Sam Radford

June 10, 2021

Practicing for non-addiction

I was reading through my collection of quotes in my Notes app earlier, and I came across this from Fr. Richard Rohr:

You practice non-addiction every day by letting go, not needing, and not desiring anything in particular. Fasting, detachment, and simplicity were the original words for non-addiction in the spiritual traditions.

Reading this, my mind instantly jumped back to my earlier post this week, titled Enough already.

As someone who has spent their life in church, I’m very familiar with the teaching around fasting and simplicity in particular. There have been various occasions throughout my life where I have fasted for one or two days from food. 

And simplicity is the more ancient word for what today we would call minimalism. Though, I think I prefer ’simplicity’! 

Even though I practiced fasting, I never heard teaching that framed it quite like this: As a means of practicing non-addiction.

It was a reminder that, once you strip away all the religiosity, many religious practices – in their original intent – have a lot of ongoing contemporary value. Even has someone who has spent a lifetime around religion, I still need reminding of that sometimes!

There are practices that, for hundreds of years, have helped people to live out a desire to find contentment; finding freedom from not always wanting more. From addiction. 

Where Rohr talks about letting go, not needing, and not desiring, we face the temptation of the exact reverse all day, every day. We cling to to what we have, pursue wants rather than needs, and get consumed by desire in ways that never satisfy. 

We need to cultivate habits – practices – that move us away from addictive behaviours and towards freedom. 

Fasting might mean saying no to social media for a while. Or takeaway food. 

Simplicity might mean not buying any new clothes for a season. Or whatever it is you have a tendency to buy thoughtlessly and needlessly. 

Detachment might mean letting go of any area of your life you’ve been desperately trying to control. Letting things just be and trusting that, whatever the outcome, it’ll be okay. 

In short: We don’t have to be slaves to a way of life that never satisfies. There is another way!


Got some thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you – do hit reply or drop me a note.

@samradford |