I have been plagued by food cravings since I was eight years old. You might say my drug of choice was toast with cinnamon, sugar and butter. Ugh! Yet these cravings serve as a path to enlightenment.
Lately, I have been putting into practice a meditation technique that has lead to a deep awareness within me. An awakening. An enlightenment. To enlighten means to awaken. I have awakened to the ego through my cravings.
I avoided craving by avoiding the foods that kicked off the desire to have more. Foods like cake, cookies, candy. Chocolate in any form. Avoiding them was also a form of avoiding the confrontation with my ego that could serve to melt it, to allow a deeper consciousness to be born and nurtured. When I heard of intuitive eating or mindful eating that allowed engaging with those foods, I was skeptical. My cravings, the cravings I know others have faced, are forces of nature!
Just as the Buddha, as he was about to be enlightened, met Mara, his arch enemy. Mara shot 40,000 arrows of doubt at him. He placed his palm upon the earth and said, “I see you, Mara” and the arrows were turned into flowers.
So, when we suffer a craving – if we can pause and see it and name it, over and over again, “Craving, craving, I am craving, craving…” till it melts away and disappears (which may take a while) we may begin to feel as sense of freedom instead of a sense of avoidance or failure. We aim to say “craving” with curiosity, though at first it may be with anger or irritation, even sadness. The goal is kindness. A compassionate mind that holds the craving without aversion and without acting upon it.
Many people I work with suffer from night eating. They find it impossible to face the cravings when they are tired. This gentle seeing requires very little from us. Just the mantra of naming the craving, or feeling: “tired, tired, wow, I’m SO tired!” – seeing ourselves clearly instead of running from ourselves.
“I see you, Craving. I see you.”
Try it. Let me know how it goes.