Our Advanced group has got on the ‘move’ in some ancient woods in South Liverpool learning about the process of Addiction. These were our questions of inquiry:
What is your relationship to the word ‘addiction’? What does addiction mean to you?
How do you understand the addictive process?
What TA theory and practice offer us to understand and work with addiction?
What does the ecological space bring to our inquiry about addiction?
From an ecological perspective no organism in nature is separate from the system in which it is born, lives and dies, and so no natural process can be understood in isolation from its contexts.
The ecological view sees addiction as an interaction between a person’s social, cultural, political, economic environment and his or her internal biological and psychological environment.
Many forms of pleasure (the erotic) which have been numbed by urban living, from bodily to perceptual to aesthetic to spiritual, come back to life in natural settings. These experiences can form the basis of an expanded ecological self which can fill the emptiness and heal the existential alienation and loneliness endemic in our times. The Earth speaks to us through our bodies and our psyche calling us into a sense of the sacred.
“Eroticism reveals to us another world, inside this world. The senses become servants to our imagination, letting us see the invisible and hear the inaudible’
We related different TA concepts such as psychological hungers, strokes, appetite pathways, ego states, symbiosis, discounting, motivational systems, attachment-reward and incentive-motivation systems in the brain, bodily-affective regulation to understand and work with addiction.
We practised skills which are vital to working with addictive processes:
- holding a reflective/sacred space;
- ‘rooted talking’;
- ‘learning to attend’ : it is the opening up of the sensory experience. There is evidence suggesting that attentional patterns may physically alter the neural pathways in the brain. Learning to attend is in essence a spiritual practice, called cultivation of a ‘wakeful presence”. Attending requires nurturing our aesthetic desire and taking a moment to observe texture, curvature, contrast, form, colour, the sky, the grass etc
- ‘bare attention’ :the conscious awareness of the ebb and flow of emotional states and thought patterns. It is attending through the 5 senses to what happens within and outside the body; making space for these and becoming an impartial, compassionate observer; this helps us to not completely identifying with or reacting to them.