Cravings: Excerpt from Chapter Two of “Natural Rest for Addiction: A Revolutionary Way to Recovery through Presence”
Cravings are movements of energy that come and go within restful presence. Nothing more! Because of their temporary nature, they initially have no power to harm us. They only gain power when they arise—unseen. To say that a craving arises unseen means we don’t see it as a temporary thought that carries with it a corresponding sensation in the body.
Whenever we notice that a craving is only a thought with a sensation, it becomes easier to relax in presence, and allow the thought and sensation to arise and fall naturally. Sometimes cravings arise as thoughts such as, “I’d really like a beer.” But they don’t always rise to the level of thought. In fact, they often start at a level prior to thought—as subtle movements of energy in the body—like tiny sensations in the stomach or chest.
Imagine a soapy bubble rising out of a hot bath. This is how cravings appear . . . subtly. They’re small movements of anxious energy that arise from the restful space within the body. Whenever we fail to notice these sensations the moment they appear in the body or soon after, they can gain power and momentum. They often fuel a rapid firing of thoughts related to substances or activities we crave (e.g., gambling, sweets, a drug of choice).
In other words, they turn from mild cravings into obsession.
Regardless of whether a craving first arises as a thought or sensation in the body, the invitation is always the same: relax into presence and simply notice these energies as they come and go within presence—without emphasizing them. If a craving arises as a thought, just notice the thought, then let it pass. If necessary, take a deeeeeeeeep breath and then relax. For a moment, just be without any thought. That’s the natural rest.
Witness each thought come and go without emphasizing it; then bring your attention straight into the space of the inner body. Notice any sensations in the body, like a subtle movement of energy in the chest or stomach area.
This bodily energy is the fuel behind all thought-based cravings.
To notice a craving energy arising in the body doesn’t mean to label it. Don’t call it “good” or “bad” or even “a craving.” There’s nothing to mentally analyze or rationalize about the energy. To notice a craving means to recognize the space around the raw energy arising and then to bring your attention right into the middle of the energy and rest it there, without words or
pictures on it. This allows it to pass more easily and naturally on its own.
Subtle cravings gain momentum when we don’t let the sensation arise and fall freely without labels. The thought, “I want a beer” can feel stuck to the sensation that’s arising in the body.
This experience of thoughts being stuck to sensations is called the “Velcro Effect.”
Resting and feeling into the sensation, without words and pictures on it, helps undo the Velcro Effect.