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Can Mindfulness Meditation Help People Struggling With Porn Addiction?

Written by
Dr. R. Y. Langham

June 30, 2022

Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Dianne Steven

Porn has never been more readily accessible than it is today. Since 2015, there have been over 2 billion google searches for porn. Because porn is easily available and due to COVID-19 lockdowns and shutdowns, porn addiction has skyrocketed.

The truth is porn addiction can wreak havoc on many aspects of your life, such as your health, relationships, friendships, finances, self-esteem and self-confidence, social interactions, etc. And, although researchers suggest that porn addiction has a neurobiological component, there is no doubt that it has a psychological one as well.

And, while the conventional porn addiction treatments typically involve cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and/or exposure-response prevention (ERP) therapy; lifestyle changes, natural remedies, and self-help tools (i.e., mindfulness meditation and porn addiction recovery programs, like Stop Together) have also proven to be effective porn cessation tools.

The good news is you can overcome porn addiction with the right mind frame. One of the most effective ways to improve your mentality, so you can stop your “porn habit” is to practice mindfulness meditation.

So, if you are looking for a way to get a grasp on your “excessive porn use” with or without medicine and/or porn addiction therapy, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you how to reclaim your life by providing you with the mental tools you need to put an end to your porn addiction once and for all!

So, can mindfulness meditation help people struggling with porn addiction? Absolutely!

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What is Meditation?

Believe it or not, meditation has been around for centuries. It is so common that you have probably practiced many times without even knowing that you are doing it. For instance, meditation is common (in some form) in many religions. Meditating helps many spiritual and religious people feel closer to their religious deities (i.e., God, Buddha, Mohammad, Swami Vivekananda, Moses, etc.).

Meditation comes in a variety of forms, however, it usually involves sitting in a chair in a quiet room, while silently observing your thoughts and behaviors (i.e., breathing patterns, bodily sensations, etc.). The goal is to refrain from judging your thoughts or urges to view porn. You are an “observer” at this point. Meditation helps old thoughts (i.e., viewing porn) leave your mind, so healthier ones can enter it.

Thus, the aim is to help you become more “present” and “aware” of your thoughts and behaviors. Meditating can be so relaxing that some people fall asleep in the middle of it. Ultimately, the purpose of meditation is to help you live in the moment, focus on something else, and change your thought processes and behaviors (i.e., urges to view porn and “porn use”).

What is Mindfulness?

Approximately 25,000 years ago, Buddha introduced the concept of “mindfulness.” Buddha suggested that this mental training exercise could be a credible path towards “spiritual awareness.” Mindfulness is the art of being “present” in your life. More specifically, it helps open your mind to improve your overall awareness. The goal is to help you develop a more in-depth understanding or perception of yourself and the world around you.

Researchers have found that mindfulness-based interventions can alter your brain activity in positive ways, leading to improved mental health. Mindfulness not only encourages self-awareness but also de-stresses you so do not feel compelled to perform compulsions (using porn) to help you deal with stress, emotional distress, boredom, anxiety, depression, etc.

Note: Adding mindfulness exercises to your prescribed treatment plan can be beneficial for people, who struggle with addiction – i.e., drug and alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, internet addiction, porn addiction, etc.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that helps you “quiet” your racing thoughts, remove negativity from your thought processes, and relax your mind and body. This stress-management technique combines traditional meditation with mindfulness, which is described as a fully aware and focused mental state. Thus, mindfulness meditation involves being “fully present,” so you can identify and accept your true thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions without judgment.

Although, mindfulness meditation techniques vary; it normally involves deep breathing exercises, and mind and body “awareness.” One of the benefits of mindfulness meditation is that it does not require preparation or accessories, such as scented oils or candles, mantras, or rituals or routines) to reap its benefits. All that is needed is a comfortable place to practice it in, 5-10 minutes of your time, and an open mind and heart.

What is the Best Way to Practice Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is a fairly straightforward practice, however, the best way to learn how to perform it is to have a teacher, coach, or online program help you get started, especially if you are engaging in it because of a health condition or addiction, like porn addiction.

Listed below are ways you can start practicing mindfulness meditation:

Unwind

In other words, “dress down” or put on some loose, comfortable clothes and find a secluded and quiet place to practice mindfulness meditation. Then, sit on the floor or in a chair with your head, neck, and back straight. Refrain from “stiffening up.” The good news is this practice can be performed almost anywhere, at any time of the day, and without a dress code.

Time It

Although not required, a timer (preferably with a “low tone” alarm) can help you forget about the time and concentrate on meditating. A timer can also put a stop to any excuses you conjure up for why you need to stop and do something else.

Truth be told, it is common to lose track of time when meditating, however, a timer can keep you on track so you are not spending too much time on it – to the neglect of other tasks and responsibilities. FYI: Sit for a few minutes afterward your meditation session, so you can get your “bearings” (become more aware of where you are before getting up).

Note: Understand that some people like to meditate for long sessions, however, all it takes is a few minutes each day to see a noticeable change in your condition, addiction, mindset, and behavior. So, start with 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation, and gradually increase this time by 5 minutes until you reach your personal “Zen” point. Eventually, your mindfulness meditation may last 30 minutes or more.

Focus on Your Breathing

Mindfulness meditation teaches you how to focus on your breathing. More specifically, it helps you become more aware of your respirations (breathing patterns). So, inhale (breath in) through your nose, and fill your stomach with air. Then, exhale (breath out) through your nose, and allow the air to leave your body. Pay attention to the sensations you are feeling in your body.

Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

With mindfulness meditation, the aim is not to block out your thoughts, urges, and/or mental images. Rather, the goal is to help you become more comfortable with them. More specifically, mindfulness meditation teaches you how to become a “passive observer” or “witness” to your thoughts, urges, and/or mental images.

So, when they pop into your mind, do not dismiss, ignore, or suppress them. Simply acknowledge them, while remaining calm and collected. Pay attention to your breathing and use it as a “center point.” Think about your thoughts, urges, and images as “ocean waves.”

Where are you? What do you see? More specifically, what do the ocean waves look like, smell like, and feel like under your feet and around your body? How do the waves make you feel inside? What direction are the waves going?

Repeat this exercise when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, bored, etc.

Give Yourself a Break

If you are having a hard time grasping mindfulness meditation, give yourself a break. This is common at first. Perhaps, your mind started wandering to the grocery list you still need to make – right in the middle of meditating.

Or, maybe, your anxiety, fears, worries, etc., snuck up on you right as you were starting to focus on your breathing. If this happens, acknowledge and accept it – as an “observer,” not an active participant. Take a couple of deep breaths and try to re-focus your mind on your breathing and the “here-and-now.” But do not judge or criticize yourself.

Download a Mindfulness Meditation App

If you are having a difficult time getting into mindfulness meditation on your own, download an app (i.e., Calm, Headspace, etc.) to help you stay on track. Apps not only provide you with a variety of meditations, but they also offer numerous self-help tools that can help you stay calm, focused, and more aware of your thoughts and behavior throughout the day.

Is Mindfulness Meditation Beneficial for Porn Addicts?

Absolutely!

Practicing mindfulness meditation is not only beneficial for your physical health but also your emotional/mental health.

Some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness meditation regularly include:

Stress Reduction – Some people turn to porn when they become stressed and overwhelmed. In this case, porn becomes a much-needed stress reliever. Porn allows these individuals to “escape” from their fears, worries, concerns, emotional distress, and/or anxiety. Mindfulness meditation eases stress and diverts your focus from porn to “awareness.”

Overall, mindfulness meditation offers the same benefits of porn (stress relief, “escape,” entertainment, etc.) without the negative consequences, like porn addiction, shame and guilt, debt, broken relationships, lost friendships, and/or poor self-esteem and self-confidence. Thus, mindfulness meditation is a healthier way to deal with stress.

According to a 2009 study, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a therapeutic approach to mindfulness meditation, can ease stress in people, who suffer from mental and physical health conditions, like depression, anxiety, tension, emotional distress, and/or pain. Researchers have also found that MBSR can help with addictions (i.e., porn addiction) and chronic stress. Thus, mindfulness meditation removes the stress from your life so you do not feel the need to turn to porn for relief.

More Peaceful ZZZs – Insomnia is a common side effect of “heavy porn use” and porn addiction. Many porn addicts watch porn on their electronic devices at night – once everyone has gone to bed. Porn addicts tend to become so wrapped up in what they are doing that sleep eludes them. According to researchers, mindfulness meditation may help you get better quality sleep by “quieting” or “calming” your mind before bed.

Redirection & Enhanced Awareness – Mindfulness meditation can help redirect your thoughts so you do not become “fixated” on using porn. More specifically, mindfulness meditation can help you become more focused and aware of your thoughts and behaviors – so you can stop them. Thus, in this case, mindfulness meditation acts as a “deterrent” or “distraction” from porn by giving you something else to think about and do.

What Should I Do If My Mind Starts to Wander to Porn While I Am Meditating?

If you start to think about porn or you begin to have strong urges to view porn while meditating, make a deliberate effort to re-focus on your breathing patterns (inhaling and exhaling). Do not, however, beat yourself up (or judge yourself) because you became distracted. You are human. Pick yourself up (metaphorically) and continue meditating. As porn starts to lose its power over you, you will be able to focus more on meditating.

Do I Need to Practice Mindfulness Meditation Every Day to Reap the Benefits of it For My Porn Addiction?

No, you do not!

Although practicing mindfulness meditation daily may help divert your attention from using porn and/or prevent a porn addiction relapse, you do not have to do it every day to reap the benefits of it. Researchers have found that meditating three or four times a week can produce noticeable benefits. And, meditating regularly for at least 8 weeks can “rewire” your brain so you are not constantly craving and using porn.

Are There Any Mindfulness Meditation Exercises That I Can Use to Reduce or Stop My “Porn Use?”

Yes, there are mindfulness meditation exercises you can use to combat your “porn use” or porn addiction.

  • Micro “60 Seconds” Meditation

    The best thing about this mindfulness meditation is you can do it in a variety of settings. Just find a secluded spot that is comfortable and quiet and then breathe deeply for 60 seconds. All it takes is three or four deep breaths to clear your mind of porn. This exercise can also help you think more rationally so you do not impulsively use porn to ease your angst.

    Listed below are the instructions for practicing this mindfulness meditation exercise:

    • Take a deep breath and hold it for five seconds.
    • Slowly exhale.
    • Take another deep breath and hold your breath for another five seconds.
    • As you exhale, imagine releasing your stress as the air leaves your body.
    • Take another deep breath and hold it again.
    • As you exhale, release the stress that has been accumulating inside of you.
    • While exhaling, repeat these words to yourself, “It is okay. I can relax now.”
  • The Five Senses Exercise

    The Five Senses Exercise can help ease your stress, so you do not feel compelled to turn to porn for relief. So, when you start to feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed try this porn recovery mindfulness meditation practice. Start from Step 5 and go to Step 1. Repeat as often as necessary.

    Listed below are the steps to the Five Senses Exercise:

    • Step 5 – SEE

      During Step 5, you will be asked to name five things that you can see, including things that you would normally ignore or dismiss, such as a tiny ant, cobweb, crack in the wall, peeling paint, a speck of dust or dirt, various colors, etc.

    • Step 4 – FEEL

      During Step 4, you will be asked to focus on four things that you can feel, such as the texture of your sweater, coat, skirt, pants, etc., the heat from the sun on your skin, the wind blowing your hair, sand under your feet, the coolness against your skin on a winter’s day, etc.

    • Step 3 – HEAR

      During Step 3, you will be asked to focus on three things that you can hear, such as a honking car horn, the living room television, music playing in your bedroom, your neighbor’s barking dog or meowing cat, your children’s toys in the next room, a lawnmower outside, children laughing and playing in the front yard, the ticking of a clock, etc.

    • Step 2 – SMELL

      During Step 2, you will be asked to focus on two things that you can smell, such as flowers in the garden, your partner’s cologne or perfume, food cooking in the kitchen, brewing coffee, air freshener, etc.

    • Step 1 – TASTE

      During Step 2, you will be asked to focus on one thing that you can taste, such as pizza, coffee, cookies or cake, popcorn, candy, etc.

    Note: Focusing on your senses can help you feel more “centered” in your body. It can also help you become more aware and “present” in the moment, instead of focusing on porn as a way to “escape” your stress and anxiety.

  • S.P.O.T. Exercises

    S.P.O.T. (See – Pause – Override –Track) is a 5–10-minute mindfulness meditation exercise, designed to help you resist urges to use porn.

    Listed below are the steps to the S.P.O.T. Exercise:

    • Step 1 – SEE

      Step 1 involves seeing your urge to view porn for what it really is. In other words, acknowledge and accept your porn impulses as an “addiction.” View these thoughts and urges from an “outsider’s perspective” – not as an active participant. Repeat to yourself, “This is an addictive urge – nothing more, nothing less.” Imagine that someone else is having the urge – not you. You are only an “observer” or “witness” to this experience.

    • Step 2 – PAUSE

      Step 2 involves “sitting with” your urges to view porn. Allow yourself to fully experience the uncomfortableness that accompanies this action. Acknowledge and accept the emotional distress or unpleasant feelings associated with “sitting with” these urges – without acting on them. Set a goal of not acting on your urges to view porn for a specific amount of time – i.e., fifteen (to begin with). Gradually lengthen this time by fifteen-minute increments until you no longer have urges to use porn.

    • Step 3 – OVERRULE

      Step 3 involves “waiting it out” and distracting yourself with healthier and more positive thoughts and activities. Imagine all of the things you can do once you stop using porn, such as accomplishing a goal like getting your dream job, getting married and starting a family, losing weight, etc. Once, you are finished meditating, make a list of activities you can quickly overrule your urges to view porn.

    • Step 4 – TRACK

      Step 4 involves tracking your S.P.O.T. progress – i.e., the length of time you “paused” your impulse to use porn and the activities you did to “overrule” your urges to view porn. Only focus on your success and what helped you combat the temptation to use porn.

      Do not, however, beat yourself up if you become distracted. Understand that stopping your urges to use porn will not happen overnight. Rather, it will take time, effort, and patience to combat the urges.

  • ABCDE Model Three-Minute Exercise

    The ABCDE Model Three-Minute Exercise is a mindfulness meditation practice that can help you challenge your thoughts. This practice stems from rational-emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) and is designed to help you better understand how your thoughts affect your behavior.

    • An (Activation) – Something happens to you or around you (i.e., You start watching porn).
    • B (Beliefs) – You have a belief or perception of an event or encounter (“Watching porn helps me deal with my problems. It relieves my stress.”).
    • C (Consequences) – Your beliefs or perceptions have real consequences that involve your feelings and behaviors (i.e., Falsehood: “I need to use porn to feel better about what is happening in my marriage. Truth: Your “porn use” is causing you to emotionally withdraw from your spouse, which is causing problems in your marriage.).
    • D (Dispute) – This is where you “challenge” or “dispute” your beliefs or perceptions (i.e., “What if I do not need porn to ease my stress and anxiety?” Or, “What if my “porn use” is making everything worse?”).
    • E (Effect) – This is where you adopt and implement a new set of beliefs (i.e., “I do not need porn to be happy” or “I do not need porn to become sexually aroused.”).

    Note: Understand that the decision to turn to porn as a source of sexual satisfaction is a decision often triggered by an illogical belief system. For example, you may believe that something “bad” is about to happen, and as a result, you must use porn to thwart an impending disaster or tragedy and ease your stress, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, fears, worries, etc. Using the ABCDE mindfulness meditation approach, as a framework, help you think about your urges to view porn and your “porn use” in a different way.

Are There Any Porn Addiction Recovery Programs That Offer Mindfulness Meditation?

Yes!

Stop Together, is an online porn recovery program that offers a variety of self-help tools and resources, like mindfulness meditation, therapy, expert content, audio recordings, and invaluable support not only while you address your porn habit, but also once you have completed your treatment plan. Stop Together can arm you with the mental reinforcements you need to finally say goodbye to porn.

References

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