A Path to Freedom from Addiction Cravings
The meditation path we follow at Hope has four levels:
• Resting in the body
• Opening up
• Deepening concentration
Each of these levels provides a particular way for dealing with addiction cravings, and we will now look at how these different approaches work in practice. Those of us who are new to mediation will probably only be able to work with the first two levels (at least in the beginning), but the last option offers the possibility of complete freedom from addiction cravings.
Level 1 – Resting in the Body Makes Cravings Much Easier to Manage
An addiction craving can trigger physical symptoms and uncomfortable feelings, but it is thinking aspect of the urge that make it so hard to manage. To be more precise – it is a thought pleading with us to escape these unpleasant symptoms by using your drug of choice that makes cravings unbearable.
An addiction craving rarely lasts for more than 15 minutes – the exception to this is if it keeps on being retriggered (e.g. you are in withdrawals or you are sitting in a bar). This means if you can just sit it out, the desire to drink or use will pass, and your new life will still be on track. The ability to sit with cravings is sometimes referred to as ‘urge surfing’, and it is a skill you can develop.
Sitting with the thought aspect of a craving is incredibly tricky – it is just too easy to be swept away unless we have developed a high level of mental clarity and focus. The good news is if we able to put our attention on the physical aspects of the craving, which are much easier to deal with, we are far less likely to be caught up by the thoughts. This is because our attention can only be on one thing at a time. It is then just a case of sitting with the physical sensation as much as possible until the craving passes.
Level 2 – Opening up Allows Us to Just Be with the Cravings
Those of us who fall into addiction tend to perform poorly when it comes to dealing with discomfort. This is because our tendency has been to run away from the messy stuff in life through using drugs. Our habit of avoiding pain means we will not have developed much self-compassion, and this makes it much harder for us to deal with addiction cravings.
Self-compassion refers to the willingness to face any inner discomfort and self-soothe. We can only develop this ability through practice – we start by choosing to turn towards the messy stuff, rather than trying to avoid it, and the more we do this, the better we get at dealing with these challenges. Our increased self-compassion then gives us the ability to just sit with the cravings.
Level 3 -Deepening Concentration Takes the Sting Out of Addiction Cravings
Once we have developed sufficient concentration through practicing meditation, we may then have the ability to deal directly with the thinking aspect of addiction cravings. We clearly see how thoughts have an impersonal quality (i.e. we don’t choose to crave), and so long as we don’t latch onto these thoughts, by giving them our attention, they pass away by their own accord like clouds moving through the sky.
Level 4 – Insight into Addiction Cravings
In a way, our mind has been tricking us, and for as long as we don’t understand the trick, we will always be susceptible to it. Knowing your mind is tricking you is not enough – you have to see the trick.
Insight means we see the nature of this craving trick in such a way that we can never be fooled by it again. The best way to develop this insight is by observing the mind from a state of deep concentration, as this means there will be sufficient mental clarity for us to be able to see what is going on.
Other Topics That Might Interest You
If you really want this Christmas to be different, perhaps the wisest course of action would be to seek help with the things that are holding you back. This would not only many a better festive season but more importantly a better life
Winter can be a particularly challenging time for our mental health. Sometimes the best solution to a dark time can be a change of scenery. This is not about running away from our problems but about doing what we need to do in order to manage and survive them.
Autumn (Fall in North America) provides the perfect example of how change occurs. It involves the letting go of the old to make room for the new.
During your time with us at Hope, you can expect a life-changing adventure, but we will also provide you with the tools you need for a better future. This is not a quick fix because quick fixes don’t tend to last
A lack of love for the summertime may just be down to personal preference, but it can also be due to an underlying disorder or because we’ve had bad experiences at this time of year. Summer can bring out the worst in us, and this is particularly the case if we have some kind of addiction issue.