BY JEFF FOSTER
What is spiritual awakening? And how is it relevant to recovery from addiction?
There are so many books on the subjects of self-improvement, self-help, spiritual awakening, and addiction recovery available these days. So many methods, practices, programs, teachers and teachings that often seem so very different, even contradictory. So many people promising us so much, and it can all be so confusing for someone who is genuinely open to discovering true peace and rest in their lives.
There are so many questions…
- Which method works best?
- Can I just stop using my drug of choice without support from others or the help of a method?
- How do I know when I’m recovering from addiction?
- Is recovery just about being abstinent? Or is it something more than that?
- Is spiritual awakening what I need to overcome addiction?
- Is spiritual awakening an ‘event’ that happens to some people and not to others?
- Is awakening something that can be reached through methods at all?
It can get so exhausting, trying to figure all of this out with the poor little mind! But Natural Rest for Addiction clears away our confusion. If you are looking for a way to overcome addiction that is simple, accessible and practical yet deeply penetrating, then this book stands out from the crowd.
I have known Scott for many years now. He is a teacher who does not simply regurgitate concepts that he has learned from others. His words have been uniquely forged in the fire of his own pain. He speaks with authenticity and integrity from his own deepest experience, and teaches not by trying to be a teacher, but by being a living example of what he teaches. He is a rare breed—a teacher who actually lives and breathes his own message.
Scott speaks of recovery from addiction through spiritual awakening. But he expresses his message in such a practical, down-to-earth way that at first you may not even realize you’re reading a book about spiritual awakening! His words carry deep wisdom, but he avoids all those heavy, esoteric concepts found in the ancient scriptures and traditions. He also doesn’t overload you with mountains of intellectual knowledge about the science of addiction, but gently takes you by the proverbial hand and shows you a way out of the insanity of the mind, and its endless seeking for something more in the future. Through clear explanations and piercing inquiries, he shows you that the present moment is always, always the key to recovery. And he shows you how safe it is to dive headfirst into the moment, and to stay there. His method is a truly living meditation that you can take with you into every moment of your life.
Scott points you to the discovery of who you really are, beyond who you think you are—a vast, quiet, non-dual ocean of present-moment awareness that deeply and unconditionally welcomes all thoughts, sensations and emotions, all energies of life, as they arise and dissolve in you. When you cease identifying as a limited, deficient and separate ‘self’ looking for freedom and peace in a future moment, you recognize the freedom that exists here and now, the very last place you’d ever think to look! Make no mistake, this book will challenge your assumptions about addiction and recovery. And it will also challenge many of your deeply-held beliefs about yourself and the world around you. Be prepared to let go of some of your cherished concepts about life!
Despite what common sense and conventional wisdom tell us, it is actually incredibly healing to stop running away from present-moment pain and discomfort, and to just sit with those energies as they come up in you, to welcome them as friends that are trying to help you or even awaken you, rather than enemies that are trying to destroy you. However strange it may sound, much of our suffering comes not directly from our pain and discomfort, but from our attempts to escape that pain and discomfort in the moment.
Most of us attempt to distract ourselves from pain, or numb ourselves to it, or avoid, transcend or even destroy it. We do this through thinking, through ingesting drugs, alcohol, or other chemicals, through shopping, working, gambling, or sex, through seeking external validation or love, through seeking money, success, self-improvement, enlightenment, or even through seeking future recovery. As this cycle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain takes over, it begins to run our lives. We end up swinging wildly between these polarities, caught in a continuous search for something more, never finding an end to this cycle, often feeling far away from true peace and contentment and love.
Scott painstakingly points out the futility of always seeking to escape what is. Drawing from his own experience with addiction and years of working with others, he points to resting in presence, allowing ourselves to feel whatever we feel, even if what we feel is deeply uncomfortable, intense or even painful. He shows us how to allow all thoughts, all feelings, all bodily energies, positive and negative, light and dark, to just be there, as they are, and to relax into the wide open space that holds them. He points repetitively to this ‘resting’ throughout the book, with good reason. We don’t always hear or understand this approach the first time round, or even the second or third time. It sometimes takes a degree of repetition for us to see in our own experience the sheer futility of escaping, and how the escaping is the problem, not the solution. To the mind, Scott’s approach may seem upside-down or backwards, even a little bit crazy. But then, as Scott reminds us, you are not the mind at all.
Some religions and spiritual ideologies promise a future time, perhaps after death, where all discomfort will be swept away. Our parents, out of love, tried to protect us from feeling discomfort in the first place. The entertainment industry turns our attention away from discomfort every day. The advertising industry feeds on our discomfort and dissatisfaction with the way things are. Some self-improvement methods just give us new ways to escape dissatisfaction, thereby making an enemy out of it. Some teachings or methods even tell us that there is something wrong with us if we experience ‘negative’ energies at all!
From all sides we receive the basic message that there is something wrong with us, that we are not okay as we are unless we are feeling 100% perfect and comfortable and secure and happy all the time. We are led to believe that we are deficient or broken in some basic way, that we are fallen sinners, that we are psychologically unsound, that we are even beyond repair. We are conditioned to believe we are addicts and always will be. From all sides we get the same message: YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. And so addictive seeking becomes the constant companion of our lives.
Nobody has ever shown us how to be with discomfort, how to welcome it in, how to say ‘yes’ to the uncomfortable energies of life, how to stop identifying with them, so they release naturally and effortlessly. But Scott shows us how. He constantly reminds us that there is nothing wrong with us, and never was. He shows us that, at the most fundamental level, we are deeply okay as we are. At the very core of our being, there is a wholeness that cannot be put into words, an inner silence, a deep stillness that just got a little bit neglected over the years and needs some new friendship. Through his teachings, we come to recognize ourselves as the perfect calm in the midst of the storm of life, the natural rest that never, ever leaves, even when things on the surface do not seem so restful.
I am amazed at Scott’s ability to bring the ancient teachings of spiritual awakening down from the mountaintops, onto the streets, into the room that you are in, into your heart and into the deepest, darkest recesses of your intimate personal experience. He fearlessly shines light into addiction’s darkest hiding places, and guides you towards an ever-present freedom the likes of which you never imagined possible.
Above all else, this teaching frees you from something that is at the core of all addictions—your addiction to self.
This is a truly wonderful book, and it’s likely to reach people who have never before been reached by this kind of work. May you discover the rest that you have always longed for—the rest that you already are. I leave you in Scott’s capable, trustworthy, and experienced hands.
Author of The Deepest Acceptance