Mindfulness as a Cure for Sexual Addiction

Couple struggling with alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder

I once heard someone describe our approach to life in the US something like this: If our tolerance and ability to cope is set at 100, we generally operate at 98. Then our friends, boss or children introduce one more factor and we find ourselves trying to live at 102—a recipe for disaster. It is only when we crumble under the stress of living at 102 (or 122!) that we slow down to reassess.

Why Mindfulness?

Slowness, connection to our bodily experience and uncluttered time are anathema to most western experiences. The states of body and mind that most allow for self-awareness and introspection are generally belittled, discouraged and at worse reviled by our fast paced lives.

Well, I’ll concede that the yoga revolution and mindfulness movement are starting to take hold and punch holes in the establishment. Light is streaming into our collective conscious, exposing the desire to slow down. Brooks writes eloquently about mindfulness meditation: “It’s like having access to processes that are there all along, but are usually unseen.”

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“So what?”, you might be thinking. Well, “it’s like you’ve been walking through a forest at night, shining a flashlight to light your way. Suddenly you turn off the flashlight. You lose the bright beam of light on the narrow spot. But gradually your eyes start to adjust to the darkness, and you can suddenly see the whole scene.”

That is the what—seeing the whole scene. When we realize we are living at 102 we can choose to make substantial changes to return to 88. This experience will give us 12 units of resilience for the natural stress that life throws at us.

How Does Mindfulness Relate to Sexual Addiction?

Very often, sexual addiction starts as a coping strategy. The rush, relief and excitement of sexual stimulus medicate the person who is at 102. They momentarily feel as though they live at 66. Yet, the pressure of 102 is not far away—it leaks or explodes back in.

Man Standing In The ParkOften subconsciously the brain knows where the relief was found, and when the opportunity or stimulus is available the sexual release is reused.

It is worth noting that the 102 may be made in part from trauma also. All of life can be counted in relation to how much we can bare.

Sexual addiction entails triggers, compulsions and frustration in resisting. If mindfulness is practiced and used, you may be able to move to a “being” mode, that “involves experiencing life moment-to-moment without clinging to any particular thought, thus blocking the flow of other thoughts and experiences.”

In essence, the “being” mode of mindfulness is a state in which you can experience a trigger and the resulting temptation without allowing it to become all consuming in your mind. It is the ability to take a step back, or, to have the flashlight off and everything else in your experience (apart from temptation) matter too.

How Can I be Mindful?

Here are some beginning steps to help you unlock your mindful capacities so that you can reduce your living level (maybe from 122 to 80), and so that you can start to step back from triggers and temptations. You will need to practice and engage with mindfulness over time to train your mind.

  1. Make a list of all of the things you are avoiding about your present moment. Don’t deny or over embrace aspects, simply note down everything that you usually try to avoid. Take your time, and then share it with someone you trust.
  2. Practice describing things, rather than explaining them. Explanation encourages entanglement, and description allows for distance. Try to describe your journey to and from work (or the store/doctors etc.), including any feelings you had, and simply notice them. Tell another person. When a trigger or temptation arises, describe to yourself what you are noticing—do not judge it, just step back and describe.
  3. Practice focusing on your breath, and then your mind. Sit comfortably and practice breathing deeply, feeling what the air feels like as it flows in and out of your body. As you do this for 3 minutes you will become more relaxed. If your mind wanders onto something else, just notice it and bring it back to your breath.

After 3 minutes, allow your thoughts, feelings, sensations to come and go, let them pass by your mind’s eye without judging them. You will become more aware and able to see what is contributing to, defining, creating, expanding, contracting or somehow else impacting your life.

With commitment and patience mindfulness can become a bedrock practice that underpins a healthier lifestyle and sexual addiction recovery.

 


Paul LoosemoreAbout the author: Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC, author of “21 Movements Towards Life” – The step-by-step guide to recovering from sexual addiction or pornography. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—both individuals and couples. He is the founder of www.stopsexualaddiction.com where you can find his guide, or contact him.


References:

[1]: Brooks, D. (2011) The social animal: the hidden sources of love, character, and achievement. Random House: NY.
[2]: Ibid.
[3]: Dindinger, R. (2014) Pornography addiction: breaking the chains.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on June 24, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 26, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.