“How can I use meditation in my recovery to help me overcome addiction?”
In addition to meditation, you might also want to:
* Discover a spiritual solution for quitting drugs and alcohol.
* Explore Zen Buddhism as a recovery philosophy.
Aside from the obvious mental benefits like stress reduction and improved concentration, meditation also has physical benefits as well, such as increased blood flow, lowering the heart rate, and lowering oxygen consumption. It also reduces muscle tension and eases headaches.
But aside from all of these mental and physical benefits, meditation is an almost universally practiced spiritual exercise, found in virtually all of the major world’s religions. It is an avenue to spiritual growth, and the twelve step programs have incorporated it into their program as well.
Not only will meditation help in overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, it can also ease the stress related to quitting smoking, and also help the body physically through the trying times of nicotine withdrawal. In short, meditation is a powerful tool that can benefit you on a physical, mental, and spiritual level all at the same time.
For those who learn meditation and practice it on a daily basis, it quickly becomes a lifelong habit that they do automatically–much like some people pray every night out of habit.
Most people assume that mediation is done for the sake of relaxation, and any benefits derived from meditating are going to be similar to what you would feel after taking a hot bath, for instance. While this is at least partially true, that explanation is overly simplistic, and true mediation can offer a lot more benefit than mere relaxation. For example, if you happen to meditate for about ten minutes in the morning, before you walk out the door to tackle your day, you will notice that you are calmer during the morning, and your mental acuity will be a bit sharper. If you happen to meditate for even longer–say for about 45 minutes–you will find yourself absolutely bursting with energy throughout your entire day. You will find the energy to tackle and handle any problem, and you’ll find your mind to be sharp as a tack. This isn’t something that only comes after years of practice, mind you, these benefits are noticeable after a single session of meditating–even if it’s your first try at it!
A lot of people pay lip service to mediation. If you ask them about it, they will say that they do meditate. When you ask them to be specific, however, you’ll find that most people aren’t really meditating. They are either relaxing with soft music, praying, or relaxing in some other way. What they are actually doing is relaxing, not meditating. So here is what I am suggesting: Find a quiet place, sit absolutely still, and close your eyes. That’s it. Do this for ten minutes and it will seem like a lifetime (providing you stay awake). You don’t have to do anything special, you don’t need a “mantra” (although you can certainly try one if you’d like), and you don’t have to “concentrate” on anything in particular. You also don’t necessarily have to “clear your mind” either. The goal is to simply sit, eyes closed, for about ten to fifteen minutes.
If Your Mind is Racing
When you first try this, you’ll probably notice that your mind is still racing. You might be going over what you have to get at the grocery store, or what you have to tomorrow before you go to work, or whatever. That’s okay if thoughts keep popping into your head. The idea is to just let them go. Don’t follow them into the convoluted mess of thinking that will surely follow. Just notice the thought and then let it go. Center your mind back on the stillness. Eventually, another thought will surely pop in there, and you’ll probably get angry at yourself for having more thoughts. Don’t get upset with yourself. Simply “watch” your thoughts come and go and notice them. Let them be. Go back to the stillness. If you keep returning to the stillness–the absence in between your thoughts–then you are doing a great job at meditating. Don’t let the occasional thought or a racing mind drive you crazy. Simply let your thoughts happen, take note of them, and return to the stillness. Try to make it for 15 minutes.
The Art of Breathing
If your mind continues to race while you are meditating, and it continues to distract you, there is a great technique you can try called “watching the breath.” Simply concentrate on your breathing, feeling the air going into and out of your lungs, and visualize the air going in and out while you do so. Focusing on this in and out movement can help you to find the stillness. After you do this for awhile, start focusing on the silence and stillness in between your breaths. Also, when you get really still and really quiet, you’ll notice that there is always some sort of noise in the background–be it an air conditioner, a chirping bird, or even the sound of far off traffic. Most noises are not constant, so treat them just like your thoughts, and listen to the silence in between the various sounds. Concentrate on the stillness.
Meditation is another one of those things where the law of diminishing returns applies very well to. You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk that meditates for 12 hours a day. Just make an effort to try it out and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with the results. You might also try some yoga exercises. Try it early in the day and take special care to note any differences in your energy level for the rest of the day. Chances are good you will feel much more energetic. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose….
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