When you first quit drugs or alcohol, you need all possible tools to help your recovery. There are several drug and alcohol treatment methods that most people know about it including counseling, drug detox, and 12-step meetings but lately, a more ancient tool is being used – meditation.
No one would expect meditation to be an important part of recovery but learning the breathing and thought techniques of meditation can help you slow the world down and gain perspective during difficult times. Now, just about every treatment center in the country uses some form of meditation to help recovering alcoholics and addicts achieve personal growth and inner peace.
Let’s learn more about mediation in recovery for beginners including what mediation is, how to begin, and how it can help on your path to recovery.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a mental exercise that focuses on relaxation, focus, awareness, and breathing. While meditation has long been used for religious and spiritual purposes, all can enjoy the mental awareness and clarity that can be found in just a few minutes of daily meditating. Many treatment centers now utilize meditation for your spirituality just like they use counseling for your mind or detox for your body.
Why is Meditation Good for Recovery?
When you first become sober your brain feels like it’s on overdrive. You’re suddenly strikingly aware of the world around you and the responsibilities that come with being a better person. You can be hit with obsessive thoughts, irrational dispositions, and struggle to sleep as your brain races.
Meditation cannot cure racing thoughts, but the breathing and mental health techniques that come with meditation are clinically proven to slow things down. The breathing associated with mediation can convince your brain that everything’s alright and bring a peace you might not have felt in years.
Everyone in recovery should learn basic meditation to help stop the screeching train that your brain can turn into. Let’s learn some basics of meditation and how you can pair mindfulness for even better results.
Getting Started with Meditation for Recovery
Find a Spot
You want to find a comfortable, quiet spot for your mediation. Some people use their living rooms when no one is home, others have a dedicated space to meditate. The spot should be quiet, comfortable, and should allow you to meditate without any interruptions or distractions. Meditation experts recommend sitting straight up with excellent posture while remaining comfortable.
Choose a Mantra
The mantra is the word or phrase you silently repeat as you breathe during meditation. The mantra helps keep your head clear by anchoring your thoughts. Your mantra can be simple like ‘In, out’ or the classic ‘ohm.’ It doesn’t matter what your mantra is but keep it simple – you’ll repeating it internally hundreds of times.
Beginning Your Meditation
Once you’re seated take a few moments to loosen your clothing and take a few deep breaths. Ease yourself into a resting position and close your eyes.
Meditation without proper breathing techniques isn’t really meditation. The breathing techniques associated with meditation can literally change your heart rate, blood pressure, and calm your brain down. When paired with a mantra proper breathing gives you the best meditation results.
Breathe slowly through your nose, hold the breath for a split second, then slowly release the breath through your nose or pursed lips. Aim to make your exhale longer than your inhale. After a couple of minutes of regular breathing, you’ll find a natural rhythm to slide you into deep meditation.
Note: Many people like to pair their mantra with their breathing but that’s not necessary. You want to find a regular slow breathing pattern regardless of your mantra’s tempo.
Don’t Fight Thoughts
One of the goals of meditation is to clear your mind. To someone who has never meditated before clearing your head can seem impossible – how can you just forget about all the things you need to do? When you’re meditating, you’re encouraged to concentrate on your breathing and mantra but outside thoughts will undoubtedly enter you head, and that’s ok. Don’t dwell on them and don’t approach them, let the thoughts come and go but always return to your mantra.
Ending Your Meditation
You should never spring up from your meditation session and immediately go back to daily life. To get the full effects of meditation you need to slowly remove yourself from the inward environment of meditation back to the external world. Begin by changing your focus away from your mantra before taking several deep breaths. Gently begin moving again starting with your head and neck before working your way to your feet. Slowly open your eyes, take in a few moments and look at that – you meditated.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation pairs perfectly with mindfulness. While meditation is a method to clear your thoughts, reduce stress, and gain perspective, mindfulness is about appreciating the world around you. While meditation takes place in sessions you can practice mindfulness throughout the day every time you smell autumn leaves or notice the intricate detail of your own fingerprints. When you can learn to slow things down with mediation then appreciate your world with mindfulness, you’ll have a much higher chance at lifelong sobriety.
Resources for Meditation for Recovery
Our guide can help you get started on meditation but there are dozens of high-quality resources to learn more. You can stop by a local 12-step library and pick up a book about meditation, visit your local library, reach out to your local recovery community for help, or go online for hundreds of reputable mediation sources.
Meditate, Mind Your Surroundings, Grow
Meditation has become a popular way to help treat addiction for many reasons. Meditation can slow your world down, help you gain perspective on life’s challenges, and can physiologically alter your body chemistry to reduce anxiety, drug cravings, and other negative feelings. Use our guide, head online, or ask someone in the recovery community more about meditation. Even a few restful meditative minutes a day can make a huge difference in your recovery.