For many recovered addicts, dealing with anything that can pull you away from the recovery path is a daily struggle. Everyone who stays sober for a long time finds a way to manage their thought life, and now that you're sober, you'll have to find your own way too.
For some people, thoughts of using drugs or alcohol is staved off with exercise, including intense cardio workouts or mindful practices such as yoga. In the case of yoga, the meditation aspect contributes significantly to keeping cravings at bay. With or without the addition of exercise, however, you can still use meditation as a tool to help you fight off tempting thoughts that may be haunting you day after day.
According to this study published on NIH, mindfulness meditation practices can actually impact the possibility that a recovered addict will relapse. This study took a look at recovered alcoholics specifically, but the take-home conclusion should be useful to any recovered addict, regardless of the addictive substance. Mindfulness meditation isn’t just a way to steer clear of relapse--according to this article published in Scientific American, the practice can also have a positive effect on depression and even anxiety. So why not give mindfulness meditation a try?
If you’re interested in using mindfulness meditation techniques to help you stay clean, try some of the following exercises when you feel like you’re under the dark cloud.
1. Breathing Meditation
Find a comfortable place to sit and sit with your back upright. Rest your hands where they are most comfortable. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath, with deep inhales and exhales. Relax your muscles. Take the energy your brain is using to think about your craving or addiction and intentionally divert it toward your breath and your body. Keeping your eyes closed, continue to inhale deeply and then slowly exhale, paying careful attention to how the breath feels as it moves in and out of you. Practice this breathing meditation for 5-10 minutes at a time or more as a way to combat tempting thoughts related to your addiction.
2. Water Meditation
Run a warm bath for yourself if you have the time and practice a water meditation as a way to deal with the burden of your old addict thoughts . If you prefer to light candles or use bath salts or oils, that is your prerogative. Turn the water almost completely off once the tub is full, but allow for the smallest bit of warm water to continue dripping into the tub. Once you are settled into the bath, find a comfortable position, making sure that your neck is not strained, and close your eyes. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. When your mind begins to wander toward your craving, turn your focus to the sound of the dripping water. Listen to every sonic detail of the water as it builds, drops, and splashes into the pool of water beneath. Focus on the any sounds the water makes as you lay still, keeping your attention on the sound of the dripping. Continue this meditation for 10-15 minutes or however long is comfortable.
3. Moving Meditation
Whether you enjoy running, walking, dancing or simply just creating fluid motions with your body, moving meditation uses movement to shift your consciousness to the connection between your body and mind. For instance, if you are running or walking, you will focus on your feet hitting the pavement. If you're on a bike, focus on your feet pushing your weight on to the pedals. With each step or stride, imagine pounding out negative energy and replacing it with positive energy as your muscles send reverberations back up your body. Think of your muscles contracting and relaxing, the blood coursing through your veins and being sent back to your heart. Notice the pounding of your heart and imagine life-giving blood flowing through it. Then, focus on your mind, how oxygen coming in through your breaths releases feel-good endorphins that reduce your perception of cravings and pain. The activity you choose, your endurance level and your experience with meditating will determine the time spent in moving meditation, but look to engage for at least 15 minutes to half an hour.
When it comes to staying sober, you need an arsenal of tools to fight the good fight and stay on track. Rotate these three meditation types into your recovery routine to give yourself additional support. They’re easy, and you can practically do them anywhere, anytime. So, the next time a craving or an overwhelming thought strikes, take a moment to woosah!