Tame Bad Habits with This 10-Minute Mindfulness Practice

Your mind is built to crave. We can respond to cravings in two ways: sate them, or notice our triggers and work with them. This guided meditation helps us build awareness around how cravings surface in mind and body so we can break free from unhealthy habits.

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A Mindfulness Practice for Bad Habits

  • 10:29

This guided meditation was recorded live at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School

  • First, find a comfortable position. We can begin just by settling into a comfortable posture, whatever that posture is for us right now.
  • Now, tune into body sensations. Check in with your body. What does your body feel in this moment — are you holding tension in any places? Perhaps checking in with the feet and other touch points: the knees, the hips, our hands, our shoulders. Even this breath, breathing itself. Just being really curious: What’s alive for us right now in our bodies.
  • Name the cravings in your mind. For the next few minutes we’ll play with working with cravings. Once we’re settled and anchored in this body, just bring to mind something that really gets our juices flowing, whether it’s a food or something else we really like. We’re also bringing to mind those itches that we feel like we have to scratch. Many of us that are in “Inbox Zero,” which is this constant race to keep our inboxes and our e-mail accounts as small as possible. We can bring this to mind: What does it feel like? When I opened up my computer and I have 58 new e-mails in the last hour. So whether it’s something pleasant, or whether it’s something unpleasant that we feel like we have to deal with, just bringing that situation to mind. Really checking in to see what this urge to do something feels like in our body; this urge to hold onto the pleasant or the urge to make the unpleasant go away.
  • Now, notice how the craving shows up in your body. As we identify where it is in the body, we can dial up the curiosity. What does it feel like? Perhaps even naming to ourselves the physical sensations that are most predominant. We can even explore how this feeling shifts and changes as we bring this curious awareness to it. We can even dial up the curiosity a little bit more. If we had to pick is it more on the right side or the left side of our body? Is it more in the front or the back of our body? And what happens simply by curiously exploring where it is? How long does this sensation last? Is one sensation replaced by another that becomes more predominant? And if we notice that the sensation is fading away that was brought up by imagining that food or the e-mail inbox.
  • Notice what it feels like now just to rest in awareness in the body. Notice what it feels like to know that we can become aware of these sensations — That we don’t have to be slaves to our cravings, we can explore them with curiosity, moment to moment.
  • Finally, explore any other urges or cravings that surface. For the next few minutes. Simply resting in awareness of our bodies. Being on the lookout for these urges: Urges to get lost in fantasies or those urges to beat ourselves up over something that might have happened earlier in the day or in the week. Just diving right in. Exploring. Holding each sensation with this kind, curious awareness.

This guided meditation provides additional information to a feature article titled “Constant Craving” which appeared in the April 2018 issue of Mindful magazine.