovely people.

I am using the green tara mantra and general meditation. This is along with the medication and medical help needed to get me through this. I must have said well over 20 malas just today along with hours of meditation to try and help but it's hard to concentrate with the severe withdrawal. I have also found meditating whilst listening to traditional japanese flute music to be very soothing.

Now one problem I have with finding Buddhism, or more I consider Buddhism came to me, is that it has made me realize the suffering on this planet. I literally cry for the world. I feel so over privileged to live in England. Who am i to have this privilege. Why should I not suffer? I suppose I am suffering a lot at the minute.

Whilst I am a mahayan buddhist belonging to the jamyang sect. I suppose it's a western version. I do however plan to go live in thailand, I would like to dedicate my life to the end of suffering, not just for myself but for others. I cannot do it in this state. I would like to do some diving then become a zen monk.

Like i say "where ever the wind blows." A take on Blowing in the wind by bob dylan. I have it tattooed on my leg. Life will take me on the right path, the wind doesn't choose where it blows but it's in the right place at the right time. At the minute I am suffering a great deal personally. Perhaps, in fact this is part of my personal journey and I will have to go through the sufferings of an addict, the cravings and the pain inside. When you know a bottle will give you relief temporarily it's very hard to say no.

I cry for the world and it's not helping me find my own path to help end my own suffering and in turn other people's.

Any ideas on what I have spoken about because my heart is crying. Why do i have food whilst others don't? Why do i live in a nice house with amazing parents whilst others don't. I feel selfish and this is bringing up hatred towards myself. This will not get me on the path to enlightenment, this will literally kill me. This is what has caused me to self harm, but i do now look at the scars and see that it is a physical sign of my sufferings. I need to be selfish and find happiness myself before I can bring happiness to others.
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby Jesse » Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:52 am

Hello deepfriedfunk,

I understand the pain of addiction very well, and I can relate. I think our worst addictions are products of running from the deeper problems that plague us. Sadness, Anger, Fear, Apathy.. we constantly seek temporary means of covering these issues up, and it never quite works. I'm sure you know most of this though. :)

You seem to be a deep and compassionate person, but there really is no reason to be upset over your circumstances, be happy for the privileges you have, and use them to help others if that is something you'd like to do. I honestly don't know why or if there are very specific reasons for our circumstances in life, some will say past karma.. and perhaps, but life is far too short to be sad without a good reason. Beyond our own personal suffering, our afflictions effect others around us, so if you want to help others, be happy! Sounds easy, doesn't it?

I think you will find what your looking for in this life, so take it easy, take care of yourself and feel better.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:01 am

The strangest thing happened.. I havent eaten for 16 days now. I am getting milkshake and sugary drinks down me. But i just ate a sandwich!!

Basically the medication the doctors give me make me have fully lucid dreams. I am skeptical because the drugs they give me are benzodiazipams - and Buddha advises against all narcotics. But I saw Arya Tara. As clear as day with a shining beam of light. She spoke in english but told me I have the strength to overcome this and once I do there are great things in store for me. The dream was fully lucid, i was aware i was in a dream state. I thanked her and then woke up, like shot up out of bed and felt, well not amazing, but much better.

I wil never forget it. Was this a vision? I know many of you wont believe me. I have been chanting her mantra constantly, well over 1000 times with what i would consider good pronunciation. Is this a sign?

I really dont know. I suppose if it gives me the strength to battle this, i mean there is a war in my head, since the dream the symptoms of my withdrawal have calmed considerably and for once i feel peace. Like there is a way out.

I suppose if it was a sign or not, if it gives me strength then whether it was a true vision or not then it doesnt really matter. Basically i need help, do monks or practitioners ever see visions in their dreams? You lot probly think i'm going nuts...
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby Dave The Seeker » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:32 am

Hey DFF, I am very sorry to hear of your relapse.
I understand addictions and with drawls, I'd never wish that on anyone.
You must first learn to accept and love yourself before you can help others.
There is suffering and you are suffering yourself.
Yes, you may have it good, but look at yourself now.
Was it worth relapsing because of the feeling of pity for others?
Forgive yourself and do all you can to learn to stay sober, a clear mind is very important if you ever want to help others.

When you are sober and clear minded things get better, life becomes a more happy thing.
When you feel the urge to drink/use stop and think about what you have gained, not materially, but spiritually. Is it worth throwing that back away? I know it's hard my friend. But when you are sober you can then help relieve the suffering of others with a clear mind and good intent.

A clouded mind is never a bonus in life.

Wishing you peace and strength my friend, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:40 am

I was sober for 6 months before, I know that I'm a lot happier. I suppose I do have to learn to love myself.

I'm sure you know Dave that the awful things alcoholism or any kind of addiction do to those around you that you love. They have forgiven me... i haven't forgiven myself. I suppose it's time I work on that.

Thankyou all... i wish i could figure out the dream. Because after that dream I feel... I don't know... just different. Perhaps the effects may be psychosomatic, or maybe it was a real mystical experience. I will fight this tooth and nail. I'm not gonna grow up to be a looser and an addict. Im done. I thought i was done but really all the cravings were still there, thats probably why sobriety made me feel worse than when i was drinking.

Anyways thaanks for all your help. I have a great deal of compassion and I will say several mantras for all of you. I wish you all the best in life and hope that you guys never have to experience or go through this.

I'm off to go start loving myself (got that sounds wrong) but you understand where I'm coming from. Fix myself before I can help other people and I know the teachings of the dharma will help me.

Josh
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:55 am

DeepFriedFunk wrote:First Post
Compassion is a virtue, guilt is not. Compassion makes you a better person and leads to all kinds of happiness. Guilt just makes you suffer too. Use that feeling though.

http://lojongmindtraining.com/Commentar ... &proverb=7

Take away the suffering of the world.

DeepFriedFunk wrote:But I saw Arya Tara. As clear as day with a shining beam of light. She spoke in english but told me I have the strength to overcome this and once I do there are great things in store for me. The dream was fully lucid, i was aware i was in a dream state. I thanked her and then woke up, like shot up out of bed and felt, well not amazing, but much better.

I wil never forget it. Was this a vision? I know many of you wont believe me. I have been chanting her mantra constantly, well over 1000 times with what i would consider good pronunciation. Is this a sign?

I really dont know. I suppose if it gives me the strength to battle this, i mean there is a war in my head, since the dream the symptoms of my withdrawal have calmed considerably and for once i feel peace. Like there is a way out.

I suppose if it was a sign or not, if it gives me strength then whether it was a true vision or not then it doesnt really matter. Basically i need help, do monks or practitioners ever see visions in their dreams? You lot probly think i'm going nuts...
Yeah, it was probably real. There are two levels of visions, dreams and in the waking state. Tara is the embodiment of all the Buddha's activity so she is fast. In fact, Tara means "quick" and the title given to her by Amoghasiddhi himself, Drolma Nyurma Pamo, means She Who Liberates Quickly and Powerfully. Continue what works I say.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby Dave The Seeker » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:22 pm

Josh, the cravings will subside as you know.
One thing I have found that helps me, as in meditation when there is a thought let it "go by".
In other words don't dwell on it. There can be a million thoughts in the time it takes for one action.
So before acting, think again, this time about the effect of the thoughts to drink.

Here's a link to some info on Loving Kindness, it also in steps shows you how to cultivate Metta for yourself.

http://www.wildmind.org/metta


Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby justsit » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:17 pm

AA
Every day.

It's too easy to kid yourself going it alone.
Get a sponsor who will call you on your crap.

Good luck,
Justsit
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:48 pm

I am with a similar group to AA but instead of talking about our past experiences we concentrate on the future and the present. Not the past. I have people within this group, that if I need to I can talk about cravings or past experiences but we very much concentrate on the future and the present.

I am not denying the power of AA and that it works for most. It just didn't for me. Infact it caused a relapse, this was after taking in all of the knowledge I could and getting a sponsor.

My doctor (who is a specialist in addiction) has seen it cause relapses before. It just isnt for some people. I think I am one of them.

The articles were a lot of help and I will study the concepts discussed.

Thankyou guys for all your help. Feel free to close the post as I think we have answered all of my questions. I am on the mend and the cravings will subside but I think learning to love myself first and then be selfless in helping others is my current plan.

I have lots of people who are sober and if needs be I can talk to them about troubling thoughts.

I thank you all for your help. You really helped getting me through this. Feel free to close the post. I am going to go and meditate now. I will think of you all during my chanting.

Thanksyou, Joshua.
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby justsit » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:01 pm

DeepFriedFunk wrote:I am not denying the power of AA and that it works for most. It just didn't for me. Infact it caused a relapse...


And AA "didn't work" for you because??

AA cannot cause a relapse.
The only thing that causes a relapse is you picking up a drink. Full stop.
Alcoholics are well versed in denial and shifting blame.

You don't want to look at past, fine, but you will face a very difficult uphill battle making any substantive change until you do, regardless of what the "experts" say.

Again, good luck.
Justsit
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:53 pm

I don't want to cause an argument which is what is happening, I have a lot of respect for this forum and don't want to be seen as a bad character. I simply wanted Buddhist techniques for overcoming cravings and anxiety.

I have a support group called Learning to Live Again, which is where we do fun things around other sober addicts. People who have been sober for 30+ years and have never been to AA - or have gone and found it is not for them. Going to AA five times a week in my opinion is an addiction, something you cannot do without.

I simply meant returning to those dark places in my life repeatedly is unhealthy for me. These people are also not "experts" they are experts in their field.

I will not give myself up to a higher power because Buddha taught we all have the strength inside of us.

I respected your view point, please respect mine. I have been a happy addict without it for 6 months, and after this relapse I will continue to do so. Like I said I don't want an argument about AA on here.
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby justsit » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:09 pm

No argument, surely.
Just trying to offer the gleanings from some very hard-learned lessons.

May you be happy, peaceful, and free from suffering.
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby Dave The Seeker » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:39 am

from http://realisticrecovery.wordpress.com/ ... -12-steps/

A Buddhist’s Non-Theist 12 Steps:

1 We admitted our addictive craving over alcohol, and recognized its consequences in our lives.
2 Came to believe that a power other than self could restore us to wholeness.
3 Made a decision to go for refuge to this other power as we understood it.
4 Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5Admitted to ourselves and another human being the exact moral nature of our past.
6 Became entirely ready to work at transforming ourselves.
7 With the assistance of others and our own firm resolve, we transformed unskillful aspects of ourselves and cultivated positive ones.
8 Made a list of all persons we had harmed.
9 Made direct amends to such people where possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. In addition, made a conscientious effort to forgive all those who harmed us.
10 Continue to maintain awareness of our actions and motives, and when we acted unskillfully promptly admitted it.
11 Engaged through the practice of meditation to improve our conscious contact with our true selves, and seeking that beyond self. Also used prayer as a means to cultivate positive attitudes and states of mind.
12 Having gained spiritual insight as a result of these steps, we practice these principles in all areas of our lives, and make this message available to others in need of recovery.

by Bodhi. Sydney, Australia.



There's a lot more at this site worth reading I think.
I attend AA once a day, everyday. Some days twice. It may not work for you and it seems you have a good support group. But as said above, you can't go it alone. There is a lot more than "The Higher Power" in AA. The books, stories and experiences of others helps me to deal with many of the things I don't know how to deal with. Then again, I've drank heavily since a very young age, more than a couple decades ago. So most of my life was as a drunk. I could function just fine. My ex-wives and kids never went with out anything.......other than a husband and dad.
I decided to sober up and my life has changed for the better in a lot of ways, also becoming Buddhist has changed me in many ways, all for the better. The one AA quote that is a good one to remember is "Never regret your past or wish to shut the door on it". Remembering what your past was, may help you from repeating it.
Hope all is well for you my friend.

Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:44 am

The Seeker wrote:from http://realisticrecovery.wordpress.com/ ... -12-steps/


2 Came to believe that a power other than self could restore us to wholeness.



Thankyou, the idea of self and not myself makes much more sense. I am sorry to carry this on, but by self do you mean our ego? I will try AA, perhaps my ego wanted to hang onto alcoholism. Gonna be hard to find a sponsor that believes in the self instead of giving your life upto a higher power instead of a higher state of mind.
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:36 pm

I think Buddha advised against using intoxicants to cloud our minds or produce a deceptive and deluded appearance of happiness.

Medication intended to heal your mind should therefore be fine to use, as the intention is to enable you to practise, find happiness and then enable others to do so.

I think Jamyang is FPMT and offers many practices which may help, as I'm sure you already know. :)
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby Dave The Seeker » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:11 pm

Josh, in this context I believe the "self" is our ego. Or the "me" or "I" that we as Buddhists need to let go of in the understanding of non-self or Atman.
Our addictive persona is what holds on to our addiction. That is what we fight.
I don't have a sponsor, as you said one that doesn't believe in a Higher Power can be hard to find.
Many forget the chapter to the agnostic in the big book. But the program is to help everyone.
But I do have friends I can call or go have coffee/lunch whatever with, and they help me through the hard times and like I said learn how to deal with things. I've been told the urge to drink will never really leave you, but becomes less and less as time passes.

BG, yes you are right. The fifth precept says to avoid intoxicants. With a clouded mind we can be of no good to ourselves or others.
Also AA recommends meditation, that is one thing that so many people/groups suggest. A calm mind is a mind that can see much mire clearly.
About Jamyang......a little help please

Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:49 pm

Jamyang is mahayana Buddhism and mainly gets it's theology from Tibetan Bhuddism. We consider the Dalai Lama our spiritual leader. I think i chose it over Thervardean (i know its spelt wrong but you know what I mean) because it seems to concentrate a lot more on compassion for everyone and everything.

They have meditation classes for non Buddhists but in the tibetan lotus position. Basically, like most places, their door are open to everone.

We have a lot of the Tibetan scriptures and prayers in english. I have only been going a short while so I still have a lot to learn. Well we all do, correct me if I'm wrong but i think it was 65,000 teachings so it is a life long search.

It's a westernised form of Buddhism, I don't know if i will be with Jamyang forever as I would like to travel to thailand when I am better and practice with the zen monks, and to dive! I have found meditation and peace very easy 30m underwater, especially when something goes wrong or if things get a little scary because you have to stay calm or you rub through your air. Sorry went off on a tangent there.

I do believe how ever that this has saved my life. I have found strong faith and great friends with similar interests. They have a big library and free books from lama yeshe. Wonderful place and beautiful statues and figures of Bhudda and deities. I really owe my life to them.
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby Jikan » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:33 am

I know you can find a number of Buddhists and people who are sympathetic to what we do in and around recovery circles. Including AA.

I just attended the funeral of one this weekend (unrelated cause of death...).

Not sure how it is in the UK, but in the US, its' not uncommon.

I wish you all the best in your recovery and in your practice.
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby dakini_boi » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:05 am

DeepFriedFunk wrote:
The Seeker wrote:from http://realisticrecovery.wordpress.com/ ... -12-steps/


2 Came to believe that a power other than self could restore us to wholeness.



Thankyou, the idea of self and not myself makes much more sense. I am sorry to carry this on, but by self do you mean our ego? I will try AA, perhaps my ego wanted to hang onto alcoholism. Gonna be hard to find a sponsor that believes in the self instead of giving your life upto a higher power instead of a higher state of mind.


if u do want to try the path of AA - here's a book that you might find useful:

http://www.amazon.com/12-Step-Buddhist- ... 689&sr=8-1

I flipped through it a couple times, and it looked good. At the same time, I agree with you that having to go to meetings all the time can be a form of addiction too. But not as bad an addiction as certain substances. Anyway, whatever works - but you can see that the 12 steps can fit within Buddhist dharma.
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Re: Alcohol relapse and Buddhist techniques to deal with anxiety

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:05 pm

Hi, Deep!

I think we all struggle with addictions of some kind, whether to alcohol, sensual pleasure, friends, mindless internet surfing... I've found that Pema Chödrön has some very poignant advice on the subject of addiction.

It's tragic yet a bit funny how we can be utterly miserable while satisfying an addiction, not even enjoying it at all, fully aware of the consequences, yet we keep doing it anyway. Sometimes of course it feels great. We humans are one weird, weird bunch.

I hope the link lets you see things from a different angle :) Good luck.
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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