In your recovery journey, you’ll more than likely hear about meditation. If you are like a lot of others in early recovery, sitting still and clearing your mind seems like an uncomfortable idea and a nearly impossible task.
According to Merriam-Webster, Meditation is to engage in contemplation or reflection, or to engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.
Meditation, whether sitting alone in your bedroom or on a beach in Bali, has been proven to have many benefits, including lowering stress and blood pressure, to becoming more self-aware, and improving concentration and acceptance. In addition, meditation has proven to be an effective tool in drug rehab and maintaining sobriety.
There are some effective ways to begin to learn how to meditate without becoming overwhelmed with the idea of sitting quietly and trying to slow down all the thoughts and chatter in your head.
- Counting your breaths
Begin by finding a comfortable position that you can stay in for up to 5 minutes. It really doesn’t matter if you are sitting or lying down, just get comfortable. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and let it out slowly. Then continue breathing in and out deeply and slowly, counting each exhale.
Don’t get discouraged if you find yourself wondering what’s for dinner or thinking about the errands you have to do today. Each time you find yourself thinking about anything other than breathing and counting, bring your thoughts back to your breathing and start counting again.
Practice this meditation exercise until you can count 20 breaths without wandering, then maybe think about setting the goal to 50. This is a great introduction to meditation and training your mind to be present and focused. Additionally, this is a type of meditation that you can use even while in a noisy room and without closing your eyes. Try using this with H.A.L.T. and notice the benefit deep breathing, and pausing to count, gives you.
- Setting a timer
Setting a timer, you can start with as little as two minutes. Again, make sure that you are in a comfortable position. Set your timer and close your eyes. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply. Try to clear your thoughts. If you find your mind wandering, let the thoughts go. Combining counting your breaths with setting the timer can be an effective practice in early meditation.
Practicing this meditation with soft music you might hear in a spa may be helpful as silence is never really silent and can, in itself, be distracting.
- Guided meditation
Many people find that guided meditations are an easy way to begin learning to meditate. Doing a Google search for free guided meditation will result in many good choices in audio guided meditations. There are also some great guided meditations with a focus on sobriety as well.
There are lots of free guided meditations which are available to download to your phone or computer, as well as some great apps for your iPhone or Android. Listening to a guided meditation with headphones can block out all the noise in your surroundings and allow you to really relax while listening and taking part in guided meditation.
Many people with long-term sobriety, who are living happy and healthy lives, practice some kind of daily meditation. Beginning and ending your day with some type of meditation is a tool that can help you stay focused on your personal growth, and the things that really matter to you in your life. When you are mindful of these important things, this is likely to be where your focus will be throughout the day, and can help ensure that you continue to work toward the healthy goals you have set for yourself and your new life of sobriety.