I had a whole bunch of stuff on my mind during early recovery. I was trying to apply what I learned in treatment in my new life, balance work and recovery, avoid triggers, and implement healthy routines. I felt very overwhelmed and my mind was constantly occupied.
The idea that I could just turn the internal chatter off by focusing on a single action or thought, was very exciting. This is what initially attracted me to meditation.
gerund or present participle: meditating
think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
Meditation: What is It?
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques intended to stimulate relaxation, build inner energy or life strength, and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness. An especially impressive form of meditation aims at easily sustained single-pointed concentration, meant to enable its practitioner to only concentrate on one focus point thus promoting a sense of security.
You might want to recognize what meditation isn’t. It isn’t about zoning out, or having earth-shattering experiences, or even controlling the mind. Meditation, as a spiritual practice, is more about working with the mind and training its awareness. Simply working with this attitude leads to an enhanced sense of presence, calmness, and peace, and an increase in value of the simple things in life.
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The physical act of meditation usually consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on your breathing, and/or a word or a phrase, or sound. There are many traditions and countless ways to practice meditation, and because of this, a person new to meditation may wonder whether they are doing it correctly. I was certainly afraid to start in fear that I was not going to be able to do it the right way.
The most basic and universal of all meditation techniques, breathing meditation is a great place to start your practice. You can start very slow, try to meditate for one minute the first time and when your mind wanders off, just pull it back in and focus back on your breathing. If the quiet is bothering you, try some calming music or the white noise of some type, like a humidifier, fan or sounds of water. I find 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. Don’t make a conscious effort to change your breathing patterns, just breathe normally. When your thoughts enter, make a conscious decision to refocus back on your breathing.
Start out just practicing for a few minutes. 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. The mind needs time to learn to quiet and you need time to learn how to focus on your breathing and incorporate this new routine into your life.
Too Busy to Meditate? Think Again!
The benefits of meditation are many and varied from reducing stress, blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes to increasing one’s cognition and creativity. As well meditation decreases our need for sleep by heightening our concentration, allowing us to be more productive. Many people think that they have to run off to a monastery or spend hours a day sitting in a lotus position to receive these benefits. WRONG! If you feel overwhelmed with work, family and personal responsibilities here are three quick and easy meditations to help you release unwholesome emotions, shift your mood and improve your relationships adapted from my new book. -continue reading at Psychology Today: The Wise Open Mind
Meditation is a great tool to help you stay sober, combat cravings, minimize restless nights, and reduce anxiety! I know that it may sound a bit difficult to get into the practice, but keep an open mind – like with anything new it takes practice and patience.
Do you meditate? How has meditation helped you with recovery?
You may also find some inspiration on these sites:
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).