You know it is not good for you. You promised yourself that this will be the last time. And still, there is always a next time… Addiction might sound like a harsh word. You might not even be willing to admit that you have an addictive relation to it. Still, each of us experienced this strong need towards something that might not be very useful either for our health, mental and physical integrity nor for our personal growth.
As I experienced it, addiction is very much related to habit creation. Don’t get me wrong, compared to heavy addictions that take you on a very dim road, not being able to pass an oral presentation without eating chocolate or staying in a three-hour meeting without a huge cup of coffee glued to your right hand, sounds light.
Still, the mind plays its same old trick: it whispers into your ear the same rusty, little story “You cannot do it without chocolate/alcohol/drugs/coffee/you-name-it!” Practicing mindfulness meditation guides you to observe, acknowledge, accept and let go of your emotions and thoughts, without any need to judge them or qualify them whatsoever. You are not your thoughts and emotions. You can disidentify with them and act from a place of clarity of the mind. What is it that triggers the behavior? Look at it, acknowledge it and if you decide it is not helpful, drop it.
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A Reuters article summarized the outcomes of the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors at the University of Washington in Seattle study on the link between mindfulness meditation and preventing relapse of intoxicants abuse. The mindfulness-based approach works on the prevention level. The relapse prevention program teaches self-awareness through meditation. Thanks to these techniques people can understand what drives their cravings.
Is it a clear thing that awareness alone will help you better deal with your cravings and the amount of discomfort they can trigger? Not at all. The struggle will still be on your side. Meditation and mindfulness are tools, powerful tools, but you are the decision-maker.
A decision is made in one millisecond. It only takes a “Yes” or a “No”. The process, however, that leads to the decision might take longer. It might be needed for you to clarify the benefit of you being addicted to a certain substance. And here is where mindfulness jumps again into the equation. Stay present! Notice: when is it that you feel you crave a glass of wine? What is it that you are feeling at that moment? What need has not been fulfilled? As I see it, intoxicants are substitutes for something else. Just like fast-food, they superficially satisfy a need.
Still, the process of letting go of an addiction can also happen instantaneously. Literally, from one moment to the other. That moment is the moment of the decision. A human being longs for love, acceptance, understanding, forgiveness and so many other things. Stay connected with your heart, see what it needs and who do you need to be so as to give your heart what it needs, in the long run?