Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Spiritual Leader, Global Humanitarian, Peace Ambassador and Founder, Art of Living.(Follow Sri Sri on Twitter @Srisri)
The most basic trait of human nature is to seek happiness. It is amazing to see what all man does to find happiness; the list goes on and on endlessly. In reality, happiness comes from within but most seek it outside. The senses can give pleasure but the soul craves for something more. When sense pleasures are not enough, one seeks an ethereal experience. This impulse of seeking is present in everybody and is the beginning of one’s spiritual journey. Unfortunately, many people are tempted to take shortcuts in this quest for joy and end up with drugs. Drugs seem to give a high and people do say they take one to an altered state of consciousness. However, the after effects leave the system totally shattered eventually. One’s aspiration to find freedom, love and happiness leaves them with bondage, despondency and misery. Having something is not joyful but not having it is painful – this is the state of addiction.
Spirituality has a big role to play in dealing with such a situation. Meditations, breathing techniques, pranayama and satsang have helped millions around the world to overcome addiction over substances and alcohol. Many people have shared that they feel the same high after doing Sudarshan Kriya that they used to feel after taking drugs but without their damaging consequences. Scientists say that psychoactive drugs are addictive because they cause a surge in dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with happiness and contentment. Research has shown that meditation increases dopamine levels naturally by an average of 65%. A session of group singing or satsang also leaves one exhilarated and energized for many hours. These practices build strength in the mind so that one doesn’t feel the need to rely on external substances to feel an inner high.
Another thing that is important in rehabilitation is developing an attitude of service. A ‘what more can I get’ mindset leads to obsession and depression while a ‘how can I serve’ attitude leads to joy and freedom. This shift in attitude brings a sense of purpose to anybody’s life, but more so for someone on the path to recovery. With a firm resolve and the right effort in the right direction, the old patterns of addiction begin to loosen their grip and true freedom begins to dawn.
Apart from its remedial effect in drug rehabilitation, spirituality is very effective in prevention of this malaise as well. Youth who have a spiritual bent of mind do not take to drugs easily. Spirituality builds a value-based character in a person which acts as a shield against unhealthy peer pressure.
Invariably, short term joy ends up as long term misery and it is spiritual education alone that gives the wisdom to choose a little discomfort in the short term that finally leads to long lasting happiness.