Can compulsions be gifts?



So, like I said yesterday–there’s nothing to fix to realize the amazing groovy beings that we are.  Right?  Nothing to do.  Just sail away into the sunset and you’ll be enlightened by age 85 or 90, hands down, just by doing nothing!

Yeah, right.

I don’t believe it for an instant.

If we do nothing, we’ve got a 96.4% chance of remaining deeply ingrained into our patterns into the next lifetime and the next and the next.  (Assuming you believe in lifetimes, that is.)

What I’ve discovered for me is a definitive need to undo. To learn to become more aware. To inquire more deeply into the patterns and reactivity.  This is distinctly different from fixing the self in order to make it more lovely, more palatable, more in sync, more acceptable.

So how do we become more aware?  Wise Mr. Buddha said there are 8,400 ways to reach enlightenment.  Since he lived so very long ago, I’ll bet technology added another 1,600.  So we’ve got 10,000 ways to realize our awareness.



Anything a spiritual teacher tells you to do is suspect.


Because Life itself is leading us down one of the 10,000 paths.

Each of us has a very unique path into which to open.

My path is not yours.  Yours is not your neighbors.  We each must follow that internal beacon which calls us to the left, to the right, downstairs, upstairs, into the forest of ourselves.

I just met a marvelous guide on my path and wanted to share.  It’s entitled “The Gift of Our Compulsions” by Mary O’Malley and it’s magnificent!

It reveals how our compulsions arise as guides for our awakening.  Instead of spending a lifetime fighting the little buggers, there exists a possibility of turning toward them to question what they want.

Compulsions arise in many of us when we’re uncomfortable with a feeling. We reach for something which makes us feel good.  However, because we’re not dealing with the original challenged feeling, the substance or activity never satisfies and, in fact, turns against us.

O’Malley guides us into inquiry and deeper attention.  We can become deeply curious about our compulsions and develop a deeper relationship with them.  Since compulsions often keep us from the present moment, this “technique” of attention can be seen as a non-doing way of untangling the knots which prevent us from harnessing the power of Now.

The untangling of inner knots through attention begins to relax painful suffering which keeps us tied to the wheel of karma.

I thoroughly recommend this sage book for those who feel compulsions result in suffering.  O’Malley succinctly invites us to participate in exercises of awareness which dissolve patterns which separate us from realizing the love which we are.


9 thoughts on “Can compulsions be gifts?

  1. I appreciate your sharing this. I have just tripped over my stick that is: Good better best never let it rest…

    Who came up with such festering shit? What control was really originally meant to be gained by it? Yesterday was spent on considering self control. Insides have pursed lippers, and calm watchers, and someone is patting it and saying oh my, don’t yell at it, just give it a motherly pat and a cookie and some comforting milk. (maybe it’ll be able to stop hissing) lol

  2. I used a similar technique to quit smoking. I asked myself “what happens if I don’t engage in this nasty habit of smoking?” For starters, I temporarily went insane, but I kept asking “and then what?” Recently, I am using something similar to “undo” what has been covering me up for half a century. Anything that is not my eternal presence, my essence, my spirit, is going to get a lot of attention.

  3. You can stop now. Stop trying to figure it out. Stop trying to get enlightened. Stop concentrating. Stop investigating. Stop meditating. Stop trying to stop.

    Be as you are.

    Your true nature is not “you.” Neither is it other than you. It is not the “Witness.” It’s not your True Self, or a Big Self that subsumes your small self. Your true nature is the true nature of everything. You don’t have to do anything to be it; nothing you could do would make you other than it. You can’t mess it up or tarnish or stain it. You’ve never been apart from it. In order to recognize it, you have only to stop adding “yourself” to it. To even refer to this most fundamental of realities as “it” or to call it anything at all is to risk reducing it to a concept and thereby missing it.

    Nothing you can do will lead to this. Nothing you can do or not do will lead you away from this. No amount of meditative attainment or achievement will get you any closer or any further away. The very act of doing or intending anything is something you are adding to this moment; when you are actively doing something, even something so seemingly innocuous as investigating your experience, you are “compounding” or adding something extra to your experience. Surrender now.

    May you be happy.

    ps you might be interested in THIS:


  4. I must have been saving this post for the right time. Thank you. I’ve been exploring my compulsions, and since you recently mentioned this book in an email, I’ve been feeling compelled (heh) to pick up a copy and read it.

    • Robin, DO let me know if it speaks to you the way it spoke to me. I love it when the *just right* book comes along and it speaks louder than words. 🙂

  5. I am so glad you told us about this marvelous book … and that I got to hear you discuss it more in depth. I look forward to exploring its gifts. Thank you, Kathy!

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