Friday Inspiration—Love the Urge Behind Compulsive Behaviors

Published: Fri, 01/06/17

The Great Way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences.”
~Zen Master Seng-Ts’an*

Dear ,

As humans, we’re capable of being compulsively attached to all kinds of things. We think of addictions as relating to alcohol or drugs or food.

But intense attachments are expressed in a lot of ways that may fly under the radar.

Here are some examples I’ve come across recently:
  • Addiction to creating drama in life (overreacting);
  • Addiction to helping others;
  • Addiction to sugary foods;
  • Addiction to needing love from parents, even when it’s obvious they can’t give it;
  • Addiction to being busy.
​​​​​​​Do any of these resonate with you?

When you’re attached to any objects or results, you’re not free. Your essential aliveness has gone underground, and your stuck in tunnel vision, focusing on 

Even though these attachments are highly conditioned, they’re not a life sentence. But they’re not going to magically disappear either.

That’s why you need to learn to surf the urge.

Behind any of these compulsive behaviors is an urge to do them. Surf the urge without acting on it, and you’ve taken one giant step toward freedom.

How do you surf the urge? Stop, breathe, and allow.
  • Stop moving. Stop planning, negotiating, or thinking your way out of it. Just stop.
  • Breathe. Take a long, slow, deep conscious breath, inhaling and exhaling. It’s the reset you need.
  • Allow the urge to be present. Expand into the vast field of awareness and welcome the energies and sensations that appear.
Do this every time, and the power of the urge will start to weaken.

When you stop acting on urges, you’ll start to discover what’s been driving them. And then you get real—feeling the fear of being vulnerable, of showing up just as you are, or of resting in stillness.

These are the hidden fears that have been asking for your loving attention all along. Welcome them in like your long-lost child knocking at your door.

Always in love,


Note: If you're in Santa Barbara or close by, please join us this Tuesday.

*This quote is from the beautiful Hsin Hsin Ming. Read the whole poem here or here (different translations).

And the gorgeous image is courtesy of reader Diane Buccheri. Thank you, Diane!