Shame—Dissolving This Driving Force Behind Addiction Through Mindfulness

One glance at Auguste Rodin’s famous statue Eve After the Fall tells the whole story of how we outwardly manifest our internal feelings of shame. Eve is covering her body and lowering her head as if to say, “Don’t look at me from the outside, for inside I am deeply ashamed of who I am.” Shame is one of those emotions that strikes at the very heart of our identity. Unlike guilt, which is often about feeling bad about something we have done, shame carries negative mental beliefs and corresponding emotions about who we are.

I remember from an early age that shame felt like part of the fabric of my very being. From those first moments of becoming interested in sex to stealing a bit of my dad’s Wild Turkey whiskey to trying tobacco for the first time, I learned that some things have to be kept hidden away from the judgmental eyes of the world.

I learned to be addicted by repeatedly returning to the pleasures of substances and activities that helped me cope with feelings that felt overwhelming. Similarly, I learned to be ashamed of those addictions as a way to feel bad about myself.

And feeling bad about myself gave me the perfect opportunity to go right back to medicating those shameful feelings. What a vicious cycle! Addiction and shame were inseparable bedfellows for more than thirty years of my life—feeding and fueling each other every step of the way.

I am neither alone nor unique here. The vast majority of clients who participate in treatment at the Kiloby Center for Recovery experience shame as one of the major driving forces behind their insatiable desire to scarf down a box of cookies in one sitting or repeatedly return to the heroin dealer for another hit of oblivion. A new study in Clinical Psychological Science reveals what many of us in the addiction treatment field have known for decades: unresolved shame is a contributing factor to chronic relapsing in addiction.

For those of us experiencing addiction in one form or another, understanding that shame is a major contributing factor to addiction is only half the battle. The more significant question is, How can we resolve shame and therefore begin to truly let go of the addictive substances and activities that are linked to it? Mindfulness is one of the best answers.

With mindfulness, especially if it is somatic based, we have the opportunity to dive deeply into the psychological and emotional imprints of shame in our minds and bodies, and gently and humanely untangle shame’s persistent knots. The great news is that we can do this without any psychoanalysis, because mindfulness uses a different approach altogether. Mindfulness involves recognizing present-moment awareness as the foundation of our experience and gently bringing nonjudgmental and accepting attention to the shame-based thoughts, emotions, and sensations that are buried within our unconscious.

Just learning this skill of mindful, direct attention can resolve quite a lot. But mindfulness affords the opportunity to go even deeper. Because shame is identity based, mindfulness—if done skillfully through self-inquiry—allows us to dismantle the shame-based ego itself, providing an even more profound freedom. Addictions fall away on their own accord, without the need for willpower, when we investigate and dismantle the shame-based ego.

For many, baring their soul in talk therapy or sharing their shameful secrets with a room full of other recovering addicts just isn’t enough to resolve the most deeply rooted shame. That was certainly my experience. I had to find a method of going deeper within myself, to root out all the memories and feelings that kept me leading two lives—the secret, private, addicted “me” that was hiding, lying, and isolating myself from others; and the public façade that presented to everyone else that “all is well.” With mindfulness and self-inquiry, I didn’t have to share anything with anyone. When we are truly ashamed of who we are, it is not so easy to simply share every little dirty secret and shameful memory. Sometimes we have to do some inner processing to relieve ourselves of the heavy burden of shame before we can even open our mouths and share the deepest secrets that have kept us addicted for years.

If you are beginning a mindfulness practice directed at resolving shame, I encourage you to work with someone very skilled at guiding you through the process. This is not for the faint of heart. You may encounter some painful memories and emotions. But diving into these issues with someone who is trained and skilled and can hold the space for you is a path to a depth of freedom that you have never known (and can never know as long as shame runs your life). Watch addictive substances and activities fall away as you watch the thoughts, emotions, and sensations of shame fall away through gentle, direct, skilled mindfulness.

"Working with Dan has been nothing short of transformational. His open heart, honesty about his personal experience and permission to be real and not hide have helped me unlock those qualities in myself. And that has been a total game changer. I've been truly blessed, not only to have him as my KI Facilitator, but also as my mentor. Without a doubt, working with him has helped me to show up authentically, helped sharpen my tools and made me a better facilitator than I would've been on my own. I can't recommend him enough."
Darby Totten
Certified KI Facilitator

Dan McLintock is a Certified Facilitator, Trainer and the Co-Developer of the Kiloby Inquiries method/approach the New Model of Recovery along w Scott Kiloby. 

A Jacksonville, Florida native, Dan graduated Flagler College in 2004 with B.A. in Theatre Arts and English Literature and has played music professionally in bands for over 20 years. But his true passion lies in sharing the context, possibility and practicality of healing, awakening and release. 

Dan has worked one-on-one with clients in and out of the Kiloby Center since 2017 and has an unconditionally loving and earnest approach to healing trauma, dissolving the drivers of addiction/suffering and unhooking long-held toxic beliefs about ourselves, others and the world at large. 

He’s also worked intensively, side-by-side with Scott Kiloby for the past three years to develop the transformative tools of the Kiloby Inquiries as well as the principles and approach of the “New Model of Recovery” rooted in unconditional love and non-judgment. Much of this approach was borne out of Scott and Dan’s work with each other on their own personal traumas as well as their work with clients at the Kiloby Center. 

Scott and Dan have simplified, demystified and condensed some of the principles and practices of eastern/non-dual spirituality into an easily accessible set of tools most anyone can understand, learn and utilize to free themselves from their own suffering. 

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What is a Clarity Call?

A clarity call is a free 30-minute introductory call with a Certified KI Facilitator. During a clarity call, you can ask any questions you have about KI and see whether a particular facilitator is a good fit for you.

To book a clarity call, select your preferred facilitator (hover over their picture and click the “Meet” button). Then, enter your email and click “Book Your Call.” From there, you’ll be able to select your preferred date and time and schedule your clarity call (please double-check your time zone before booking).

Valerie Vinger is a thriving survivor of life’s painful challenges and growth opportunities. She has worked with 12-step programs and is currently a 13-year stage-III cancer survivor. Her cancer recovery journey started with the traditional “cut, poison, burn” approach but eventually led her down a natural path to healing her body, her pain and suffering, and her buried emotions.

Valerie first stumbled upon Scott Kiloby at a workshop of his in Boulder, Colorado in 2012, which she says is one of the most transformative experiences she’s ever had. She is filled with gratitude for the person she has become through her journey with cancer recovery and with the Inquiries, which she describes as “coming home to myself.” She loves working with people who are ready for relief from their pain and suffering.

Julianne Eanniello is a Certified Trainer and Facilitator of both the Kiloby Inquiries and the Unfindability Inquiries (formerly called the Living Inquiries). She is also a Certified TRE Practitioner, and the developer of the somatic movement process called Natural Flow Movement. She works with clients all over the world on virtually any topic, including spiritual seeking, stress, anxiety, depression, pain and health related issues, traumatic experiences, repression, relationship issues, and general unhappiness with ourselves and our lives. She does this through online sessions, deepening courses, workshops and facilitator certification training.

About Julianne:

For most of my life I’ve wondered who I am and why I am here. As I was growing up, no one else seemed to be talking about these things, or even thinking about them, so I buried it deep inside and tried my best to fit in the way I was “supposed” to, all the while feeling like there was something desperately wrong with me and that I needed to fix it.

In my early thirties, the death of a young relative left me feeling hopeless and helpless, wondering what is the point of life if we’re all just going to die anyway? This launched me on a search. I didn’t even know what I was looking for, I just knew that there was a longing – a desperate longing for something that actually made sense about life. I learned several alternative spiritual and healing techniques. I meditated. I read books and watched videos. I eventually learned of non-duality teachings, and I read more books, watched more videos, and even sat with several ‘awakened’ teachers. Yet I was still searching, something still felt missing. I was looking for the key that would unlock the mystery of me and of life.

In my early forties, I developed a chronic health condition that left me unable to work for several years, and most days barely able to get out of bed due to extreme fatigue, brain fog and pain. I lost my banking job, and eventually lost my home. I saw a multitude of doctors to try to find out what was wrong with me, and used every tool in my metaphysical and alternative medicine toolkit to try to heal myself. My seeking became even more intense, and I was looking for a way to escape my pain.

In 2009, I met Scott Kiloby. Since I started working with him and doing the Living Inquiries, the seeking for enlightenment has stopped, and the question of ‘who am I’ is no longer relevant. My victim stories around my health started falling away. Once I started looking at my experience through inquiry, everything changed. I stopped chasing something ‘out there.’ I no longer seek some future state of happiness or peace. This is not to say that I don’t have problems, or ever experience pain. Quite the contrary. I still use the inquiries regularly, and now there is much less avoidance or resistance to what I’m experiencing. I experience more and more freedom in the present moment, exactly as it appears.

Having trained with Scott, I was one of the first to be certified as a Senior Living Inquiries Facilitator and Trainer in early 2012. In 2014, I moved to CA and became a business partner with Scott at The Kiloby Center for Recovery, where we worked with people suffering from addiction, anxiety, depression and more for the next 8 years.

I can’t imagine my life without these inquiries. They saved me from myself. If you are still suffering, searching, longing… I encourage you to give this a try.

As a young child I saw a picture of Jesus gazing lovingly at some children around his feet. I immediately longed for the unconditional love I saw in his gaze. At the same time, I was being read fairy tales, like Cinderella, and came to believe that romantic love would satisfy that longing for love.

So, I married my handsome prince at age 19. But then, by age 29, I found myself alone, as a single mother, with four young children. I was devastated and convinced that something was terribly wrong with me, to have ended up in such a predicament. 

I had learned to love and please others, but not how to love and respect myself. I was a “good girl,” and repressed my urges to have my own needs acknowledged and met. A wise teacher later told me, “We need to love everyone, including ourselves.” This was an amazing revelation for me!

Learning to meditate helped immensely to bring moments of peace, while I was sitting still, though I was still being triggered regularly in my relationships. Finally, the Kiloby Inquiries taught me how to turn my attention inside in daily life – towards the trapped thoughts and emotions I’d been running from – so that I could face and release them. It was like some tender, lost children began coming home, to take their rightful place in my inner world. 

I am honored and excited to be able to facilitate these wonderful inquiries for others.

Sumitra lives on the Hawaiian island of Kauai with some of her family. She has four grown children and six grandchildren. For many years she lived and worked in a yoga retreat community in California, and has taught yoga, meditation and Compassionate Communication in addition to facilitating the tools of the Kiloby Inquiries (since 2013).

Sumitra also loves working with couples and others with relationship challenges in a simple (though not always easy) deep listening practice that allows each person to be truly heard and acknowledged.

Alina is a certified KI facilitator & a founder of Presence Alchemy – An advance mindfulness platform dedicated to liberating suffering & limiting core beliefs through Kiloby Inquiries & non-dual awareness. Presence Alchemy was born eight years into Alina’s embodiment journey of an inner shift from ego to wakefulness. Alina works one-on-one with clients, hosts online intensives and training, and organizes local retreats & workshops.
Alec Rodrigues has been certified to facilitate inquiry since 2015 and brings a keen sense of intuition to his work. He believes that in connection, the deepest healing takes place, that the mirror of relationship is the best crucible for transformation. Through rest and inquiry, Alec has found the empowerment to meet others authentically and stop running so damn fast from the seeming “ordinariness” of life.

He currently lives in Washington state with his girlfriend and works as a training assistant for the KI Personal Mentorship Program, where he empowers enrollees by teaching them the KI tools.