Benzos & Opioids

“I need some good dope while I’m kicking” – quote, any addict
Benzodiazepines (anxiolytics) and opioids (analgesiscs) are addictive and problematic when taken on a continuous basis, no matter what the justification may be. The brain does not differentiate.
In addiction treatment, anxiety management with long-term benzo prescription, as well as pain management with long-term opioid prescription is highly problematic, and may seriously interfere with the chance of achieving or maintaining sobriety.
Even if the patient has not abused benzos or opioids beyond the prescribed amount, the alcoholic user self-medicates with alcohol to enhance the declining effectiveness of these drugs. As soon as the alcohol is removed from the equation, they won’t provide sufficient relief – and therefore it’s a set-up for relapse with alcohol or drugs (AOD). MD’s usually comply with patient requests as they tend to believe in chemical relief and aid the patient to increase, switch, or combine substances to regulate.
Since benzo withdrawal tends to be protracted and uncomfortable, a titration schedule is usually suggested, where dosage is gradually reduced, then discontinued within a few weeks. Suggested alternatives to benzos are Propranolol, Hydroxyzene, Gabapentin, Paxil (SSRI). Alternatives to opioids are Tegretal (very short-term), NSAID’s (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs), and Acetomenophen.
Due to decreased endorphin levels during opioid withdrawal, patients complain of hyperalgesia (intensified pain) and hyperesthesia (the sensation of pain without cause), not to be confused with a legitimate reason to uptake a long-term opioid regimen…
Also, avoid switching – as benzos trigger opioid cravings. Addiction treatment is about abstinence from habit-forming substances - while processing of underlying issues, and establishing functional thought and behavior patterns, even when this means that one must endure discomfort for a while.
The best treatment for an addict is a combination of abstinence & 12-step program & meditation & non-abusable meds if necessary, and this is where treatment (IOP, PHP, rehab) comes into play – to support the early phase of patient stabilization when a solid foundation for a sober life is to be built.
Recovery is a gradual process - on an ongoing basis. Even though it may involve a challenging experience, sobriety is a prerequisite for establishing a meaningful and worthwhile life.


no one knows whether God exists or not. no one.
what we do know however, is that
prayer and meditation works in more than one ways.
Check it out.
it changes the brain, and so does the love for an adorable animal.
true story.
right here it looks as though it can make a cactus bloom @ Christmas,
but no, that's just 'cause we're in L.A., sending
God knows, it needs it.
Stephen Hawking says that the big bang is
a true beginning from a black hole, not requiring a God.
there is also the bliss of music and dance,
the deep joy of creativity, love, and appreciation,
the existence of premonitions, telepathy,
and other psychic powers,
indicating levels of human consciousness and spirit
that could direct to the consciousness of the atom,
and with that the Divine spark in subatomic particles
within everything that exists
anywhere in the universe.

My Friend Mary

Motherless Daughters
Never a fight in 50 years, not even once.
We’re sitting at the kitchen table
as we’ve always done – facing each other
With friendly faces, talking about our lives,
Relationships and families -
3 marriages (only 1 on her account)
4 children (only 1 on my account)
5 grand children (0 on my account).
She married a religious guy and
Proceeded with the Jewish thing,
Based in North Carolina with their own
Synagogue, rabbi, and Jewish school.
I did the sex, drugs, and rock’n roll thing, and more
In Los Angeles and Munich.
And yet… nothing has really changed –
We’re the same people we’ve always been,
Ever since we were children in Munich, Germany.
There were places, occasions, and other participants
Since the day we played dress-up, dancing around to
“It was her itzy bitzy teeny weeny yellow polka-dot bikini.”
We swam across the Wörthersee in Velden, Austria
To casually show up near a French guy (Claude) she liked -
“When a Man loves a Woman” was a new song playing on the radio.
There were teenage activities better left untold,
Occasional visits in far-away places, sometimes years apart,
Two people, so different and alike, too,
talking to each other for half a century,
offering and receiving with open hearts.
We showed up for each other’s weddings.
She supported my son’s exchange year
At Punahoo School, Hawaii (good choice).
In rehab (1999) too sick to get up, I looked at her little fax
Lying on the floor by my bed with a few kind words.
She had drawn a heart on it…
These days we’re sitting in her daughter’s house in Beverly Hills,
talking about children and aging.
It seems to me as though she had a charmed and easy life,
Pursuing with clarity, dignity, and integrity,
based on reverence for the identity of our people and
Honoring the memory of their hardships.
She encourages me for my resilience and achievements.
I had been dedicated to hedonistic pursuit of analgesia,
Struggling with consequences I didn’t see.
In my mind I can still hear her dad calling “Mary”,
When I asked for her on the phone.
My dad remembered rescuing her from a predicament
At Woolworth when we were 14 (her parents never found out).
She admired my mom who has been gone for 34 years today.
Mary’s mom is still around.
P.S. I didn’t know it then… that
her mom had been in hiding in the woods, in Poland,
When her own mother and aunt left them at Jom Kippur
To score some food and never came back, ever.
Her mom was fourteen and mom’s little brother was ten,
When they were alone and homeless in the winter snow.


"The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull's eye, which confronts him. This state of unconscious is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art" – Eugen Herrigel
ZEN meditation teaches conscious experiencing with effortless ease. Practical application of a simple technique is utilized for the path to enlightenment. The idea is to become one with the object you hold in this moment above all else through transcending physical boundaries in spirit, thus achieving genuine understanding and direct insight into the true nature of things. In Zen archery the student is taught to become one with the aim of the arrow.
Zen practice is an approach to managing the human mind and its tendency to seek suffering. In daily meditation the mind and body are calmed and healed. An emphasis on the spiritual aspect versus the material is suggested since attachment to the physical increases desire and the need to control, which in essence is unattainable and with that it promotes suffering as in unquenchable continuous thirst.
Zen is a practice that utilizes a phenomenon deliberately – the magnetism of intense mental/emotional process. You become what you think (if you give it enough time and energy). Notice how old people become physical representations of their belief system and lifestyle. It may not be too obvious when you’re young, but in looking back, you may notice that in fact your intense wishes have come true and your life reflects your interior.
Zen offers the basic simplicity meditation. Be one with everything – fully embrace fate and reality as is. We are advised to sit, raise our awareness of the breath, and gently notice all our feelings… and resistance melts.
Wikipedia Quote: "Through years of practice, a physical activity becomes effortless, both mentally and physically, as if the body executes complex and difficult movements without conscious control from the mind."

Pink Elephant

“Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way” – Native American Proverb
The way I see it… we have taken manifestation in physical form in order to have experiences, sensations, feelings, and make things happen - guided mostly by desire and fear, hard-wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The spirit world responds when we ask for help. And then there is also our fate awaiting us – circumstances of birth, death, and in between… gifts and baggage, people and events appearing on the path. All that.
I hear people say, “I want to get loaded.” The answer is, “You will.” And if you say, “I want recovery more than anything,” the answer is also, “You will” – IF you turn it over to the Higher Power with the wisdom that you cannot enforce what is not meant for you. Otherwise your fear may attract what you don’t want (sorry about that). The trick is to create a hybrid between this apparent paradox – where you’re blending desire & fate – it is like learning to apply a language with its own grammatical rules. That’s the secret, and so… it’s a good idea to get some clarity and define what it is that you REALLY want…
Keep in mind that there are no negatives in the spirit world. There is no such thing as “NOT a pink elephant”. If you’re thinking that you DON’T want to think “pink elephant”, you’re visualizing it, just the same as if you’re thinking that you do. And this is the reason why some people move forward, in spite of adversity, and others turn around… back into the darkness.
Singleness of purpose means that you focus on the goal without getting sidetracked with all the other stuff. This is why surrender is emphasized in the twelve steps, too. Apparently, it’s easier to align yourself with the Divine Forces AKA fate when you got nothing left to loose. Otherwise, the fear-based stubborn need to stick to what you know from the past (even when you want to avoid it) and enforce something that you think you cannot be without, will attract it. Applying your spirit energy acts like a magnet to attract that thing that you’re imagining. Resistance to fate is futile and just wastes your power.
The spiritual masters teach that we manifest our thoughts, fantasies, and fears when we visualize repeatedly, daily, and with high-intensity emotion – it changes our thought process as well as habitual behavior – “sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly”... You may disagree, but that won’t disable the message. Invested in resistance you won’t apply the formula to your benefit. If you think, “I’m special. You don’t understand my battle…” then you resist learning that language… and you will manifest that, too – by getting stuck in a feedback loop of repeating the past (as in chronic relapse). If you think that you don’t want to suffer on the way… there you go creating more suffering. Also, you might want to consider that everything has its price. If you’re unwilling to pay the price for recovery, you will pay the price for progressive addiction - transcending the momentary turmoil will appear impossible.
The spiritual path counteracts fear and stress, allowing for an increased sense of wellbeing. It’s a good thing to grieve, mourn, and process the past, but remember to focus on healing and moving forward (or giving yourself time to get stronger if that’s what is needed). Don’t invest today’s life energy on past suffering or that which you don’t like. Forgiveness is the golden key to let go of defiance and blame – without forgiveness you interfere with the process and waste precious lifetime. Make sure to forgive yourself, too - there is no healing without it.
Accept your aversion and doubt for the present moment. Zero in on its current physical sensation in your body, breathe into it, and let it be. Then verbalize what you really want - but on a spiritual plane, as in “peace and serenity” rather than material objects, such as money or a car. Visualize yourself IN that life setting and focus on the joy and gratitude of being in it. Identify your number ONE priority and you are promised to have it when the time comes. Affirm, “I trust fate and dedicate this day to align myself with the Divine Forces.”
You could start with, “I am allowed to be happy. I am grateful for this day. What I want above all else is peace and serenity. I offer my life to bring love & joy.” Thank the Creative Forces (whatever you call them) for your life and the blue sky above. It is a way to honor the forces that have power over you and disable your resistance. Understand that your power is like that of a seagull up in the sea breeze – she floats on the air with effortless ease, sometimes without even flapping her wings. Be with it - no chance to go against the wind…
Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Die for Love

It can happen… that a woman has some ideas about men and relationships. The dude she likes may not even know or care about such things. Miscommunication can lead to trouble and so she suffers from disappointments, resentments, and a broken heart. Good communication, on the other hand, is overrated when she has unrealistic expectations, thinking that expressing thoughts and desires will lead to instant wish fulfillment. It’s usually not the case. More so it would be about a gradual negotiating of disharmony within, and also with a potential partner.
If we want to… we can learn some things about others, just by attentive listening and observation – and reduce unrealistic attitudes in a flash. Women can acknowledge that men may have different desires and joys – they may watch striptease or sports with tireless enthusiasm – and without being seen or spoken to... Men have sex with prostitutes – is a thing to consider when trying to understand the male mind. A relationship is easier for a woman who is not overly invested in illusions.
A woman may want to believe that there is more to it than some breathless stealthy rubbing between strangers in the night. Really, it’s all about desire – a physical need, a thought or stimulation, augmented by apparent indifference or ambiguity, maintained through unconscious connection (based on memory) . Expressed desire of an overly available woman, however, can backfire… and intimidate or unnerve the object of her fancy. In other words, the whole thing is more about dynamics and more or less forgotten memories. Also, it’s not nearly as much about youth and beauty as women are lead to believe - and more about pleasure, convenience, and maintenance of the enigma, i.e. absence of predictability and boredom.
Love is clearly not a requirement for sexual desire in the human male, and therefore sex should not be misinterpreted as love or even sincere interest. A woman wants to believe that a man can be trusted, that there is safety and genuine concern within the relationship of a man and a woman, that there is hope for bliss. And there is. It’s just not to be found through insistence on certain mental constructs at the expense of reality testing.
Of course I don’t mean to imply that all wo/men… this or that – but that’s just what a relationship is all about – getting to know another and finding out whether we have enough things in common to sustain an ongoing bond – which, alas, cannot be had against the will of the other, even if a woman so desires… It might be worth taking a look at one’s own history of what’s called insecure attachment.
Attachment Theory maintains that a reliable and predominantly positive attachment to a caregiver in early childhood is essential for normal psychosocial development. Consistency and continuity of love and nurture, particularly until age three, is key for “secure attachment.”
What is it that predisposes newly sober women to entertain such insistence and demand of things beyond reach? Frustrating and heart-breaking as it is, it says a lot more about the woman and her infancy than about the current object of her desire - the object for her projection – who unbeknownst to him, is chosen for affirming and nurturing roles… unless he doesn’t comply, in which case her “love” instantaneously transforms into sinister wrath. The dude may never find out or care about one or the other. It’s all in her mind – what she is trying to do (unbeknownst to her) is to resolve her early childhood pain with a live object. The current person qualifies only through his unavailability or incapability to be a good candidate for a solid and fulfilling bonding experience; in other words, she is attracted to what she has come to know her whole life – unhappy relationships. The current man reminds her of her mom and/or dad who were not available enough and made her suffer. She feels familiar with what she knows… she sees him and thinks, “I’m home!” but this time around, she is set on turning the “object” around - into a good one...
It appears that many alcoholic women continue to act out on their insecure attachment from early childhood and this may be why they have such difficult experiences with their love life, where abuse and abandonment is re-enacted compulsively. People get sober… and the despair and loneliness of their infancy, which had been drowned in alcohol rises up to plain sight. This is when a bond with another recovering addict (especially a sponsor) or psychotherapist can provide a “corrective emotional experience” and save the day, one day at a time. Re-parenting may be of the essence before one braves another attempt with romance.
Some of us relapse and overdose before they have had the time to process and heal their childhood trauma... they literally die for love.
See also Attachment and Loss, John Bowlby

Family & Recovery

Addicts usually suffer from disordered thinking, dysregulated emotions, problematic behavior patterns, and some kind of unresolved trauma - and this is why many of us find it difficult or even impossible to stay sober.
It all begins in childhood, of course. If a person grows up without enough safety he cannot develop as he would in an environment of continuous love and nurture, but trauma may not be identified as such - kids experience emotional trauma as normal, if that’s just what they know since childhood. A childhood climate of fear and threat translates into unhappy adulthood - where he may feel insecure, anxious, depressed, angry, and unlovable, but doesn’t know or dare to communicate openly. He may rather seek to suppress his suffering indefinitely and self-medicate hyper-reactivity, hyper-vigilance, and low self-esteem.
As an adolescent he might experience more trauma and then he is expected to function, “Just get over it,” and “Grow up.” He may not know how to grow up, preferring to relieve some of the confusion and discomfort. “Just say No to drugs” may not really be an attractive directive or even doable.
It is necessary that a healing occurs in recovery. A survivor of emotional trauma has undergone a profound transformation – memories are encoded in the brain. Personality development has been interfered with and there may be a sense of inner emptiness and confusion about life. There is a lack of meaning, and so he may try to numb out and pursue chemical euphoria. This is displayed interpersonally, as well. Unsure of his true self, he has trouble, saying No. But saying Yes can be impossible, too, when love has become linked to pain and fear, and so there are difficulties holding up relationships. Without bonding there is loneliness, but he may trust too much, too soon, or not at all, for he cannot feel love for others or himself. He may feel numb, shut down, unable to open his heart.
Without a fully evolved sense of self, a false self may be presented, where he hides behind an image, unsure of the truth, fearing there is really nobody there underneath the so-called character defects. Perhaps he plays the clown, badass, player, gangsta, or nerd to cover up his vagueness. Mostly, he wants to be cool.
Emotional trauma can be passed down over generations like an inheritance and family members may not even be aware of it. Family members tend to act on their own childhood experiences, even the difficult ones – it is what they know. There may be family secrets and family members may be defensive – boundaries to outsiders can be rigid. Family interaction style is familiar since childhood – a process that maintains a sense of stability, even in the face of extreme and difficult conditions, such as alcoholism and (self-)destructive behaviors. There is suffering and struggling within the family, often with the same difficulties that the addict experiences – there may be unhappiness and mood disorders. There may be shame and blame, and also abuse and alcoholism within the family.
Recovery is the chance for a gradual transformation and catching up with maturation, but family systems can resist change. Alcoholic families, too, want to hold on to the status quo, even when it’s problematic – they want to maintain the homeostasis of the family system in order to keep the family together. Change can raise fear and insecurity. Whatever the case may be, recovery work includes exploring and resolving family issues, while also introducing compassion and patience for this process. It takes time for the family to heal, but it can be done if people want to.
This is why we are including family members in treatment (in the recent decades). When family members receive the chance to participate, cultivate communication, and verbalize their own thoughts and experiences, they can let go, and eventually find forgiveness. The family can (ever so gradually) recover from dysfunctional, but familiar behavior patterns right along with the “identified patient” – the addict. It’s well worth the effort. It’s a beautiful thing when that happens.

the truth

the truth is
a mysterious flower
of 1000 petals.
you get to see a color,
touch the fabric
(you might feel emboldened).
it happens that
appearances shift to accommodate
your expectations & needs.
(imagine that!). now and again
you catch a glimpse
below the surface
(may feel as though you lost it).
the lower levels
are ethereal, hazy, capricious,
and ambiguously responsive.
the inner essence
must remain
forever veiled.

La Condition Humaine

Our ignorance is essential. We exercise trial and error, and so we get to learn, grow, and develop. It is our nature to seek knowledge (meaning, understanding), love, and joy. This is what motivates us. We are meant to evolve toward gaining insight into our nature and cultivate our own Divine creative powers.
We are severely limited in our perceptual abilities (every eagle sees better, every dog hears better, etc) as well as our intellectual abilities - we are unable to access other dimensions and the ultimate nature of things. The essence of reality remains forever enigmatic, escaping our understanding, and we’re left guessing, imagining, conceptualizing, or following the thoughts of others. It’s disquieting and unnerving and some people find solace in religious dogma. One could believe that things we do not experience with our senses do not exist (i.e. God, spiritual existence in other dimensions, reincarnation etc). One might choose to believe that these things are possible. Atheists believe they do not exist. This is a belief, too.
When we choose to love and learn, we experience joy. When we chose to hate and resist, we experience suffering. We can accept fate and do the best with the cards we have been dealt or resent the winners, thinking they always have better cards. We can spend our whole lives over-identifying with our wounds and victimizing experiences, using our spirit for resentment and the desire for justice or vengeance - or manifest our dreams instead. This is our freedom.
Evil actions cause unnecessary pain. They are based on ignorance, mental disorders, difficult (childhood) experiences, or chemical imbalances in the brain – and consequently impaired insight, judgment, and impulse control. Although we are not responsible for these predispositions and circumstances we must make a life and face the consequences of our actions. We don’t really ever know things with certainty… and so we are free to choose the path. Exposed to life we are meant to hang in and learn from experiences. Sometimes we do.
My best teachers have been my son Jesse and cat Chico. They have been patiently showing me that life happens right now (as I am present in the moment), and that I find happiness within loving interactions (I get back so much more than I give); also, that the focus on bringing love and joy gives meaning to my life.

Objectivity = Fiction

My German friend, he thinks he knows some shit.
Sitting on the couch in judgment,
He doesn’t see himself
Bringing strife into my house.
I see that objectivity is just not given to us.
We are tied to the past and
The experience of our fathers,
Directed by loyalties and mental constructs,
Perspective, perception, and selective inattention.
We may project and identify,
Own and disown aspects of humanity.
The truth might exist somewhere,
But alas… it is elusive.
We are left with our imagination,
Wishes and aversions, and
A variable ability for discernment.
I am realizing that objectivity = fiction,
A fantasy like fairness or justice
Or perhaps even peace.
It might be smarter not to spend his days
In judgment of fighters he may never meet,
Facing despair he may never know,
In faraway countries, where he has never been.
He just doesn't know...
Feeling defeated by life, he struggles mostly on the inside.
Opposing violence and terror,
He takes sides in a war that isn’t his,
Choosing an imaginary participation
That does not help anyone,
And for us it is damaging and futile, too.
A passionate observer of onscreen violence,
He identifies with nomads, anarchists, and pacifists, too.
Seething with rage in the nightmare of his passivity
He rattles on the bars.
I want to tell him that the door is open,
But he doesn’t want to hear.

Buddha’s Eightfold Path to the Cessation of Suffering

Buddhism addresses human suffering as a consequence of excessive desire, aversion, and delusion. Buddhist practice suggests a path to the cessation of suffering by developing wisdom, compassion, and kindness.
The path is depicted by the DHARMA wheel with its eight spokes:
- Right SPEECH, right ACTION, and right LIVELIHOOD - The genuine intention to be a decent person AKA “Do no harm.” Ethical conduct relieves disturbing and delusional thinking, too.
- Right UNDERSTANDING and right THOUGHT This is about seeking the truth and gaining insight into the true nature of things, such as the law of cause & effect, or Karma – Meanwhile, one has the chance to develop wisdom.
- Right CONCENTRATION and right MINDFULNESS Practice meditation regularly and develop the mind – seeking compassion and loving kindness. Remember, there’s A Higher Power and another reality beyond the physical.
- The eighth category is EFFORT to dedicate your life to the formula LOVE-SERVE-REMEMBER.
This is it, the path to awakening and liberation … and it may not look too desirable if you’re in search for a quick fix for a chaotic life… suffering from depression & anxiety, and self-medicating with alcohol & drugs.
However, we find that the pursuit of happiness breeds suffering, while the spiritual path leads out of the labyrinth of self-obsessed misery.
We may over-identify with memories and think that past events and past actions define us, but who we are and what we are is an extension of a Higher Power, which created us. An untamed mind produces a delusional view of reality – we perceive threats, and try to conquer demons, which only exist in our minds. Based on imaginary drama, we create continuous suffering for ourselves and others. Then we reduce our life to seeking pleasure and trying to avoid the vicious cycle of pain we brought about. This is how we create consequences to our own thoughts in the form of destructive behaviors such as procrastination, defiance, aggression, addiction, and other ways of acting out, such as the all-time favorite, blaming others for everything that doesn’t go our way.
As long as we annihilate ourselves and obliterate reality in the frantic pursuit of fun and delusion – our life has no meaning. Let us not forget that we are free to change and learn and make new choices as long as we live. Even though we have memories, we don’t have to succumb to the momentum of habit – at least not all the time. A life worth living requires the courage to endure discomfort, implement positive change whenever possible – and offer compassion and kindness. When we seek the truth and make ourselves useful, we develop some self-esteem in the process and we get to experience some contentment, too. That is THE MIDDLE PATH of enlightenment – to create inner balance and serenity.
“Happiness is a by-product of living the right kind of life, of doing the right thing. Do not search for happiness, search for right living and happiness will be your reward.” – Richmond Walker, Twenty-Four Hours a Day

3 x 3 Practice

If you find yourself at the mercy of upsetting events or people (that may not matter) suffering from habitual agitation and obsessive worrying, a regular breathing practice can help you (a lot).
Here it is - a shoehorn into meditation:
1) Sit comfortably, feet squarely on the floor; easily notice your aliveness within your body, focus on your breath, effortlessly pumping fresh air in and used air out. Say silently to yourself, “I breathe in good air. I breathe out used air.” Repeat 2 more times. If you’d rather walk for this exercise, that’s cool, too.
2) Take a deep breath, hold it to the count of seven; gently release it. Breathe normally. Repeat 2 more times.
3) Go back to easily noticing your aliveness via breath and airflow. Say silently to yourself, “ I breathe in love. I breathe out love.” Repeat 2 more times.
This is an easy and comfortable way to distract yourself from anxiety and agitation, especially helpful if repeated every day, once or more times per day. Even if it takes a while, you will eventually notice that you can actually improve your ability to relax in this manner, simply through your own power. It’s encouraging.
Even if you take medication for mental-emotional issues, such a daily behavioral practice is very useful for counteracting agitation and regulating intensely uncomfortable emotional states. It can actually help to change your brain from hyper-reactivity to emotional stabilization and contain impulsive acting out. Once you notice that you can feel more comfortable in this manner, you may then be emboldened to expand or extend the practice and create more equanimity. This can be the beginning of a meditation practice where you gradually take your power back from attachments to people and events. Depression and anxiety can wane, as a friendlier emotional climate emerges and you establish some inner balance.

The Four Noble Truths

Buddhism addresses the human condition with the concept of the Four Noble Truths:
1) Human suffering: People suffer because happiness is fleeting – it is constantly passing away as we try to hold onto it.
2) The cause of suffering: Ignorance, attachment, and aversion are the causes of our suffering.
3) Reduce suffering: If we attend to the root of suffering, suffering will ease.
4) The path: in order to achieve serenity and peace, we must follow a path of enlightenment.
Humans are ignorant. As we keep this in mind we improve insight and reduce ignorance. It can take a while to awaken to wisdom and even longer to integrate a higher consciousness in such a way that our life reflects it. Initially, we are unaware that our attitude, rather than real life circumstances, causes suffering. Driven by attachments and desires (wanting something) as well as aversion and fear (not wanting something) we are motivated for action, but we also experience frustrations, resistance, and defensiveness, experienced as anger. But we find that anger and happiness are mutually exclusive. Happy people are not angry. Angry people are not happy (at least not at the same time).
Suffering is linked to the human condition – it is a by-product of consciousness, which enables us to reminisce about past experiences and imagine things that don’t exist (while animals only respond to real events). Indulging in imaginary mental constructs we may regret the past or fear the future. We may desire to have something or to not have something – and we come to resist and twist fate. When that doesn’t work we maintain resistance and pursue desires – while foregoing serenity and peace. And so we suffer. We insist on acting out in anger, we confront others, and we compete for dominance - as if that’s what matters. We fight for our convictions as if we ever really know things with absolute certainty... We over-identify with the physical body as if that’s all we are.
We cannot help the human condition, where we get confused and lead astray. It does help, though, to practice mindfulness and direct our consciousness to a higher plane - where we live in acceptance and gratitude. Mindfulness is the way to cultivate equanimity and contentment.


But there was a time
When I was torn between decisions,
Which seemed wrong,
And tempted by choices,
Which felt irrestible.
Lost in the maze, oblivious to the enigma,
Unable to decipher the hieroglyphics,
Overlooking the secret guideposts,
Illiterate to the right way,
Stumbling about blindly in the daily labyrinth,
My emotions were four times as big as me.
I just never knew how to maneuver.
I asked the people.
Only to be told opinions that weren’t mine,
Shown directions, I couldn’t really follow.
Times were full of regret and remorse,
As if my life could have been easier and better -
If only I’d known then what I saw later.
It was revealed in glimpses,
Relief could be had intermittently.
When I look on attentively, refrain from judgment,
Invite it all in as it unfolds - with playful welcome -
I am granted joyful equanimity,
Even in the midst of upheaval.
Those are the golden days,
Enchanted moments lift me out
To the magic that is forever available
If only I can remember to look up.
Is all.

An Actor

Speaker (21 years)
I am a two-bottom addict. I hit bottom with cocaine 30 years ago, then I hit a financial bottom. I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem with alcohol. I needed to numb myself. I didn’t want to feel my feelings. I was absolutely totally miserable. My life all around me was great, but I could not feel it. I went to lunch with my wife, ordered a bottle of wine, poured her a glass, and with 3 ½ glasses of wine I was absolutely insane and homicidal. I layed down next to my pool in my pretty house, the full moon was coming up and I started howling. Two coyotes howled back. I began to cry, weep, and sob convulsively. I couldn’t stop. I heard a voice speaking clearly to me, “You’re done.” I couldn’t even stand up. I crawled into my house. I don’t ever want to feel that way again.
I had always been terrified of being stupid, to suck at life. AA was gonna be the place to be the best Tony I could be and give it away as quickly as possible. The hero in Shakespeare dramas is always confronted with the known. And then there is a door to darkness and he has to walk through that door. Thoughts and challenges come up like in these plays. The peace of mind comes through that.
My first impulse as an alcoholic is always, “No!” I have been trying to learn and to grow by doing things differently, by trying to say “I don’t know.” I didn’t know that you could do that. When I did it my wife answered, “Could you think about it?” Later on I got to saying “I don’t know how to say yes to that” or I asked, “What do you think?” Things began to change.
I am not religious, but I like this Bible quote, “Be kind to strangers that you meet for you might encounter angels unaware.” I noticed that what I was missing my whole entire life was love. I realized that love is a verb, that I have to be the vessel for love, going forward and transmit the love to the person I meet, rather than regret the past. The winner thinks, “Let me be the best I can be today.” I said the serenity prayer 35 times in an hour, then I spelled it… and forgot what it was that was bothering me that day. I try to be both, a hero and a worker among workers, and I want you to know that I have the utmost respect for you guys.


Speaker (17 years)
I needed to numb. I had no sense of self. I drank alcoholically to be mindful of my weight issues. I did know that I had to get sober – I was a habitual drunk driver, but I didn’t think that I was alcoholic. I also thought that I could manage and control it. I just wanted to be safe and OK, but I was not willing. What I prided myself on was being right.
I didn’t want to be part of. I was defiant and would not follow suggestions. I was not honest, ever, but I looked to you to tell me that I was safe. I didn’t have relationships. Also, I felt smarter than you. Getting your approval meant that I was OK.
I got a lot of painkillers for 18 surgeries. I was high and took cakes. That was the best I could do. My boyfriend was a crack addict. I worked and smoked crack and thought I don’t have a problem. Meanwhile, I was suicidal, sad, and miserable.
I couldn’t see me. I couldn’t handle my life. Everything was horrible. I was the girl with toxic insecurity, but it’s much easier to see what’s wrong with the world. The steps helped me to see that the fears ran me. I was told to take contrary action. I have to do gratitude work. My goal is to have my head and my feet in the same place. Today I choose not to act out.
I was really just looking for love and acceptance. The only way I feel OK is by giving love. The more connected I become the more I get to feel OK on that day. My brain just doesn’t let it be simple. So I struggle. It’s easy, but I make it hard.

Wave Good-bye with a little Smile

It’s not as though she’ll ever stop being an alcoholic.
A wave of hopelessness can flood in at any time
Out of left field and sweep her away into the pool of
Death-defying and baffling self-destruction
In spite of all the good that happened.
Holding on to life remains a highly questionable matter.
She must allow for inconsolable heartache about things,
A pervasive schism in her soul
that can be tentatively and temporarily mended,
But can instantly rip a lethal gash
In response to threat and resentment.
And her interest in hope could wane and vanish.
An abyss underfoot and she can’t brace herself,
She will wave good-bye with a little smile
So that you may turn around and leave her alone,
And she won’t hear unanswerable questions.
Her existential loneliness is the ultimate truth,
The longing for departure to another reality –
It’s is not so much a problem as it is a way out
From the incomprehensible human nature,
Rejecting you as she feels abandoned by everyone.
When she is ready to slide into the abyss,
She won’t hear you saying, “But I’m right here for you”…
Her eyes and ears turn inward to her precipice.
Irresistible. She can’t help it.


Sisyphus is a character in Greek mythology, who had to roll a boulder uphill forever. It was a brutally hard job and exhausting, too. He gave it all his strength and when he finally had the boulder all the way up on top of the mountain… it would roll back down… and so he had to resume his strenuous task, a never-ending exercise in futility. The formula resist & repeat is a metaphor for hell.
Some of us relate. We know how it feels… the dedication to an impossible endeavor, resistance to the course of events, the impulse to do that thing that has never worked out … and denial of all the evidence to the contrary. A fear-based life with a repetition compulsion is just like that – as though we live in Sisyphus hell – enslaved by the desire to enforce circumstances and control people for fear that they might follow their own desires and things would remain out of reach. A life without confidence in fate can lead a person astray to questionable habits and rituals to ward off disquieting thoughts and future dangers.
It can’t be done. It’s really a waste of lifetime – enforcing wish fulfillment must remain an intangible feat. Life is wild, mysterious, and never ever stagnant. The need to dominate and assert control can be based on unconscious impulses where we essentially attempt to undo memories from the past when we were helpless. This is an impossible task and we get more rigid with it as time goes on, especially when people remain unresponsive to our demands. We get exhausted and frustrated – and so do the others. If we are unable to let go, people may withdraw. If we seek to “take the edge off” and forget it all by using substances to alter reality we add another dimension of suffering. When we finally get tired of that, too, we might become interested in serenity and peace.
Even though your fear tells you to hold on tightly, you must let go. It is as if your car is sliding downhill on a curvy slippery road. Your brakes can get locked and you may slip into disaster. It is the release of the break lock that enables you to steer out of the predicament.
The life of Sisyphus lacked flexibility, optimism, and faith. It was more against something than for something. He didn’t rethink and adjust his approach, either. In the absurdity of his isolation, he didn’t learn and he didn’t offer anything. His mental and physical strength were wasted. In trying to escape the status quo it can happen… that a person slides into Sisyphus hell where he repeats a behavior and expects different results. The stubborn insistence on control takes meaning out of the equation. The natural train of events, as well as one’s own reactions (based largely on memory) are part of the equation. Any fervent and unrelenting desire, which interferes with acceptance of what is, would further a sense of existential emptiness and pervasive meaninglessness. Foregoing the freedom of choice on this day by acting helpless creates hopelessness in the process. It’s about offering our gifts for the day, but then… it’s about turning it over to the Higher Powers, whatever they may be.
Hell would be the refusal to let go, trust fate, or at least acknowledge one’s existential limitations. Life is all about trial and error – and we engage, grow, and evolve with our tasks. Meanwhile, fate unfolds as it must. It is when we try to resist and control things that we realize that we can’t. When we raise our awareness and make peace with the forces of destiny – we find relief. On the spiritual path we become mindful of the big picture. We know that we are meant to go along with the requirements of the moment, knowing that we are not given the power to enforce our will onto destiny.
Sometimes doing nothing else but listen to the wind and the birds can be the best course of action. In case you’d let go of the arduous effort to dominate the other… you allow them to be on their path, too… and to stop resisting you. Happiness is when you bless them either way.

The Child Whisperer

Some parents fear their children’s power and independence – and are tempted to use punishment and intimidation – often in order to relieve their own stress. Although little children do respond, such quick results come at a price. It’s most difficult to develop self-confidence when you’re little and unsafe. Instead, such a child would feel helpless, distrustful, hyper-vigilant, as well as anxious and perhaps secretive. Motivation to explore and create can be lost.
Children are socialized during a gradual process of learning about life, mostly through observation, trial and error. It takes a whole childhood to acquire rules of conduct and a lifetime to deal with the existential condition of being human. Meanwhile, the development of awareness takes decades (and beyond) and children usually don’t even know when their behavior is questionable. This is no reason for yelling or shaming. As a consequence of such strategies, “object referral” would be promoted – fear-based focus on others. Children learn to watch out, duck, and lie, just in case. They become fearful, insecure, and approval-seeking – or resentful, rebellious, and defiant. In order to get rid of their pent-up anger, they may look for someone, a weaker child or an animal, to victimize (called “displaced aggression”). Violence is a learned behavior - the attempt to resolve fear and helplessness.
A safe and nurturing childhood environment is of utmost importance for the development of emotional health. Extensive discomfort early on furthers all emotional disorders. Subsequently, there is excessive pursuit of relief and pleasure, which interferes with self-actualization - the choice of creativity and mastery of life tasks is compromised. A fear-based childhood is linked to self-defeating behaviors – and almost all addicts remember adverse childhood experiences and trauma.
When raising puppies, reward and punishment can be used successfully for teaching them certain behaviors – they don’t understand language much. Although a heavy reliance on punishment will even change a good-natured dog into an aggressive creature. Puppies, too, respond best to a gentle touch. Humans are much more complex and responses can be indirect and delayed. Although it can look as though operating with fear has its perks, it does not work out in the long run. A child needs to be seen, heard, and understood. She must know that she matters. If your child is problematic, you may have been teaching something different that you thought. You could have been scaring and confusing her and she may have become defensive and defiant.
Children are never “bad” – they are young and need to learn. Give yourself, as well as your child the space to make mistakes and learn from them,. You can be honest when you don’t know and explore solutions together. Children appreciate a sincere and genuine adult who doesn’t try to hide behind authoritative posturing. Encouraging guidance and a cooperative climate work best to further autonomous thinking, independent reasoning, and respect. Tell your child what you think - give her room to voice her thoughts, too. This is the way to encourage “self-referral” - focus on her own understanding of the situation at hand, rather than undue concern for other people and their judgments. For long-term positive results without any negative side effects, ever, use kind words and a soothing voice where you help your child to understand things.
Being a parent doesn’t mean that you’re always in a good mood. It’s O.K. to experience and express vulnerability and a range of feelings, as long as you don’t take your frustration out on your child. If you are dealing with issues of your own (or, worse, if you’re not dealing with your own issues) … it will affect your ability to be present and assist your child with her needs, but recovery also includes recovery for your child. If there has been damage due to your issues from your own childhood… today could be a good day to initiate the healing process. A mother who overcomes adversity can be most inspiring. You don’t have to pass it on any longer. Be honest - in a frame of love – where you don’t burden your child unduly. Remember that it’s your job to prepare her for life. Take it one day at a time, directing your attention to love and compassion.
The words you speak will become her inner voice (even when you’re gone). Derogatory and shaming words will take her self-confidence, but your loving and encouraging words will carry her through life like a charm. As a mother, that’s the power you have – teach her to listen to her heart and find her purpose in life. Look at the big picture. What is it that you want her to remember later on, when you are old? What do you want her to pass on to the next generation? Do that.


When a fleeting little smile lit up his gray face he was a handsome dude and people would like him. To him it was random – he looked on, incredulous of kindness and display of positive regard. He couldn’t locate his role in the game of life and he became too rigid to be playful with it all. His back was stiff and his neck was thick from the chronic tension of generalized resistance. It was as though he carried a head ten times the size it really was.
Obsessing on the woman who left him, he stewed in angering fantasies, incessantly, as though it was about her and she would have been his one-and-only savior from drowning in a hostile world. He was blind to it – that it was him, choosing to focus on hostility every Minute of the day. Petrified in the futile defense against childhood terrors he felt powerless, without a clue about mutuality and the feelings he would evoke in others. The thought of his part in creating his own destiny was especially annoying to him. It was them. Always the others.
In treatment he was offered some tools, techniques, and concepts, but he was not really willing to participate, communicate, interact, and relate in a meaningful way. His hopelessness bread a dark and encompassing swamp, a sinkhole underfoot, threatening to swallow him forever. His rigid rejection of meaningful interaction turned communication into a stale endeavor, almost like trying to force-feed an anorexic woman, a losing battle. Unable to trust the process of living, he would not reach for the hope in a better future.
It didn’t start out this way. He was a sweet little boy, sensitive to his environment, wishing for tender love and care, but his needs for bonding with mommy went mostly unnoticed while she concerned herself with orderly and functional behaviors. He tried to run away from his military family in the most acceptable way – by running track. He did well for a while, but then his volatile anger got in the way. He fought a police officer and got expelled from military school.
He began to drink and look for older women to be taken care of. A symbiotic clinch was his idea of curing his livelong longing for mom’s love. He wouldn’t let go when such endeavors failed (or didn’t know how).
His sorrow festered into an all-consuming force and gradually he transformed into a fear-based and rigid alcoholic, oozing wrath, utterly disinterested in any productive life pursuits, while self-righteously insisting on the (last) woman he lost, in spite of the drama and violence that made their life a living hell.
Dominated by the mental constructs of his childhood, his will and his life was turned over to his own narrative, as though a ghost had infiltrated his mind, only to possess and choke off all options. Immersed in resistance, he couldn’t be recovered against his will. Treatment failed and he was taken to the Midnight Mission.