Pubdate: Mon, 21 Aug 2017
Source: Vancouver 24hours (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Vancouver 24 hrs.
Author: Shaun Proulx
Page: 4


Last month, you could hear the collective global gasp when news broke
that eminent Zen Buddhist Michael Stone had passed away in Victoria,
B.C. The shock was a natural reaction to the unexpected death of a
beloved force of nature, a powerful communicator who, through his
ability to make ancient spiritual ideas fresh and relevant, helped
improve the lives of countless people around the world.

Stone left behind a wife and two children - with another on the way -
and would have celebrated his 43rd birthday this past Saturday. But
what also caused thousands of jaws to drop from the news was the
Stone's cause of death: the charismatic, world-renowned and respected
yoga/meditation/mindfulness expert, author, and speaker - who founded
the Centre of Gravity in Toronto-died after OD-ing on street drugs.

Because of the on-going overdose crisis in B.C., an official
toxicology report will take months due to backlog, but initial reports
on Stone suggested inconclusively that the spiritualist had opioids in
his system, including fentanyl. (Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more
potent than morphine, though some fentanyl analogs may be as much as
10,000 times more.)

Hence the collective gasp, ripe with subtext that could be translated
to something like: Why was a spiritual guru like Stone doing lurid
things like street drugs?

In speaking to the cause of death in a family statement, Stone's wife
rightly posits that "culturally, we don't have enough language to talk
about this." She then asks: "Rather than feel the shame and the
tragedy of it, can we find the questions?"

That anyone affected with or by drug addiction feels shame speaks not
an iota to their using of drugs, but is instead a deafening snore from
under the vast, dense blanket woven thick with the cords of lies and
hypocrisy we in our society still remain so comfortably snuggled
under, where the "untoward" and "sleazy" topic of getting high is concerned.

Drug use thrives mightily because we continue to stay cosy, hitting
the snooze alarm, dreaming fond dreams that drugs don't affect our
immediate world or those we love. But to lay there, countless Sleeping
Beauties all dumb as shoes as this plays out, while we still keep our
eyes shut, is folly that reaches heights some would call of Trumpian.

A rude awakening might be a good way to start ensuring that Michael
Stone's death isn't in vain: let's rip that cozy blanket right off
ourselves now and cause a collective shudder to jar us wide awake - if
that's what it takes.

In any given year, one in five Canadians experience a mental health or
addiction problem. And by the time a Canadian reaches 40, 50% of have
or will have a mental illness. In other words, right now, mothers are
hauling on meth pipes. Dads are craving cocktails; maybe a line or
two. An Adderall-snorting sister has fallen asleep at the wheel and
crashed her car, while someone's brother is at the bathhouse high on
cocaine having unprotected sex with men while their oblivious wife and
kids await

him at home. I recently lost my best friend to addiction, a man who
self-pressured to "keep it all together." In one heartbreaking week,
this summer, his narrative went from "I need to be able to get
accountable and look myself in the mirror" to "I want to reset our
relationship" to "we are severing ties forever" as my life took a
nasty plot twist I haven't enjoyed a bit.

Here's a concept that will let you easily grasp how you or someone you
love (regardless of age, race, upbringing, values or socio-economic
standing) can turn to drugs just like that: Everything you want, you
desire because you believe you will feel better in having it.

It's why you want the marriage, the raise, the partner, the jeans, the
new dog, the promotion.

It is human to always want to feel better than we currently

Now, when you cannot after a while achieve those better feelings via
typical means - like careers and relationships - what is your fastest,
cheapest way to finally access them?

You get high. Yes, it's always temporary, but while you're high, you
forget there is an end date and consequences. You are so busy enjoying
those feelings you have so longed to feel.

So the cocaine addict is not "bad," "dirty" or "wrong." He or she is
simply someone so determined to feel happy that those hurting will
even make feeling happy more important than anyone and anything.

Demonizing those who just want to feel good is why shame and stigma
never make anyone stop doing drugs. You are telling a bird not to fly
and they are wrong to want to.

If we can approach drug use with even a modicum of passion and empathy
that stems from this understanding, we can begin to have that very
talk Michael Stone's wife wishes our culture could have because our
starting point will be an honest one. And from that honest place, the
language can spring forth, stigma and shame out of the equation.
(Because once you know that someone wants to feel good just like you
do, how do you possibly shame them?)

Michael Stone was about to share with the world his struggles with
bipolar disorder. It seems his spiritual practices were not helping
anymore. He wanted relief - to feel better than he was. The day he

died he even tried acquiring a controlled drug to self-medicate, but
was denied, because he wasn't "a candidate." But Stone was -
admirably, I assert - so determined to feel better that he took to the
streets in the same quest everyone of us is on every day: to feel
improved feelings.

Michael Stone, my former best friend, my late alcoholic father and my
own dance over the years with much of the alphabet - none of us ought
to feel or be shamed; I don't. We know or knew intrinsically,
instinctively, that it is our very birthright to feel good, and in
many cases, drugs are the route travelled so to claim it.

Yours might be similar. You might pop pills, snort, smoke or shoot up.
Or, you might shop, gossip, eat, stay glued to your smart phone,
gamble, exercise, have sex, binge-watch TV, or work night and day 24/7.

We are each souls having a human experience in a human body. That you
are a mother, father, brother, best friend, lover, doctor, teacher or
Michael Stone - spiritualist held high - has zero to do with anything.

Our collective drug use should shock no one, no jaw should drop upon
learning that a soul among us has reached for something they believe
will make them feel better feelings than the ones they feel right now.
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MAP posted-by: Matt