Before I started using meditation for addictions and cravings (eating, alcohol, sugar and cigarettes), I had serious problems with dependency.
Mindfulness and meditation gave me the keys to overcome dependency and regain my health. And today I will teach you how to do that same thing.
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. And sure enough I developed the physiological and psychological dependency for my substances.
I paid the price with my health, things got bad, and 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 cravings and addictions so you can change your life.
Thankfully I never had to go through rehab and I was able to recover from addiction through meditation, mindfulness, and a couple of other techniques.
Eventually, I learned how to quit all addictions at once. And a big part of that involved meditating. I also read a lot about Incentive Sensitization Theory to reduce my cravings. Incentive Sensitization Theory is when hypersensitization (over exposure) leads to incentive salience (intense need for a substance). I flipped this on its head to overcome my addictions (read the link above for more on this).
So let me show you how to do it.
In this guide I’ll share with you the:
- Best meditation for eating addiction
- Meditation for craving alcohol
- Meditation for sugar cravings
- And meditation for cigarette cravings and drug addiction
The following is my favourite meditation for cravings.
This Is The Best Meditation For Cravings & Addictions
Follow these simple instructions.
- Sit somewhere peaceful and relaxing where you will not be distracted
- Take ten deep breaths through your nose. Relax
- Begin 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 of 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, if you are using meditation for eating addiction you might notice a taste in your mouth, etc)
- 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. If you’re doing a meditation for eating addiction you might notice the texture of flavour of your favourite foods.
- Read this next bit carefully: When you do mindfulness meditation for addictions and cravings, you want to 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. When you’re describing a craving for your addiction you will probably use words like “Yearning”, “Desiring”, “Temptation”, or “Wanting”
- I recommend combining this technique with some mindfulness CBT exercises.
Guided Meditation For Cravings And Addictions
Which cravings and addictions do you have?
Everyone has at least one bad habit. So let me ask you a question. What’s yours?
What cravings and addictions are you trying to recover from?
- Drug addiction
- Maybe you always crave sugar.
- Maybe you just can’t live without coffee.
- Maybe you have an alcohol dependency
- Maybe you suffer from eating addiction [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 bad habit, you can help yourself by meditating!
Everyone is recovering from an addiction of some sort!
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 there are significant benefits of meditation for addiction recovery.
Research on addiction statistics by the World Health Organisation shows that 5% of people around the world suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. And then there are addictions to coffee, sugary treats, TV, video games…
How A Mindfulness-Based Intervention Helps Stop Addictions
Scientific evidence (Addition Science & Clinical Practice, 2018) suggests that when it comes to addictions, meditation techniques and Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) are one of the best cures. And indeed groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are now advocating different types of meditation to help with substance abuse recovery.
Essentially, a meditation practice for cravings helps to train the mind to observe cravings mindfully with non-judgment and non-attachment. This leads the individual to be less reactive and more able to control cravings and addictions. This is how it helps with the full “Spectrum of Addictions”.
You can use meditation for cravings for cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, eating, and any other cravings. And meditation will help to reduce withdrawal symptoms from various dependencies.
Research by City, University of London (source) shows that you can stop cravings with mindfulness and meditation. Specifically, the study focused on the effects of meditation on addiction to drugs and food.
The researchers discovered that the relationship between meditation and addictions is based on short-term memory. Mindfulness strengthens 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.
If you are trying to overcome substance abuse, meditation will gradually give you the power to do it. Mindfulness helps with addition recovery to because it makes you less reactive to cravings.
Buddhism on meditation, cravings, and addictions
Buddha taught that Tanha (which can be thought of as thirst or desire—i.e. craving) leads to unhappiness. Essentially, the more we crave, the unhappier we become.
However, meditation and mindfulness can help.
When you meditate, you slow the mind down. This makes you less reactive to mental phenomena, including addictions. Meditation and mindfulness help 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 mindfulness meditation for cravings, we slow down the mind and gain more control over our cravings.
The Big Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation For Addiction Cravings
If you suffer from addiction, you will have noticed that when you get a terrible 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 it’s gotten worse since then. Now you feel like you just can’t 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 mild, when it wasn’t so bad? 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 prevents your craving from getting any worse.
Great. So how do you use meditation for cravings and addictions? Simply use the addiction-meditation script above daily. This will enhance your mindfulness and empower you to overcome cravings and addictions.
Conclusion: You Can Recover And Achieve Sobriety!
Above we looked at my favourite meditation for cravings for eating, sugar, alcohol and cigarettes. That technique helps you to take control of the impulses in your mind, which are the triggers that cause you to perform your bad habit.
Sadly, most people have limited control of their minds. 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.
Try using the above-mentioned meditation for addiction. It will give you the power to take back control of your own mind, so you no longer give in to cravings. Plus you will also get many other mental health benefits from meditation too.
Naturally, you will want to use other therapies too. There are plenty of other therapy options for addiction recovery for you to try.
Sadly, as is the nature of addictions, even after being sober for years you still get cravings, but meditation gives you the strength to not give in to temptation.
Leave a comment and remember to subscribe to our newsletter.