Meditation has been shown to have great benefit for people in general, but especially so for recovering addicts and alcoholics. Besides its calming effect, it seems to provide a disruption of—and quiet counterpoint to—the ongoing mind-chatter that seems to plague people in sobriety in the absence of a drink or drug.
There are different types of meditation, and some people tend to favor one over the others. It may be useful to try several different types of meditation in order to find out which is most suitable.
Here are a just a few examples of meditation used by recovery specialists:
This involves sitting comfortably and repeating a mantra, or sound, until the sound itself becomes the main object of attention, while thoughts, images, and sensations recede to the background.
While this can be done sitting, it can also be employed while walking or during activities. It is a conscious, intentional letting go of attachment to (again) thoughts, images, and sensations, such that an awareness of the present moment can be cultivated.
In contemplative meditation, one focuses on a thought, image, or symbol that represents a spiritual concept, and allows that concept to become the single point of consciousness.
Loving Kindness Meditation
After a brief period of focusing on breathing and finding a calm center, imagine a person (the one next to you if you’re not alone) and inwardly say something like “I wish you peace, understanding, fulfillment, and love.” Visualize another person and repeat. Use people you know, like, don’t like, strangers, groups of people, and continue until you become a point of well-wishing for the world.
This can start in a group, with a facilitator or guide (could also be a recorded voice) who leads you through imagery to a place of calm and centeredness. Once at that place, further work can be done to visualize solutions to problems and avenues for personal growth. Once the process is internalized, one can do this without the guide.
There are many other types of meditation, and the above descriptions are cursory. For most people in early recovery, meditation can be frustrating at first, as alcoholics and addicts are conditioned to experiencing an immediate effect and meditation requires patience and a setting aside of expectation.
The results are well worth the effort.