One Breath At A Time: How Meditation In Recovery Can Help You
In the world of recovery, we can find ourselves dealing with a lot of stress. Stress is the enemy of the addict or alcoholic in recovery, as stress remains to be one of the leading causes cited for relapse. So, managing stress while in recovery is obviously important. We need to find a healthy way to let go of the daily struggles we may encounter as we make our way through life as sober people. That’s why utilizing meditation in recovery is such an important approach to maintaining sobriety. Not only is meditation in recovery called for as a portion of every 12-step program known to man, but it also possesses other crucial benefits for you.
Many people can be overwhelmed by the idea of implementing mediation into their daily routines, let alone actually undergoing the process of meditating. Where can you start? And why is meditation in recovery so important anyway?
What Is Meditation?
While seemingly a simple enough question, meditation itself is quite a complex concept. For as many different types of meditation available to try to out, there are that many different answers to what meditation actually is. But, for argument’s sake, the simplified answer is that meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness. It is a state of utter and complete stillness and peace that occurs when the mind is silent, yet still alert.
Meditation is not just something as simple as someone humming “Om” repeatedly while sitting in lotus position either. Meditation is completely fluid. There is no one right or wrong way to go about meditating, which is why this dynamic practice is so effective in recovery. How you go about practicing meditation in recovery depends on the individual undertaking the task.
Apart from its fluidity and ability to seamlessly coalesce with the program of recovery, meditation sports a variety of benefits for mind, body, and spirit. Significant research has been done on the topic over the years, and many researchers have reached the same conclusion. People who meditate regularly are happier and healthier than those who don’t.
They also tend to live longer.
Stress is the silent killer of people all across the world. Stress is an insidious disease that works slowly and quietly beneath the surface, causing some nasty health side effects. If you already have a medical condition that is exacerbated by stress, meditation can help you not only prevent the condition from getting worse, but may actually help you overcome the condition entirely!
Some of the diseases meditation has been known to help include asthma, cancer, chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and tension headaches! Symptom management has been found entirely possible with the help of meditation.
When it comes to mental health, meditation is also super effective. Stress is also a main antagonist in the world of mental health conditions, which is why meditation in recovery can be so wildly effective for addicts and alcoholics. Meditation can reduce stress, which is known to help alleviate depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.
How Do You Use Meditation in Recovery?
Now that you have a firm understanding of what meditation is and what it can potentially do for your health, it’s time to discuss meditation in recovery, which can be a powerful tool, designed to take your recovery to the next level. Since recovery deals a lot with the spiritual aspect of the disease of addiction and maintaining a close connection to a power greater than yourself, meditation is thought of as a way you can “listen for the answers provided by your higher power”. The 11th step of every 12-step program is directly dedicated to just this: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out”.
So, how can you actually use meditation in recovery? As stated before, there is no one correct or incorrect way to meditate, and there are seemingly infinite ways that you can meditate. Here are some different forms of meditation you can try out to see which one works for you
An adaption of Buddhist meditation, Mindfulness Meditation is one of the more popular types of meditation in recovery. The entire purpose of mindfulness meditation is to stay in the present moment and accept whatever thoughts and emotions arise without judgment. Mindfulness meditation is so effective in recovery, that mindfulness based relapse prevention is often used in treatment centers around the country.
Zen or Zazen meditation refers to “seated meditation” and dates back to the 6th century. It is practiced by typically by being seated on the floor on a cushion or pillow and in lotus or half-lotus position. The goal is to focus on breathing and staying in the present moment.
Another more traditional type of meditation, mantra meditation uses the repetitive chanting or thinking of a mantra, or syllable or word typically without meaning, in order to hone your focus and attention. The person meditating is usually to sit on the floor, eyes closed, and quietly or silently repeating the mantra over and over again.
Guided meditation is a great type of meditation in recovery. Guided meditations are usually performed with a meditation proctor, whether recorded or in real life, who uses guided imagery to help the person meditating relax his or her mind and find a place of serenity and peace. It can be set to music and usually each guided meditation has a specific goal in mind whether it’s a guided meditation for sleep or managing stress.
Finally, when it comes to meditation in recovery, there’s nothing more effective than yoga. Meditation combined with physical activity, this ancient Eastern practice has become wildly popular in Western culture in the last decade. Yoga is about using your body and spirit in tandem, as yoga literally means “union”. The goal is to push your body to different physical limits while simultaneously using meditation to relax yourself into the complex positions. It is a phenomenal type of physical activity and extremely effective for managing pain and various mental health disorders.
Using meditation in recovery is not only recommended, but it is also a substantial part of any 12-step program. It can help you take your recovery further as well as help you battle physical and mental ailments that may be plaguing you. Despite the numerous health benefits, many people are afraid to try meditation.