How To Use Meditation For Cravings And Addictions
Good news: 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).
What cravings and addictions do you have in your life?
- Maybe you’re addicted to sugar. Do you keep craving sugary treat?
- Or maybe you’re addicted to smoking and keep craving cigarettes.
- Maybe you just can’t live without coffee.
- And I will spare you ladies from me mentioning the
Addictions and cravings are two of the biggest challenges we face in life, aren’t they?
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 2018 there are myriad things you can be addicted to. It seems almost impossible to not be addicted.
But pick your chin up and stop looking so gloomy. Because here is the good news, my friends: You can use meditation for cravings and addictions.
Science proves it.
What Science Says About Using Meditation For Craving And Addictions
Research conducted 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 mainly on food cravings and drug addiction.
How does mindfulness help addictions?
Practicing 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.
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 mindfulness and meditation. So said the Buddha. And it turns out he was right. Here’s how.
When you meditate, you slow the mind down. This makes you less reactive to mental phenomena, including addictions. 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.
By slowing down the mind, meditation helps us to overcome all types of cravings and addictions, including: sugar cravings, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, cigarette cravings, you name it.
Why You Cant Stop Cravings And How Mindfulness Helps
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?
Meditation and mindfulness will help you to do 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 do it?
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.
How To Use Mindfulness And Meditation For Cravings And Addictions
It is very important that you take you time with this meditation. Go easy on yourself. Don’t rush. And if you have a craving while meditating, do not be hard on yourself.
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. (if you would like to continue this, do so. Use the Anapansati method)
- 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 Cravings And Addictions
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 meditation technique above will stop cravings and give you power over your addictions. Good luck.
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