Lose your mind

Evo­lu­tion only goes one way – so get ad­dicted to chi.

Living Now - - Editorial - by Jost Sauer

Evo­lu­tion only goes one way – so get ad­dicted to chi.

Evolv­ing an ad­dic­tion is an ex­pe­ri­en­tial process; so you will need to use your body, not your mind. In fact, the Daoists don’t ever rec­om­mend try­ing to re­solve any­thing with your mind. We love our minds in the West. Main­stream re­cov­ery is based on us­ing our minds to talk our­selves out of tak­ing drugs (‘no drugs to­day, no drugs to­day’), and then talk­ing end­lessly through the post-drug symp­toms: the re­la­tion­ship dra­mas, sex­ual dys­func­tion, de­pres­sion, psy­chosis, panic and anx­i­ety.

How­ever, the mind-based ther­a­peu­tic tech­niques were de­vel­oped by peo­ple who didn’t spend their time mess­ing with their heads for fun. Once you’ve done that, your mind is no longer re­li­able. In Chi­nese medicine, it’s un­der­stood that drug use cre­ates a sep­a­ra­tion of body (yin) and mind (yang); so when you quit, your mind is not an­chored, un­til you think about tak­ing drugs again, that is, when your mind sud­denly fo­cuses on great ideas like ‘maybe do drugs one more time, and then you can quit’, or it starts ham­mer­ing on about what a loser you are, or set­ting off end­less de­bates about right and wrong.

Clients reg­u­larly tell me that they hate their thoughts but can’t es­cape them. This is the sit­u­a­tion in which your mind can be de­scribed as ‘the en­emy of Dao’, be­cause it is sab­o­tag­ing your health and hap­pi­ness. Once it en­ters this en­emy ter­ri­tory, you will au­to­mat­i­cally be putting a value on your own or others’ ac­tions. You be­come opin­ion­ated and judg­men­tal and you move fur­ther from your cos­mic self. From this per­spec­tive, the old ap­proach to re­cov­ery – in which you con­sciously fo­cus on wrong­do­ing, and are ex­pected to make value judg­ments on your past – can be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Don’t try to re­solve the past, evolve it into an amaz­ing fu­ture

Sense ther­apy

Drug use does take you into pretty dark ter­ri­tory and ac­tiv­i­ties that are con­sid­ered shock­ing by nor­mal stan­dards. When you talk to any­one about these, it im­me­di­ately en­gages their senses. If their senses then di­rect their thoughts, they will feel dis­turbed or dis­gusted and they will put a value on your ac­tions based on so­cially ac­cepted ideas of right and wrong. Then the prob­ing be­gins; they need to know why you did it or what went wrong to make you do it. This can go in cir­cles for years with­out res­o­lu­tion. It’s a mind trap.

The Daoist al­ter­na­tive is to learn how to di­rect your mind to chi in­stead of to senses. Chi is al­ways empty; so the mo­ment you turn to chi you are empty. In empti­ness, what­ever is, is. The univer­sal truths are re­vealed. Be­ing able to di­rect your mind to chi cre­ates a state called ‘choice­less aware­ness’. A ther­a­pist who can ac­cess this state won’t be sit­ting be­hind their desk look­ing care­fully ex­pres­sion­less while se­cretly think­ing, ‘Oh my, this per­son has re­ally screwed up, re­ally done some bad things; tut tut’. A drug user won’t be for­ever judg­ing their past ac­tions in light of what they got wrong, and then get­ting mired in shame and guilt.

How­ever, you can’t ex­pe­ri­ence choice­less aware­ness with­out a ded­i­cated chi prac­tice. I do four hours’ chi prac­tice each day; so that when treat­ing a client, I can in­stinc­tively go into a state of chi. Then I don’t see an ad­dict, a de­pres­sive, a psy­chotic, an ob­ses­sive; I see another soul. Imag­ine what the world would be like if we all could all see each other like this all the time.

This is not to say that there is no place for talk ther­apy; your mind def­i­nitely does have a role to play in re­cov­ery. I al­ways start my treat­ments with my sig­na­ture shock tac­tic con­sul­ta­tion, where I get the per­son to re­think their sub­stance use. See­ing the pos­i­tive in your past makes chi flow. I fol­low the con­sul­ta­tion with a spe­cific acupunc­ture treat­ment, which cre­ates an al­tered state and brings the body into the equa­tion as well. So you see things dif­fer­ently in your mind – chi flows – and then you feel things dif­fer­ently in your body – chi flows. This is an ap­proach to ther­apy that keeps you on the cos­mic path. The more pos­i­tive you are, the more your chi will flow

Bring your mind back home

In Chi­nese medicine, psy­chol­ogy is in the body; not the mind. So your re­cov­ery strat­egy is to ‘lose the mind’ and turn to the body. This will nat­u­rally bring your mind back home. Now, when I say ‘body’, I’m ac­tu­ally talk­ing about your or­gans. They house your mind. This might sound out­landish, but if you were happy with or­di­nary ex­pla­na­tions about life, you wouldn’t have re­peated drugs.

The mind and men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties – in­ten­tion, will and thought – are gov­erned by your or­gans (your spleen plays a ma­jor role in this). The spir­i­tual gu­rus con­sider the men­tal func­tions to be a divine gift. High on a drug like ice you can see why be­cause, as that drug re­ally en­hances spleen func­tion, you tem­po­rar­ily ex­pe­ri­ence in­ten­tion,

will and thought per­fectly har­monised. There is no gap be­tween plan­ning and ac­tion. What­ever you de­cide to do hap­pens im­me­di­ately and ef­fort­lessly. Ul­ti­mately, this is how we want to be op­er­at­ing all of the time and, given that this is re­liant on build­ing or­gan func­tion and chi, we can.

If you’ve done a lot of speedy drugs though, it can be a long way back to this place. Those drugs take a toll on your or­gans, par­tic­u­larly your spleen, and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween in­ten­tion, will and thought frac­tures. This is how you ‘lose the mind’, in the neg­a­tive sense. In­stead of pro­vid­ing fo­cus and clar­ity, your spleen – which is also the drama queen of the or­gans – freaks out, and you feel scat­tered and con­sumed by jeal­ousy, yearn­ing, re­sent­ment, pro­cras­ti­na­tion and worry. You are con­fused about who you are and what you are do­ing here. Para­noid sce­nar­ios loop in your head about who said or did what to you. Your ac­tions no longer make sense.

A clas­sic ex­am­ple from my past: one morn­ing at work af­ter a three-day speed ben­der (while I was work­ing as a drug and al­co­hol coun­sel­lor), I had to pho­to­copy some doc­u­ments. I de­cided I needed a cof­fee be­fore fac­ing the task, but in my scat­tered state I spooned cof­fee and su­gar onto the pho­to­copier in­stead of into a cup. I im­me­di­ately pan­icked and fum­bled around fran­ti­cally try­ing to clean it up be­fore any­one re­alised how mad I was. In hind­sight I should have first pressed the ‘copy’ but­ton to get a me­mento of what hap­pens when you have trashed your spleen and ended up with no con­nec­tion be­tween in­ten­tion, will and thought, be­cause that’s what was ac­tu­ally go­ing on there.

At the time I feared for my san­ity, and that’s a ter­ri­fy­ing feel­ing. I reg­u­larly

treat peo­ple who have taken so many drugs that they are no longer ca­pa­ble of nor­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tion. They might think in sym­bols or speak in jum­bled words, or streams of con­scious­ness. Whereas West­ern medicine iden­ti­fies this as men­tal ill­ness, and treats it with more drugs – which fur­ther sep­a­rate body and mind – Chi­nese medicine ad­dresses the un­der­ly­ing or­gan im­bal­ances. Your mind comes back home and re­gains op­ti­mum func­tion. It be­comes a pow­er­ful as­set in the search for the cos­mic self. Psy­chol­ogy is in the body; not the mind

Play­ing the or­gans

The or­gan model not only log­i­cally ex­plains weird drug-re­lated symp­toms and states, but also the much de­bated ‘gate­way cy­cle’. Al­though I had pro­gressed from mar­i­juana to hard drugs my­self, I never bought into the gate­way the­ory un­til I stud­ied Chi­nese medicine.

I turned to speed be­cause mar­i­juana (and hashish) had stopped work­ing for me, but plenty of peo­ple around me hap­pily con­tin­ued smok­ing dope, thus de­bunk­ing the gate­way cy­cle myth, or so I thought.

In fact, this was due to the in­ter­ac­tion of their con­sti­tu­tion and yin and yang, but I didn’t know that then. All I knew was that mar­i­juana might have failed me, but one line of that magic white pow­der and I was back. I was in­stantly up, out of the bean­bag, mak­ing speeches and plan­ning to take over the world. Un­be­known to me, the para­noia and lethargy I felt were the re­sult of mar­i­juana’s yin ef­fect on my liver. The speedy drugs cor­rected this, as they brought the qual­i­ties of the spleen into the pic­ture. But as the am­phet­a­mines wreaked havoc on my spleen I be­gan to se­ri­ously lose the plot.

The next step in the gate­way cy­cle is heroin, which im­pacts on your kid­neys. These are known as the ‘mother of yin and yang’. They house your willpower and your life force. Pow­er­ful kid­ney en­er­gies can tem­po­rar­ily over­ride spleen dys­func­tion and make the speed-in­duced emo­tional pain and con­fu­sion dis­ap­pear. Heroin is the last stop in the gate­way cy­cle though, be­cause it taps into the very source of your power re­serves. This is why the side ef­fects are ac­cel­er­ated age­ing – ob­vi­ous in the skin, teeth and or­gans – but also in­creas­ing fear and loss of willpower.

There is a gate­way cy­cle, but it doesn’t end with heroin, you can keep go­ing with chi. This is the ul­ti­mate mood- and min­dal­ter­ing sub­stance. You prob­a­bly won’t have heard the gate­way cy­cle, or the mind, drugs or re­cov­ery for that mat­ter, ex­plained from this per­spec­tive be­fore, but it makes sense.

It ex­plains why and how you feel so bad when you quit. If your or­gans are de­pleted your lungs gen­er­ate grief; your liver, frus­tra­tion; your spleen, con­fu­sion; your kid­neys, fear; and your heart, de­pres­sion. No won­der you feel pur­pose­less, dis­con­nected, lost and mad.

How­ever, the or­gan model also of­fers a path for­ward. Evolve your ad­dic­tion via a chi-build­ing life­style that im­proves the phys­i­cal and meta­phys­i­cal func­tion of all your or­gans, and your lungs will gen­er­ate spon­tane­ity; your liver, hap­pi­ness; your spleen, bound­aries; your kid­neys, power; and your heart, love. No drugs re­quired. Fol­low the gate­way cy­cle all the way to chi

Fol­low your feel­ings

You be­came an ad­dict or com­mit­ted drug user be­cause you fol­lowed feel­ings, not the­o­ries. Take an ex­pe­ri­en­tial ap­proach to re­cov­ery and en­gage di­rectly with your feel­ings again. If you are still us­ing drugs, you can get this process un­der­way be­fore you even quit. I reg­u­larly de­velop plans for clients where there is an over­lap pe­riod in which they might still be en­gag­ing with the old drug life­style, but at the same get­ting treat­ments and mak­ing life­style changes that es­tab­lish a new re­ward­ing life­style.

This way, right from the start, the em­pha­sis is on re­place­ment and feel­ing good, and you can avoid wast­ing time get­ting bogged down in the­o­ries about where every­thing went wrong. I’ve read a lot of re­cov­ery books writ­ten by ad­dic­tion pro­fes­sion­als who have never taken drugs. While these may have helped many peo­ple, for me, it’s like read­ing a cook­book writ­ten by some­one who has never eaten food. The al­tered states, the magic and the mys­tery are miss­ing. Chi de­liv­ers these and it’s not the­o­ret­i­cal. This is why we need to fo­cus on the body.

Even if drugs could keep de­liv­er­ing,

the ex­pe­ri­ence even­tu­ally be­comes ‘so what’; you be­come cyn­i­cal about the highs. Do drugs for ten years and I can guar­an­tee you’re go­ing to feel like crap. Do chi prac­tices for ten years, though, and you’re go­ing to feel awe­some. You can keep reach­ing higher and more in­tense states. ■ The next chap­ter will be pub­lished in the next Liv­ing­now. If you want to fast for­ward your life, the en­tire book is avail­able for down­load from Ama­zon. Born in Ger­many in 1958, and liv­ing in Aus­tralia since 1981, Jost is an ex speed ad­dict, dealer and de­serter, turned drug and al­co­hol coun­sel­lor who then be­came an acupuncturist. Af­ter lec­tur­ing in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine for a decade and run­ning numer­ous health cen­tres, he de­vel­oped his revolutionary re­cov­ery pro­grams and his re­hab pro­gram is now avail­able on the Sun­shine Coast, Aus­tralia.

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