The eleventh step is all about it, and research has pretty much proven how beneficial meditation is, not just for people in sobriety, but for everyone (but especially for people in sobriety, let’s be real here)! Why you might ask? Simply, because we are nuts! We live inside our brains pretty much all the time, cruising throughout life without even being present in our bodies most of the time.
With the addictions to the phones, the busy schedules, and the constant to-do list that we are wondering how we will ever complete, most of us are only ever really mindful of our bodies and brains co-existing when we are hungry, have to use the bathroom, or in pain. Not to mention how our bodies interact with the world around us! We can be like little mini tornados, whirling about through our lives, never giving ourselves the opportunity to take a second from kicking ass and taking names.
So with that, we meditate! It’s pretty crucial for sobriety, again, even having a whole step dedicated to it. However, there are lots of different ways to meditate, and depending on where you are in your meditation practice and sobriety, some may be easier than others. Here are a few types of meditation that I, and my sponsor and my sober supports, have found to be the most beneficial for a healthy sobriety!
First of all, tips on meditating
I don’t know about you, but trying to “silence” my mind for any period of time can be an impossible task. Once I learned that silencing the mind IS actually an impossible task for anyone, I felt a lot better about myself and became a lot more eager to try meditating, knowing now that I couldn’t really mess it up.
What I mean is, I’ve listened to dozens and dozens of talks from meditation guru’s online, who all agree that the point of overall meditation is not to completely silence your thoughts, but to focus on the space between them. Hear me out, we as humans, have been evolutionarily designed to have thoughts. That is literally what sets us apart as human beings and not “animals”. So, us trying to stop our minds, it just ain’t gonna happen.
However, taking the time to try and be still, contemplate a thought, mantra, or idea, all the while, choosing not to focus our thought process on the BS that comes in and out, is considered a perfectly good form of meditation! Huzzah!
When I was (and still am, tbh) a newbie to meditation, guided meditations were pretty much the only thing I could use. Not only because they are awesome, but because having someone else tell me what to do is extra relaxing for me (weird?). What I mean is, when I try to sit still in complete silence, it is a lot harder for me to stay focused. When there is a gentle voice over some music that reminds me at the perfect time to come back from whatever thought trail I went hiking down, I can have a little laugh at where I went, and come back to meditating.
There are hundreds of really cool apps out there that you can download on your phone to help you meditate as well! Check out:
- Insight Timer
- The Mindfulness App
- Smiling Mind
- Stop, Breathe and Think
For these apps, and my favorite which is Insight Timer, you can usually choose how long you want to meditate for, if you would like to meditate towards a goal, and if you want music or not. Insight Timer is also really cool because you can add your friends, see what they are meditating to, and join or start groups focused on a certain idea.
Writing and Reading Meditations
For many people, it is a lot easier to decipher consistent streams of thought when we have our attention focused along a certain topic or idea. To make that process easier, utilizing a writing or a reading meditation helps to not only focus on a topic but to generate a fluid creative movement around that thought.
For example, when I was newly sober, my sponsor had me read pages 86 in the big book every morning. In that section, it states:
“On awakening, let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions, we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for, after all, God gave us brains to use… “
“In thinking about our day, we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here, we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.”
When the Big Book was written, eastern forms of meditation weren’t really a thing that they practiced in the U.S. yet. However, in Bill Wilson and the first 100’s days, meditation was defined as “an extended period of focused thought”, so, less being silent and sitting still with a blank mind, and more direction towards streamlining thought towards an idea or goal.
Breathing and Counting Meditation
This form is the easiest and most accessible for busy people in sobriety. Obviously, we are all constantly breathing, right? Well, have you ever noticed that when you get stressed, anxious, frustrated, or excited, your breathing becomes shortened?
So, the more we practice this, the easier it gets. So, either when you have a moment, or you have to force yourself to take a moment, there is something called square breathing. This involved you inhaling for 4-6 seconds, holding for a second, and then exhaling slowly for 4-6 seconds. Repeat this 4-6 times. If you, like me, find this to be challenging at first (I hate cardio, okay?) try using 3 by 3 seconds instead.
It is proven that regulating our breathing also regulates our heart rate, our mental functioning, and our stress levels! If you have been wanting to add meditation into your daily routine for a healthy sobriety, but have had no idea where to start, now is your chance!