America is in crisis.
And it is not just from COVID-19.
More and more people, including adolescents, are becoming addicted to drugs.
These substances have become a lifeline for some who don’t see any other way out of the depths of physical or emotional pain.
We all have tough days and even weeks or months. And there is nothing wrong with admitting we feel stressed, anxious and down. The issue becomes when we try to fill the void we feel inside with addictive chemicals.
Depression is the most misunderstood illness we face today. There is such a stigma around it that those who are diagnosed often find themselves wandering from doctor to doctor, therapist to therapist, with little relief.
This process can be downright exhausting. Soon the patient begins to lack faith in him or herself and his ability ever feel “normal” again.
In the world we live in today, many things are readily available, including grocery shopping at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, this is also the case for drugs. More and more people are turning to something outside of themselves for an answer.
I am referring to both illegal drugs (like cocaine and heroin etc.) and abusing things like alcohol, cannabis or opiates. When a substance outside of ourselves becomes something we feel we cannot live without, and causes havoc in our lives and the lives around us, this is when it is out of hand, and our internal power dissipates in turn.
Pharmaceutical drugs can be necessary at times and sometimes even life-saving, as long as they are given under the supervision of a doctor. The issue begins when a substance becomes abused or misused. For example, if it is taken differently than prescribed or shared illegally with others, this can have disastrous consequences.
This can be called “the need for more.” Our body feels good, even if just for fleeting moments, and we want more of that. No one enjoys feeling pain of any kind. That is understandable.
What is missing in our world today, however, is faith in the resilient spirit of humanity.
Have you ever been feeling down and had the warm smile of a stranger brighten your day?
A small thing like this can shift our day, but it can also start to ease our body and mind out of stress and pain and back into joy and peace.
Think for a moment about newborn babies and the wonder and awe they feel in the world. Every moment is precious, and everything is a gift to them. We all have that aspect of ourselves within us. It is something that can be called our “Buddha Nature” or “True Self.”
This part of ourselves often gets forgotten among our day-to-day responsibilities and stresses. We can find ourselves lost in the shuffle of life, feeling isolated and alone. This is when some people might turn to drugs.
There is, however, another way.
Just as the butterfly transforms from small larvae, so can we also transform ourselves, even in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances. Those delicate wings find a way to form, no matter what chaos is happening outside of them.
We, as humans, have just as much power.
Instead of relying on drugs to bring comfort and ease, what if we took a different approach?
What if we choose not to take in harsh chemicals that could cause long-term harm and, instead, we went deeper within ourselves to find solace.
Within each of us is a resting space that is separate from our religion, creed or bank account.
When we can slow down, even just a little, and pay attention to this sacred part of ourselves, much of the outer chaos will slowly fade away. Any relief we receive from drugs and chemicals is fleeting and temporary, but that space within each of us is constant and eternal.
What’s truly magical is being able to sit with our pain and allow it to float by like puffed clouds in the summer sky. That is true empowerment.
We all have capabilities far beyond our wildest imagination, regardless of our age, health condition or economic status.
This unstoppable force is our Divine Essence and lives strong in every single being on the planet. The more we can trust in that and in the process of life to take care of us, the more we will need drugs and other addictive substances less and less.
Deep within our very beings lies a well-spring of seemingly miraculous power and might. There is nothing we need to add to it to make it any more magnificent.
This awareness in and of itself can be enough to beckon open the door to faith. Faith must begin within ourselves before spreading elsewhere. We need to trust in our gifts and that our presence in this world matters.
It is normal to want to curl up into our cocoons at times. To shut the world out and let go of everything.
The key is to know that we already have everything we need.
We have since the day we were born.
So, the next time you are tempted to reach for that smoke or drink, take a moment to pause.
Let yourself soften into the space of your own heart.
Know you are worthy just the way you are. Know you are loved.
Let yourself curl into your chrysalis and soak in its nourishment.
Before you know it, your wings will be spreading.
And, you, my friends, will set yourself free.