The Benefits of Meditation in Recovery

Meditation Keeps Me Sane

I have found out the hard way how important meditation is for my recovery. If I allow the practice to slip there is a noticeable difference in how my mind operates. I become more easily irritated and my thinking gets fuzzy. The real problem is that I don’t even notice this until after I’m back meditating again. When I return to the practice after missing a few session it is like dipping my brain in warm bath.

I think a difficulty that most mediators have is that we just don’t notice progress while we are practicing regularly – at least I don’t anyway. Meditation can sometimes seem like a waste of time and I wonder why I put myself through it, but then I stop and my life becomes harder to manage. I firmly believe that there are great payoffs from meditation but I just can’t rush them. Striving in meditation is counterproductive. It is better not to expect progress. We don’t need to get anywhere but instead the aim is to learn how to live in the present moment.

Meditation Introduced My Addicted Mind to Freedom

I began meditating in my mid-teens and would return to the practice during my sober periods in the years that followed. Near the end of my drinking I would try long meditation retreats in the hope that this would fix me. Instead of helping me though, these intensive meditation courses would make me feel worse. I remember staying for a month at a retreat in the North of Thailand where the last seventy-hours involved constant meditation – no sleep. This brought my mind to new levels of clarity, but I drank again two days after leaving the temple. The shift in my mind from being so free to being back in the midst of addiction was a horrible experience – the negative effects lasted for months afterwards. In a more important way though meditation saved me because it allowed me to experience a free mind.

Trying to meditate my drink problem away didn’t work the way I had intended. The practice is a lifetime pursuit and not a quick fix. What it did do was give me an appetite for recovery. During the worst of my drinking years I would think back to the time before alcohol when meditation would bring me such peace – I’d yearn to get that peace back. It was no surprise that when I finally did escape alcohol that meditation would be an important part of my recovery.

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