Meditation For Cravings & Addiction Recovery

mindfulness meditation for cravings and addictions

Before I started using meditation for cravings (eating, alcohol, sugar and cigarettes), I had serious problems with addictions.

Mindfulness and meditation gave me the keys to overcome dependency and regain my health. And today I will teach you how to do the 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 a physiological and psychological dependency.

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 so you can overcome your addictions and get back to being healthy.

Of course, for best results, book an online meditation lesson with me today.

How To Use Meditation For Cravings

Eventually, I conquered my addictions. Actually, I learned how to quit all addictions at once.

I personally used meditation for cravings to get a handle on my addictions. Let me show you one of the methods I used.  

  1. Sit 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. 
  2. Take ten deep breaths through your nose. Relax
  3. 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 reduces sympathetic nervous system activity and promotes the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system to help you relax. 
  4. While you are meditating on the breath, you will experience cravings. 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)
  5. When these cravings arise, do not stop them. Let them happen. Observe them.
  6. 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 or flavour of your favourite foods.
  7.  Observe the symptoms of your addiction when they occur. Now imagine stepping back from that image. The mind is not in the image 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.
  8. 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’re describing a craving for your addiction you will probably use words like “Yearning”, “Desiring”, “Temptation”, or “Wanting”. Describing triggers in this way will make you less reactive to them and will reduce your dependency. 
  9. I recommend combining this technique with some mindfulness CBT exercises.

Guided Meditation For Cravings And Addictions

Many people like to use guided meditation for cravings. It’s an easy option. Sadly, it’s not very effective. Research from Harvard Medical School shows that guided meditations don’t work anywhere near as well as traditional meditation. 

However, many people still enjoy using them. So here is the best guided meditation for cravings and addiction recovery. 

Overcome Cravings: Guided Mindfulness Meditation

Benefits of Meditation For Cravings And Addictions

Everyone has at least one bad habit. So let me ask you a question. What’s yours? 

The good news is that whatever type of dependency you have, you can use meditation for cravings to overcome your addiction. 

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, sugar TV, video games. 

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. 

Indeed, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous now advocate different types of meditation for substance abuse recovery.

Essentially, a meditation for cravings and addictions helps to train 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. 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 these dependencies.

Scientific Research

Research by Dr Katy Tapper [Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at 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 eating 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. And this happens to be the exact same part of the brain we use to reduce cravings. 

Buddha on addictions 

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.

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), from a non-reactive, non-judgmental perspective so you can overcome them.   

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 the addiction. And meditation does just that. 

Summary

I personally overcame my problem by using meditation for addictions and cravings. And I have taught many of my meditation students to do the same thing. 

When you use meditation for cravings and addictions, you become consciously aware of your craving, and this conscious awareness prevents your craving from escalating.    

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. 

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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