Monday, June 8, 2009

What is it About Getting High?

Sometimes I get a comment on my blog that just blows the whole thing wide open. Suddenly I am totally transparent, and can no longer hide from what I have seen. Dr. Jay of Yoga for Cynics wrote such a comment on my recent post, Fishing for Yoga (you can see the comment I’m talking about at the end of the post).

I started to wonder to myself: What IS IT about getting high?

Here’s my history of getting high:

When I was growing up there were adults around me who felt like all the best times were high times. Especially times already past that were really wild according to the tellers.

So when I was in high school I did some things strangely enough to impress particularly one adult that I desperately wanted to feel connected to. First I experimented with drinking. Then pot. In college I tried some things to impress friends, and by then I had convinced myself that this was what I wanted. I wanted to do well in school and experiment with drugs. I wanted friends and to party! Then after college I didn’t really know what to do and I drank a lot when I was out. Then I fell in love and the bars weren’t so interesting anymore. And by the time the love-high faded I had found yoga!

And in blog posts like Ashtanga Butterfly, I have been beating myself up for hiding in my yoga, rather than using it as a tool for liberation or deeper insight. And Dr. Jay’s comment has shown me to myself, even though he might have been talking about himself.

So yes I used alcohol and drugs to escape at a certain point. And then I hid myself in love, giving myself to that wonderful feeling of connection—so things WERE GETTING BETTER at that point. There was a time when I recognized this. And then I forgot because it became REALLY IMPORTANT to find out who I am. And in the relationship I thought I couldn’t see that. But REALLY I just wanted to bury myself in another MAN. So it’s good that the yoga practice was there to obsess on at that time. It did keep me out of trouble. SO I am blessed that the yoga has such INTOXICATING POWER for me. Otherwise I might have found a more self-destructive path, and instead I found a path to my heart.

Thank God for yoga!

So, what is it about getting high? For me it’s to hide from pain. There is a fairly common negative view of the world that I shared with people I knew at a certain time in my life. It has to do with a deep feeling of hopelessness. Eckhart Tolle’s words resonate:

“Many people never realize that there can be no “salvation” in anything they do, possess, or attain. Those who do realize it often become world-weary and depressed: If nothing can give you true fulfillment, what is there left to strive for, what is the point in anything? The Old Testament prophet must have arrived at such a realization when he wrote: “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” When you reach this point, you are one step away from despair—and one step away from enlightenment.”

-The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

Mr. Tolle adds a note of hope at the end of this quote when he mentions that one can despair or move toward enlightened consciousness. The good news is that there is a choice. I believe this to be true. When I look at the world sometimes I feel pretty bad. The problems can seem so big and overwhelming. But if I can do something, even something small, to make the world a better place I start to feel better. We have to work together to create positive change that will resonate on a world level. Nobody can do it alone. Alone I can only make positive change at a personal level. But this can be HUGE.


Eco Yogini said...

this was totally unexpected! hah.

I think you are right, we all have our life 'stuff' that we use to avoid or hide parts we just don't want to face. For me, it has always been toxic friends or men... As a singer any sort of smoke-weed was a no-no, so I never experienced anything other than a drunk- but toxic relationships have taken their toll.

I agree- thank Goddess for Yoga :)

Thank you for this post- it was very inspiring and truthful :)

chad leeson said...

I think getting high is all about connecting with your inner spirit and forgetting about the negative vibes all around you. Whatever gives you a high makes you forget the pain all around- whether it be love, alcohol or yoga! By the way- very relevant link you drew between love, intoxicants and drugs! They do take to the heights- only to bring you back with a crash!

Kay Burnett said...

Your openness and wonder are captivating. I read this post with deep interest. Luckily for me, I am years past my challenges of choice between despair and enlightenment, however as I say that, I am reminded that life can turn on a dime. Thanks to Dr. Jay for his comment to your post -- it takes courage to come clean, even when you are solidly on the up side of the balance.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Brooks. I think we all get high one way or another. Whether its pouring ourselves into drugs, alcohol, yoga, sex, love, love of children/animals, dancing or whatever else... in a way, its all 'getting high'.

And I've done plenty of those things myself.

Essentially, the goal is the same - escape from the current reality in whatever way we can. We can choose to avoid certain parts of our life, rather than face them. Big and small issues.

The deep dark secret of humanity is that pretty much most of us are in pain, in some form or another. Its just that we all think we have to hide it, and we're usually so busy hiding our pain from others that we don't notice everyone else doing exactly the same thing.

This is part of the human experience of suffering. We don't realise how much we suffer, and how much everyone else does, too.

As you (and Mr Tolle) say, our only way out is to move towards enlightened conciousness.

And I agree - Nobody can do it alone.

YogaforCynics said...

Hey Brooks, glad you liked the comment--it was inspired by your post, which certainly resonated with me.

I remember some time ago telling a friend I was concerned yoga was another addictive behavior. She, having known me for some time, said "look, you have a tendency to self-medicate, so if you're addicted to something healthy, that's a good thing." And she definitely had a point....

Christa said...

I found you through Svasti (she seems to know everyone) and love your blog.

I JUST wrote a post called Marijuana Pranayama so stumbling on this post of yours today made me laugh.

Ah, the addictive behaviors we have - some we throw by the side of the road and others we clutch on to tightly to protect what we think is our real identity or to escape the pains and challenges of life.

Getting high on yoga, in my case, Hatha or Hasya (Laughter Yoga) is preferred. Hell, I went out last night for one cocktail with friends and after sipping a martini for 2 hours (and not finishing it) I didn't feel so great.

Will I attempt to rescue my old bong from the trash heap? Lord only knows. Right now, I'm scared about getting shot but hey, we gotta die sometime.

I just keep giggling on and letting mu joy shine in anyway I can.

Peace, Namaste and big Giggles,

Christa @