People say the hardest thing about meditation is finding time to meditate. And when you think about it, it’s often true. Who really has the time for anything these days— between work, kids, and the multitude of responsibilities we face everyday?
With those things, it’s easy to let meditation fall to the wayside. But when you consider everything you have going on in your life, meditation is even more necessary to keep a clear mind.
At A Mission For Michael, we have long recommended our patients take up meditation. There are few better ways for our patient to cope with their issues and progress their recovery.
Why? Meditation gives a natural high— free of illicit substances. The brain’s happiness center, the prefrontal cortex, is highly stimulated during intoxication, while being inactive during withdrawal.
Meditation stimulates the prefrontal cortex, providing a natural, clean high that is devoid of drugs and alcohol. Meditation also releases endorphins— a chemical in the brain that produces pleasurable feelings in the mind and body. Meditation trains your brain to be happy without the use of these illicit substances. It fulfills a void that’s left when you overcome your addiction.
Meditation also helps patients master their impulses. As you experience the recovery process, you will feel impulses to return to your old habits, and these impulses are often very self destructive. Normally, to reject these impulses, the patient will simply attempt to suppress these urges. But the minds of people who are experienced with meditation work differently. Meditation makes you aware and mindful of these impulses, and you are able to observe these urges and “sidestep” them. For the normal patient, these urges will dominate their thoughts, even if they’re able to suppress them. To the meditative mind, these urges are simply another thought that passes through their head. These urges become insignificant.
To receive these sort of benefits, you must practice meditation frequently. Sporadic schedules won’t get the job done. You’ll need ample experience, so you must find time to practice.
How To Find Time To Meditate
To get consistent with your meditation practice, it’s best to keep things simple. We know that many teachers will implore you to meditate for a certain amount of time, and to always meditate a certain way, but we understand things may not be so easy. The best solution is to avoid complicating things. This is a long term process, so make it as simple as can be.
Schedule your sessions. Get a notebook, look at the calendar, and determine the best meditation schedule. Don’t schedule your sessions idealistically; be a realist. Figure out what days you know you’ll be free to practice and commit yourself to them. Let’s say you choose mornings. Stick with it for a few weeks. If you like the schedule and it hasn’t been too difficult to stick to it, maintain that schedule. If you don’t feel that’s a good timeslot, perhaps try afternoons or evenings. Do what feels comfortable.
Start small. Meditation is really a skill, and it’s definitely not something you’ll master in your first few sessions. In fact, many people don’t master it at all, and that’s totally fine. You simply need to get good at it, and the best way to do that is to start small. Don’t jump into hour-long sessions. You can start by meditating for a good five minutes. Find a good chair or put a cushion on the floor. Sit with your back straight, or in a way that helps you breathe freely. Cut off all distractions (turn off your tv, put your phone in airplane mode). Set a timer for however long you think you’ll be able to meditate. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail— it’s normal to flounder until you get a good grasp of how to meditate. The goal is to get started. Eventually, you’ll dial in and you’ll start seeing some results with your meditation. Don’t put a deadline to it, either. If it takes a few weeks or months for you to get the hang of it, so be it.
Set reminders for yourself. Life, by its nature, is chaotic. Something always pops up. There’s always some responsibility you must attend to. Things rarely go as planned. To set yourself up for success, set reminders on your phone or computer. Get some sticky notes, write down your schedule, and place them in your bedroom and kitchen.
Find pockets of time throughout the day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being constantly busy. But this is not how you’re naturally supposed to live your life. The body has two nervous systems:
- The sympathetic nervous system. It orchestrates the “fight or flight” response in the body. For example, when you’re active, or you have to meet a deadline, your sympathetic nervous system is in play.
- The parasympathetic nervous system. This system manages the “rest and digest” actions of the body. Its job to calm you down and conserve energy.
When you meditate, you are tapping in to the parasympathetic nervous system. So it’s makes sense for you to find pockets of downtime to meditate. For example, you can meditate during your lunch break. Or after you exercised at the gym. Or when you get home from work. No matter how busy you are, there are likely some points of the day you can meditate— even if it’s merely for a few minutes at a time.
Absorb your surroundings. Finding time to meditate can be difficult if you don’t have the ideal conditions. But the truth is there are always opportunities to be mindful. In today’s world, we’re always crowding our mind with excess noise. We’re always reaching for our smartphones, always trying to give our attention to something else. But what if we tried to consciously be mindful of our feelings and our surroundings? Slow down, take a breath, and clear your head. By doing this, we block the noise and practice mindfulness. You’re giving yourself more opportunities to meditate throughout the day.
At A Mission For Michael, meditation is an indispensible therapy for our patients. For us, meditation is more than a weapon against addiction, it gives our patients a new way of thinking, feeling, and living. Contact us today to learn how we use meditation in our program.