Duck Your Cravings

By Michelle May, M.D.

Coping with Cravings Mindfully

duckI had a limited view of the lake through the window from where I was sitting. The water was calm and peaceful when from the edge of the pane, a duck drifted into my awareness. I watched it bob in the middle then float away. The ripples slowly receded back into the lake and it was still again. Minutes later several ducks paddled in from the other side of the window. They splashed about, apparently struggling for something below the surface. The strongest duck swam directly toward the window, circled several times then paddled back the way it came, followed by the rest.

How like our cravings when we’re not even hungry! They seem to appear from nowhere and capture our attention, some more than others. The difference is that I’ve never had a seemingly uncontrollable urge to jump up and devour a duck!

Instead, I watch a duck with a detached awareness. I feel curious, even entertained, but uncompelled to take any action. I allow the duck to just drift away, unconcerned about where it came from, where it goes, or when another will emerge.

The next time you have a craving, try this:

Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Observe the craving as if it was a duck, bobbing around in your awareness. Become curious but remain calmly detached. If the craving becomes stronger, imagine that is simply paddling toward you. If you feel compelled to stop and eat the object of your craving, smile as you picture yourself chasing down the innocent duck. Practice slowing and deepening your breath as you patiently wait for the craving to turn and float away. Imagine the lake returning to peaceful stillness.

 

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