Following the dolphin

On her blog, Letting Go, ML wrote recently:

Many active alcoholics or addicts have diminished capacity for pleasure or enjoyment. That is part of why they begin drinking, to  try and give themselves what is not there, what they can’t feel, what is lacking, When they sober up, the need for external  sources of gratification remains. So they resort to gambling, online porn, workaholic frenzies, promiscuity or wildly unsuitable affairs. The core problem isn’t the acting out, it’s the underlying  anhedonia.  When the sober alcoholic gives up the  girlfriends, fast cars and casinos to sit slumped at the  dinner table with hollow eyes and  no appetite, no interest in life, no desire to do anything or go anywhere, that is progress of sorts. And there are no  miracle cures waiting in the wings because dopamine receptors and  neural pathways take a long time to heal, if ever. Faith helps. Gratitude helps. Patience helps, support and empathetic understanding helps. Service helps,  perhaps most of all.

Her next entry, “A small daily discipline,” is about meditation, which is perhaps the closest one can come to a solution, if such a thing exists:  to practice living in the present, to notice and be grateful for ordinary life.

I have been trying, sitting most mornings for 20 or 30 minutes, following my mantra.  Some days I can’t remember it and have to look it up.  I was so sure that would never happen I almost didn’t write it down.  George Quant, my TM audio teacher, uses a friendly dolphin as his image for the mantra and the ocean for consciousness.  The dolphin dives and surfaces, sometimes going deeper and darker, sometimes leaping into the sunlight.  Other swimmers follow him as well.  They are your thoughts.  Don’t try to make them go away, just let them swim along too.  He’s lovely, that dolphin.

It’s helping a bit, I think.  Many days I feel sadness and tears pushing their way to the front of my consciousness.  If I can, I let them come.  Often, I don’t know what the sadness is about, only that it’s there.  But other times, I notice life around me and am filled with pleasure:  the squawk of the wild parrots overhead, magenta bougainvillea brilliant in the sun, trees swaying in the wind. From my back window, I can see trees, shrubs and vines too numerous to count, each different from the others, leaves huge and serrated on the banana tree, small and dark red on the Japanese plum, great wide green partial rounds on the grape vine. I never get tired of the variations, or of the white moths fluttering among them.

For this, yes, great gratitude.

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