Radical freedom from addictions, cravings, and compulsive patterns with Ben Tannahill

Episode 77 August 31, 2022 00:50:46
Radical freedom from addictions, cravings, and compulsive patterns with Ben Tannahill
Alcohol Tipping Point
Radical freedom from addictions, cravings, and compulsive patterns with Ben Tannahill

Aug 31 2022 | 00:50:46


Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

Ben is a trauma-informed somatic inquiry facilitator and founder of drunken buddha where he helps people to live in radical freedom from addictions, cravings and compulsive patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.  

We chat about: 


Find Ben: 

Website: www.drunkenbuddha.net  

Facebook:  Drunken Buddha 

Free Nervous System Regulation Mega-Toolkit: https://www.drunkenbuddha.net/nervous-system-regulation-toolkit-landing 


FREE resources to support you:    

100 Questions to Change Your Drinking:  https://www.alcoholtippingpoint.com/100questions   

Dry Guide:  https://www.alcoholtippingpoint.com/dryguide     

10 Day Break:  https://www.alcoholtippingpoint.com/10dayholiday   

Mocktail Recipe Book: https://www.alcoholtippingpoint.com/mocktailrecipes    

Alcohol Tipping Point Blog: https://www.alcoholtippingpoint.com/blog   


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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Pod Ben Tannahill Deb: . Welcome back to the alcohol tipping point podcast. I am your host, Deb Masner. I am a registered nurse health coach and alcohol free badass. And today on the show, I have Ben Tanahill. Ben is a trauma informed somatic inquiry facilitator, and he is the founder of drunken Buddha, where he helps people to live in radical freedom from addictions, cravings, and compulsive patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. So thank you Ben, for being on the show. Welcome. Ben: Thanks so much. Yeah. Pleasure. Thanks for asking. Deb: And where are you at? Where are you located? Ben: I live well in, in England, as you can tell by my voice, possibly I live on the little, on the coast opposite France. It's a city called Folkston. So I can see France at my window. So you might hear a couple of sea girls at some point as well. Deb: wow. That sounds like a beautiful place. Yeah. Yeah. It's really nice. Aw, lovely. Well, can you give a little background about who you are and what you do? Ben: Yeah, sure. So there, I guess there's two parts to that story and you can, I'll, I'll start on the drunken Buddhist side of it. I know I used to be an alcoholic and couldn't stop drinking and eventually through a process, which will perhaps talk about I started drunken, but to, to after my own healing journey, essentially of just getting really, to grips with what it was, that's driving my addiction, the, you know, the deep suffering that alcohol would relieve and. You know, the practices, tools, technology, support, wisdom that I would require to, to overcome that I've then sort of created drunken bud around that. So I work with people one on one to sort of what I, you know, you said somatic inquiry facilitator. Well, that kind of means in English is I'm, I'm guiding people to get to the root of the suffering, which is always located in the body. So I'm giving people the support, they need the resource, they need some good inquiries practices, techniques to really get below the surface. What's really driving alcohol addiction or any other kind of addiction. And I, you know, you mentioned, you know, it's radical freedom from cravings to compulsions. I, I try to the strap line on my website is something like fine peace without needing a substance you know, behavior acceptance or approval because these addictions, they. It's, you know, alcohol and drugs is one side of it, but also people pleasing or needing approval or being a workaholic or, you know, these are also part of the picture for me. I think you Deb: Interesting. So what, well, tell me a little bit more about somatic inquiry and how, and you mentioned like all addiction or suffering is in our body. Can you speak to that some more? Ben: Yeah, sure. I mean, for me, this is sort of the core idea. If you, if the person listening takes away only one idea from this whole podcast, it is the importance of the body for well suffering in general and specifically for addictions, because firstly, you could almost imagine that if you didn't have your body, where there's nowhere that the suffering will be able to come from. There's thoughts, thoughts by themselves. Don't actually cause the suffering, the thoughts trigger very, very deep feelings and people don't realize what they're carrying around in their bodies. I think this is the key point. There's, there's actually a whole treasure trove of stuff that you've accumulated through your life. And one way that I like to talk about that stuff, or one word I like to use is survival stress. Something you hear about a lot is also like nervous system responses, like stuck nervous system responses. So essentially what happens is you go through your life. You get in scenarios where you feel unsafe. This could be as simple as your mom turns around for a minute. And suddenly when you're a little baby, you feel unsafe, the body will then kick up a, a, a fight flight or freeze response, or a foreign response can be very intense. And often, you know, as a kid, we don't have the support. We need to process that. Or our parents are actively being like shut up, you know, stop making noise. And these, these. Responses, it kind of gets stuck and they're designed to, to, to come up, get us to safety and then, and then subside again, they have a cycle, a loop, and as we go through our lives, because our society is not very good at this kind of stuff. We essentially get hundreds of these stuck loops of survival stress in our body. And we we're also to cope with it. We have to dissociate from it at the same time. so we don't even know it's there because our body is our body of mind is, is an absolute genius. You will not believe how good it is hiding stuff from us. That's one of its main activities is rationalizing away, hiding things, but essentially if you actually start turning towards the body and exploring it, you will find huge amounts of shame, sadness, repressed, anger, repressed, fear, anxiety that goes all the way back through your life. And this, this stuff is like just underneath the surface boiling. Creating huge, like, like kind of a, it creates a kind of a background hum of suffering. You know, that sense of generally, you know, you're in a room by yourself, but you feel kind of uncomfortable when you, or you're bored or your sense of lack is just constantly there or depression. That's kind of the surface of the ripples of that, of that background hum. Or all this stuff in the body. And then addictions and alcohol are like a coping mechanism that we use to alleviate that suffering because it, you know, you've experienced when I drank. I imagine when you drank, you take a sip of drink, what happens? Right? There's the release, there's the release of all this pent up survival tension that you don't even know. Is there you just, we just assume it's in the drink. Oh, I just like drinking beer. It's like, no, no, no, no. You've had all this stuff like, oh, it's like a ti tight as a, tight as anything inside you all, all these years. And the alcohol is to. To release it. So somatic inquiry to get to the point is, is a way of diving back in helping this survival stress to complete that loop that cycle. So feeling through it again, feeling into the shame, the sadness, the anxiety, and supporting people where cuz they couldn't didn't have the support when they were young. I'm now giving them support. They need to process these emotions and these nervous system survival responses because that's, then you get the relief that you're looking for, but without needing the alcohol, then you get the, ah, but there was no need for anything external. And then the more you go through those layers of actually processing the stuff and ah, then the less and less you actually feel the need for alcohol or anything else. So in Deb: one of your sessions, like what, what are some of the questions you would ask or like how do you get to tho those Ben: layers? Sure. So the first thing I always do is, is resourcing with people. So this is you could call it creating an island of safety in your experience. Right, because all this stuff is about safety from the ground up. The reason those responses that suffering's there in the first place is cause at some point we felt unsafe even in some very small way or just at school, we just didn't feel like we could be ourselves or something. It could be something very small to, you know, abuse. It was obviously very unsafe. So the first part is. Can be as so simple as getting people, you know, feeling their feet on the ground, which is a neutral, stable space. It's got a strength to it and people can tap into that. Helps the system feel safe. Or I invoke in another re I like, I call it a love resource invo in the presence of perhaps like a pet who they really loved when they're a kid or it's close, close people, like family tends not to work so well, cause it's a bit complicated, but like I often get like some reason I've had Gander quite a lot with people like Gand, cause he's like very strong, but very gentle. He's like his strong masculine presence and people, you know, people find him very reassuring. He's like, you feel really, really safe when you're with Gander. Right? I mean, imagine if you did have Gand out next to you, you wouldn't, you'd be like, no, one's gonna mess. You know, you'd feel great. And you wouldn't believe that that is like, that provides the space to then go into some of the more, the safety to go into some of the more painful. So then when you're there, we might choose a topic to start with that they know is an issue. It could be anxiety. And so what I do is we might find a moment when they were, you know, you've recently been anxious and I try and find, find the somatic route of that through different questions. So you could look at the last week, you know, you're in an argument with someone you might ask questions like well, they said this, it's like, what's that saying about you? It's like, you know, you have this memory of someone saying, saying something it's like, oh, well it means I'm I'm worthless. Or it means I'm, I'm not good enough or they're gonna, they're gonna hurt me. It's an absolute classic you could ask them. Okay, well just sort of move into that, that feeling. If you imagine the words I'm worthless, what happens in your body? And they'll never notice it might start to tighten up, right? They're like, oh no, I feel this, this tightening in the chest, then it's like, okay, well, when, when was the first time you felt this? And I go through this very slowly with the client, I'm going through very quickly here. When might be the first time you felt this, I was like, can they get a memory of when they were, you know, four years old and they see their mom and the point is always to go to the body. So the, the point of going to the origin is not to come up with a narrative or a story for what's going on. We stay focused, always on direct experience primarily the body. But you'll notice that if you can, that then brings up that moment, which then brings up that stuff from really deep down. Right? If you sort of go into that moment, step into the energy of four year old, you, when your mom was telling you off or something, you can really feel that, that sadness, that shame, that sense of lack come to the surface and then there, and then that's, that's it that's the core, right? So you had, when you were anxious last week, it had nothing to do with the other person it has to do with this energy. That's been in your body since you were four years old. Right? And then it's a question of bringing in some of that safety you might, and you know, you might remind yourself, you've got Gand off with you on, on your shoulder, gives you a sense of strength to feel into that. Say, it's say it's fear or shame or something. A and let it be as it is. And I also support people. There's there's you can sort of look at it and see how it's moving. Just getting really curious about it, getting to know it, there are different techniques for being with it. I try to encourage people to speak from it or to move with it. So shame has kind of like a, it wants to, you know, the shoulders want to come in, their head wants to drop almost like stepping into a how a four year old would feel that feeling. Right. Just making that as it's like, oh, I can't believe mommy doesn't love me. The shoulders contract. I feel so alone. It's about, again, this is not story. This is just that heartfelt pain from that four year old that didn't have space, you know, back then the four year old just had to freeze. He couldn't say anything now, now with, you know, if you've got the right support, you can go, go back into that, that, that feeling. So those are the kinds of questions and practice I use. And there's many, many, many different ones. That's just a very brief like whiff flavor. Yeah. Deb: And so how would you say, you know, I've had a client say, well, but when I'm drinking, like it's after work or I'm it's Friday or Saturday and I'm celebrating, I'm not thinking about trauma, I'm just drinking, you know, like, so yeah. How does the, it tie into some of your pleasurable reasons for drinking or is that hidden like that? Where Ben: is that? Yeah, this is it. This is where it gets a little bit sneaky, right? Because like I said, often, particularly with people who aren't, who, for whom the problems a little more, they don't realize the exact reason why they're drinking. If, if you have, if you have a reason, if you can't say no to a drink on some level, there is some part of your body that is screaming for. And the key point is always this, that you aren't necessarily always aware, aware of it because many, many people, particularly if they drink a lot, they're completely disassociated from their body or very, or very, very outta touch with their body that I totally disassociate. It sounds very strong. I don't wanna like medicalize it or make it sound like something weird, but it's essentially we, we are very much in our heads and in order to get through life, we've created like a layer of numbness between us and, and these deep emotions, because it's, it's, it will be too much to have them splurging out all over the place. So in order to get through life, our body is created another layer of protection. So you have the, the core hurt, and then you have what I call coping emotions, fear and anger that come up to protect us. And then above that you have what I call a sort of. Disallowance it's kind of a repression or not allowing mechanism. It's just numbness and dissociation. It's like we can't get through a day at work or with our families when we've just got rage and anger and hurts spewing everywhere. So we just numb ourselves out to it. and so people don't realize why they're actually drinking. So I can guarantee you if you, if someone were to pause and this is what I try to encourage people to do. So if you, if you actually pause when you're just about to reach for a drink, like sit down for 10 minutes and really, really start to feel into the body, and you could get much better at this with practice. You'll start to notice that there's actually stuff going on there that there's tightness in the chest. There's discomfort in, in maybe the belly is type. Maybe there's you could feel anxiety in your hands, maybe. Or maybe just the sense of numbness itself is quite painful. Like you just feel a bit empty or, or, or barren, or like life isn't in Italy that just sitting there without a drink would be boring or somehow lacking. It can be very, very subtle, like, like just a general sense of lack. Right? Most people just take that for granted, cuz they have added their entire lives. Actually. It's not it's it's it's that's everything that I've just been talking about up to this point. Right? Just manifesting in the moment as this subtle sense of lack. And under I call it the pain Berg, this iceberg there's this there's this subtle sense of lack. And if you go into that though, there's all this pain underneath the surface, which is driving behaviors. And so if you, when people find themselves reaching for a drink, the mind will go like, oh, I just, I just want a drink and that's fine. I'm not. So if people wanna drink, that's totally cool. The core of this is absolute nonjudgment I so it's, I'm not saying this is bad or wrong. I'm just pointing out. What's actually happening is that the mind is trying to find a solution to this Berg and it, and it goes, and it can't tell you. What's going on, you can't say, oh, there's a pain Berg, and we need to, we need to numb ourselves out to it. Cuz then it's too obvious what it's doing then you're not gonna do it. you might actually investigate the pain Berg, which is an, which is a no go cuz we know these feelings are unsafe. Right? We were taught from very young ages. Feelings are unsafe. We can't go there. So the mind has to say, oh, let's just have a drink. That'll be fun. Cuz I'm hanging out with blah, blah, blah with, you know, whoever it is. And so it just creates a little, a little rationalization and you go, okay, cool. And then you have your drink. You get to relax and get you. And if you wanna relax, that's that's cool. That's totally fine. It's just that people sometimes find that, that this cycle never ends every day. You have to keep relaxing and eventually the, the pain of drinking every day, cuz it's a poison. It poisons your body. It poisons your mind. It affects your life. The suffering from that starts to add up and that's when people start looking. Oh, is there an alternative way? Sure. Deb: Okay. And then how. I you, you talked a little bit about just a way to create a separation between you and the drink. Can you share some more of like how to manage Ben: cravings? Yeah, sure. So I do have, I do have a, a long blog and a workshop on this, on my website as well, cuz cravings. There's almost two ways of doing this work, right. There's kind of like in a session or in a, in a, when you've taken some time, like every day I'm gonna do it at 6:00 PM. I'm gonna do some of this somatic work. Right. And then you're doing it when you're not necessarily craving alcohol, but you can feel into what's what's under the surface, you know, start to investigate what's driving it when that will changes when you're suddenly in the middle of a craving, it's a slightly different ball game. So what I try to encourage people to do is, is the first step is always that pause, right? You have to have a pause and, and just, just have a look at what's going on. In the body and see if you can see if you can allow it just as it is. And these are, these are skills, this kind of a skill based practice. So there's, you can get better at it over time and simply start to notice what, what is actually calling for relief within you, because there is, you know, you could almost imagine you could do a little, a little reverse psychology and just imagine, just tell yourself, oh, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna have a drink now. Actually, I'm not gonna have a drink for the next week. I'm just gonna leave it. And you'll notice that part of you that wants a drink will clench. Right? It's like, ah, there it is. You can kind of, kind of find that clench in your system with that little reverse psychology. Just imagine. No, I'm not gonna have a drink. So yes you are. Part of your system goes, yes. Yes. We're having a drink. We need a. There you found it. Right. And at that point you can, I'd encourage people to almost like take bite size chunks. So you can, you can start. And I can't explain all the different techniques and processes here of how to process emotions, or maybe that can be a separate question. There are different techniques and practices you can use to start to process that clench essentially. And then I would say afterwards, do what you want. This is my more controversial tip. And it would depend slightly on, on the situation of the person, but it's, it's unhelpful in my view to go into this really hardcore stuff and then expect yourself to not use anything at all. Like you could use harm reduction might be one way of doing it. So you've spent 10 minutes feeling into the anxiety. Maybe you've been bouncing and shaking a little bit to move some of that anxiety through. Maybe you've done some inquiry questions to get to the root of that anxiety. And you've been with that for you. You know, you've been cuddling you're in a four year old for a while. Then you might just need some chocolate or you might need to watch Netflix just to calm the system down. Now, there are actually other ways of calming the system down that are healthier, like nervous system regulation techniques. So that might be a first port of call as well. So let me, let me try, I'm going all over the place a little bit here. Let me, let me summarize, you have the pause, feel into the body. See what's going on, where that clench is. It's like, yes, we need alcohol. Being with it, processing it, then you do what you need to, to relax the nervous system afterwards, cuz it'll be heightened. That's why you want the drink in the first place. And that could be through nervous system regulation techniques, you know, yoga or, or calling a friend is a good one. You know, co-regulation with another person who you feel safe with or if you need to have some chocolate or if you end up having a glass of wine or whatever it is, there's no judgment from me. You know? I think, I think it's fine. I, with cravings, I find it easier to chip away at it over time. So you just, every time you have a craving, it's like you go into it for 10 minutes. Right. And then ideally you'd be doing some other work on the side as well. If you were really serious about this stuff. That's I, I, I, my blog, I called it learning to love the mongoose within right. learning to love the, what the mongoose within. Yeah. The mongoose is a little animal like African animal. It's quite, it's quite kind of vicious but friendly. And it's like, you know, those hundreds of stuck survival patterns I talked about. At the beginning, I, I call each of those a mongoose and it's like, each of us has this mongoose, mayhem, this mongoose circus within. And it's like, whenever you want, whenever you're craving something, it's probably worth saying this as well. The craving is an indicator of something. It's like, one moment you are not craving anything. Then the next moment, bam, you're craving something. It's like, what's going on. There's something has changed there. And what's happened is a mongoose has been activated. Some, some of this survival stress has come to the surface just a little bit. And then a thought goes up. The mind's like, we need a solution to this bang. You get a thought of a beer or a glass of wine or whatever it is. So you a craving consists of two parts, the thought and the sensation. That's what it actually is in your experience. And Oh, apologies. I just, I squeezed my nose. I literally got my nose pierced this morning and I just squeezed my nose. AB absent minded lip. And it's just like, just a massive shock of pain. Just went through my nose. I was just like, okay, , that's fine. Much like a sudden craving would arrive. It's like, you know, that intensity. Yeah. And it makes you, it rips, you rips you away from whatever you were doing, like trying to talk on a podcast and then this goes, bam, there's a real urgency to it, right. As well to the cravings. Like we need this now. And so that's the skill is, you know, having the, the, the, the, the, the, the wisdom, essentially as that thought and sensation pulls you towards alcohol, which is what it's doing. There's a thought, and there's a sensation, which is pulling you towards alcohol to be able to pause and, you know, have some skillful means of working with that. And then afterwards relaxing, however you need. And you repeat that over and over again. And eventually that over time It reduces the intensity of cravings. Deb: Yeah. I, I agree. I mean, especially when you're starting out, like with cravings, you can either like move towards them or away from them. And so, like you're saying, like moving towards them and feeling them and sitting with them and processing them. But, but also if you need to move away from them in your the other techniques, like eating chocolate or calling a friend or going on a walk or something like that. Ben: Yeah, yeah. That's a bit another great way of, of putting it. In fact, the, the optimum will probably be a combination of both. You move towards it for a while and then, and then away from it and you repeat that process and how you move away from it. It has sort of, I don't wanna get too, like, this is good. This is bad. You know, there are sort of healthier and unhealthier ways of, of moving away from that craving of, of needing to relax afterwards. I go for a walk would be a great one, having chocolate, slightly less healthy, but still effective. Probably if your goal is to drink less alcohol, that might be, that might be helpful. But it's just a difficult process. Cravings are very, very powerful. And so, and, and you can't really do it with willpower alone has been my experience trying to willpower your way through this stuff. Doesn't work, which is why you just, you just almost take that when it comes to cravings, you take that gap in between. So you don't, you're not just forcing yourself to never, never have chocolate or whatever, never CR you know, never have anything you consume anything that you're craving. It's just, you, you are creating some more and more space sort of around that and you're processing, what's driving it and getting more and more aware of what's actually going on in your system. The, you could call it just becoming more conscious. That's really all that's happening here is cuz normally when you get a craving arises, you're just instantly sucked into the thought you, you, it sucked into the minds narrative. I should, I shouldn't, I shouldn't, you know, the mind will just drive you insane here going round and around, around. And, and that's the that's what has a lot of the suffering, right? And it's, this is around becoming more conscious of, what's actually just driving that whole show rather than getting sucked into the mind. It's like what's driving the mind because that's the root of it. Deb: Yeah. And so, you know, you talk a lot about trauma and what is driving addiction? Can you speak more to that? Ben: Yeah. So that's kind of what I alluded to at the beginning. With that survival stress nervous system response, one, one definition of trauma I like is just any, any emotional imprint from the past that is not resolved. So this could be very broad. Cause when people talk about trauma, it could be something like, you know, whiplash from a car accident or some very severe abuse, which would be trauma a hundred percent. But a lot of trauma that people experience is these, these kind of quote unquote small things. And the thing about trauma what's interesting is it's not not to do with the event itself. It's what's to do with what happens inside of you in response to the event. Because for example, you know, you could have your, your, your father might criticize you when you're small and then like shame would suddenly arise. And then the belief comes up. It's like, I'm never gonna make a mistake ever again. Right. Because for little kids. You know, having your parents love and acceptance as approval is a life and death matter. it's not optional. And so the entire system is geared towards maintaining that good attachment with the parents. So if you get, you know, if, if that's threatened, the whole system will, will come into activity to protect you from that with, by creating beliefs and these emotional imprints, which are like the fuel for the beliefs. So the belief might be, yeah, I, I, I can't make a mistake ever again, and there'll be a huge amount of shame and fear that will come up in the system to deal with that. But because your parent is, you know, you know, acting is not your friend in that moment, you have absolutely no way as a child of dealing with that. Cause children cannot, you know, little babies and toddlers can't process their own emotions. They require a, a safe place in an adult to do it. So that gets stuck. And this is what I'm saying. You've now got this belief and you've got this energy. That's stuck. That's fueling that belief. And now for the rest of your life, you'll do everything you can to never to avoid making a mistake again, for example, and that's a kind of example of a trauma. And that'll only deepen as you go into that'll get triggered anytime, anyone who reminds you of your dad , or that situation comes up in your life, that that belief will unconsciously be triggered and you'll be trying to, you know, get their love essentially. And that is where kind of the pain and suffering resides is that shame, that fear, the constant, trying the live up to some, the beliefs you hold about how you need to be all below the surface. And if you go into there, you'd be amazed how much quote, unquote trauma there is. I, how much unresolved, emotional imprints there are in your system. There are layers and layers and layers and layers and hundreds of beliefs and patterns and feelings as I've sort of done my own emotional archeology. And, you know, I found those numbness first and dissociation. Then there was a lot of sadness, a lot of tears that I went through, then the core of it was a lot of repressed, anger, huge amounts of rage plus tons of anxiety and fear, just like raw tension in the system. And I, I I'm constantly blown away by what a discover exists in my own nervous system. And having gone through like hundreds of hours of really, if not more of really intense emotions that I've dug up and processed, it's like, no wonder I would, I wanted to drink. It's like Christ, you feel the stuff that's down there. It's like, of course everyone is drinking. how, once you feel it, it makes complete sense. But it's says people are just, as I said, we're not quite aware that this is actually what's going on. And it takes a bit of time patience, a bit of skill, the right support to actually start to dig into this stuff. But trauma is, yeah, trauma is, is, is central to all of this. And in fact, de general insanity of the world, I might add, you know, if you see people acting a bit bananas out there you know, maybe politicians or something like, you know, being a bit selfish or whatever, it's just, cuz they've got these, we've all got hundreds of layers of this stuff going on. And all these beliefs are just dragging us like a craving and all kinds of different directions. And it's all driven by unconscious stuff in the body. Deb: I would think, you know, with that description, like no one would be immune to it. No, cause no one has a perfect childhood. Ben: No, you would need a perfect child. You would need to almost feel complete love and support for like a hundred percent of the time until you're about like 12 or something to get away with Yeah. Deb: And you know, like I'm a parent and I'm like, I'm just, re-traumatized like how much trauma do my kids have? I wonder if there's like a better word than trauma. I feel like that word is so loaded. And like you said, it can be like something big, but it also can be something small. Ben: Yeah. Oh yeah. I don't really like to use that word, but it is very widely recognized, so it can be helpful. I quite like sort of survival stress , but there's no, yeah. Or emotional imprint is, is, is among the best I've found so far or just stuck energy. You can kind of take different views on it from a more spiritual perspective. It's like, oh, stuck energy, you know, low vibration. Or you could think from a nervous system perspective, it's these stuck nervous system responses. There's kind of different viewpoints. You can take on it, but it's all these emotional imprints is a more kind of psychological perspective, but you can, what, what I try and do is always get down to the diet experience. Like that's the crux of the work is so you're not thinking you're not creating a narrative about, well, you know, if I say, what's driving your addiction and you go, well, I think it's this. And it could be that. And well, I noticed it's like, we always look, look in the direct experience of the actual movement of sensations, energies, thoughts in, in the moment. And in that place, there, there is no trauma or no trauma. There's no labels. There's just the movement of these energies. And, and, and it's all about listening to them about how they wanna move and what they need. Cuz all, like I said, these emotions, these stuck energies, they want to move they're there they'd want nothing more to move, but they're just afraid to do so. They need to be heard, you know, they need to be given support before they're willing to, to let go because often it was so unsafe to feel tons of fear, to express tons of anger, to, to feel our shame, to express our shame. It was so unsafe that it's just kept under wraps. And these, I always think about these emotions, perhaps a better way of talking about from, I always like to think of it in terms of like a little person within each layer or each pattern is like a little person that's sort of come to help you out. It's had little mission and it's kind of got a perspective. It's got opinions, it's got a voice and there's all these little like trapped little, little children inside of us and you kind of need to go around another way of calling people, call it orphaned parts. Sometimes another way of So you've got these orphan parts, these little children, you kind of gotta go within and listen to them. And if they're given the safety, if they're listened to and, and, and they're held in the right way and they're reassured, cuz the reason they're not letting go is cuz they think I can't. Right. So for example, with the, the mistake, the unconscious belief is I can't make a mistake. We can't let go of that belief because we need it. We get, we get something out of it, all these, all these stuck patterns, we actually get something out of it. It's like, well it drives me onwards. It's like, I need to believe that I can't make a mistake cause otherwise I'll make a mistake. and then I won't get love and that's death. So I can't let go of this belief. Otherwise I'm gonna die. It's essentially the whole, what the system is unconsciously telling itself. And so you kind of need to convince, convince is the wrong word. You need to just give that space in which these beliefs feel safe enough to unwind where it feels safe enough. You can let go of that shame and fear. And it's okay. And, and, and you're not gonna have that energy driving you to avoid mistakes and maybe, you know, and you'll find that you never actually needed it in the first place. It's just that the, the system creates all these fears that keep all this stuff stuck in the system. So it's like a, it's like a grand illusion you're holding onto, like, I can't make a mistake. I can't do this. I've gotta work really hard. I've gotta be perfect. We're holding to all these beliefs and we can't let them go. Cuz we fear. We'll just disintegrate if we do. But we don't, it turns out on the other side of that wall of fear. It turns out there is just happiness and being more yourself. Deb: yeah. Can you talk more about like how, how you would help someone manage their drinking using all of these tools? Ben: Yeah. So I, I like to give 'em a bit of a, a conceptual understanding what's going on. Not, not too much, but just like helping them notice what's what's actually going on. I say, oh well, there's I I'm doing it to get some relief from the body would be the cool thing to understand. and then it would be around in, in a session, perhaps starting to delve into what some of those drivers are. So I might use that reverse psychology again, like it's fine. This is a, a, a, a, a technique called a reverse inquiry from the KBY inquiries, which is one of those trainings. I did, you sort of say, you say something to, to find the note, to find that part of you that disagrees. So I'd be like, I'm never gonna drink again. And part of you goes, yes, you are. And that comes up quite viscerally for people. And it's like, bam, we've then got a starting point for actually actual actually finding the drivers in their experience. And that can be really revelatory for some people, right. It's like, oh, and then I show that I sort of explain to them and give them ideas for how they can process it. And ideally, you know, they're willing to step into that with me and we can spend a session processing some of that emotion and, and it's key to ha it's key to have that big it's key to integrate something. To go into a session and to understand that it's possible to process these emotions. Cause if you, if I tell that to someone intellectually, they're like, okay, yeah, yeah. I can process my emotions. It's like, they've never actually felt it happening. It's like, when they feel it happening, it's like, oh, like, like it clicks in the mind, you actually feel it viscerally. It's like, it's like the difference between talking about a hamburger and biting into a hamburger is like two completely different things. Right? So that's, that's one part. So that, that sort of clicks in this new way of, of viewing what's going on inside them. It's like, oh, it's this stuck energy that I can, I can get moving again. And then it can release. It's like, yeah. And then there'll be that sort of in sessions. And there'd be that the more day to day stuff where I'd give them some ideas and practices to primarily to resource themselves. So I'd give them, you know, we'd, we'd find a resource that works for that person. So that might be feeling your feet on the, on the floor and imagining Gandel right. But there are many, there are infinite ways of resourcing, right? It could be some nice music. I tried to have two, like a physical one, like feeling into the stillness around your body or the calm, the, you know, the calmness of your hands and then something else like Gander or Jesus, or your pep when you were small, or that teacher who was really kind to you at primary school, you just feel safe and accepted by and just, and just like soaking the nervous system in that stability in love, basically on a, on a daily basis and then some inquiries and techniques to stop just chipping away on a daily basis and working with the the drivers. I, I tend to focus as you'll probably imagine, you know, aware by, you know, by this point I tend not to focus on the drinking side of it so much. Like the actual alcohol there's tons of stuff out there on, you know, all kinds of different ideas. I find, I prefer to go straight for the route with the issue, which is the drivers. And if people wanna upset whatever rules or whatever they have around drinking That's totally fine. And there's, there's absolutely no judgment for me on whatever behaviors they, they, whatever they consume, whatever behaviors they feel they need to take on whatever other support they need. But my, my focus is helping them really under the, get to grips with what's going on in the body, giving them the tools and the practices and the sense of safety and support. They need to go into some of that and, and, and process it. Yeah. Deb: Because you, you just, you talk about addiction in general and, and that you could be addicted to anything, like you said, at the beginning to people pleasing or gambling or sex, or it could be anything. So once you remove that behavior, there's still that underlying all the, the iceberg still, right? Ben: Yeah. Well, you'll find, I bet. I bet you noticed this. Cause I certainly noticed it myself when I, I quit drinking. I had like a rock bottom experience just before I was 28. And then stopped drinking, but then I hit, I started drinking energy drinks and coffee and binging on, I was Bing on chocolate every day for years afterwards. And that's just, that's just finding relief in a different avenue. It's just, there's the same suffering is in the system, but I'm just finding it through a marginally healthier avenue. And that was great. Marginally healthier avenue is like, I'm, I'm all in for the marginally healthier avenue, like sign me up every day of the week. But I noticed this, I was just still miserable because all the pain was still there. And that's that's, this is why I kind of focus on that really. And I dunno if you have an ex experience from your own life. I dunno if when, you know, when you, when you got some freedom from alcohol, you may have noticed, like you start working more, you suddenly, you gotta start going to the gym obsessively. Maybe you get more anxious around people. You hide away a bit. I don't know. It could be anything, but you might have noticed some behaviors shift. Yeah, I Deb: definitely have more ice cream. Ben: yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's great. Have all the ice cream. Deb: Well, and we could talk a little bit about, you know, I, you mentioned like saying you're, you're never gonna drink in that visceral reaction. And then, you know, a lot of traditional programs are built on perfection and, and willpower, you know, like what, what do you think is missing from AA or some of the other traditional ways of managing well, because this is a show about drinking. We'll just Ben: say drinking. Yeah, sure. Well, I, I was a member of AA for a, a number of years. I've done the steps a couple of times had a few sponsors. I've had had a sponsor see two, and I have, I have a video on my YouTube channel, which is you type in drunken, Butta. There is some Spanish metal band also called drunk Kubota, which will find on YouTube. But if, if you find the stuff that doesn't look like Spanish metal and that'll probably be me and about like why AA works and why it doesn't. And the reason why it works is because, you know, I was talking earlier about nervous system regulation. The, the sort of the, the way our system is set up is to regulate with other human beings. So that's our primary means of, of, of maintaining a sort of a healthy, nervous system is our regulation of other human beings. So when you go to AA, you are, co-regulating, it's a safe space to be with all these other people and you can share and you feel safe there. And that sense of safe in community. And so on has a sort of a down regulatory effect on the, on the, on a, on a hyped up nervous system or, or I'll call it a regulatory effect cause it can down regulate sort of a, what you call a hyper hyper aroused nervous system. So when you're really anxious and full of full of nervous energy fearful. Or some people on the other end are very depressed and very dull, right? And those are sort the two ends of the spectrum you get. And it'll sort of bring you back more towards the middle, but only temporarily because it's not getting to the, the, the, the core of the issue. It's a temporary relief. When you go to a meeting and you share and you hang out with everybody and that's great, temporary relief is amazing. It can give you the space to do a lot of stuff. It gave me a lot of space to, to slowly go get into meditation and learning about all these things. Right. So it's amazing. But the biggest problem, and this is a huge problem is they don't know anything about trauma. They don't know anything about what's actually what the actual issue they're discussing is, is never mentioned the actual route of what's actually going on. It's like a, a bunch of doctors what would be a good example? So like, imagine, you know, how I, I was reading recently about how lots of skin issues are caused by gut it's. It's like your gut is unhealthy. And then it manifests on the skin. It's like a bunch of doctors. Going to talk about skin issues and never, ever mentioning the gut, like never, ever mentioning the root cause of what's going on. Right. And there often no way of dealing with the, with the trauma in a, in a, in a more sort of permanent fashion essentially. And so they keep you on this. It can hold you back after a while. Cause although it gives you space, initially you can then get stuck because it's also tends to be quite ideological. It doesn't like fresh ideas, generally speaking, you know, it's pretty resistant to, to like the ideas that maybe AA isn't, hasn't got all the answers. That's something I noticed. It can hold you back after a while cause you you'll get stuck in this idea that addiction, there's nothing you can do about addiction and that it's this disease which you have permanently and that's, it's categorically not. It's not true. I can attest to it in my own life. I know many people who have, who have quote, unquote healed, essentially healed from addiction, by healing, the childhood wounds. And then you notice it because all the others are addictions start dropping away. I, I no longer binge chocolate or, or like once every few months it occasionally happens. But like the difference is night and day. Like I can tell all the fire has gone out of my body. It's just gone. There's just generally a lot of peace and not needing needing much, much less outside of myself. So that's, that's the that's the massive issue is they it's only provides this temporary relief and it's closed off to the ideas of more permanent relief and it doesn't have anything to offer in terms of actually getting to the, you know, healing that, that trauma, you know, resolving these stuck survival patterns. Yeah. Deb: So interesting. How did you get into this kind of work? Ben: Well, I, I Got sober, like six years ago, roughly speaking. And I started going to AA and I started meditating as well. And actually very soon the name drunken Budha came to me. It's like, you need to start a business called drunken Budha, but I had no skills or experience. And I was doing some meditation going on retreats and it helped a bit, but it, something was missing. And I eventually found this sematic work. I, I started, I found some work by a guy called Scott Killby started doing a couple of sessions with people in my second session. I remember I started crying. I hadn't cried in years and it suddenly hit me. It's like, oh, I, I, I just felt the weight of all this sadness. And it, it just became clear. It, something became clear to me in that moment. It's like, okay, this is the direction to go. Cause I felt better afterwards in a way that nothing else had done it. Just the simple feeling of the emotions that were all trapped. Had just done more than there's no exercise you can do at the gym. There's no meditation technique. There's no magical three point plan. There's no rule system of rules that you can come up with. There's no yoga posture. You can, you can do that. Will actually just have compare to just feeling your feelings. at the end of the day, you can do all the people do all this crap just to avoid their feelings. In fact, they get a, you know, they're going on meditation retreats, they're becoming this and that. They get super bar for the gym. They're, you know, great creating their perfect business, find their perfect partner. They're doing this whole thing unconsciously to avoid their feelings. The whole game of their entire life is set up from top to bottom. Only with that aim in mind and they don't realize it because obviously they, their mind can't tell 'em that. And that's fine. I don't, I'm not, I don't mean to say this is bad or wrong or anything. It's just that that's, what's going on. And you'll find that the relief you're looking for is actually in feeling the feelings . Deb: Yeah. I think when you can feel uncomfortable, we, we are so trained not to feel uncomfortable and well, I mean, our brain is wired to move us away from pain and move us towards pleasure. So when you can sit in that uncomfortableness, in that emotional pain, then you do become stronger. Then you can manage anything when you learn. Like it's, it's just a feeling and no feeling is final and, and you will go through it and it it's. Okay. Ben: Yeah. Well, absolutely, but I, I would add, there's a, there's a danger here of thinking you have this, like, you need to be really strong and like be macho and get through the feelings. And that's a bit of a trap. I would say what it, what, what it really is, is learning is resourcing yourself. So you have this, if you were practicing RESO, you know, imagining, Gandel say every day, when people imagine Gandel in my sessions, they feel like warmth all through their chest, right? There's, there's this feeling of solidity and support, and you can bring that to difficult feelings to help not to get rid of them, but to help you to be with them. Right. So there's support out there to help you to be with feelings. And so it's almost like a, it's like a, it's like a capacity that you have that slowly grows over time. As you, as you touch on deeper and deeper and stronger and stronger feelings, you can sort of. Grow that capacity, but it's, again, it's not a willpower thing. Like with weight lifting or something, it's like a, it's, it's a question of how resourced your nervous system is. Whether your nervous system has the capacity to go there and sit with it and process it. Cause if you go too far, then you end up doing yourself harm, you end up retraumatizing yourself. You're gonna be in so much suffering. You end up, you know, drinking or whatever it is. So it's a, it's a slow path of, of, of just baby steps. But the, you can actually get to a, an incredible degree of, of nervous and flexibility and, and sort of capacity to feel emotions like my capacity to feel emotions and to move between them is like so massive compared to how it used to be. Like, I can, I can go into complete rage of like childhood rage and then come back within a few minutes and be more or less regulated. not always, you know, sometimes it'll be lingering a bit or, or go into sadness and, and then come out. Like my nervous system has that ability to go back and forth now. Or if, if something triggers me in life, I can sit with it and be with it. And it, it, it, it doesn't sit with me for, you know, some people, you know, they get an email and they're anxious for four days. You know what I mean? This is what people, you know, people, clients tell me this, that none of that stuff ever happens. It's like stuff I can get triggered, but it, I have the ability to stay with it. It passes through. And the next day it's like, you, you just almost as if you've forgotten about it. And that's that capacity and flexibility in the nervous system, which allows me to do that and which I would, you know, I try to help people to develop. Deb: Yeah. So key, so interesting. What else would you like to share to people who are listening? Ben: What would I like to share to people who are listening? I would say firstly, I've got a couple of things. It would firstly be. You're not alone. And what if, if assuming someone is, has a bit of a problem with alcohol, I'm gonna make that assumption or something similar. This is a totally natural and normal response to the kind of the way that you were raised, essentially, where we are raised in what you could call a trauma normalized society, where what a human baby needs is not acknowledged or not known and not given. They almost everyone is sort of under cared for in some way, like not, you know, sort of indigenous babies and indigenous tribes are, are held 100% of the time or nearly by all sorts of different adults. You know, for the first few years of their life, because that, that skin to skin contact was teaching them to regulate their nervous system. None of our babies get that that skin to skin contact, you know, you know, for a huge percentage of the time they're put in prams, you know, and pushed around the place. Even that is again, you know, seen as totally normal. They've been an example of something that's essentially traumatizing because the baby is not getting the constant, like nervous system sustenance that it needs. And so it's to totally normal that all of us would end up with all these addictions essentially because our li cuz we don't realize how the kind of stress that the, the, the way our society is organized is putting on our nervous system on a daily basis, pretty much since you were born. So that's why we've ended up in the situation you are. And secondly, is the help the people out there. If you can find that little part of you within, that's willing to ask for help, you'd be amazed at the people that are out there. I've had so much help from so many people. It, it blows me away and you can find some really kick ass people out there to help you. You have to do the work oneself at the end of the day. No one can do it for you, but there is there's support available in all manner of things, you know, AA can be, can be one place. You can start to get, get a little support. But I, I would make sure you go beyond that to, to find people who are doing that body based trauma inform work. And if thirdly is just like, it's worth it beyond what you would believe, like what, what we're actually looking for is just the piece of. A natural, balanced, nervous system. That's not in constant like fight or flight, which is what most of us are experiencing or, or like a kind of collapse, depression, shutdown. Like people think what they need is the right job or the right partner. Or, you know, there's just, cuz they haven't had that chance to go on holiday this year. It's like actually all that stuff is pales in comparison to the importance of what's going on within it's a cliche, but like happiness is within know thy self, you know, there's, there's a reason these phrases are echoed throughout history. for all the wisest people. that's great. So yeah. What would that be? It's like, yeah, it's it's normal. You're not alone. There's bad ass help out there if you want it. And it's worth it. Deb: I love that. Thank you for sharing that. Well, how can someone find you? Ben: So I have a website. This is www do drunken bud.net. So it's not.com it's dot net. And on Facebook I'm pretty active. So if you just type in drunken, but so I think it's called drunken, but somatic healing on Facebook. And I did think we did talk about, I've got a, a big toolkit of nervous system regulation techniques. It's like 115 different techniques to be like couple of months to put that together. So it's pretty it give you a very good idea of the kind of stuff that's out there. And yeah, I mean, I work with people one on one, I'm happy to have, like, I do a free introductory call with anyone who wants to know more. So if you just go on my website, P me an email or click the little book, a call button always happy to hear from folks, even if it's just sharing your experience or whatever, you know, just asking a question. That's that's super cool. Yeah. Deb: Well, I will link to those in the show notes. So thank you. And thank you for sharing today. The, this has been really interesting and helpful, and I really appreciate you and the work you're doing. Ben: Well, likewise, likewise. Yeah, it's just getting this stuff out there. Isn't it. So thank you for the work you're doing as well. It, it all adds up hopefully in the end, Deb: right. We're gonna be healed human beings. Ben: that's it. It's all about the collective healing. Just, Deb: yeah. Well, thank you again. It was great. Meaning you, I did get to hear some seas in the background, so I felt like maybe I got a little taste of the coast, so that was nice. Perfect.

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