A Reluctant Meditator
Meditation was one of my least favorite things during those first few days at Hope rehab. I found the mahasaiti (a type of Thai moving meditation) particularly challenging, and I couldn’t remain focused on the practice for more than a few seconds at a time – apparently this is normal, but it was a bit frustrating in the beginning. I stuck with it though, and I’m so glad I did because meditation has become such an important element of my new improved life.
Here are 5 ways meditation helped me recover from addiction:
1. I Began to Experience Some Mental Clarity
There were many days during those years of addiction when my thinking became so out of control that I almost wanted to put a bullet in my head. This lack of mental clarity made it difficult to make good decisions, and it just increased my need to numb myself with drugs and alcohol.
As my ability to concentrate has improved through meditation, I have become much better at managing my mind. I am now far more objective around my thoughts, and this means I no longer feel at the mercy of them. I have also started to experience episodes of deep mental clarity. I have been told this mental clarity will continue to increase so long as I continue with the practice – I have no problem believing this.
2. It Has Improved My Ability to Manage Addiction Cravings
A craving is like a wave that only appears for a limited amount of time – usually less than 20 minutes unless it is being retriggered. Meditation has given me the ability to view cravings like a cloud passing through my mind – I know it is a temporary visitor. The only power a craving has to harm me is the power I give to it. When I observe a craving objectively (as not me), it is no longer a threat to my recovery.
3. I Began to Develop Self-Compassion
Compassion refers to the ability to be with discomfort. I now see that the more able I am to tolerate the challenges that come my way, the better my life becomes. The secret to real happiness is not about getting the universe to behave as I want it but about me fitting in with reality. Loving kindness meditation and tonglen practice have increased my ability to feel compassion for myself as well as others. It is such an improvement to be able to self-soothe when things go wrong rather than my old way of dealing with things which emphasized self-hatred and negativity
4. I Started to Feel Comfortable in My Own Skin
I usually experience a loss of words when people ask me to explain why I made such a mess of my life. The one thing that stands out as a driving force behind the initial attraction to drugs was it allowed me to feel comfortable in my own skin. Of course, this relief was only ever short-lived and ultimately substance abuse meant I became even more estranged from myself than ever. By practicing meditation, I am developing an ease with myself and the universe that is sustainable.
5. I Got a Taste of Serenity
One of the most important benefits of meditation is it has given me a taste of what it means to develop serenity. This glimpse of what is possible gives me the motivation to remain committed to recovery.
5 Ways Meditation Helped Me Treat My Addiction at a Thai Rehab By Client X