I am going to attempt to get a little scientific today. Before I even begin though, I must say, I really have no factual basis, or raw data behind anything to prove my hypothesis, because, well, science was always my weakest subject. So take this post with a grain of salt. I do ask, however, that you be open-minded. In fact, I am a big proponent of science. I just tend to be a bit unlearned in this theory-heavy area of life. Though, I feel I know enough to get me by, for now.
Today, I’ve been inspired to share with you a practice that I personally use to overcome my natural man. I think it will help you in your quest for higher spirituality. It has proven effective in my walk with Christ away from the natural world. The results themselves are staggering. But again, I can’t tell you how or why. All I can say is that something happens, and I’m grateful I have found something to help me to put off my natural man (Mosiah 3:19).
My body has natural reactions to the things of this world. These natural reactions are a consequence to the events and circumstances that come at me from out of nowhere, without notice. And if my body has these reactions, I would bet yours does too. It is these reactions I wish to uncover. I coined this phrase, “dopamine drops” to better explain what is going on with my physical self, and to put a name to the reactions of my body. Putting a name to it has helped me improve my chances of controlling this annoying chaos.
First, I want to explore what actually happens. What is a “dopamine drop?” We all live in this natural Telestial world. Life goes on around us. Things come up, or happen to us without us even meaning to. We are helpless in controlling everything that comes into our lives. The five senses are activated at all times. They pick up everything, whether we want them to or not.
It’s like we live a life full of accidents. If you accidentally see or hear something, you can’t go back and unsee it or unhear it. Life just happens. That is the best way I can explain it. We all know this though. We are reminded of our own helplessness every day, even despite when we think we’ve got everything under control.
I for one can admit that I don’t have everything under control as pertaining to my body. I don’t will my hair to grow. I don’t consciously choose to digest my food. The things in my body are really out of my control. It seems this life is full of cause and effect. Action and reaction. Ever since we were wee little babies our bodies have been reacting to everything around them. This is how it gains likes and dislikes. When we say we prefer certain things to others, we are basically saying our body has been trained to react in the past to like or not like certain things. And since our bodies are just big heaping fleshly pleasure seekers, they want a constant flow of what they were trained to like ever since a young age.
This is why when I see a chocolate cake I instantly want it. In the past I was trained to take pleasure in chocolate cake. Cause-and-effect. I liked it once, I’ll like it again. Duh, Right?
So when life comes at us from all angles, our five senses are constantly telling us what we like or don’t like, or are even indifferent to. Our bodies seek for those things they like and avoid the things they don’t like.
So for this science experiment, the question I asked myself, is what is going on inside my body that tells itself that it desires something or not. Because more often than not, the things I want in life are harmful to me, especially my spirit. The more I satisfy my flesh, the more I lose touch with my spirit – who I am, my eternal being. So it seemed to that the crux of the situation was to pinpoint the reactions my body has to the world around it. Here is the secret I found: we can’t control the world around us. We can’t even control our own body’s reactions (likes or dislikes, to the world around us). And shoot, if you’re like me at all, we can’t even control what goes on in our own head half the time – the memories, images, thoughts, fantasies that flow in unabashed like welcoming whispers.
See, it is important to understand that when our bodies like something, it is because something out of our control has happened. We see something that we like and our bodies instantly tells itself that there is a promise for pleasure. It is this promise for pleasure that I call a “dopamine drop.”
I don’t know much about dopamine, but I know that our body naturally generates it and loves it. I don’t know if this is actually what happens, but it helps me to understand that when I perceive something with my five senses that I like there is a reaction occurring, and my body is pumping dopamine into my system, and that is why I crave that certain something my pleasure sensors have trained me to crave it.
Why was that important for me to understand? Well, because I’ve been focusing on it so thoroughly lately that I can actually FEEL when a “dopamine drop” happens. Seriously. There is a distinct feeling my body has in reaction to the things it likes. The best way I could illustrate the feeling is by a song. This is probably a bad example, but I’m going with it anyway. The other day I was randomly reminded of this song. When I thought about it I was like, “Hey! That’s what happens during a dopamine drop!”
So, when my wild youth there was this certain genre of music that got really popular really fast, (Okay, I wasn’t all the way wild like you might think (says the man in prison. Ha!), but I had my rebellious stages. Who didn’t? It’s how we learn, right? I guess I’m still learning from mine. Shoot, I talk about my youth like it was forever ago. This genre of music became popular in like 2012 or 2013). Anyway, the genre of music is called Dubstep.
I don’t advise going and listening to it. It’s not very spirit inducing. Hence, why I use it to illustrate a dopamine drop. Dubstep is hard to explain. It’s very electronic. Just a big techno mess. Good word. Mess. An artist that really revolutionized Dubstep was Skrillex. He had a song titled “Cinema” and in this song there are a couple parts where the singer says, “Drop the base!” and then the song goes crazy. It’s maniacal savagery! It’s meant for violent and lewd movement. Attempt to listen to it at your own peril.
But again, it describes perfectly what goes on in our bodies when our five senses pick up on the frenzy of something we like, crave, or desire. Our bodies latch on and then the party of hell goes crazy! Dopamine drops hard! And you don’t control that from happening. It just happens. And our bodies love it when it happens.
So now I have built this up to the core of the lesson. If we seemingly can’t control anything around us, even our own body’s reactions to these things, then the question of what we do control is left unanswered. I have noticed in my life that the only thing I control in specific regard to a dopamine drop is the reaction I have to the reaction. Meaning, I control what I do when faced with dopamine drop. I see a giant chocolate cake just randomly laying on my bunk. My dopamine is dropping with cruel ferocity. I am now faced with the decision to either satisfy my flash and go tear that cake up, which would include its own set of consequences, or I could simply walk away. I could even pick it up and give a slice to everyone in my block. The possibilities (choices) are endless.
This is the eternal plan of our God. This is how we learn and grow, and BECOME children of Christ. The important part, for now, though, is to notice a dopamine drop. It’s almost a sure tell to not give into something and or turn your face away from it entirely.
Practicing being in tune with my body and recognizing when my dopamine drops has been crucial to reforming my heart and mind to no longer indulge my natural man. Am my perfect at it? No! Can I do it alone? Never. Not without Jesus Christ. But recognizing these dopamine drops is a start.
There is so many things in this world that are harmful to our spirits. King Benjamin was smart not to try to name them all.
29 And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.
30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:29-30)
It’s just too grand a comprehension. However, one day I was pondering on some of these diverse ways, those “snakes in the grass” that persuade a dopamine drop for me. We may consider these innocent, yet they subtly medicate our bodies, dragging us down to a frozen demise in the glaciers of hell. This is a short list that I came up with.
- Spend the money for shopping,
- Gossiping, regardless of truth being present or not
- Violence, seeing it or being in it (fighting)
- Looking into mirrors
- Social media, (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Video games
- Breaking things
- Uncontrolled laughing
- Immodest dressing
- Anticipation (yearning for an important day, maybe a release date! J)
- Being in high risk danger (an extreme sport, our job)
- Being in a place of power (leadership)
This list could be endless. Many of these ones I have come to know personally, though, that correspond directly with my dopamine drops. The most dangerous thing about it, although, is that this can all come from within and have nothing to do with the outside world. Our minds by themselves can create unreal representations of all of this. Memories. Images. Fantasies. Planning and scheming. Just a single thought can create a dopamine drop. Trust me. I may not have been able to send a text or play a videogame in years, but just the mere thought alone of doing so makes the feeling of dopamine drop come so intensely. It scares me to witness how much my body craves things it hasn’t had in so long! So please understand the Goliath is in our thoughts.
The mind is a powerful thing – an extremely powerful thing. That means very little though, because like I stated before, what matters most is what we do after a dopamine drop.
I know that sometimes I get so aggravated with myself for having felt a certain way when I first saw something, that I couldn’t control not seeing. Being angry at the temptation is just an evil trick. So I have tried to get better at not beating myself up for feeling certain ways, and focus more on the choice I do have after the feeling (after the dopamine drop).
I don’t feel it fair to Joseph of Egypt to speculate that he had a natural reaction to Potiphar’s wife’s advances, but he was a mortal man and had no extra superhuman abilities. I’m sure his dopamine dropped plenty of times, but he held true to God, regardless of her many advances. And when it became too much, he fled and got himself out! (See Genesis 39:7-12).
I only bring this up to emphasize that the initial reactions themselves aren’t condemning sin. It is what we do about those reactions that decide our destiny. Acting on a dopamine drop is sin, then the consequences follow. So recognize the dopamine drop and flee quickly in the opposite direction. Choose to follow Jesus Christ because in Him is true, genuine eternal pleasure. Not that fake stuff that the body generates. Practice recognizing what a dopamine drop is and I promise you that as you feel it, and you can feel it, you will become better equipped at denying yourself of all ungodliness.
This is how I practice knowing the feeling of a dopamine drop. I go to a quiet place and sit in prayer. I let Father know what I’m about to do and ask for His guiding support. Then I wait to be confirmed that I am true to myself and true to God and have no other ulterior motive. I then think about something heavenly and pleasant – usually my family, or a happy memory. I then carefully switch my mind to a dark memory of something I know my body craves – my dopamine drops. I search that feeling for a split second, then switch ever so quickly back to the pleasant memory to where I know my dopamine is not dropping. Cool down and let the peace and joy clear me out. Then I flash the dark image back and recognize the dopamine drop and turn it off quickly by going back to my peacefulness. I may do it a couple of more times, all the while recognizing Heavenly Father’s hand.
Then throughout the rest of the day or week I can recognize that same dopamine drop feeling in so many other random scenarios, and I instantly know not to indulge and to turn away my face. It has saved me plenty of times, especially in this dark place where everyone else is a dopamine drop maniac.
This is my scientific experiment and I feel it is okay for me to put my seal of approval on it. However, even though it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. I’ll just put that little disclaimer on this. I hope it does help though! It’s time we stop living below are privileges and become truly powerfully obedient disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. The body is necessary, but don’t let it be the authority. Take upon yourself the yoke of Christ, and RISE. I’ll close in the words of a young girl named Eo, “Break the chains. Live for more.”
And yes, that just happened – I wrote a blog post that mention something about Dubstep. Ha ha. What a dweeb!