Virtually every recovery program talks about the need for readiness. Readiness, according to most programs, involves initially the willingness to quit a substance. It’s sometimes called “hitting rock bottom.” Certainly quitting is a good start. But it’s not necessarily what readiness is really about, especially with Natural Rest for Addiction. In our program, readiness involves also the readiness to rest and inquire whenever the usual patterns of compulsion, anxiety and deficiency stories arise in the moment. Readiness is difficult for people at first because of the sheer momentum of addiction. The system is so hard-wired towards using addictive substances and activities for temporary relief that we become blind to the insanity of it all. We lack the simple insight that “whatever I am doing, it is not working.” No true, lasting relief is happening.
When we become ready, a gentler, deeper, and more humane recovery can begin to unfold – a recovery that is not just about abstinence or even moderation in the form of self-control. This gentler recovery is seeing that you don’t quit addictions. They quit you, just by being conscious of your present experience differently.
Readiness is not a judgment. For example, facilitators of this work don’t say, “Well, you just aren’t ready, so go away, you poor fool.” We are not in the business of making people feel bad about themselves. Deficiency stories (which often lie at the root of addiction) are all about feeling bad about who we are. We don’t want to contribute to that. Instead, readiness is more like a discussion that takes place about whether one is at a place in his or her life where addiction feels so enslaving that he or she becomes really open to rest and inquire. If one is not ready, there is no judgment. Just continue using the addictive substance or activity until you become ready.
We don’t need to hit rock bottom to become ready. Sometimes all it takes is to truly see the insanity of what we are doing in life. At the Kiloby Center, I often talk about readiness through the topic of efficiency:
I ask a client, do you notice how much energy you have spent in your life chasing this or that substance or state or ideal? Do you see how exhausting and inefficient that is? Do you see you haven’t found it yet and that’s why you are here at the center? As one client said, “I can’t enjoy life if I am constantly chasing life.” Much of that chasing comes from trying to suppress, cover up, change or get rid of uncomfortable emotions and sensations. The constant desire to escape is highly inefficient. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to simply rest as present awareness and gently allow and investigate these thoughts and feelings, seeing that they are just that – temporary thoughts and feelings. They come. They go. The more this is seen, the more we begin to recognize the natural rest of the moment. Less or no chasing equals freedom and peace. Much more efficient way of living.
Another way of discussing efficiency is to talk about how we are constantly trying to change the people and circumstances around us in order to make ourselves feel better inside. For example, I might ask questions like this: Do you see in your mind’s eye right now all the people and things that you wish were different? How efficient has it been to try and change everyone and everything outside yourself? How painful has it been when those people and things don’t change? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to begin seeing that what you take to be people and things outside yourself are actually just, again, thoughts and feelings coming and going to awareness. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to simply see, feel and allow those thoughts and feelings to come and go in the natural rest of presence? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to question the idea of whatever deficient self you have taken yourself to be, instead of trying to change everything around you so that you feel better about yourself? Less or no changing. More acceptance. Much more efficient way of living.
This conversation around readiness and efficiency can spark a fire within people, if they REALLY hear it. It can bring about the readiness that is needed for the deeper, more humane approach to recovery that we call “Natural Rest.”
If you are struggling with this topic of readiness, contact a facilitator or email the Kiloby Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. Start this conversation!