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Meditation Will Help You Handle Your Urge To Overdrink & Overeat

Photo by Anway Pawar on Unsplash

Close your eyes.

Try to keep your body still.

Focus on your breathing.

Breathe normally and count.

Inhale – one.

Exhale – two.

Take another breath in.

Three.

Exhale.

Four.

Do your best to keep your mind on your breathing.

Your mind will wander.

When it does, notice it.

Accept it.

Let your thought go.

Gently return your attention to your breathing.

And count.

Inhale – one.

Exhale – two…

Recognize those instructions?

If you’ve tried meditating, then I’m sure they sound familiar.

I tried to develop a regular meditation practice a few different times.

I would stick to it for a month or so, but not much longer.

I started again several months ago.

It’s different this time.

I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for what meditation is teaching me and how incredibly useful this skill is.

The very first time I tried meditating, I had an incredible out-of-body experience.

I went to a small meditation group meeting, received instructions, followed the guided meditation, and completely lost myself.

During one of the sessions that evening, I lost all sense of time and awareness of my body.

I had never felt anything like it before.

It’s difficult to describe, but I remember feeling so detached from my physical self that I could have been upside down in my chair, and I wouldn’t have known it.

I completely lost track of time too. 

Forty minutes went by in a blink of an eye.

It was really weird and wonderful.

I thought I’d be able to recreate that wonderful experience every time I sat down, closed my eyes, and focused on my breathing.

Wrong.

I haven’t experienced anything remotely similar.

I would try and try, but I just couldn’t get back to the same place.

Not being able to recreate my past experience led me to feel frustrated.

So I went back and reread the instructions.

Focus on your breathing.

Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash

Breathe normally and count.

Your mind will wander.

When it does, gently return your attention to your breathing.

I believed if I were doing it right, my mind would shut off like it did the first time.

But thoughts kept coming and coming.

They wouldn’t stop.

I tried, but I just couldn’t quiet my mind.

Believing I failed every time I meditated wasn’t making meditation very relaxing.

So, I didn’t stick with it. 

I picked up a new book on meditating earlier this year.

What I learned completely changed my expectations.

One of the most interesting things I learned came from an interview with someone who had been practicing meditation every day for over 30 years.

The interviewer asked this experienced meditator how long they could go without having any thoughts at all while meditating.

The reply shocked me.

With 30 years of experience, I figure the answer would be ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty minutes.

The answer was seven seconds.

Yeah. 

That’s right.

Seven seconds.

Even after 30 years of experience.

So maybe what I was going through before was normal.

As I continued to read on, my suspicions were confirmed.

Recognizing your focus has shifted from your breathing to some other thought is a constant occurrence.

I was doing it right after all.

Photo by Chelsea Gates on Unsplash

And then, I learned a whole new way to view this awareness, acceptance, and the gentle redirecting of my focus back to my breathing.

It was suggested to view this process just as you would doing a push-up or some other exercise at the gym.

Each repetition you do builds your strength and ability.

If your mind wanders a lot during your meditation, and you notice it, accept it, and redirect it back, well, then you just had a good meditation workout.

I get great workouts every time I meditate.

My view of meditation changed even more when I saw how it can help with so many other things that directly relate to what I coach and teach.

Whether you want to quit drinking, lose weight, live a happier life, or whatever your goal is…

Developing your awareness of a thought, accepting it’s there, and then letting it go is a huge key to success.

When your goal is to maintain a healthy diet or control your drinking, successfully handling any urge or desire you feel is essential.

And the skills you develop while meditating definitely help you handle your urges.

The desire you feel to drink or eat is a feeling you experience that starts with a thought.

So recognizing you’re having the thought that is creating the desire to eat or drink is the first step.

It’s the same thing with meditating.

You were focused on and counting your breaths, but you aren’t anymore.

You’re focused on a thought.

You can’t redirect or change a thought if you aren’t aware you’re thinking one.

So the skill you develop of thought recognition while meditating helps build your awareness of the thoughts that create your urges too.

So that’s the first part.

The second part is just accepting the thought is there.

Accepting the presence of a thought is essential for meditating and dealing with urges.

Acceptance.

Not fighting against. 

Not beating yourself up for having a thought. 

Not struggling against it.

Just accepting.

Fighting against, beating yourself up, and struggling just leads to more thoughts and more unwanted feelings and behaviors.

And that’s not what you want to do when you’re meditating or dealing with an urge.

Recognize the thought.

Accept that it’s there.

And then the last piece to all of it is just to let the thought go.

Recognize, accept, and release.

Return your focus to your breathing.

We create our suffering.

It isn’t our circumstances.

We do it with the thoughts we choose about the circumstances.

Improving your ability to recognize the thoughts you’re choosing that are leading to feelings, actions, and results that aren’t serving you in a way that you would choose is the first step in creating change.

Recognize the thought.

Next, accept that the thought is there.

Then let it go.

Return your focus to your breathing.

Meditation and changing your life are simple.

Or you can make them as hard as you’d like them to be.

Your mind will wander.

When it does, notice it.

Accept it.

Let your thought go.

And breathe.

 

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