Desire can be so strong that we seem to have no control over our actions. Becoming aware of what’s happening in our body and mind when those cravings hit can help us to resist temptations. That pause to stop and be mindful gives us the space to actually make a decision (will I or won’t I) as opposed to being unconsciously led astray by desire.
We’ve all made vows to live a healthier lifestyle at some point (you know, cut back on sugar, coffee..) and we’ve all probably failed. Gawd, I’ve failed on day one! It’s not easy so having tools to support and help us is smart.
If you take notice you’ll see that, when we crave something, sensations in the body arise. Your mouth might start to water at the thought of it, you may feel excitement, your heart may beat faster, you feel tightness in certain areas of the body like the chest.
Each of us is unique, and we’ll all feel and experience different things, but sensations in the body ALWAYS arise.
And it’s quite fascinating when you start to take notice. Stopping for a moment (before you go get the chocolate) to simply be aware of, and observe what’s happening in the body, actually weakens the craving and desire.
Good habits result from resisting temptation
You start to realise the sensations attached to cravings can dissipate quite quickly – they arise and pass away along with the craving. Instead of being led by our desires and cravings we start to recognise that we CAN have more control.
So when a craving hits, stop and notice the sensations that are arising in the body. It can help to mentally state what’s going on – there is tightness in my chest, my mouth is watering, my tongue is tingling, my breathing is fast, I feel tightness in my stomach…
Name it (in your mind or out loud) – craving, craving, craving or desire, desire, desire. This loosens the grip.
Focus on your breath. Either at the nostrils (focus on the feeling of coolness as it flows in, and warmth as it flows out) or be aware of the rise and fall of the belly. Bringing our attention to the breath helps to ease the excitement in our body and mind and brings things back into balance. Consciously relax any areas of tension in the body on the out breath.
Motivation. Having a strong motivation will help drive you to follow through. Without it we usually fail so we need a reason. For example: if you’ve vowed to eat healthier it might be for your kids – so you live a long life. There’s usually a defining moment when we feel we have the strength of mind and the drive to follow through. We know we’re ready – we just do it and there’s usually a strong motivating force behind it. Search within yourself for that higher purpose and motivation. Motivation can naturally transform and change throughout the process as well. If you start out setting a weight goal for eg. to ‘look good’; once you’ve reached that goal and ‘look good’ your natural motivation might now be to live a healthy lifestyle because you ‘feel great’. Your motivation might even be fuelled by past failures! Use whatever motivating factors are strongest and allow them to deepen and change as YOU change.
You’ll probably find that, with practice, you end up doing all these things (observe sensations, name them, focus on the breath) simultaneously and intuitively. Play around with these techniques. Be curious to see what happens to you when strong cravings or desire hits and be curious to see how these techniques change your experience. The more you practice the easier it gets to resist!
Develop the witness attitude and you will find in your own experience that detachment brings control. The state of witnessing is full of power, there is nothing passive about it.
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Through simply observing and naming desire or craving you’re detaching from it – you don’t become all consumed by it resulting in a lack of will power and control – you take back your power and naturally have more self-control.
You then choose mindfully – and yeah, you can still choose the chocolate! But your choice is from a state of awareness and wisdom as opposed to a reactive, uncontrolled state. And that’s the difference. This technique can help you manage general cravings on a day-to-day basis, as they arise, and help you to make wise choices.