Mindfulness teachers will tell you that stress is caused by craving. If you can let go of that craving, then your stress will dissolve, and practicing mindfulness is the way to do that.
People with addictions understand craving better than most of us. For them, craving is a very concrete, immediate problem that’s causing havoc in their lives, and they’re looking for a solution. So it makes sense that Mindfulness might help you become a successful EX.
But how do you get started? Try using the acronym RAIN.
· Recognize the craving that is arising, and relax into it.
· Accept this moment. Don’t ignore it, distract yourself, or try to do something about it.
· Investigate the experience as it builds. Ask yourself, “What is happening in my body right now?”
· Note what is happening. As you note pressure, dullness, tightness, or whatever, it becomes clear that these are nothing more than body sensations. You don’t have to act on them. You can simply ride out the sensations until they subside.
Each time you ride out a craving, it gets weaker. Think of your craving as a screaming child in the grocery store. You could give your child a lollipop, but that’s only a temporary solution; he’ll start screaming again as soon as the lollipop is gone. You could clap your hand over your child’s mouth, but he’ll scream louder than ever as soon as you move your hand. In the same way, feeding a craving or trying to suppress it never works for long.
So what can you do instead? You can lovingly and patiently hold your child until the screaming stops. It might be uncomfortable for a while, but eventually your child will get tired and quit screaming. The next time your child screams, it won’t be as loud or as long. And the time after that, it will be less intense and shorter still, until eventually your child gives up screaming altogether. That’s how you train children—and how you tame cravings.
Facing your cravings and the fear of it will bring you confidence and relieve the stress of initial stress of Quitting Smoking. But does it actually work?
That’s what happened in a study of mindfulness for smoking cessation. The study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2011, included 88 adults who smoked at least half a pack per day and wanted to quit. Participants were randomly assigned to eight sessions of either mindfulness training or a standard quit-smoking program. The standard program focused on strategies such as avoiding smoking triggers and making lifestyle changes.
The mindfulness group showed a greater reduction rate in smoking, which lasted after the treatment was over. Four months later, 31% of those in the mindfulness group were smoke-free, compared to only 6% in the standard treatment group. This was the first randomized clinical trial to look at mindfulness training as a stand-alone approach for quitting smoking.
Give it a try and tell us your results! It sure helped me to becomeanEX!