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The Age of Addiction

· Mindfulness,Addiction,Transformation,Spirituality,Russell Brand

I never expected to be spiritually inspired by Russell Brand but it has happened. Sometimes we find inspiration in the most unlikely places, especially if we stay open to it. I saw Russell Brand perform on his ‘Re:Birth’ tour this week with two good friends. This was the first time I have been out to an event like this in well over a year so perhaps it was this that made it feel such a profound experience but maybe not. With incredible lightness, and let’s be honest his fairly rude humour, Russell spoke eloquently about tough and important topics that I have thought a lot about over the course of this unusual year for me. With long periods of pain imposed alone time and isolation, I have been forced to confront myself and look at what’s been holding me back. I thought I was fairly ‘normal’, whatever that means, but it turns out there are a number of things.

As Russell Brand says, “This is the age of addiction, a condition so epidemic, so all encompassing and ubiquitous that unless you are fortunate enough to be an extreme case, you probably don’t know that you have it.” I wasn’t an extreme case, but the fortunate thing for me was that I had an enforced stop where I became distanced from society and could see my patterns of behaviour more clearly. Many of our addictions are not only sanctioned by society but are actually encouraged, let’s think of a few popular ones: overworking; shopping; gambling; drinking; gaming; social media – just a few big examples - are pervasive and easy accessed in our society. These are all ways in which we can forget that our lives are finite and anaesthetise the pain and discomforts of life. My previous overwork and busyness meant I never stopped to sit and question myself and truly feel however it was I was feeling. My (most) daily glasses of wine helped massively in the tiring, relentless and often challenging world of being a parent of young children whilst juggling other responsibilities. I told myself that I deserved it; everyone else does it; and really it was one of my 5 a day! I haven’t had a drink for nearly 11 months now, initially imposed by conflict with my pain medication but since because I know I feel so much better and more alive by not being held in sway by it.

When talking with a friend this week, her reaction was “Urrgh, I really don’t want to get to know myself!” I may well have had this reaction before (it’s just too uncomfortable, hard and surely it’s more fun self medicating?) but now I have had a taste of something different my reaction is “yes, yes I want to know!” If we numb the bad, we also numb our capacity to feel real joy and be connected to something far greater than ourselves. I want to think higher, feel deeper. The very fact that our time on this earth is finite means that the material world is not enough for me – the consuming, conforming and being constricted. I want to create community and be connected, where we look after each other, gently become less judgemental and be of service. When faced with the values and actions our society shows us, this is very much a radical act. We will not get to a better place - one with solutions to climate change, tackling racism and sexism and so on - by conforming. We must push boundaries and be brave enough to stand up and do things differently, coming from the values we know in our hearts to be right. We must do it together. In this time of instant gratification, we must do the right thing over the easy thing.


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead.

With peace and love, Clare x

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