Urge Surfing uses our scientific knowledge of the nervous system and emotional processing to conceptualize a valuable visual depiction and a step-by-step process to ride through triggers, emotional overwhelm, and urges associated with habits and even severe addiction patterns, for both process and substance addictions.
so simple, yet so effective
Urge Surfing is a powerful mindfulness tool. With this practice you'll learn how and why we need to work with our nervous systems instead of trying to work against them. Urge Surfing can become a power-tool in your emotional health toolbox.
At first, it is important to practice Urge Surfing daily. Try it when you feel calm, and certainly try it during more subtle states, such as during a twinge of anxiety, urge to overeat, or a slight craving for an addiction. Every urge and anxious feeling is an opportunity to practice Urge Surfing.
Practice builds neuroplasticity - think of this as going to the gym to build muscle so you can work into heavy-lifting in due time. The more you practice building your 'calming-muscles' the more capable you are of the heavy-lifting required for big triggers and overwhelming states.
"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."
John Kabat Zinn
(URGE or SURGE of emotion)
An event has occurred, either external or internal, that has resulted in feeling a level of activation, an emotion, bodily sensation, anxious feeling, craving, looping thought, regret, fear, or belief.
be willing to feel
locate & LABEL emotions
FEEL WAVE OF INTENSITIES
Remember emotions are real, but they are not based on facts
The urge or surge of emotion is ramping up and increasing in activation. This fight-or-flight response results in cortisol and adrenaline levels increasing, more rapid heartbeat, thought quickening, and many other physiological effects.
FEEL EMOTIONS IN BODY
use your 5 senses
feel your weight
For beginner Urge Surfers, the Peak may hit hard. It may feel like a smack of 'shut-down,' disassociation, powerless, and even fogginess.
With experience, you will allow the ebb and flow of painful emotions, the Peak will begin to feel smooth and perhaps slightly euphoric. Enjoy the ride and know you will soon feel grounded, safe and empowered as deactivation naturally unfolds.
allow for ebb & flow
accept the 'powerless' feeling
allow for sense of 'lifting'
Like a wave, the urge will fall – allow it to be. As your nervous system deactivates (see diagram below) you may feel quivering and stinging 'thawing' as adrenaline levels decrease, heightened sense, and a reintegration with reality.
allow quivering & thawing
accept array of emotions
practice emotional health skills
NOTE: YOU MAY BE PROCESSING OLD REPRESSED EMOTIONS WHICH IS HEALING
Along for the ride, with deactivation and reintegration, come emotions that allow you to 'let go.' The main emotion responsible for letting go is sadness - whether you like it or not (see Emotional Health page).
This isn't the same way you think of "sad" as in hopeless, loss, or disappointment. It is a a subtle, yet clear sense of tugging sadness. Allow it to be. You may even cry which is a good sign. If you attempt to disown your sadness during deactivation, you'll likely find yourself in another wave of urge and emotional overwhelm.