Zen and the Art of Overcoming Bad Habits

There are many well known stories in Zen Buddhism meant to teach a specific lesson. One such story may be specifically meaningful for men and women suffering from addiction, as it deals with the power of habit and our inability to live meaningful, directed lives when we are at the mercy of our “habit energies,” The story is as follows:
A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go.
Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted, “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse replied,
“I don’t know! Ask the horse!”
The horse is a symbol of our habits. Matt Valentine of Buddhaimonia explains, “The story explains the way we usually live, at the mercy of our old habit energies which have been established not by our intentional actions, but by our surroundings and mindless activity. The horse is pulling us along, making us run here and there and hurry everywhere and we don’t even know why. If you stopped to ask yourself from time to time why exactly you’re running around so much, sometimes you might have an answer, but it’s never a very good one. You’re just used to it, it’s how we’re taught to live.” Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activists, after describing the story, further explains, “I think that is our situation. We are riding many horses that we cannot control.” Our goal in recovery is to regain control of our destiny and begin moving in the direction we want to go, not the direction addiction is taking us.
Rather than allowing ourselves to live at the mercy of habits, we can take a moment to ask ourselves where they are taking us. In active addiction, we are familiar with the feeling of careening recklessly through life without any say in the direction our habits are taking us. Our destiny should be our own, and rather than giving the power to our habits, we can take back the reigns and begin moving our lives in the direction that we wish to go. Through recovery, we can regain our power to live the way we were intended to live, rather than allowing habits and addiction to control our fate.

Your story can become one of courage and redemption in sobriety. You can make the decision to regain your life by seeking help now. Oceanfront Recovery, a treatment center in beautiful Laguna Beach, is staffed with caring and compassionate professionals dedicated to helping you develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain lasting sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (877) 279-1777