A crucial tenet of recovery is learning to still our busy minds. We drank or used to escape the thoughts and feelings that haunted us, but eventually that solution failed. So we turned to sobriety because the faulty tools of drugs and alcohol proved a short-term and self-destructive solution. What’s next? How do we live with our sometimes crazy brains and scary emotions?
That’s where meditation and mindfulness play a key element in recovery.
Recovery is learning how to live with yourself. Whether you attend a treatment center such as Pat Moore Foundation or work with your area 12-Step groups, you’ll learn that you need to develop a meditation or mindfulness practice. If you’re uncomfortable with religion, know that this is quite a different matter. Although certainly compatible with any spiritual beliefs, a meditation practice is simply taking the time each day to quiet your mind. This is crucial for the addict or alcoholic in recovery that is plagued by cravings, fears, and anxiety. To be free from these shackles is the goal!
Nothing could be easier than sitting and doing nothing, right? For those of you who have started experimenting with meditation, you know how ridiculous that statement is. Seconds stretch into hours stretch into an eternity. And not in a peaceful nirvana! Restlessness sets in, your nose itches, and you think you might scream if you can’t adjust your legs just a smidge!
That’s the key of meditation; it’s a practice, not a perfect!
It may very well be hard or uncomfortable at first, but it pays off in a peace and serenity that is invaluable and will keep you sober in trying times. It becomes a resource, a rock, and a place to turn when you feel overwhelmed. The calm that you can find in a quiet moment can provide the comfort and solace that you once sought in getting high.
Interested in bringing meditation and mindfulness into your life, but confused about where to start?
Here are a few tips to ease this life-changing practice into your daily existence:
Smell the flowers
Look at the world around you. Sobriety is really dang hard! One of the biggest challenges to staying sober is not wallowing in regret about the past and fear about the future. When you notice your brain racing off from the present, pause, take a deep breath, and look around you at something beautiful in the world.
Pause in the morning
Be intentional about your day. First thing in the morning, instead of reaching for your cell phone to check social media and email, take one full minute to think about your intentions for the day. What are your goals, what are your concerns, what are your fears? Take a minute to consider what your day will hold, and allow yourself to consciously relax, knowing that if you move through the day free from drugs and alcohol, you will succeed.
Reflect at night
On the same note, don’t go to bed by the light of your electronics. Take a few minutes before sleep to reflect on your day, and any challenges you had or any triumphs you encountered. Acknowledge that you made it through the day sober. Write out any lingering thoughts in a journal or notebook you keep by your bed and let your mind go to sleep at rest, instead of racing with images and stories from your social media feed, or half-finished thoughts from the day.
Commit to two minutes a day of quiet, seated time
Meditation doesn’t mean a shrine, a fancy pillow, 30 minutes of time and the ability to sit in peace from the get-go. That’s not true! Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime, for any length of time. Just for this week, set aside 2 minutes in the morning or at night, turn off any electronics, distractions, and have some privacy. Sit still. Even if it makes you want to pull your hair out, allow yourself the discipline to try this everyday. You can do it! While you are sitting still, focus on your breath. Notice the thoughts racing around in your head, notice them and let them go. Each day, it will get easier. Every two weeks, add one minute to your seated quiet time.
These simple steps will bring so much more calm to your life. Maybe at first you won’t notice a difference, but they are like a gold coin investment in your serenity and sobriety. Meditation and mindfulness give you the tools to pause, to appreciate, and to not act impulsively. These are the tools we need to survive happily in sobriety!