We know that mindfulness can help us be more successful — it can make us better communicators, better employees, and even better friends — but, according to “Foodist” author and PhD Darya Rose, it can also make us physically healthier.
The method, which Darya explains was discovered through addiction research, is called “surfing the urge,” and, while it seems completely counterintuitive, it really does work, because it essentially handles a craving, rather than avoiding it.
“What we typically do when we feel a craving,” says Darya, “is we try to do everything in our power to suppress it…Unfortunately, all that does is delay it. It stretches it out. It feels like it’s never going to go away. You’re never actually dealing with it.”
This kind of avoidance, Darya explains, does little to actually stop a craving — and instead, can make it more powerful. So rather than assign a moral reaction to the craving (“I shouldn’t feel like this,”), this theory advises examining and acknowledging the feeling, which can take away its power.
Darya explains how to do it:
“If you have a craving, instead of sitting at your computer and trying to distract yourself, step away. Go to a couch. Sit down. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes, take a deep breath…and feel the craving. Feel what that feels like. And what happens in that moment is that you realize you can tolerate it.”
Another way to fight cravings is to realize that they are temporary.
“What’s essential here is understanding that it’s a temporary thing — you’ll get through it.”
“Surfing the urge” may also have alternative uses, beyond just healthy eating and fighting addiction — just consider applying it to other kinds of “cravings,” like the desire to pop over to Facebook when you should be editing photos or replying to emails. Focusing on why you want to do it (because you’re genuinely concerned that there may have been some breaking news event relating to your sister’s never-ending parade of toddler photos? Or just because you want to not be working anymore?), rather than white-knuckling your way through it, might help you be more productive.
Mindfulness can also help immensely in weathering hard times. Whether it’s a creative slump as a result of a disappointment or failure, or just a particularly rough patch emotionally, research has shown that mindfulness like “surfing the urge” can help build resilience by reframing hardship and making it seem more tolerable and able to be conquered.
And if not? It can at least help keep you from getting up for snack after snack after a long night of working on a deadline.
Get more healthy eating (and living) tips from Darya Rose’s course, Lose Weight Without Dieting.