(More) Mindful Living without Alcohol

"If there are other people around, preferably your partner or a close family member, the pain-body will attempt to provoke them - push their buttons, as the expression goes - so it can feed on the ensuing drama. Pain-bodies love intimate relationships and families because that is where they get most of their food. It is hard to resist another person's pain-body that is determined to draw you into a reaction. Instinctively it knows your weakest, most vulnerable points. If it doesn't succeed the first time, it will try again and again. It is raw emotion looking for more emotion. The other person's pain-body wants to awaken yours so that both pain-bodies can mutually energize each other.

Excessive consumption of alcohol will often activate the pain-body, particularly in men, but also in some women. When a person becomes drunk, he goes through a complete personality change as the pain-body takes him over.

In intimate relationships, pain-bodies are often clever enough to lie low until you start living together and preferably have signed a contract committing yourself to be with this person for the rest of your life. You don't just marry your wife or husband, you also marry her or his pain-body - and your spouse marries yours. It can be quite a shock when, perhaps not long after moving in together or after the honeymoon, you find suddenly one day there is a complete personality change in your partner." - Eckhart Tolle ("A New Earth")

I'll celebrate the first anniversary of my sober life soon. I stopped drinking completely almost a year ago after drinking more and more, maily to cope with frustration and stress in my workplace, requiring more and more quantity to numb my mind, and getting more and more addicted to it. I had to pay a heavy personal price to put an end to this downward spiral and awaken at long last. All the attempts I had made before this suffering both by myself and with external help failed miserably.

After liberating myself from the fetter of alcohol, I've come to realize more and more clearly that my previous attempts to numb my compulsive negative thinking made me go below my consciousness, causing often irreversible damage to both myself and people around me with the resulting unconscious speech and action of mine.

Nobody, including not only myself but also someone who used to be a very dear and close person to me, understood that my ego as well as what Eckhart Tolle calls "pain-body" of mine is to blame. But everyone, again including myself and this person, who has in the meanwhile decided to abandon me, erroneously equated my pain-body with my true self, showing no compassion. I'm not trying to blame them. On the contrary, I have to thank them for what they have done, for thanks to them I could finally wake up.

Having become sober all the time, I've also come to understand that sober living means (more) mindful living. And it was only after I stopped drinking completely that I started to understand and implement my daily mindfulness meditation I had started before this transformation of mine. Now I'm far more conscious of my own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and react on autopilot far less frequently to other people's speech and action stemming from their egos and pain-bodies.

I've been looking for ways to share this experience of mine, including my "horror stories" and the heavy prices I have paid for them both privately and professionally so that those who are still struggling with their drinking problems may be able to wake up as soon as possible without paying such heavy prices.


Getting "Remarried" with Facebook

I got "married" with Facebook for the first time in August 2016. After a short-lived "married" life with it I had to get "divorced" from it to prevent something precious from deterriorating. In retrospect I can realize now how mindlessly I used Facebook, controlled and subjugated by my ego, and writing and reacting on the autopilot mode, as it were. I was less aware that I was even less mindless back then when I was offline, especially when I was under the influence of alcohol, which happened more and more frequently. All these accumulated mindless behaviors of mine were powerful enough even without Facebook to destroy that precious thing I tried to save by quitting Facebook slowly but steadily.

When I had to decide to get "remarried" with Facebook this July for some professional reason, I told myself to try my best to use it as mindfully as possible. Since Facebook doesn't allow us to use only business pages, I decided to start using it again for personal purposes, though rather hesitantly and cautiously, restricting the so-called "friends" to those I know personally offline.

Except for the originally planned professional use, whose effectiveness I'm not so sure of yet, the two main private uses of Facebook I benefit from most are 1) following posts by some spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle as well as some rabbis and Jewish organizations, and 2) participating in two "groups", or online communities, one of which is by Eckhart Tolle himself, to socialize with like-minded people from all over the world, though I participate passively so far.

As Eckhart Tolle points out correctly in What Do You Think about Facebook, Facebook is also an excellent place for observing various online manifestations of the egos of its users, including, of course, mine. The most frequent and "popular" type of posts seem to be those meant for mutually receiving instant gratifications from "friends". This seems nothing but - sorry for the expression - online m*st*rb*t**n. Instead of reacting to them no less mindlessly, I simply observe them and mindless reactions they generate as precious opportunities to practice mindfulness.

This time I also stay away from initiating or being dragged into political or religious arguments, in which nobody can convince nobody else with a different opinion. This is even more vane than posts for instant gratifications. In this "remarriage" of mine with Facebook I seem to be far more successful so far than in my first "marriage" in tackling this double task of using Facebook both mindfully and as a field for practicing mindfulness.

PS: The above is a hopefully conscious self-observation. ;-)


Rational Inquiries vs. Direct Experiences

"People's conceptions about themselves and the nature of things are developed and verified through four different processes: direct experience of the effects produced by their actions, vicarious experience of the effects produced by somebody else's actions, judgments voiced by others, and derivation of further knowledge from what they already know by using rules of inference." - Albert Bandura

Through both rational inquiries and direct experiences themselves I'm becoming more and more aware that the latter can be the only way to reach certain types of truth, and the former can be powerless and useless. But I've also been having a very hard time trying to share this seeming meta-truth with those who have a blind faith in rational inquiries as the only legitimate way of reaching or at least approaching truth.

In a certain community of rationally minded people where I myself used to socialize, sharing the same area of rational inquiries, I really wanted to share my new direct experiences in this area as I've experienced the fact that they have few or no direct experience there. But I seem to have underestimated the strengh of their blind faith in rational inquries as they have refused to accept my proposal to do so in spite of the fact that they have absolutely no access to these direct experiences I really wanted them to experience vicariously as the second best option.

I've decided not to continue wasting my time trying to convince them to change their mind though it's so frustrating to see them continue investigating swimming without actually swimming by themselves or even seeing anyone else swim, as it were.

This very direct experience of those who refuse to experience someone else's direct experience of what they have been investigating has made me realize anew why I've decided to leave their world. Having experienced the joy and beauty of actually "swimming", I'd prefer continue "swimming" and improving my skill, relying only secondarily and sparingly on rational inquiries.


Possible Hidden Purpose of Suffering

Many of my friends and acquaintanced whom I told about my experiencing what I myself thought suffering (in my private and professional lives) expressed their sorrow, and some of them even told me that they fully understood how I was feeling. They imagined mistakenly that I might be depressed. It's true that I was depressed in the beginning, but I've come to view these sufferings of mine even as gifts of divine grace as they have initiated one important process I had never experienced before in my life.

To the best of my knowledge, this process isn't what we can initiate at our free will but must be initiated as a gift of divine grace whose typical and most powerful form is suffering.

The mental and emotional suffering I've experienced has cracked open the shells of my ego and enabled me to take short glimpses of what life must look like with the tamed ego, that is, without being controlled by compulsive thinking and feeling that create havoc on the resulting behaviors.

As I've been warned, once this process has been initiated, though not at my own free will, it's irreversible. I've decided to accelerate the process even by paying money for external help. I also have to bear in mind the warning very carefully not to conceptualize it.

Now I can understand more clearly how I could take courage to leave at my own free will what many other people seem to be dying for at any cost as I've sensed that what I've decided to leave will only hinder the above mentioned process.