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Spiritual Highs

What has the high of drugs got to do with Spiritual practice?

An old friend of mine who is also a patient is seriously addicted to Heroin. He owns a successful restaurant in town and to all intents and purposes he lives a ‘normal’ life. Of course his life is not ordinary, he is intensely addicted. He is a slave and he knows it. Every time he injects and goes into dodgy neighborhoods he hates himself. Occasionally when he gets completely disgusted he takes himself off to India for a detox. I prescribe him diazepam to help him in the process.

A couple of years ago he told me about his first time chasing the dragon. He said he knew from the moment that the substance entered his system he was hooked, he knew that he would keep taking it no matter what – this was at least 20 years ago.

What happened in those first moments I think bears close examination because it reveals some important dynamics of how addiction comes about and, more importantly, methods to dismantle the addictive mechanism.

I am completely indebted to Dr. David Hawkins MD for the following model of addiction. His book ‘Power vs Force’ is a must read.

When you get “high” either from drugs or alcohol how does that happen? Where does the “high” come from?

Imagine you are listening to an orchestra and a filter suddenly screened out all the lower tones so that you could only hear the higher ones. The suppression of the low notes does not create the high ones; it merely reveals them.

This is a great metaphor for what ensues when you take a mind altering substance.

What happened with my friend in those moments was that his inherently painful routine, every day negative emotions such as anger, hatred, guilt, resentment, worry and the like, were suppressed when he took his substance. He was thereby allowed an exclusive experience of the much more intensely pleasurable euphoric emotions of love, joy and ecstasy. His “high” consisted of him experiencing himself at his ‘highest’ – connected with himself as a Spiritual being whose identity is pure positive emotion.

Rarely does the average person experience love, joy or ecstasy as pure states because they are masked by the painful states of anxiety, anger, resentment and so on.

The important point here is these higher states are extremely powerful – that once they have been experienced they are never forgotten, and therefore, are sought ever after. The more intense the high, the greater the power to reprogram one’s life will be.

In just one instance in his morphia induced state my friends’ life was completely changed, his whole orientation to life, as well as his goals and values, shifted. In one way the person who was there before that first dose was no more, and a new person was born out of the experience.

Watch this movie

A good illustration of this dynamic is presented in the classic movie, Lost Horizon. As a concept Shangri – La is the movies metaphor for unconditional love and beauty. Once experienced, it reprograms the person so that he is never content with ordinary consciousness again.

The hero of the movie discovers this when, after returning from Shangri – La he is unable to find happiness in the ordinary world again. He then gives up everything in order to seek out and return to that state of consciousness, (spending years in the struggle, which almost costs him his life), in order to find Shangri – La again.

This same reprogramming process that occurred with my friend and with the hero of the movie, occurs in people who have reached high states of consciousness, such as near death experiences, or experiencing Samadhi or through intense meditation.

Such individuals are frequently noted to be changed forever. It is not uncommon for them to leave all that the material world represents and become seekers of truth; many who had transcendental experiences with LSD in the 1960s did the same thing.

Such higher states are also attained through the experience of love and religion, classical music or art, or through the practice of spiritual disciplines. The high state that people seek, by whatever means, is in fact the experience field of their own consciousness (Self).

The next big mistake is to confuse what it is you are addicted to

My friend being spiritually unsophisticated and lacking a context with which to comprehend his experience, believed, that his high was created by something “out there” – the drug. The same thing happens when someone has a big experience with a guru, music, lovers, and so forth. But all that actually happened is that, under special circumstances he experienced what is, in reality “in here.”

I don’t want you to miss this point, so I really want of spell it out –

• It’s a dangerous illusion to think that your drug of choice has in itself the power to create the “high” state of euphoria. The substance is the means.

• You are not addicted to your drug of choice, you think you are, in reality you are addicted to the higher state of consciousness which is always there and is merely revealed and unmasked by the drug.

• Your task in recovery is to find a way to create those higher states by your own efforts. Such states are the natural unfolding of spiritual discipline.

If you want to recover you will have to get into spiritual practice. It will be hard won progress on a dedicated spiritual path that will give you what you have previously sought from drugs.

What Works?

I am really only interested in ‘what works’ – that means what you can apply right now to help you to change quickly. I have found that one of my passions in life is discovering and researching any simple distinction, strategy, belief, skill, or tool that, the minute you understand it, you can apply to your life and make immediate increases in the quality of your life.

I call such information ‘Pith Teachings’ – teachings that summarize and give you the essence of what works, and especially what works quickly. If I was to have a brand slogan it would be ‘Real Change, Real Fast’. When I discover one I tend to apply it immediately to myself, then I use it on my friends and my patients.

My latest pith teaching discovery

I would like to share one I came across last week. It is called the Non Personal Awareness Process.

Sarah Bird is a therapist friend of mine who like myself, seems to attract such pith teachings. Over breakfast last week she introduced the idea to me. Actually she directed me towards the web site Non Personal and I eventually got talking to Damien in France who brought me through the process.

Doing it had a profound effect and immediate effect – it reminded me of Byron Katies process ‘The Work’. The pain I was carrying about how I thought my life ‘should’ be sort of melted away. I realized that on some level of my being I was fighting with the actuality of my life. The Non Personal Awareness process seems to bring in a profound level of acceptance of what is.

I tried it with one of my patients the other day – a highly stressed young woman dealing with a severely autistic child. When I brought her through the process she said, “What have you done to me? I feel like all the negativity is draining out of the back of my head.”

I will not say too much about the process now. Read the instructions below, do the process and then, at the end of the article, we can talk about it.

H2: How to do the process

Treat it a meditation – find yourself in a quiet place where you can focus internally and not be disturbed or distracted. It is best to sit upright – not lying down or slumped on a sofa.

Have this blog in front of you.

It is best to speak out loud to yourself when you do the process, but if you cannot do this have your journal and pen in front of you.

Take a few deep breaths in.

Center yourself.

The Non Personal Awareness Process

Answer one or both of the following questions depending on what is going on for you

What are you experiencing that you would like to allow to pass?

What are you not experiencing that you would like to allow to come?

Just begin to speak, let the words come out without thinking about it.

As you speak you will find that some words have more of an emotional charge to them than others. The emotional charge is felt in your body and it may not feel particularly pleasant for you – it is this unpleasant feeling that you have a resistance to experiencing.

Keep speaking until you feel you have said enough.

Say the following sentences OUT LOUD using your answer to whichever question you chose to fill in the blank.

Stay present to your experience and allow yourself to feel the words as you say them.

This ________________

This Energy of ____________

This Pure Energy of ___________ is not personal

This Pure Energy of ___________ is not personal

This Pure Energy of ___________ is not personal

And I am willing to experience it.

Now be inwardly still. Let go and give yourself space to simply be with your experience, until you feel a natural completion.

Finish by inwardly thanking all beings and conditions that led to you doing this practice.

To delve deeper and enrich your NPA experience you can visit

Transcript of an NPA session

The following is a transcript of a session just to give you a sense of it.

What am I experiencing which I would like to allow to pass? [Words spoken out]

I am experiencing doing a job which I don’t really like doing, I have to cycle through traffic which I don’t like doing, I’m too old for this, I want an easier life, I am experiencing frustration that my days aren’t the way that I want them to be ideally. I don’t like disrupting my day with having to go out. I want to work from home, I don’t like doing things that I don’t like to do, I feel angry and upset, my breathing is getting deeper, this is shit, this is really shit.”

As it happened the first few words spoken held the greatest charge. The originator of this technique advises to listen for ‘animation’ – those words that you feel hold most emotion for you. They feel like they are in bold. They stand out. You may have difficulty saying them.

Then put the word through the process:

This doing a job which I don’t really like doing

This Energy of doing a job which I don’t really like doing

This Pure Energy of doing a job which I don’t really like doing is not personal

This Pure Energy of doing a job which I don’t really like doing is not personal

This Pure Energy of doing a job which I don’t really like doing is not personal

And I am willing to experience it.

“Gosh, after that I feel that I can accept my job, at the moment it is ok to do a job I don’t really like because I’m in the process of getting out of it. I don’t have to be in pain. I feel much more resourceful.”

Acceptance versus Resistance: The questions are the answer

What are you experiencing that you would like to allow to pass?

What a great question. Somehow just verbalizing and putting language on our experience helps the process of letting it flow. The Non Personal Awareness process seems to be a method of really accepting those aspects of your reality which you have been fighting. The only time we suffer is when we energize a thought which argues with what is.

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