There is a direct correlation between body contraction and addiction. The correlation is so direct that, when a certain contraction in the body (throat, chest, stomach, or pelvic area) is released, the addiction tied to that contraction tends to release.
There is very little scientific research backing up this idea that body contraction is related to addiction. This is probably because most scientists study objective aspects of our experience like brain chemistry and the nervous system. If they can’t measure it with an instrument, they tend to think it isn’t real.
Most scientists are not experientialists, which means they are not monitoring the inner subjective view of experience that includes mental images and felt-energies within the body that relate to addiction as it arises moment by moment. Body contraction is only experienced from within, as a felt-sense of tightness or density in certain parts of the body. The scientific research has not yet found a way to accurately monitor this density and examine the link between it and addictive behavior. In the absence of looking within, the scientific research comes up short. It doesn’t speak precisely enough to how addiction is actually experienced in the body.
Even the current psychological view that addiction is just about medicating negative thoughts and feelings is only partly helpful. It’s accurate to say that the more we feel and release negative feelings and thoughts, the less addiction we experience. But that only takes us so far in truly releasing addiction. Even when negative feelings and thoughts are no longer occurring much, addiction can still be present because of body contractions.
In the deepest sense, addiction is the will to survive that has no shut-off valve. Science does back up this conclusion. The will to survive comes with the sense of separation felt in the mind and body. Contractions are like deep reservoirs of energy and memory that feel embedded into certain body parts or the body as a whole. And that’s where inner experience is needed. To truly notice why and how you are addicted is to be aware of the inner subjective view of your experience (i.e., the thoughts, emotions and sensations that arise when you experience compulsion) as it is happening. If you notice, the moment you feel an urge or desire, a certain part of your body or more than one part feels contracted, tight or dense.
Whether you are conscious of this or not, that contracted sensation plays a big role in addiction. As long as it is there, addiction will continue. You can verify this for yourself by noticing how substitution happens. When you drop an addiction to a particular substance or activity, another addiction will often take its place. This is because the contraction is still there, screaming for a replacement.
When contractions fully release, addiction as a whole begins to release. This is not just a release from addiction to one substance or activity. It’s a release from the whole movement of reaching out towards anything.
Contractions, because they are related to the will to survive, are often not responsive to efforts of willpower. Therefore, many techniques out there that are based in whole or in part on willpower have the adverse effect of maintaining or strengthening the contraction itself.
Here at Natural Rest for Addiction and at the Kiloby Center in Palm Springs, California, we are using the Compulsion Inquiry and the other Living Inquiries to relax all efforts that come from willpower and to investigate and release body contractions by letting them be as they are.
If you have difficulty being with contractions on your own in a way that releases them, instead of strengthening them, try working with a facilitator.