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Thoughts on Craving and Overeating

I'm new to this site and have been looking for any discussions on compulsive eating or other addictions. I haven't come across any yet so I thought to post this. I've been a Theravadin practitioner for about seven years. My practice has led to some really incredible transformations in my life; all of which came about without my seeking any in particular.

My practice these days has begun to focus on what I think is "raw" craving that arises at times and might point to food now, something else at another time. It arises without any thought consciously preceding it....it's like this craving comes first, and then the mind moves towards something to escape the feeling of craving. If I simply can be aware of this feeling without doing anything to escape or distract, it will go away on it's own (much easier said than done, the feeling is really incredibly unpleasant). I'd really like to hear other's experiences with the "raw" feeling of craving.

Comments

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    @newminded1

    The degree of this unpleasantness is often what has practitioners either ignore, abandon or switch to another practice. Some fools, like me, have chosen to mentally design furniture for 3 weeks of a 6 month retreat rather than face the full force of such unpleasantness. In the end it was only after developing a willingness to truly place a greater priority upon the facing and acceptance of whatever form that unpleasantness took, over anything else, that I was able to address some of the origins of that unpleasantness.

    In another Buddhist school this is sometimes referred to as the facing of ones koan. This simply refers to our attempts at facing a problem innately related to our own sense of identity whose answer not only feels nearly impossible to address but whose answer also threatens to unpleasantly upend that identity, the closer that you tread towards it.

    I know of no way, for any seeker on the path towards sufferings cessation, that won't have you eventually returning again and again before this unpleasantness until you are able to put to rest whatever has given it its continuing momentum.

    Some might say that this is all any of us have ever been beckoning to in a practice, while others might equally be right in saying that all your previous efforts in practicing have just been preparing you to be able to finally address the question you've been asking.

    lobsterpegembaranewminded1Vastmind
  • "raw" craving

    As a tantrist:

    • I try to change my food comforts to raw and real mindful food. I eat more (of the right stuff)
    • Don't buy garbage/junk food. You can not binge eat what you don't have
    • Eat at a table, with others preferably

    @how is right
    We all have loops, food as a comfort, humour as protection, lust addiction, emotional hindrances etc
    I certainly do.

    Welcome to newbuddhist. <3 We will share ... but not our best chocolate croutons salad recipes ... :3

    Bunkshow
  • Thank you for the sharing. I too have moved to wholesome food for comfort/nourishment. > @how said:

    @newminded1

    I know of no way, for any seeker on the path towards sufferings cessation, that won't have you eventually returning again and again before this unpleasantness until you are able to put to rest whatever has given it its continuing momentum.

  • I'm glad to hear this is to be expected as part of our/my path. I had that sense. What is interesting is that this craving never arises when I'm meditating. I listen to Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero of the Hillside Hermitage quite often, he has some very insightful teachings on dealing with sensual desire that have helped me see some of the mental processes involved in craving/desire more clearly.

    lobster
  • What is interesting is that this craving never arises when I'm meditating.

    Ah ha! I knew there was a plan. :awesome:

    You are what you eat at ...

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    There are some things I will eat until there are no more, for example ‘borrelnootjes’. But when they are finished I don’t usually crave any more, and the feeling of craving as something unpleasant I only encounter very rarely.

    My usual state of being is a slightly-pleasant buzzing, so i don’t think I have very much to add about the “raw craving” that you describe. I’ve had a brush with addiction in a few forms, which have always taken the shape of wanting to avoid some part of real life, and going looking for some temporary pleasure to lose myself in. Once I turned my back on the pleasure and faced the real life issues, the addiction ceased to be a problem.

    In terms of food, there are a few problem foods that I find difficult. Paprika-flavour potatoe crisps, some types of cake and biscuit, certain vegetarian sausages... I love them too much, which is why I take care to only eat them in moderation, and I generally don’t buy them often or in large quantities. If you take care to eat soberly, and not to overindulge in any kind of food, it can be managed.

  • @Kerome said:
    There are some things I will eat until there are no more, for example ‘borrelnootjes’. But when they are finished I don’t usually crave any more, and the feeling of craving as something unpleasant I only encounter very rarely.

    My usual state of being is a slightly-pleasant buzzing, so i don’t think I have very much to add about the “raw craving” that you describe.

  • Thank you. I love your description of a "slightly-pleasant buzzing" state. Most of the time I seem to abide in a calm neither attached nor detached state. This is definitely something that came out of my practice. I remember a few years ago when I first noticed it (not having free floating emotion "assaulting" me constantly), it was actually kind of unpleasant, empty like. Also, body sensations have become much more obvious, and tend to be pleasant. I think these two together are what allows me to experience what I've described as "craving".

  • Another question.....what is the difference in our experience, between craving and desire?

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    Recently my eating habits had deteriorated, this summer I recommitted myself to eating better. I've been successful but it seems my craving wants to manifest itself in other ways, namely an unhealthy consumption of a video game (something I thought I had largely left behind).

    It's been like a game of whack-a-mole. Your post has added some needed light on the roots of the issue.

    Keromelobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited November 17

    @newminded1 said:
    Also, body sensations have become much more obvious, and tend to be pleasant. I think these two together are what allows me to experience what I've described as "craving".

    I agree, the body tends to feel pleasant. It is the source of much sensual pleasure, taste, smell, touch, sex, the release of the bowels, the feeling of a sneeze. My experience is that it’s best to let these things come and go, to stay relaxed and not to try and analyse it. These sensations find closure in and of themselves. It’s not necessary to keep a distance, but just to stay relaxed and observe. In this way you ‘let go’ of any physical sensations that tempt you.

    If I were to hazard a guess, that “raw craving” could well be related to being closer to bodily pleasure and no longer so distracted by emotion. Perhaps like an emotion that sensation is something that passes if you don’t focus on it with the mind? If you have tried this with something like anger, then you will find that most emotions don’t last longer than about 30 seconds if you don’t carry them on inside the mind.

    Like with bodily pleasure, it is about experiencing it while staying balanced, not getting dragged away by it and just gently letting go when the emotion or sensation has passed. If you focus on it within the mind you start ‘churning’, the mind will repeat what caused the emotion, and the emotion will start extending and building on itself. Worry can cause this, or a sense of injustice.

    person
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @newminded1 said:
    Another question.....what is the difference in our experience, between craving and desire?

    I find craving to be about having gotten attached, a kind of need that doesn’t easily go away. Desire on the other hand is just a would-like-to-have, without a deeper drive attached to it.

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