For one who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be his greatest enemy
One of the most useful ways of looking at the underlying motivations that drive addiction is as an attempt at mind control. When we pursue a substance or behavior to the point that it becomes an addiction, we are really attempting to create and maintain a mind-set—an experience of the mind—that is soothing, comfortable, and calm. It is an attempt to build a dependable and predictable experience of consciousness. We do so by using our addictions to hack into our brain patterns, which, in turn, create desirable but ephemeral mental states that become more and more elusive as well as difficult to maintain through this neural hacking. But as today’s quotation suggests, this is putting the cart before the horse. It is in learning to befriend the mind, to understand its purpose, and to become aware of its automatic patterns that we can, ultimately, change both it, and in turn, the neural pathways in the brain. When we can let go of our addictions for a while, we give ourselves the emotional space to get into our minds instead of trying desperately to get out of them, and through this process we can, eventually, change our minds. It is very helpful, if not outright imperative, that we adjust our outer environments, too—creating helpful and meaningful social connection, finding healthy physical rhythms, and learning to have fun in life. But if we fail to change our minds, the best that we can hope for is painful abstinence, locked within an uncomfortable mental conscious experience of life without even the temporary relief we found through our addictions.