Learn to surf your urges

Through mindfulness, you can recognise the moment you have a strong urge of any kind, and then ‘surf’ the wave of that urge until it passes.

The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence OsborneI wondered what would happen if I stopped at one of the large casinos and made a single bet with HK $1,000. I had not considered doing this because I had resolved to have the day off. But the more I thought about it, the more I found the idea irresistible. Yes, I thought, I could leave off for twenty hours, but then again I could just go in right now and get my fix, and what of it? Just one bet. Just one bet before bed, for after all, life is short and much shorter than you think.’

Lawrence Osborne. The Ballad of a Small Player: A Novel.

‘Mindfulness involves acceptance of the constantly changing experiences of the present moment, whereas addiction is an inability to accept the present moment and a persistent seeking of the next ‘high’ associated with the addiction. The metaphor of ‘urge surfing’ encourages clients to imagine that urges are ocean waves that grow gradually until they crest and subside. The client ‘rides’ the waves without giving in to the urges, thus learning that urges will pass. However, the client also learns that new urges will appear and that these urges cannot easily be eliminated. Instead, urges must be accepted as normal responses to appetitive cues. Mindfulness skills enable the client to observe the urges as they appear, accept them nonjudgmentally, and cope with them in adaptive ways.’

Ruth A. Baer. Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: A Conceptual and Empirical Review.

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