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Jeremy Tattersall

Some sobering thoughts

Some people having fun Some people having fun

Someone asked me the other day whether I thought meditation could help Lindsay Lohan. I guess ‘help’ here means something like ‘support’. The short, immediate reply was ‘yes’, but then I started wondering why that is the answer. Here’s what I thought about it…

 

You only have to check out any popular bar or nightclub on a Saturday night to know that much of LiLo’s behaviour is not exactly unique. The vast majority of us have spent at least some small portion of our life guzzling down the poisons of our choice. At least once, nearly all of us have got so altered and oblivious that we have had to be told much later what it was we got up to. A lot of us do it because we feel something about ourselves just sucks, because we don’t know who we are or what we should be doing with our lives, or because life has just turned round and bitten us really badly. Or maybe we do it just because we really like doing it. So it would be hypocritical to enjoy Lindsay’s problems, and wrong to assume that we don’t to some extent share them.

One way that everyone is definitely equal is that we can all transform our self-destructive tendencies. I know a lot of people, myself included, who no longer need to prop up their psyches with intoxicants in the way they used to, because of what meditation has given them.

How does this work? Meditation lets me discover the positive and the negative aspects of myself gradually, and at a compassionate pace. Occasionally it’s even possible to see the strange impulses and delusions, the fears, vulnerabilities and low self-esteem that often lie behind a destructive habit.

These insights might sometimes make me wince with embarrassment, but they also arise in the safe and supportive environment of meditation, in a space that feels whole, forgiving and wise. It shows me both my fundamental goodness and the habits I need to transform in order to become that fundamental goodness. It gives me the strength, confidence and the motivation to face and do something about the darker places inside me. This process of healing can be applied to any aspect that needs attention.

The point is, if we start dissolving all the sadness and suffering we carry, we just hit a point where we naturally find that we no longer need to do the destructive things we used to enjoy so much. It’s no longer a question of resisting our impulses with will power or brute force, it’s just that the impulse to go off the rails doesn’t control us any more. It’s starting to be replaced with awareness, compassion and contentment. If we’re lucky, this happens before we become addicted. If not, sobriety is still going to be a challenge, but at least we are removing the deep patterns that caused our addiction in the first place.

Even better, we can actually go and do something useful with our lives instead.