Meditation In Sobriety: Where Do I Start?
“So what is a good meditator? The one who meditates.” – Allan Lokos
Om? Let me see? My mind raced for years endlessly and still can at times. It’s been said loosely that humans have like six thoughts, just with hundreds if not thousands of faces and voices. The tracks of thought are simple and often primal. These consistent overlapping thoughts would be connected to food, sex, money, love; you know the things we all think about daily. These thoughts can be deafening at times. More deafening still, silence. Meditation can create a space between these thoughts and our acting out on them.
Two Different Types of Meditation
There are so many approaches and types of meditations to be discovered. Let’s stay basic. Two common forms of meditation from a simplistic perspective are Western (Christian) and Eastern (Buddhist). They are very different.
Western Approach to Meditation
Often the Christian form of meditation is to sit and contemplate deeply on a prayer or single concept. Examples of this could be to choose a reading on a principle or a verse concerning forgiveness for example. Here is a “5 R” method that is a basic level of this practice.
Read: “Forgive us as we forgive as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (a line from the Lord’s Prayer.”)
Reflect: What would it look like if I were the face of forgiveness in the lives of others today?
Relax: Take some deep breaths in the nose and out the mouth as we envision the answer. See yourself interacting with those you know you may encounter this day and who present you a challenge. Envision yourself being forgiving in the face of their behavior that bothers you.
Recieve: Allow the playouts of your kinder self to be pondered on.
Request: Ask that you be able to carry that level of mindfulness with you in all of your dealings this day.
Another form of mediation even simpler could be just a quiet moment with a daily devotional. There are many different ones that are recovery based from almost every fellowship. Some are religious feeling, others not at all. The categories vary as deep as codependency, overeating, gambling, mental health, sex, and of course drugs and alcohol. Choose what inspires you most. Many can be found free online. Just google, “daily meditation” and enter the topic of choice.
Eastern Approach to Meditation
Many of the Eastern forms of meditation focus on two things: posture and breath. This can be quite challenging for the one who believes this is about “quieting the mind”. The mind is never quite. This practice is more about observing the mind than controlling it. A helpful metaphor is the one about the train station. Picture your mind as grand central. Trains, like thoughts, come in and out all day long. Meditation is the ability to stand on the platform of your mind and not have to get on every train that arrives at the station. Until a practice like this is deployed we actually may mistake ourselves for our thoughts. If that were the case then how do you explain the phenomenon of thinking about your thoughts? Who is doing the observing? Some traditions call this, “The Witness” “The Observer” or ‘Higher Mind.” It has often been said that the ego speaks, first, loudest and is usually wrong. The practice of meditation allows for the voice behind the ego to be heard more clearly.
Sit quietly in a chair with proper posture. Straight back, hands open, palms up. Get comfortable. Focus on your breath. In the nose and out the mouth. The in breath should be as long as the out breath. Do not try to stop, control or analyze the thoughts that come whatever they may be. Just observe them as a train that enters into a station. Do your best to not apply judgment to the thoughts that pass whatever they may be. Notice them but focus on your breath. Let them come and go as they will. Start with two minutes and increase the time.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Here are some guided meditations for a beginner as well.
Wherever you are in recovery, whether at the beginning stages or solidly on your path, meditation is a practice that can help. For those who are early on in sobriety and newly embarked on living life free from substance, GateHouse Sober living is an excellent supportive option for you.