How do you find inner peace in your addiction or alcoholism recovery journey? How can you find this sort of peace when chaos abounds and there is always drama around the corner in your recovery? How can you find your happy place in sobriety?
Everyone who sets out on this sort of journey will eventually turn inward for the answers. Why? Because the external answers are all fleeting. They are all false paths that only seem like happiness, but end up being a disappointment.
So the question is, how do you find this “inner” path, this inner peace? What if you are not into meditation and such?
I would recommend a few tools that have helped me tremendously.
First is the written journal. Now obviously this is not the same thing as setting cross legged and meditating, but the benefits are similar.
So let’s picture a typical seated meditation session and how that works for people. Generally you are relaxed, eyes closed, and breathing deliberately. Maybe you count the breathes or you use a simple mantra. The idea is to clear the mind, and then to watch your thoughts as they force themselves to bubble to the surface.
As the watcher of your thoughts, you begin to take mental notes of what is bubbling up. Usually it is some sort of anxiety, what you are nervous about, or what you have coming in your life, things like that. And so you make note of such things, you recognize them, and then you move on with your day. You stop meditating at some point and get back to real life, somewhat refreshed.
Writing a journal accomplishes much the same outcomes. When you write in a journal, you don’t necessarily have to make any rules for yourself. You just dump your brain out onto the page. You vomit out your life details and what is currently happening for you. Write down today’s date, then start explaining your life on the page. That’s it. No real rules to it, just spill it all out on the page.
Keep doing this every single day. Don’t ask yourself why you are doing it. Just keep doing it. Make a 30 day commitment to write in the journal every single day. Watch how it slowly will change your life, in tiny ways at first, and then later you will make even bigger revelations.
Not necessarily because you are keeping a journal, but the past entries of your journal will allow you to more clearly see any growth that you have made. This is a really important point: Without the written journal, most people in recovery cannot see their own progress.
Another suggestion I would make is that you can find some of that inner peace through exercise. Get out there and walk (check with your doctor first of course) or even do some jogging. Get to the gym and lift, hit the machines, play some ball, swim, whatever works for you. Find a way to get a decent workout and then stick with it. Keep working out over and over again until it becomes an ingrained habit.
I don’t really think the benefits of exercise fully kick in until you reach a certain point in the habit. You must get yourself whipped into shape in order to get the full benefits in this area.
So yes, a person who is totally out of shape could get in a decent workout and they will get at least some benefit from doing so. One workout is better than nothing.
However, if you take that same person and get them into decent shape over the next 3 to 6 months, and they are in the habit of doing a real workout on a consistent basis, then that is something else entirely. I am suggesting that you do the latter rather than the former. Don’t do a single workout. Instead, get into shape and integrate intense exercise into your lifestyle. The benefits of doing this are so intense that you will look back one day several months from now and be so grateful that you transformed yourself into better physical health.
In other words, the benefits of getting into great shape are cascading benefits. The positive effects of being in good shape filter down into all the different areas of your life. And this has massive implications for achieving something as lofty as “inner peace.”
For example, consider emotional stability. Can exercise help with this? Absolutely. If you are upset or angry over anything in your life, and then you go outside and you run really fast for an hour, guess what? The intensity of that emotion is reduced.
Why? I believe it is because the intensity of your exercise is a counter balance to the negative emotions in your life. When you exercise intensely and get a solid workout in, your body responds and adapts to that exertion by producing natural chemicals in your body. In addition to the “feel-good chemicals” that are released from exercise, you also get a pretty massive mental distraction by doing an intense workout.
In other words, it can help in several different ways, in several different dimensions.
There are other techniques that have this same sort of cascading effect. One of them would be something like group therapy, especially in terms of coping with stress or helping you with anxiety. There are a number of different factors that come into play if you are doing group therapy on a regular basis, or even seeing a counselor or therapist regularly, or attending AA meetings. I realize all of those are different options and some of them meet different goals, but all of them have this same sort of multiple cascading benefit in your life, where they improve things on several different levels all at once.
Figure out your pain points in your life. What is keeping you from achieving inner peace?
Then, keep figuring out the answer to the “Why” question. Get to the root cause. Then ask for help in tackling that core problem.
Often times when we get down to those core problems we can fix them by improving our health, our relationships, our daily habits. We get down to lifestyle causes and their corresponding solutions.
If you have obvious pain points in your life then you do not have inner peace. Or rather, because of the work you are doing to overcome such obstacles, you may be able to achieve inner peace in spite of those problems. And this is a great place to be at in addiction recovery.