Because stress is one of the leading triggers for relapse, finding a means for reducing stress is central to a successful recovery from addiction. Meditation is highly beneficial for recovering addicts because it can help to clear the mind of cravings, strengthen the mind for overcoming future cravings, and lower levels of stress from other sources. Here are a few tips for those looking to practice meditation as a form of stress relief.
Find a peaceful space.
It helps to create an environment or to put yourself in an environment that is more conducive to meditation. Silence is key for clearing the mind. It can also help to spend time in a beautiful place outdoors where gentle ambient sounds will soothe the soul. And in those situations when you simply need to meditate right where you are—at an office desk, for example—try to imagine yourself in a peaceful place such as at a beach.
Focus, or observe your thoughts.
There are a few different ways to meditate. Focused meditation involves focusing your mind on one particular thing, such as on your breath, on a single word (or ‘mantra’), or on a particular object situated in front of you. Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, involves clearing the mind and passively observing the thoughts that travel in and out, refraining from following any particular thought or passing judgment on them. Try out both techniques, and find what works for you—be it one in particular, or a certain combination of the two.
Watch your breathing.
This is often how those who meditate make the transition from everyday activity into meaningful meditate. Concentrate on your breathing and take slow, counted breaths. Start by taking in a deep breath and mentally counting ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’, and ‘four’ as your breath slowly outward. Then start back at ‘one’ on the next breath outward. Doing this will help you to consistently return to the present moment.
Maintain your posture.
You can sit up in a chair or cross-legged on the floor, but either way, work to straighten your back and hold your head upright. This helps to prevent your mind from drifting, and a well-balanced body will contribute to a well-balanced mind.
Open or close your eyes.
This is another area where either technique might work better for you. Open eyes help you to remain in the present moment, but some find that closed eyes are more effective for clearing the mind. Try both techniques and decide what works best for you.
The duration is up to you.
Meditate for as long as you need. It can be as little as a few minutes, or as long as an hour if that’s what it take for your mind to feel clear and ready to return to the day.