“Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.”
– Carrie Fisher
The question I get asked the most as a recovered addict is “Don’t you ever get tempted to have just one drink?” People who have never experienced addiction themselves or know anyone who has, often think that having just one drink wouldn’t do any harm. From my experience, however, that one drink or one smoke can be a direct ticket back to hell for a recovering addict. The regret and self-destruction that comes with a relapse of drug or alcohol addiction are unbearable.
I come from a lively Colombian cultural background, where drinking and partying is a regular part of our lifestyle. Since this is how we interact with friends and family, it is a test for me to practice sobriety every time I go out with friends, go to a family “Novena” at Christmas, or attend other festivities. Have I been tempted to have a drink? Absolutely! But I understand that staying focused on my goal of sobriety is essential to avoid a relapse into a life controlled by drugs and alcohol.
Practicing meditation helps me keep me focused and is one of the best shields against drug and alcohol abuse. Meditation has been an absolute saviour for me during the recovery process and will always be my go-to method when things start to get unbearable. I hope meditation can help you as much as it has helped me. There are many forms of meditation, so you should experiment to discover which methods work best for you.
The benefits of using meditation to overcome addiction are numerous. Let’s explore 5 ways meditation can help you win the battles of addiction.
Meditation Increases Focus
Meditation changes brain patterns that lead to improved stability of the mind. Practicing meditation helps you centre your attention and prevent your mind from wandering. This is very important when overcoming addiction because during recovery it’s very easy for the mind to wander and find reasons to go back to using a substance. Training your mind through meditation will help you stay focused on your goal to stay sober.
The best type of meditations to improve focus are methods that have you direct your attention to an object. This can be as simple as noticing the sensation of breath flowing in and out of your nostrils. If you still find it difficult to focus, you can implement counting with the breath. A good technique for this is Capturing the Uncaught Mind.
Meditation Helps you Breathe Your Way Through Anxiety and Depression
Those who suffer from anxiety or depression are more likely to revert to using drugs or alcohol. Open monitoring meditation (Vipassana for example), can assist in the reduction of stress, depression, and anxiety. Open monitoring meditation is when you keep an open awareness of whatever arises. Relax your focus and notice which thoughts and feelings arise. Don’t go into the thoughts; this form of meditation is simply noticing the thoughts without judging them.
Open monitoring meditation helps train you to more easily let go of persistent thoughts. This is especially helpful when overcoming addiction, as it keeps you neutral to any thoughts that may come and prevents you from feeling bad about thinking of your addiction. It also helps you stay calm and centred in high-stress situations which is when you are most vulnerable to resort to drug or alcohol use to alleviate stress and escape problems.
Mindfulness Helps You Take Control of Your Addiction
Mindfulness can benefit your rehabilitation no matter what phase of addiction recovery you find yourself in. Mindful meditation helps you compartmentalize the urges that drive addiction by making you slow down and take in your surroundings without becoming anxious, nervous, or impulsive. Mindfulness can also help strengthen your judgment in difficult or stressful situations so you are less likely to fall out of sobriety.
Meditation Increases Self-Acceptance
Meditation can help you reflect on your life as a recovering addict and help you understand the negative aspects of your past addiction, such as the effects your addiction had on those close to you. The ability to process the results of your past decisions will help bring wholeness and restoration to your life.
Meditation can slow things down, make you take a step back, and look at things from another perspective. Many recovering addicts that practice mindfulness, discover that they are in a better position to accept what happened to them by exploring their inner-self through meditation.
Meditation Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
Many people who meditate begin to see clearly how their vices were destroying their body and ruining their health. After meditating for a while, your body may begin to awaken other “cravings” for fresh fruit, vegetables and other nutritious foods that will nurture your body instead of harming it.
Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction can be a long path with many challenges along the way that threaten to drag you back into old habits, but staying focused and mindful will help you battle those demons when you need to. When I see people drinking and having a good time and I feel tempted – even for a moment, I focus on the positive things that I have in my life which could suffer if I fell back into my addiction. Most often, I think of my loving, supportive family and these thoughts pull me back from temptations of addiction and help me focus on the victories of living.
Thanks to meditation, I am able to tap into these thoughts and hold onto them to keep me concentrated to the point now where I almost don’t think about using anymore. You can do the same by embracing meditation in your recovery process to increase your chances of a successful rehabilitation.
Have you got a story to share with us about how meditation has helped you or a loved one battle drug or alcohol addiction? We would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below.
Photo: Visual Hunt