Elevate Difference

Enough!: A Buddhist Approach to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns

Ordained by the Dalai Lama in 1995, Chönyi Taylor is a retired psychotherapist who fuses Buddhist teachings with western psychology to assist psychotherapists and health care professionals in helping individuals to break the pattern of addiction. In Enough!: A Buddhist Approach to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns, Taylor states in her acknowledgments that the most insidious addiction is not related to drugs, but to our own self-pity and smallmindedness. In her words, addiction is primarily a state of mind, the result of an initial personal decision that is repeated until it becomes habit-forming or compulsive. The problem is not the availability of alcohol, drugs, sex, or food (pick yer poison), but our initial and subsequent choices to use these things for short-term pleasure.

Because addiction begins in the mind, this is where the addictive pattern has to be broken. The process is slow and involves, first and foremost, recognizing the existence of a problem and finding the motivation to change. The next step is to become mindful of what we are running away from or the things, people, places, and emotions that trigger our addictive pattern. This is how we uncover the causes and effects of our addiction. Being addiction-free also involves breaking the hold of selfishness, as it only enables addiction. The self-centered mind exaggerates impending disasters if our addictive need cannot be met. Dramatics and catastrophic-thinking need to be undone by equanimity or even-mindedness. The three basic steps towards breaking the pattern are mindfulness, introspection, and equanimity. Repeated practice through meditation of these three elements should make them pattern forming.

Taylor gives the basics on how to meditate and ends each chapter with a meditation. In Enough!, we learn that we are all addicted to something. Even if our addiction is only to negative thinking, it still unintentionally undermines our potential for satisfying happiness. Although I found mindfulness and introspection relatively easy to grasp, I had a hard time getting my head around equanimity or curbing the exaggerated thinking and emotion-fueled jumping to conclusions. But I guess I’m not alone, as the book has four meditations on that alone: equanimity towards our feelings, environment, people, and ourselves. There is also an inspiring chapter on managing pain, making choices, and building self-confidence.

This book is meant to be read slowly, and the meditations duly practiced, preferably with an experienced group leader to reap maximum benefit. I also recommend that you not read more than one chapter at a time or choose a chair with a very straight back, as the abundance of abstract nouns makes this book highly soporific. Although I didn’t find the real-life cases that Taylor chose to be very helpful, I found her approach to addiction extremely positive and highly enlightening.

Written by: Heather Leighton, October 14th 2010