Maybe you have stumbled across mindfulness practices before and wonder how mindfulness practices transform addictions. Learn how mindfulness practices can powerfully transform your addiction and explore 5 easy techniques you can start today.
The cost of addiction
Addiction destroys you. It takes your good looks, your friends, your sense of humor, and also your freedom. The powerlessness you feel when you lose control over yourself again is devastating. Shame and hopelessness arise and you may feel like your life is lost. Sometimes the only thing in your mind is what you crave: the food, the alcohol, the cigarette. Your life has no substance outside of the addiction.
But it does not have to be this way.
Life without addiction
You can get past this devastating time of your life. You can recover your body, mind, and soul and experience a life of freedom. Soon the space in your mind that was consumed by addiction will be filled with visions for a bright future and joyful memories of a happy life.
This can be possible with the power of mindfulness practices.
What is addiction?
Addiction is the compulsive, chronic, physiological, and psychological need for a substance, behavior, or activity. It has harmful psychological, physiological, and social effects.
You can be addicted to substances like alcohol, drugs, unhealthy food, or behavior such as video gaming, watching TV.
Mindfulness is a contemplative practice that helps to develop clarity and focus. It can be considered a form of training that you use to train your awareness of thoughts and emotions. The goal of mindfulness practice is to Cultivates non-judgmental awareness
My personal struggles with addiction
For years I struggled with food addiction. When I was a teenager I was overweight and constantly struggling with food. Food was always on my mind. No matter where I went I was always thinking about the next meal. And while I was not extremely overweight, this addiction took away from me the joyful moments with friends and family.
But mindfulness helped me overcome this.
Through mindfulness practices became aware of the underlying emotion and the cycle of my addiction. I started resolving the addiction at the root: my negative emotions.
How mindfulness practices can help you
Beneath every addiction, there is an emotion that you try to avoid by using a substance or an activity. Mindfulness practices can help you uncover the negative emotions that are causing your addiction. Furthermore,
- By practicing mindfulness regularly, you learn to slow things down and you develop a state of peace and clarity. This very state of peace and clarity is what is missing in people with addiction.
- Mindfulness helps to become aware of the chain of impulses that lead to addiction. For example, you may notice that you are stressed from work and suddenly you crave a cigarette. Or you realize that loneliness is the trigger for your drug abuse.
- You learn to face your negative emotions instead of escaping them. This is extremely important when you remember that all addictions are a mechanism of escape.
How to use mindfulness practices to transform addiction
1. Start with simple mindfulness meditation
Sit down for 5-10 minutes and focus on your breath and the sensations in your body. Or can try this simple letting go meditation below or via this link.
2. Make a habit of checking in with yourself
A few times per day check in with yourself. How do you feel? What is your state of mind? If you want you can start a feeling journal where you write down how you feel every couple of hours.
3. Become aware of how emotions feel in your body
When you do your feeling journal or the checking in, notice how emotions feel in your body. Where are they located? In your chest, around your heart, or on your shoulds? Then notice how exactly they feel.
4. Pause before following an impulse
This might be very hard but pause for 2-5 minutes when you have an impulse to go after the substance or craving. Set a timer for 2-5 min and just sit still and breathe, notice how you feel and bring all your attention into your body.
5. Express your feelings and discover your needs
After noticing how you feel the next step is to express it. Write down in your journal how you feel or talk to a close friend. Make sure you remove the judgment and you talk or write authentically about how you feel.
After that explore what you need. Underneath most of the negative emotions that lead to addictions are unmet needs. So ask yourself what do I need when I feel this way? And what can I do to meet this need?
For example you notice that loneliness leads to drinking. When asking the question “What do I need when I feel this way”, the answer might be connection. And then you can think about ways you can connect more and act on them.
These are ways of how you can overcome addiction with mindfulness practices. Remeber that this is jus the beginning of resolving your addiction.