A Daily Meditation practice is not something that is incorporated at meetings or forced in any way, but it is something that’s recommended and growing in popularity amongst fellow alcoholics.
Hundreds of volumes have been written about the spiritual benefits of meditation. Almost every spiritual tradition since the beginning of recorded history has recognized the spiritual benefits of meditation. It’s believed, however, that meditation plays a specifically valuable role in the lives of people in recovery.
First, it’s important to recognize that a relapse always occurs in the mind long before the actual using begins. The entire thinking process undergoes a transition that ultimately leads to the decision to use. Meditation basically amounts to training the mind. We really don’t know our mind! When you sit down to meditate, it immediately becomes clear that the mind operates quite independently from your volitional, conscious self. Your thoughts race and you find it almost impossible to quiet your mind. Over time, by watching the mind during meditation, we can differentiate between normal mental activity and “stinking thinking,” which ultimately will lead to a relapse. It’s all a matter of training the mind to lead one deeper into recovery.
Second, there is overwhelming medical evidence that shows significant cellular damage occurs in the brain as a result of getting drunk or high. This is one of the main reasons relapse generally occurs during the first 12 months of recovery. We also know that these cells regenerate through a process called neuroplasticity; meditation is the one activity that seems to stimulate and maintain this regeneration process. Measurements of brain regeneration show that meditation speeds this process. It is obvious that the faster the brain of an addict/alcoholic can regenerate, the better the outlook for recovery.
Morning Meditation & Prayer
Incorporating meditation into your routine sounds like a nuisance because who wants to mediate when they just wake up, to rest more? Yes, that’s exactly right! However, the rest you receive when you meditate is much more powerful than the rest you get when sleeping. Also, have you ever noticed that your bed looks like a war zone after you climb out of it? From all that tossing and turning, we don’t get a good nights sleep like we think we do.
That’s why it’s important to meditate as soon as we rise, because chances are if we wait till later to do it – we won’t have the discipline to keep our word. Save brushing your teeth until after you have meditated.
How long should I meditate?
We recommend to start small. Try just doing it for 5 or ten minutes. It might take some getting used to as your back or legs might ache trying to find the right position. Don’t think you need to find the perfect cross-legged position. Instead, just try to be comfortable. Eventually, you want to be able to sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight, focused on your breathing.
When you feel like you have caught your stride, try getting into a meditation routine of 15-20 minutes every morning.
How to Meditate?
As for most things we do in recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous, just keep it simple – especially if it works. Here are three simple steps to meditate:
- Find a quiet spot. We recommend your bedroom but any place that is quiet and comfortable will work.
- Set the timer on your phone for 15 or 20 minutes.
- Close your eyes, breathe and let your mind relax. If your mind starts to race, which it will, just come back to focus on your breath.
Wait, it’s that easy? Yes it’s that easy.
Daily Readings and Meditations
There is no one way to meditate. In the traditional sense, which is what we recommend, it’s best to sit quietly without noises or readings being spoken in the background during meditation. However, there are lots of people who like to practice meditation with readings or rhymes being spoken in the background – that’s okay too. To set your mind in the right mood, reading a daily reflection before a mediation session can be very beneficial to the flow of your meditation.
In group meditation, there is typically one person who leads by reading prayers out loud at the beginning. The lead person will also remind those participating in the meditation to revert their thoughts back to their breath when the mind becomes distracted with racing thoughts. So here in this type of meditation setting, having material to be read out loud is helpful.
For a recap, here are just a few things to keep in mind when doing group meditation:
- Select one person to lead the meditation.
- Lead person should be prepared with a few prayers or meditation quotes to read out loud at the beginning of the mediation.
- Lead person should set an alarm to keep track of time.
AA Meditation Books
Step 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous says that we should seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God (or our higher power). However, A.A. does not provide any literature on how to meditate or pray. Therefore, if we want to improve our conscious contact with God through meditation, we should seek to learn how to improve our meditation techniques.
by Matthew Sockolov
Provides tools and techniques to those who are looking to improve their meditation sessions and overall awareness.
Meditation for Beginners
by Jack Kornfield
Teaches beginners how to use your breath, physical sensations and how to calm the mind when beginning to meditate.