- Are there any practices or habits that one can employ, either frequently or on a daily basis, to train one's mind to remain still and equanimous in the face of compulsive urges or cravings, without giving in to them / acting them out?
- Can this skill be developed in a general sense, applicable to all types of urges/cravings, or does one need to train a different, tailored technique to handle each type of urge/craving individually?
Please refer to my answer on "How can I forget my old girlfriend?"
Urges and cravings come up because we seek sources of external energy. We assume that these things can give us something: make us happier, elevate us, entertain us. So all these cravings even though they seem different are really cravings for one thing - energy. However, if you look at them really carefully you will see that obtaining these things does not give large amounts of energy for a long time. It's like browsing Facebook: we hope we will see a post that will be interesting, educating, motivating, and will improve our day - but most of the time we just keep scrolling and scrolling, and most of the posts don't give us more than a few seconds of joy, so the entire experience is very frustrating. But we still keep craving, funny huh? Because we are so confused!
The real source of energy is only our own strength. Giving in to the urges will never give enough energy. Only authentic challenges that we really believe in can give us what we are looking for. So the only way to obtain that energy that we crave for is to sit down, meditate, and see what we really want deep inside. Which personal weakness we want to overcome to get something we dream about. Then go ahead and overcome that weakness and achieve that goal. That will give you energy that will be real, and all small urges and cravings will be so obviously hollow comparing to that, that they will all subside by themselves.
Yes, that is what the Satipatthana meditation is about. It works for all types of cravings. It makes you immune to cravings at first, but if you keep practicing till the end, craving wouldn't even arise in the first place.
1. Acknowledge that you have a craving (be honest with yourself and try to watch it in a curious manner)
2. Realize, that you dont have to give in immediately
3. Acknowledge that you have a choice (to act or not to act)
4.Reflect on the Drawbacks (long and short term) in giving in. (write them down on a sheet of paper and go over them)
5. Counter positive reasons why it's supposedly good to give in (rationalizations). Again, do that on a sheet of paper/ app etc. and go over them.
Regarding point 4+5: Preferably, you should write both aspects down and concentrate at 2 points for each side (these aspects that are most negative or important to you). Really see that the positive reasons to give in are usually just of short term benefit and then they bite you back BY PERPETUATING THE HABIT/URGE.
If you like you can also reflect on the positives for NOT GIVING IN, LIKE: You weakened the habit by a little, building self confidence, you overcame a challenge rather than a problem etc.. etc. Be creative.
One more point: Try to create an acronym like A-R-A-R-C or something like that in order to memorize it and then to employ it when necessary.