Let me be honest with you. I have struggled with addictions in my life. And until I learned how to use meditation for addictions, I really had no clue how to handle them.
I’ll take you back a little while, and you tell me if this sounds familiar. There was a time in my life, when my mother-in-law died, when my life became incredibly hard. I felt depressed. I lost sleep. It was one of those bad times we all go through.
Addictions hit me hard. I’ve never done any serious drugs. But drinking, smoking, and binging on sugar? They were daily occurrences.
I paid the price with my health. Things got bad. I needed to change. Maybe this is where you are now. And if it is, take heart, because you can change, and I hope that by the end of this article I will have shown you how you can use meditations for addiction so you can change your life.
Here Is Why You Should Use Meditation For Addictions
When it comes to addictions, meditation techniques can have a massive impact.
You can use meditation for cravings and addictions. And I should know: I quit every addiction at the same time (you wont believe what happened next).
So let me ask you a question:
- What cravings and addictions do you have in your life?
- Maybe you’re addicted to sugar.
- Maybe you just can’t live without coffee.
- Maybe you’re addicted to alcohol
- Maybe you’re addicted to eating [try our guide to meditation for weight loss]
- Or you might be addicted to smoking [here’s how to quit smoking with meditation]
- No matter what your addiction, meditation techniques can help.
Let’s be Honest, Everyone Has At Least One Addiction, And Meditation Techniques Can Help
Here’s the fact: Everyone has at least one addiction. Meditation techniques can help, no matter what addiction you have. It has been proven that mindfulness can completely stop addictions .
Addictions and cravings are two of the biggest challenges we face in life.
Research on addiction statistics by the World Health Organisation shows that 5% of people around the world suffer from drug or alcohol addiction (source). And then there are addictions to coffee, sugary treats, TV, video games…
In 2019 there are myriad things you can be addicted to. It seems almost impossible to not be addicted.
You can be addicted to eating, addicted to screens, addicted to drugs, addicted to alcohol…. there are so many different kinds of addictions. Meditation exercises, however, can have a massive impact on addiction.
Science proves it.
What Science Says About Using Meditation For Addictions And Craving
Scientific evidence suggested that when it comes to addictions, meditation techniques are one of the best cures.
You can used meditation to stop cravings and to reduce withdrawal symptoms from various addictions. Meditation can even help us overcome the worst kinds of addictions.
Meditation research by City, University of London (source) shows that you can stop cravings with mindfulness and meditation (see our beginners guide to mindfulness). Specifically, the study focused on the affects of meditation on addiction to drugs and food.
How does mindfulness help addictions?
The relationship between meditation and addictions is based on short-term memory. Mindfulness exercises the region of the brain related to short-term memory, which just so happens to be the exact same part of the brain we use to reduce cravings.
You’ll be happy to hear that this scientific research essentially proves right many of the Buddha’s teachings.
What Buddha Said About Meditation And Addiction / Cravings
Buddha taught that Tanha (which can be thought of as thirst or desire—i.e. craving) leads to unhappiness.
The more we crave the less happy we are. But we can stop these cravings with meditation. Addictions will then naturally stop.
Well it turns out that Buddha was right.
When you meditate, you slow the mind down. This makes you less reactive to mental phenomena, including addictions. Meditation and mindfulness helps you to observe your thoughts and feelings (including cravings) so you don’t just cave in to them.
When you are mindful you are able to observe your cravings as they arise, before they affect you. This will make you less reactive to moments of temptation, and more able to control your addiction.
So when we use meditation techniques for addiction, we slow down the mind and gain more control over our cravings. This helps with all sorts of addictions, including: sugar cravings, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, cigarette cravings, you name it.
Why It Is So Much Easier To Stop Addictions With Meditation Techniques
If you suffer from addiction you will have noticed that when you get a bad craving for sugar / cigarettes / anything else, that craving occupies your whole mind. It feels like you just can’t stop cravings no matter how hard you try.
The reason is this: You’re noticing your cravings too late.
Cravings rise gradually, and the more you ignore them the worse they get. That craving for a cup of coffee that you had 10 minutes ago wasn’t so bad. But its gotten worse since then. Now you feel like you just cant stop the craving no matter what.
But here’s an idea:
What If you could go back ten minutes in time to when the craving was light, when it wasn’t so bad? And what if you could stop the craving right there and then so it doesn’t get worse? Then you could stop addictions. And meditation does just that.
When you use meditation for cravings you become consciously aware of your craving, and this conscious awareness actually prevents your craving from getting any worse.
Great. So how do you actually use meditation for cravings and addictions?
Take ten minutes right now (or if you don’t have 10 minutes save this on your Facebook / Pinterest / somewhere you can come back to to do it later).
I’m about to show you how you can use mindfulness and meditation to stop cravings in just 10 minutes.
Let’s do this.
This Is The Best Addiction Meditation Techniques
Follow these simple instructions.
- Sit somewhere peaceful and relaxing where you will not be distracted
- Take 10 deep breaths through your nose. Relax
- Being to focus your mind on your breath. Notice how your breath moves smoothly through your nose, into your body, and then back out. Observe this breathing process and allow it to relax you. (use the Anapansati method)
- Now it’s time to address those addictions with meditation. Here’s how. While you are meditating on the breath you will experience moments of craving. Your mind will bring up images about the thing you crave. And you may notice physical sensations (for instance, if you have cigarette cravings you may imagine the taste of a cigarette)
- When these cravings arise do not stop them. Let them happen. Observe them.
- When you observe your craving you will notice that it has certain properties. For instance, many cigarette addicts experience a taste of tobacco, combined with a mental image of themselves smoking, and they may imagine holding a cigarette in their hand.
- Read this next bit carefully: When you do mindfulness meditation, you take the mind outside of itself. It is like you are watching your own mind. This is what we are going to do now. To do this, observe the symptom of your addiction (for instance, if you imagine a mental picture of yourself eating sugary treats, observe that). Now imagine stepping back from that image. The mind is not in the image it is outside of it. This is VITAL because when you’re mind is lost in itself you lose control. You need to see your craving for what it is. Therefore, observe the nature of your craving in the present moment.
- Now label what you’re experiencing. For instance, if you’re experiencing mental images, say to yourself, “This is a mental image”. If you are experiencing a physical sensation, say, “This is a physical sensation”. When you do this, you train your mind to take control of your cravings. You are no longer automatically reacting to your symptoms, you’re in control of them.
- I recommend combining this technique with some mindfulness CBT exercises.
And That Is How To Use Meditation For Addictions And Cravings
Above we looked at my favorite addiction meditation technique.
When you take control of your mind, you take control of your addictions.
The problem is that most people are not in control of their mind. They have thoughts, feelings, and cravings, and they simply react to them.
It is impossible to control your cravings until you control your mind. But with mindfulness, you can take control of both.
The addiction meditation technique above will stop cravings and give you power over your addictions. Good luck.
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Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book: Your Best Meditation