You can use meditation to overcome all different sorts of addictions: smoking, drinking, eating, and more. And perhaps the best thing about mindfulness is that it is risk free and empowers you to quit your addiction using the power of your own mind.
Let me share one of my powerful meditations that works for quitting multiple addictions and cravings.
Meditation For Addiction Cravings
- Sit with good posture somewhere peaceful and relaxing where you will not be distracted.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. Make sure your ankles are directly above your knees. Sit with a straight but relaxed spine. Slightly lower your chin to lengthen your spine. Close your eyes.
- Take ten mindful breaths through your nose. Relax
- Focus on your breath. Notice how your breath moves smoothly through your nose, into your body, and then back out. Observe this breathing process and relax. Deep breathing in this way will reduce sympathetic nervous system activity and promote the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system to help you relax.
- Let your cravings come and go as they will. Do not fight them.
- While you are meditating on the breath, you will experience cravings. Your mind will bring up images of the thing you crave. And you might 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.
- Mindfully observe the nature of your cravings. 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 might imagine holding a cigarette in their hand. If you’re doing a meditation for eating addiction you might notice the texture or flavour of your favourite foods. Observe the symptoms of your addiction when they occur. In other words, observe what happens in your mind and body.
- Now imagine stepping back away from your craving. The mind is not in the craving it is outside of it. This is vital because when your 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. Step back and imagine that you are simply viewing your craving from the outside.
- Label the nature of your cravings (e.g., say “Mental image”, “itchiness in fingers” etc.). 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’re describing a craving you will probably use words like “Yearning”, “Desiring”, “Temptation”, or “Wanting”. Describing triggers in this way trains the mind to observe cravings mindfully with non-judgment and non-attachment. In turn, this leads us to be less reactive and more able to control cravings and addictions.
- Continue as above for twenty minutes
Research on meditation and cravings
Science makes it clear that meditation helps with addictions. For instance, consider the research by Dr Katy Tapper [Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at City, University of London] (source)
In her study, Katy investigated the effects of meditation on eating addictions. And what she learned was that mindfulness strengthens the region of the brain related to short-term memory. And this happens to be the exact same part of the brain we use to reduce cravings.
For this and other reason, many scientists state that Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) are arguably the very best cure for addictions (Addition Science & Clinical Practice, 2018). That’s why groups like Alcoholics Anonymous now advocate different types of meditation for substance abuse recovery.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison