When a recurrent compulsory thought appears in our life which has the force to determine a behavior which is believed to cause pleasure, relief, a soothing effect or a reward, then we could be dealing with a mental addiction.
In an addiction a “rational person” turns irrational. A life which is managed by the belief of an existing self, becomes out of balance, out of control in order to fixate its efforts to acquire that which is believed to bring relief, pleasure, reward, peace of mind, soothing effect, etc.
The way our society deals with mental addictions is by denying the triggers, which are believed to be the cause of the addiction.
For example, let us take a look at sex addiction.
A sex addict will be told not to watch TV or to have a computer so “temptations” do not occur.
If that addiction is dealt in a religious setting, then the idea that the “body is ugly, full of disgusting fluids” will be told as to create distaste in the addict.
The promise that there is something “better” than the pleasure from the body will be expressed as well.
A person who practices celibacy as denial of sex, could believe that “he needs to protect himself from the impure environment by avoiding triggers and situations which could become a temptation.”
Praying could help in this case, … “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
A mental addiction appears when there is a great mental identification with a “self.”
The solution of that mind problem has been to use the mind to deny itself.
What are the typical cliches used in that “solution”?
Use your will power to “fight against it.” Believe that a higher power will help you. Cover your senses. Think about something else. Surround yourself with like-minded people for support.
Those “solutions” are only a band-aide waiting to fall off the wound.
The problem, the addiction hasn’t been cured.
A mental addiction appears when we are incapable of living in the “now” due to a life, which is lived mostly in the head.
Let me illustrate.
Charlie “Mind” meets a girl. Charlie does not notice the first instants. He does not become aware of the “thinking.”
If the mind takes over as it is the case with most, labeling will happen: “ My gosh, She is beautiful/ugly” from that point the thought has been started into duality.
Something pleasurable will need to be repeated. That means, the movie in the mind will repeat and many plots will be added to that movie to make it exciting, “new.” That repetition will make sure that the thought will linger even without our conscious will.
From this point on, we could discover many things about our own minds. That is our own inner work.
The “experts” whether religious or scientific, are about denial of the triggers, “Don’t do this, don’t think that, Do this, do that, etc.” It is the “black or white” mentality, which will lead someone into the experience of duality: Success or failure. Success through repression, failure through feeling guilt. Either way, the “problem” still remains.
Let us take a look at another Charlie…. Charlie “feelings.”
Charlie Feelings meets a girl. Charlie appreciates her through his feelings. A feeling invades his heart and a smile comes out. That feeling will be completely felt without thoughts or beliefs coming to his mind. Without judgment. Charlie Feeling will move into something else in the day as he lives the “now” but he chooses to maintain the feeling while meeting other people throughout the day.
Feeling is what gives fulfillment. The mind is trying to obtain that fulfillment by mentally repeating the experience or acting that out compulsively.
Going further into feelings we may find out that if the feeling that we develop before meeting anyone is strong and we feel fulfilled, all we need to do is to maintain that throughout the day. Strong awareness is needed for that. That is the reward of our own internal work. Life will be impregnated with our feelings.
With feelings we can appreciate life and the different scenes, the uniqueness of those.
With thoughts we do not “feel anything.” We separate through the mind and we look to experience only one aspect of duality. We choose what we believe to be pleasurable and reject pain. Pleasurable/rewarding/a relief is that which needs to be repeated continuously in the mind, that is an addiction.
Nevertheless, pain cannot be avoided as an experience once the “self” has chosen pleasure. Duality 101. :-)