Is Meditation Right For You?
Whether you’re currently traveling down the winding path of sobriety, or stalled a few miles in; there’s never a simple way to navigate the recovery trail. You may have a goal to find strategies to clear your mind when thoughts of relapse arise. As life begins to feel as though it’s crowding around us, it’s not a surprise that we seek out ways to alleviate the stress and help us break negative cycles.
Addiction recovery often requires a variety of different techniques to truly be successful. No two addicts are entirely the same in how they were affected by addiction, which means that each form of treatment is going to require unique steps to help that individual overcome their personal battles.
One method that many former addicts have found helpful in recovery is meditation. Because addiction recovery is about mental recovery as much as it is about physical recovery, there is plenty to be gained from adding meditation into a recovering addict’s routine.
Your goal may be to become less reactive to insignificant situations, gain higher awareness, or perhaps you’ve decided to improve upon your relationships. Whatever the reason may be, personal development can be achieved in a multitude of ways, one of which being meditation. Meditation of any kind is commonly used as a technique to not only gain a higher sense of awareness within yourself but as a tool to focus your attention on the simplest of thoughts.
The Mental Benefits of Meditation
Any form of meditation has a plethora of benefits for the mind, as well as the body. From alleviating the feelings of stress and depression, to potentially lowering your heart rate and blood pressure levels. Meditation as a learned skill can help you develop a greater harmony with yourself. The best part of all? Anyone can learn to meditate. It does take a certain amount of determination, and like any learned skill, it takes time to feel comfortable with the process, but it’s worth the learning curve. Meditation can help you with:
- Stress Management
- Improving Memory
- Overall Improvement of Wellbeing
- Enlightenment / Heighten Awareness
Quite possibly the simplest form of meditation is that of “mindfulness meditation”. The term “mindful” is just about everywhere nowadays. In different forms of media, and a ridiculous amount of self-health literature, mindfulness described as more than a practice. It’s a mindset. A way of life. Something every individual can benefit from.
Mindfulness can be used in every aspect of your everyday life. Whether the intention is to sit down for a moment and meditate, or just to run around town running errands. To be mindful requires no change within our current image, it only requires us to look inward. What and who we are and who would we like to be in the future?
Sitting down with your thoughts, focusing on your breathing, letting everything else go for even a moment can afford us a moment to “check-in” with ourselves. Meditation as a general practice is mostly about trying to be still, and accept the task of doing nothing aside from concentrating on our own being for a moment.
What’s affecting you? How do you see yourself currently? What thoughts and emotions can you not clear yourself of? Whether you’re in a traditionally meditative seated position, laying down, or driving in your car, begin with finding a position or place in which you feel safe and comfortable. Relax. Focus on the breath coming into and out of your lungs. Even if it’s just for a few seconds. Let go of your thoughts, and let your breath be all that you focus on.
There are many acceptable ways to practice meditation. Whatever or however you decide to practice, just remember to…
- Find a comfortable sitting position.
- Relax your mind.
- Focus on your breathing.
- When your thoughts drift, bring them back to your breathing.
- Continue for a few minutes to start. Gradually lengthen the time.
As uncomplicated as that may sound, that’s truly all it takes to begin!
Meditation and Recovery
Addiction and recovery are difficult things to face on your own, or within various relationships. At the beginning, every moment of recovery can feel like a lifetime. In moments that it feels like too much, meditation may feel only like a chance to sit with the thoughts you’d rather not settle on. In those moments, remember the true purpose of meditation. To sit with yourself. To relax your mind. Let go of your thoughts. Focus on your breath. Creating a space for new energy with each inhale, and releasing that energy with each exhale.
Mindfulness helps fight cravings
Cravings are the major danger to addiction recovery, and are the most likely cause for relapse. Meditation helps increase the mindfulness of an individual, which makes them more self aware of the moment that they are in. A high level of mindfulness can be incredibly effective for reducing the impact that cravings have on the brain, and it makes it easier to see one’s actions in a bigger picture.
Lessens the effects of anxiety
Mental disorders can be a major underlying factor in addiction recovery, particularly anxiety disorders. Meditation and learned breathing techniques can help an addict fight the effects of anxiety and reduce the impact that it has on their behavioral health. This directly impacts the mental health of recovering addicts, which, in turn, removes one more barrier on the path towards total recovery.
Helps envision a better future
Addiction recovery is about building a foundation of personal behavior and attitudes that make long-term sobriety possible. This requires an equal amount of mindfulness of the moment, as well as having an eye on the potential future. Meditation helps increase the optimism of an addict, which allows them to envision a better future for themselves. In this way, it makes it easier to look past the bleakness that a person might inevitably feel during addiction recovery.