When you’re on the recovery road from addiction, it’s helpful to have tools and resources to help you stay on that path. Mindfulness and meditation are two tools that can certainly help you relax, gain more clarity, and slow down the mental chatter that may be racing in your mind.
They are wonderful tools regardless of what stage of recovery you’re in, as they can help you gain more control over your thought life, including thoughts of wanting to drink or take drugs.
Mindfulness and meditation have been around for centuries. You may think the only people that meditate are monks who live tucked away in some remote country, but this is not true. Billions of people around the world are committed to a more mindful life practicing meditation regularly.
To be mindful means that you are aware of your present state of mind, bodily senses, and space. It’s being “in the now”, fully present and aware.
Meditation is a practice where you ultimately try to gain more control over your thought life and experience more peace. There are various kinds of meditation, such as transcendental or mantra. However, a simple form involves you sitting or lying down in a quiet place, relaxing, closing your eyes, and going within.
As you focus on your inhale and exhale, you tend not to think about other things. Focusing on the breath puts your full awareness on that space within that just “is”. It’s quiet, empty, and feels peaceful.
Meditation can help you relax more and helps ease anxiety and/or stress. It can also help you connect at a deeper level with yourself and your Higher Power.
Other benefits include:
Meditation experts state that spending even five or ten minutes per day in meditation can benefit you. If you’re just starting out, you could even start with one minute per day. You can also meditate for several minutes at various times throughout the day.
There are some wonderful meditation timer apps you can download on your mobile phone too. Just plug in how long you want to meditate, and the timer will keep track for you. There are also some great guided meditations you can listen to on YouTube to help get you started.
Mindfulness is more of a way of life. You can begin practicing mindfulness today, simply by trying to stay in the present moment. When you notice your thoughts going to the past or future, gently come back to the present. This can become habitual, where you’re living more in the “now”, which can feel a whole lot better than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
You can certainly experience a wide range of thoughts and emotions on the recovery path. You might be fine one day and then the next you’re angry, frustrated, sad, resentful, afraid, and so on. It’s fairly normal to swing from one mood to another in those first months of recovery.
After all, you’ve given up something that you’ve been relying on for a long time to provide you with some sort of security. When you cannot have what your mind and body is craving, it can cause a host of negative emotions.
As you walk your road in recovery, keep in mind that you can begin the habit of “checking yourself” every day. This means to gauge your thoughts and mood regularly. You’re sort of playing “thought and emotion detective” with the intent of seeing what’s going on in your thought life.
Your thoughts lead to your emotions, so if you can limit negative thoughts by being mindful and meditating regularly, you’ll experience more peace as a byproduct.
It is important that you learn how to do this, because if you just keep going day to day unchecked, you could easily fall into a mentality that can cause you to pick up and use again. Left unchecked, you run the risk of starting those addictive behaviors again.
Get into the habit of journaling or writing your thoughts down consistently. You can do this anytime during the day, but morning or night is probably best. This allows you to get your feelings out and you can see what your thought life is like by reading your journal.
You can journal online, on paper, or use record your thoughts using your voice memos or another form of recorder.
This helps you track your mental state over time. If you see that you’ve been writing negative things for a week or so, maybe it’s time to reach out for some support.
If you have a sponsor/mentor, stay in touch regularly. Even if it’s just a short text, call, or email, it’s something. For those in early recovery, having a solid support network is crucial. Be sure you define who your major supports will be.
It helps to have that open communication with someone who is your accountability partner. Let them know how you are doing – how you’re REALLY doing. If you’re struggling, reach out to them right away. If you stuff your feelings or ignore them, they could sneak up on you later and cause you to relapse.
Get yourself a 12 Step workbook and work it regularly. Even if you work five minutes a day, you will make progress. You’ll be keeping your mind on recovery. When you get into the habit of checking yourself and working on yourself each day, you’re building a stronger recovery foundation.
Spend a few minutes in quiet time each day to relax and silence your mind as best as you can. If you’re like most people, you’ve got lots of thoughts racing in your mind. Some may be great, but many probably aren’t serving you all that well.
Take time each day to get quiet with yourself. Even if you have to lock yourself in your bedroom for ten minutes, do it. Let your family know quiet time is a must for you.
Take a couple of deep breaths and concentrate on enjoying the present moment. Enjoy the peace that resides underneath thoughts and feelings.
These are just a few ways you can check yourself each day using mindfulness and meditation. The longer you’re in recovery and the more work you’ve done on yourself, the easier it will be to gauge where you are mentally and emotionally.
And, the stronger your recovery foundation will become.