What is Urge Surfing?

Urge Surfing is a mental technique that helps you overcome cravings and urges. It is based on “mindfulness,” a way of paying attention based on Eastern meditation practices. Mindfulness involves deliberately bringing your attention to the present moment. Not thinking of the past, not planning the future, you simply exist in the moment, observing whatever happens. Mindfulness is usually developed through meditation techniques

These meditation techniques all share one thing in common — mindful attention has to be non-judgemental. Which is to say, whatever moves through your conscious attention is simply observed, without judgement and without evaluation. Sensations, thoughts, smells, sounds, sights — whatever you perceive, are neither good nor bad, painful nor pleasurable, true nor false. You don’t label them or evaluate them in any way, but rather, you observe them for what they objectively are, as best you can. In other words, you accept it for what it is.

Subjectively speaking, a craving is a call to action. It’s a sign from your body, telling you it needs something. “Get me some chocolate!” “I wanna watch TV!” “Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em!” In many ways, it’s the complete opposite of the mindful state just described. The mindful state says “Things are what they are, and that’s OK.” A craving says “Things are not good! We need to change the way things are. Right now buddy!” If you follow the advice of a craving it’s like rejecting the present moment.

But another thing that naturally follows from mindfulness is the knowledge that the present moment is always changing. Thoughts move in and out of your head, sensations come and go, emotions arise and then pass away. A craving is no different. They do not last forever. In all likelyhood, you have managed to avoid a craving at one point or another. Maybe you quit smoking for a few weeks, or maybe you stuck to a diet for a month. Since you weren’t in a state of craving 100% of the time you did that, you already know that cravings aren’t permanent. They come, and then they go. Kind of like a wave.

And just like waves, they come back. Then pass, and then come back. The technique of Urge Surfing teaches you to “surf the waves.” A craving arises, so you start to surf it. You enter a mindful state, observing the craving objectively, accepting the moment for what it is. The craving’s call to action is diminished, and you ride the weakened wave to the shore. Then another wave arises, and you do the same. Over time, the waves that arise become weaker and easier to surf.

Of course, some waves are easier to surf than others. In cases of addiction, for instance, you might only be able to surf a wave for a few minutes. But you keep at it, and there are other techniques and meditations you can do even when not in the presence of a craving to help you improve your surfing abilities, so to speak. And eventually you find yourself surfing waves for longer and longer periods, until you have surfed a full wave. Then you’re on the home stretch. Then you may be rid of the craving, except in rare circumstances or when faced with certain cues, such as smelling cigarette smoke. On the other hand, urges may never go away completely, but at least you have a way to handle them.

You might also be interested to know that the benefits of Urge Surfing do not stop at handling cravings. The meditation skills on which they are based offer many benefits to the body and mind, improving mood, immune response and cognitive function, to name but a few things. And what you are really doing here is building self-control, which studies have shown is a greater predictor of success than IQ!

What is tempting you? Are you ready to give Urge Surfing a try?

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