Reply To: Self-control, hedonism, apathy, and over-indulgence

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Deepak # Posted on August 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Hi, I face a very similar problem and have been pondering on the same for ages. I enjoyed reading all the responses here. I can use my will power and deny myself giving into those euphoric powerful impulses. But then, I miss those enjoyments forever. These urges are like magical portals that open up and if you do not give in to them, the portals simply shrink and disappear and you lose that passion, euphoria and potential accelerated knowledge that could be gained in those intense moments.

I have noticed regular bouts of awareness exercises: like noticing every moment, every feeling, emotion non-judgmentally has given me much more clarity and understanding.

For example: When I consume alcohol, I notice every feeling in the body, like the sudden increase in my ability to sustain attention, the feeling of satisfaction, the feeling of relaxation and numbness etc. But along with noticing the pleasurable effects, I continue to observe all of these sensations even after the effect wears off and the next day. So what I have realized is that the euphoria of alcohol definitely comes with a price in terms of your feelings/sensations/emotions after the effects wear off and the next day. Once I experientially saw this again and again, every time I drank, I got a broader understanding of the large picture behind the drinking and the urge to drink has got diluted to a great extent. Ultimately, this results in moderation.

Now, there are still issues here too. The alcohol example is not really pure pleasure because it comes with a price. Maybe this example would be applicable for the urge to consume vast amounts of sugar, a pack of brownies, other drugs such as weed etc. But what about some intellectual desire? What price does that have? Say I feel the irresistible urge to consume all the information I can about ‘mystery of pyramids’ etc. Whats the flip side of indulging in such desires?

In my experience the main flip side here is that, you get used to this extreme focus followed by daydreaming kind of activity. There is an addiction to this kind of lifestyle which is in stark contrast with the way conventional society or the average public function today. This is akin to a hunter personality who chases the prey with extreme focus, speed and concentration and then totally relaxes with his reward for the rest of the day etc. Conventional society works more on a farmer’s model where you slowly reap benefits by daily work in increments. If there is an addiction to the former hunter personality lifestyle, it becomes quite difficult to fit into conventional society or converse with people of the other kind.

So in my experience, the only solution that has really helped me gain a lot of insight is awareness. In my days, my graphs of productivity/enjoyment etc. are like sudden spikes and the rest of it is more mellow. Once you experientially observe your life closely from moment to moment, the understanding helps you get greater perspective on how to deal with just about EVERYTHING. Is the pain only because you are at odds with the way conventional society operates?

These are my thoughts until now. I am still in my journey towards understanding this.
Other people, please let me know your views regarding stuff I mentioned.

Hope it helps!