The power of the mind should not be underestimated. To the recovering addict, it has both the ability to keep you sober or prompt a relapse. In the early stages of recovery, everyday life without the use of alcohol is daunting. Fortunately, mindful meditation is a tool that anyone can use to gain peace and clear any negative thoughts of alcohol or drug abuse.
What Is It?
To be mindful means to be aware of the present moment. Meditation, on the other hand, is an ancient technique that focuses on the breath in order to connect with the present and quiet the mind. Together, mindfulness meditation is simply sitting still, paying attention to the breath and present moment and being aware of emotions and thoughts as they occur.
Mindful meditation is a common Buddhist practice but it also helps in the recovery journey as well. There are many benefits associated with this type of meditation:
- Decreases stress. You experience less stress through focusing on the present and not stressing out about the past or future. A master meditator will simply observe thoughts and not allow them to control him in a negative way.
- Decreases anxiety. Deep breathing is a relaxation technique used in mindful meditation that reduces anxiety.
- Connects you with your body. Your body communicates with you all the time. An ache or a negative emotion signals that something is not right. It is important to notice these warning signs as they occur so you can seek the appropriate remedy for the situation.
- Reduces pain and/or offers a higher pain tolerance. According to a popular Buddhist metaphor, if you are hit by an arrow, you will experience immediate pain. Then you will probably start experiencing panic in your mind, which is like a second arrow of pain. The “second arrow” is what makes the experience worse and that’s where meditation comes in. Learning how to manage your thoughts and breath can eliminate any extra pain.
- Reduces or eliminates symptoms of depression. Gaining mastery over your thoughts can help you say goodbye to negative ones, in turn embracing the positives.
- Increases mental clarity. As you meditate, your thought life becomes less cloudy and confused. This allows you to become more confident in your decision-making moving forward.
- Helps decrease chance of relapse. When you feel appreciative of your present life and have emotional balance, you’re much less likely to pick up a drink.
How to Practice
Meditating every day doesn’t have to be intimidating. Start off with just a few minutes at a time and increase as you go. The length of time is not important since success is measured by quality rather than quantity. Two to three minutes of silent sitting and focus on your breath is already a great start.
To begin, find a quiet spot to sit or lie down. Take three to four deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling, while focusing on relaxing every part of your body. Feel completely relaxed. Then, focus on your normal breathing pattern. Really feel the air coming in and out of your lungs. As you do this, your thought life should slow down. When a random thought comes, simply acknowledge it and then let it go and return to focusing on your breathing. Keep presence in mind. You are present right then and there, fully aware of your existence in time. Continue to observe your breathing and if your mind should wander, bring it back.
As you make mindful meditation part of your daily life, you will grow personally, mentally and spiritually. Recovery will also become easier as you feel more clear-headed, focused and appreciative. Make a commitment today to practice mindful meditation and enjoy a higher quality of life.