Meditation and 12-Step Recovery
At its core, the 12 Steps show people with the disease of addiction how to get sober, stay sober, and enjoy a sober lifestyle.
But, deeper than that – and perhaps even more importantly – the 12-Step process is a spiritual journey that allows recovering people to develop a relationship with a Higher Power.
At Ashley, we promote holistic care for our patients. We understand how important it is for recovering people to cultivate and maintain a spiritual connection. This is an integral part of the recovery process.
The Eleventh Step reads, “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” This means that the recovering person will eventually be asked to participate in a meditative practice.
Of course, you do not have to wait until the Eleventh Step to engage in regular meditation and enjoy the many benefits it brings. In fact, we believe people who are new to the recovery process should start meditating as soon as they get sober.
What is Meditation?
There are many modern interpretations of the word meditate. However; as explained by Yoga International, meditation should be defined as “a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state.”
What Does it Feel Like When You Reach a Meditative State?
The ultimate goal of meditation is to quiet the mind and reach a meditative state. This is a difficult experience to describe with words. In fact, human language simply does not do justice to this spiritual activity. However, we will make a meager attempt to tell you what meditation feels like.
Achieving a meditative state is like bliss on tap. It will far surpass any chemical buzz you could ever achieve through alcohol or drugs like Molly. Many who meditate say that is gives them the high they were always chasing in their addiction. It is a feeling of deep tranquility and inner peace.
Some say meditation is kind of like an out of body experience because it allows you to connect to your authentic self, which transcends space and time.
To fully appreciate what we are talking about, you really have to experience meditation for yourself!
The Benefits of Meditation in Recovery
- Helps ease withdrawal symptoms
- Quiets a chattering mind
- Relieves anxiety
- Reduces stress
- Promotes mental clarity, focus, and concentration
- Increases feelings of serenity and tranquility
- Boosts mood to combat depression
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
- Promotes spiritual health
- Effects last well beyond the meditation session
Different Types of Meditation
There are numerous types of meditation techniques that you can implement into your spiritual practice. Here are just a few:
Sound – Many people enjoy listening to certain sounds as a way to meditate. This could be the sound of falling rain, thunderstorms, bells and chimes, sounds of the forest or nature, or white noise.
With this type meditation, you close your eyes, focus on your breath, and become enveloped in the sound. Listening to soothing sounds are especially helpful for those who have difficulty sleeping.
Here are some examples of sound meditations:
Zen Meditation – Zen meditation focuses on the use of koans; which are like puzzles, riddles, poetry, or thought-provoking stories. The idea is to sit with your eyes closed and focus on the koan, which invites you into a deep state of mediation. A popular koan in the West is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
Here is a great guide to Zen meditation for beginners.
Guided Meditation – These are a favorite for many who are new to meditation. This involves centering yourself quietly (usually with your eyes closed) and listening to someone else’s voice. Generally, a guided meditation takes you on some kind of mental journey. This might be a trip through the forest, a walk beside the ocean, or a journey into the cosmos.
Here are some guided meditations you can listen to.
Metta – This is known as the loving-kindness meditation. It cultivates an appreciation for kindness and goodwill towards others. With Metta meditation, you focus all of your energy and thoughts on sending good vibes towards others and the collective whole by silently repeating a series of mantras.
These instructions well help you practice Metta.
Body Scan – This type of meditation promotes the mind-body connection by encouraging people to scan their bodies for tension and release that tension.
During a body scan meditation, you intentionally connect with various parts of your body – which usually happens from head to toe. You might tense and then relax certain muscles or imagine a wave of healing traveling over your body. A body scan meditation is particularly effective for those who struggle with chronic pain.
Check out these body scan meditations.
Mindfulness – This can be practiced anywhere. It involves being fully present in the moment, which quiets the mental chatter than often overruns the mind. For example, you might be in a checkout line. Instead of being impatient, you can choose to focus on the richness of everything you are experiencing – sights, sounds, smells, etc.
Learn more about mindfulness meditation.
Breathwork – involves various techniques that focus almost entirely on controlling the breath.
Breathwork takes on many different forms. It might include breathing very deeply, making strange sounds when you exhale, or inhaling and exhaling very rapidly. Breathwork relieves anxiety, boosts mood, and evokes greater mental clarity.
Qigong (typically pronounced “chi gung”) is a Chinese word that means “life energy cultivation.” This is a body-mind meditation exercise that incorporates the use of martial arts in very slow, intentional movements. Check out this instructional video on Qigong for beginners.
Contemplative Prayer — This is a common practice that involves the repetition of sacred words or sentences. This can be done in silence or out loud. The Rosary is an example. Contemplative prayer is a unique type of meditation because repetition of spiritual words (rather than sitting in silence) invokes a meditative state.
Meditation Can Be Intimidating, But Try it Anyway
Many people shy away from meditation because it seems overwhelming. However; we want to encourage you to try meditation even if it feels intimidating. There is no wrong way to meditate. You cannot fail. You don’t need any fancy equipment.
Try the meditation practices we have shared with you until you find one you like. Start with five or ten minutes at a time. Then, gradually work your way up until you are meditating for at least thirty minutes a few times a week.
It might take some time for you to learn how to sit with the chatter in your mind. It may feel uncomfortable at first. However; you will find that with continued practice, it will become more comfortable. And, with time, that chatter will go away completely and you will experience inner peace.
Don’t be shy. Give meditation a try!