Everyone in their life has something they crave. It is like an addiction to something we long to have or poses. It could be some type of food (sweet or salty) we desire to have because it makes us feel so good. We may desire some material possession, such as a car, home or jewelry. We long to have it as it will make us feel better. Yet, the acquisition is almost always less satisfying than the material object. We may even crave being with another person. We see them and something inside of us aches to have them close, to be intimate with them. However, marriage statistics show us that being with the beloved is not all it’s cracked up to be. Divorce rates are high and people continue to long to be with someone, just not always the one they are with.
The human condition is filled with thoughts of craving. We long for all that we believe we don’t have; money, possessions, food. Our cravings are typically to fill some void we feel within ourselves. To fill the emptiness. In acquiring our desires, we have momentary fulfilment and then the emptiness surfaces again and the craving begins. This is an endless cycle in our life of longing and acquiring. In many cases we are somewhat unconscious to the underlying issues surrounding our craving thoughts. Seldom do individuals look under the hood of their desires to see what is really going on. Sexual desire is one of the strongest and most primordial of our cravings. When we see someone we find attractive we yearn for them. We want to merge with them as we believe it will provide us with the experience of pleasure. Behind the scene however the momentary feelings of pleasure cannot hide the pervasive feeling of emptiness.
If nurtured, craving thoughts grow to dominate our thinking. Unless we are able to acknowledge and simply be the witness to our desires, they will become a dominant force in our daily lives. Consider, for example, your desires around food. When they surface, one usually finds the desired food or a substitute to fulfill the craving. There are very few individuals in the world who sit back and let their cravings come and go like the clouds in the sky. Most individuals find some way to quench their thirst. If we keep watering the seeds of our desire, they are bound to grow. Our nurturing and indulgence of our cravings is what causes them to manifest in our life. Having the chocolate we long for provides a moment of bliss and quenches our desire until the next moment of longing surfaces. There are times when indulging our cravings adds to the fires of desire. For example, using our food analogy, eating chocolate regularly can increase or desire to have it when it isn’t around. When our cravings involve addictive substances or situations they can become dominant forces in our life, such as cigarettes. Similarly, sexual cravings are the same in that experiences of pleasure and longing to have greater pleasure result in stronger cravings.
Once identified with our craving(s) it is very difficult to step away from our desire. It is like committing to parachuting from a plane. Once you have jumped there is no going back. So we find ourselves eating the whole chocolate bar, instead of just one piece. We buy the new car or home because we just have to have it and then realize the debt we have accumulated. Or we have the sexual experience with the one we are attracted to despite the fact they may not be the right person for us. We have acquired the thing we craved the most, yet the satisfaction is less than expected. However, we are still left feeling empty. This is because we have not addressed the underlying issue we are avoiding by focusing upon a perceived solution versus the issue. When our cravings surface we need to look within to see what is the underlying problem. We need to explore what is missing not how to fill the void.
Seeing our cravings as an opportunity to explore what we believe is missing in our life would be a more productive way of dealing with the emptiness we feel. When our cravings surface, noticing we are craving, name it and then not indulging ourselves is a first step. We need to draw upon our inner strength to observe what is surfacing around our cravings. Regularly practicing meditation helps to increase one’s awareness and ability to be the witness to what is happening versus becoming attached. If, through awareness and inaction, we are able to simply be with what is surfacing without judgement or commentary, our cravings will not take control of us nor dominate our lives. To live with greater happiness, we need to be the observer of desires in our lives without nurturing them to grow in our garden of consciousness.
As we experiment with becoming the witness to our cravings, there will still be times when our yearnings will get the better of us. It is in these times we need to have loving-kindness towards ourselves. Let go of judgements and internal critiquing about how wrong or bad you are. Know we are here in this life to journey again and again our issues until they are no longer things that cause us to suffer. Learn from every experience as life is ever-changing and abundant in providing opportunities to grow.
During your week, notice what cravings you have in your life. Pause when they surface for just a moment and try to look deeply into yourself to see what the underlying issue is. Don’t be afraid to touch into the emptiness you feel. In your meditations, allow the observations around your cravings to surface easily and naturally. Water only those seeds you want to grow in your consciousness.
My deepest gratitude to all the teachers who have come before me to speak and teach truthfully. It is through your experience and insight that others are able to teach.