How Meditation Can Improve Your Recovery
In early sobriety I noticed that my mind was always working overtime. Often, I was dwelling on something negative, or about how things ought to be or should have been, or I was holding on to emotions such as anger, sadness, or jealousy. It was very difficult to overcome this internal chatter and it was causing me many sleepless nights and lots of stress. I was constantly seeking methods for quieting it down and this is what initially attract me to meditation.
Meditation means to train, calm, or empty the mind, often by achieving an altered state, as by focusing on a single object, especially as a form of religious practice in Buddhism or Hinduism. To engage in focused thought on scriptural passages or on particular doctrines or mysteries of a religion, especially Christianity. To engage in devotional contemplation, especially prayer. To think or reflect, especially in a calm and deliberate manner. (from Your Dictionary)
In a simpler definition, the term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration single-pointed analysis, meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity. (From Wikipedia: Meditation)
The physical act of meditation generally consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on your breathing, and/or a word or a phrase. There are many traditions and countless ways to practice meditation, and to a person new to meditation this may be overwhelming. But there are several simple ways that anyone can learn.
The most basic and universal of all meditation techniques, the Breathing Meditation is a great place to start your practice. A very simple method of a breathing mediation is simply taking deep, slow breaths and when inhaling, you say to yourself “I am breathing in the strength (or the light, or the happiness or whatever good you want to encompass), then you breathe out, you say to yourself “I am breathing out the anger (or the resentment, or the self-pity or whatever bad you want to get rid off.) This is a great and quick practice that can be used in those highly stressful situations.
For a regular breathing meditation, you find a nice, quiet place to sit, close your eyes, and turn your attention to your breathing. You can start very slow, try to meditate for one minute the first time and when your mind wonders off, just pull it back in and focus back on your breathing. If the quiet is bothering you, try some calming music or a white noise of some type, like a humidifier, fan or sounds of water – the fan in the bathroom is a good white noise. Sit in a comfortable position. Follow your breathing. As you breathe, become aware of the rising and falling of your abdomen. Do not make a conscious effort to change your breathing patterns, just breathe normally. Each time you meditate lengthen the period of your meditation, but do not jump too quickly; this is a learned skill that takes some practice. Check out the many tips at How to Meditate website.
Another meditation technique that helps me tremendously, is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a modern movement, appropriated from ancient Buddhist roots, and clinically innovated by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The practice of mindfulness involves being aware moment-to-moment, of one’s subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective. (from Wikipedia.)
When you practice mindfulness, you learn how to see life simply as being and all the things in your life simply existing. When you are mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them as good or bad. This also involves acceptance, meaning that I try to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings without placing the judgement of them being “right” or “wrong,” but as simply the feelings that I have at a current time.
An simple way to practice this technique is actually in the car while driving. You focus on your surroundings, the lights, the colors, the weather, the other cars and such but be sure not to not place any judgement thoughts on what you see, only make a note of it as being exactly how it is supposed to be at this time. This is great method for those day to day things that we cannot control but spend much time stressing about.
The benefits of meditation are many and varied, and most definitely super helpful in recovery. If you feel overwhelmed with work, family and personal responsibilities, meditations can help you release bad emotions, shift your mood and improve your chances of continued and happy recovery. Since stress is one of the greatest triggers for relapse, meditation is particularly beneficial because it can be done whenever and wherever stress is felt.
For more helpful information, check out this great site Sober Meditations.
Do you meditate? How has meditation helped you in recovery?
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