Valenting-a-LingI’ve been offering mindfulness-training as a form of impulse control and craving control to my clients for years.  Here’s one way to introduce mindfulness as a craving control strategy for overeating:

See the Dissatisfaction (of the Desire) as It Passes (Rather Than Looking for Satisfaction)

A craving is a desire.  Desire – as strange as it sounds – is a state of frustration.  To want is to feel incomplete, to feel agitated and thwarted until a given desire is satisfied.  Wanting is restlessness.  Wanting is dissatisfaction.

Mindfulness involves two essential mechanisms: applying a certain kind of attention and practicing dis-identification. Attention can be active or passive: that of an active observer or that of an uninvolved witness. This distinction is easy to understand through contrasting such verbs as “to look” versus “to see.” “To look” implies an active visual scanning, a kind of goal-oriented visual activity. “To see” implies nothing other than a fact of visual registration. Say I lost my house keys. I would have to look for them. But in the process of looking for my house keys, I might also happen to see an old concert ticket.

Mindfulness is about seeing, not looking. It’s about noticing or witnessing without attachment to or identification with what is being noticed and witnessed. This is where dis-identification comes in.

Cravings (for dessert or something specific to eat, or just to keep eating) come and go. Mindfulness—as a meditative stance—allows you to recognize that craving as a transient, fleeting state of mind, and just one part of your overall experience. Mindfulness teaches you to realize that this impulse to keep on eating is but a thought inside the mind. Yes, it’s part of you, but it isn’t all of you—which is exactly why you can notice it and see it without having to stare at it. In sum, mindfulness—as a form of impulse control—is a strategy of controlling by letting go of control.

In sum, mindfulness allows you to see through the fleeting moment of dissatisfaction (to experience this momentary mind-tantrum of “I want this and I won’t be okay without it”) instead of looking for a rationalization to justify the attempt to satisfy this fleeting desire.  Practice the following dis-identification attitude: “I am noticing this craving, I see it, I see that I am not this craving, I see this craving coming and going, I know this craving is but a fleeting state of mind, I don’t need to look for a satisfaction, for a way to act upon this, I am already full in the calmness of my mind.”

For additional mindfulness-based craving control tips see my two books on mindful eating: Eating the Moment and Reinventing the Meal

Creative Commons License photo credit: jpellgen

 


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    Last reviewed: 21 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Somov, P. (2012). Mindfulness as Craving Control. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindful-living/2012/09/mindfulness-as-craving-control/

 

Reinventing the Meal
Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment
The Lotus Effect The Smoke-Free Smoke Break
Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. is the author of The Lotus Effect, Present Perfect, The Smoke-Free Smoke Break, and Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.


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