Can meditation help you to overcome alcoholism and drug addiction? Is it possible to heal your life through the use of meditating in addiction recovery?
The answer is yes, meditation can be critical for recovery from addiction.
If you look at the 12 steps of AA and NA, you will notice that the 11th step addresses the concept of meditation very specifically, stating that “we sought through prayer and meditation....”
Not only that, but if you go to a dozen different AA meetings and you ask the successful recovering alcoholics what their daily routine looks like, you are probably going to notice a theme in which a lot of people mention the concept of meditation.
Now this does not have to be intimidating. I want to give you a few suggestions for how you might get started with the practice.
First of all, if you want to meditate and you have no idea what to do, you can do a very simple exercise right now. Simply close your eyes, start breathing in and out very slowly and deliberately, and visualize each breathe going into and out of your body. Simply be still and watch your breathing with your eyes closed. Nothing more is really required for you to tap into the power of seated meditation.
Of course you can get a lot more elaborate than that, but if you talk to anyone who is serious about meditation they are going to talk about breathing and watching their breath to some extent.
If you want to give yourself some guidance in this practice you might consider downloading a meditation app on your smartphone. There are plenty of free and inexpensive apps that can guide you through the meditation process, and they can also set up daily reminders to help prompt you to engage in the practice on a regular basis.
There are also meditation apps that will help you to build up, so that they start you out with very short and easy meditation sessions, and then slowly work you up to far more powerful and longer sessions.
I have experimented a bit with some longer meditation sessions. I tried to go for 30 full minutes one time, and even though I fell a bit short, I could tell that my brain was brimming with power and potential the rest of the day–it was as if I had untapped some power up boost for my mental processing unit in my head. Meditating for shorter periods of time had a similar effect but just less intense. So I can see why you might want to build up the length of your meditation sessions, because it seems to tap into some sort of mental power boost.
Now the other thing that I want to suggest to you is the idea that there are other ways to meditate other than the traditional seated meditation that you are likely picturing.
When I was in early recovery I experimented with seated meditation a great deal. I tried a number of techniques and I experimented with a lot of different styles. What I found was beneficial to be sure, but interestingly, a few months later I was not doing seated meditation at all any more.
Because in essence I had found a better choice for myself that did not involve seated meditation. What I found was jogging.
So for reasons other than meditation, for reasons other than emotional and mental stability, I started jogging with my dad every day. I built up to six miles in distance and I was running very consistently.
And I realized after getting into shape and developing this habit of jogging outdoors that running was, in essence, meditation.
Jogging wasn't like meditation–it was meditation. When I ran, my brain eventually slipped into this trance-like zone in which I was getting all of those mental and emotional benefits that I used to get from seated meditation.
The main difference for me was that when I jogged, there was no question about it–I achieved these mental and emotional benefits. When I did seated meditation it was more hit or miss–I did not always feel like I got the same level of benefit out of a seated meditation session. But when I ran 6 miles, it was a slam dunk–I was in the zone and my mind had done a whole lot of healthy “zone wandering” as I jogged down the road.
I believe that it helped that I was running a decent distance–six miles rather than just 2 or 3 miles. So I was giving my brain a longer time frame for which it could then “slip into the zone.”
When you first start meditating, or when you first start jogging, your brain is a little bored and it wants to distract itself. So it starts to think about the grocery list, or the to do list for tomorrow, or whatever. The mind will worry about a few relevant items, and think them through.
But on a 6 mile jog, your brain will exhaust those options. And then suddenly you will realize that you have been in a trance, drifting off completely, and you were no longer thinking about your to do list. And that is the state of mind that I am always seeking when I meditate or exercise.
So in my experience, the difficult path to this state of mind is to sit with your eyes closed and try to make it happen. To me, that takes a lot of patience and discipline. It is fairly difficult, at least for me, to achieve that state of mind by sitting in silence.
Far easier, in my experience, is to move my body physically. To exercise. When I started I was hopelessly out of shape. I was able to get into shape by simply sticking with it and building up my endurance over time. (Check with your doctor first before you exercise!).
Once I got into shape, jogging was a delight. I could not imagine going with it any more. And the mental boost and the emotional balance that I get from jogging is amazing.
If I am having a bad day and there is turmoil and drama in my life, going for a jog helps to “reset things.” Suddenly my emotions are tempered, because the physical demands of the jog are so intense. It as if your body is saying “don't worry about your emotions too much right now, can't you see we are under duress from this physical exertion?” The physical component of exercise seems to give me an emotional benefit that is lacking when I do seated meditation.
But this is all up to the individual–you have to do what works best for you. And that might not be jogging, or seated meditation. So you have to get out there and explore the various methods and techniques that could help you to find your inner peace. Good luck!
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