"I'm tempted by substances that conflict with my spiritual goals"
What can I do to protect myself from temptations that could harm me?
The temptations I speak about are foods (sugars, junk), drugs, any impurities that might bother the soul and distract it from a higher path.
A good way to turn yourself off to temptations, such as sugar, drugs, and junk foods, is to read about their harmful effects. Often books with powerful personal stories and testimonials, as well as hard facts, work well. A great book regarding the harmful effects of sugar is called Sugar Blues. Often when we read the cold hard facts about something, it will really hit us just how detrimental a bad habit can be. That in itself can many times offset the urge to binge.
Another way to gain some protection might be to work on the power of your will. If we make vows or promises to ourselves or to others, which we continuously break, for one reason or another, the strength of our will significantly weakens over time. The expression "breaking your will" is literally true. The power of the will can get broken. If, on the other hand, we make only those vows or promises which we know we will be able to keep, and we keep them, our will power grows and remains strong. Starting with small commitments works well. That way we don't set ourselves up to fail. Then you can work your way toward taking on bigger commitments.
Saying "no" can be a hard lesson to learn in life - and it can feel scary at times. We all want to please others and be seen as good guys. Difficulty with boundary issues, or with issues of being able to confront something that seems very powerful, often have their start in childhood. It can begin with another imposing their will on us when we are too small to resist. Then our own will power, our belief in our ability to protect ourselves from something harmful, can be impaired. Letting ourselves know that we have the right to say no can be an important step. Self esteem is a major factor in not taking on addictive behaviors. If we feel strong and confident in ourselves, we are less likely to need something external to bolster our sense of feeling good.
Sometimes it works to substitute a bad habit with one that is a bit better. Then you substitute that one for one that is an even better habit, when you are ready to do so, and so forth and so on until all you have are better habits. It can be hard to let go of something until we reward ourselves or replace it with something that feels better to us.
There is a story about a teacher who had a student whom he was teaching to meditate. The student was addicted to alcohol and would meditate with a wine bottle in one hand and his kriya beads in the other. The other students were appalled and asked the teacher why he allowed this. The teacher replied that eventually the power of meditation would offset the man's need to drink. When the man was ready, he would realize that it was meditating that brought him what he was looking for, and he would then be able to let go of the wine bottle. And so he did. It's a great feeling to be able to feel wonderful through your own power and internal process - when I meditate, I feel naturally high, and I'm not needing anything outside of myself to feel that way.
As you begin and end each day, it would be a good practice to cleanse yourself of any energy in your system that is not your own. You can do this by imagining a brilliant white light above your head. You then bring it gently down through your head, through your body, all the way through your toes and feet and then send it down into the earth. That way you will not attract negative energy to yourself. After you have done that, take your arms and swing them in front of you gently clapping your hands together, and then swing your arms behind your back, gently clapping your hands together and say "Hari Om Tat Sat." Swing your arms and do this mantra 3 times. This is an ancient Sanskrit technique for protection. You can do the white light cleansing and this mantra technique at any time.
The pull of negative energies in our environment can often feel overpowering. If we strengthen our inner environment by keeping our will intact, if we keep good company that supports our spiritual growth, if we read inspiring authors and literature, if we treat ourselves by eating tasty and nutritious foods, if we meditate, and listen to uplifting music, we will create around ourselves a positive sphere of energy, and we can protect ourselves from harmful influences.