Craving: Understanding the root of disease
What does it mean to crave something? We desire it. Want it. Want more of it. Dr. Ronald Ruden describes these cravings or compulsions as a drive to survive. It is an uncomfortable, intrusive, and obsessive patterning response. The brain is sending a message that essentially tells you if you don’t fulfill this “need” you won’t make it. It will not necessarily be rational. If you say it out loud to yourself or a friend it is likely it won’t make sense. I need this cake to survive. At one point, there was a part of you that believed that to be true. Maybe cake, food, sugar, was a way for you to make tolerable what was painful, or perhaps young you found a connection between that treat and love. Before we further explore craving, or what systems relate to that insatiable pull, let’s develop a foundation.
“The quality of your thoughts can be a sign of where you are out of alignment with your true nature.”
The Root of Dis-ease
According to the ancient system of healing, Ayurveda, the primary cause of imbalances is forgetting you are more than just your physical body, you are spirit. Imbalances can show up as symptoms in the digestive system, mental health issues, auto-immune, and so on. You could be unknowingly encouraging the imbalance to embed itself and spread in your body/mind. This can be done through misusing your senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing), or knowingly make poor decisions. What does this mean? You, with awareness, drink too much wine, overeat, or watch junk television. It is not without purpose. Remember, there is a piece of you are trying to survive. Hold the phone. Did she just give me permission to eat a dozen cookies…because, I am trying to survive and all? Nope, what is occurring is you are wired to believe these craving are necessary to your survival. They are not actually required for you to continue living. Your thoughts are not necessarily truths, in fact, usually they are not. Thoughts can feel real, extremely real, but you cannot blindly follow them. I wonder what it would be like if you develop the clarity to listen to a different voice.
Your soul friend, she is interested in you stepping into your light. She wants you to expand, be big, and share your gifts with the world. With her support you not only discover your purpose, you start making your way to being and living it. Your soul is the pure, and unconditionally loving part of you that roots for your success. She goes by many names- Inner Guide, Divine, Pure Consciousness, God, Goddess, Mother Nature, Purusha...you can call her by whatever name feels right to you. This is the voice, the wisdom, you want to listen to as it is her duty is to help you navigate the world, and eventually find your way back to her.
Whole and complete.
She will not belittle you, criticize you, but she will expect you to listen. If you veer to far off course she will send you a message. And, if you feel like your world if full of thoughts like “I should have done better,” “I need to go on a diet,” hiding away secret snacks, or a general numbing out -these are indicators. The quality of your thoughts can be a sign of where you are out of alignment with your true nature. This is amazing because Psychology and Ayurveda provides us with tools to re-wire and heal.
What role do the emotions play? In brief, they are messengers. Dr. Candace Pert describes emotions as the bridge between body and mind. A messenger that carries and translates information into the physical body. Her research has found that when emotions are broken, blocked, or replaced by an artificial source (think drugs, alcohol, sex…) they can result in mood disorders, system issues, and dis-ease. Thich Nhat Hanh also speaks to this circular movement of the emotions. When stuck they create a knot, much like when a muscle is knotted in tension. If the loop can be completed, the message sent, balance is restored.
Practice Let’s begin the practice of freeing up the stuck energy of the emotions and being with our body in a gentle, conscious way with a simple exercise. Being loving with the breath and whatever arises allows for the beginning of creating space. This is the space in which the soul can eventually be heard.
Find yourself in a comfortable seat. It can be a chair, or you can lie down. Encourage the body to relax. Be patient with this piece of the process as it may take time to cultivate softness. Maybe by tighten the muscles of the feet, legs, and buttocks and release. Once more. Now the make fists, tighten the muscles of the arms and shoulders. And again. Now the entire body. Allow yourself to melt into whatever is supporting you. If relaxation is still a challenge I will have a video practice later this week in which I will walk you through a relaxation.
Bring your attention to your breath. How are you breathing today? Smooth? choppy? Are there irregularities in your inhale or exhale? Please, don’t attempt to change the breath, just notice it. With the intention of love begin with the following mantra from Thich Nhat Hahn.Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.Breathing out, I release all tension in my body.
Continue the mantra for several minutes working up and down the length of your body. Notice what each part of your body is experiencing. Peace? Relaxation? Tension? After completion of the exercise I encourage you to take a few minutes to journal what you noticed. And, as always, reach out for support if you need it.
Hahn, N. (2011). Reconciliation: Healing the inner child. Berkeley, CA: Parallax. Halpern, M. (2012). Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine (10th ed.). Dr. Marc Halpern and the California College of Ayurveda. Moore, T. (1992). Care of the soul: a guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life. New York: Harper Perennial. Pert, C. B. (1997). Molecules of Emotion. New York: Touchstone Books. Ruden, R. A., & Byalick, M. (2003). The craving brain: a bold new approach to breaking free from drug addiction, overeating, alcoholism, gambling. New York: Harper. #addiction #ayurveda #relaxation #soul #craving #sugar