The role of meditation in recovery
The positives of overcoming alcohol addiction cannot be stressed enough. Alcoholism wrecks people’s lives by destroying their health, relationships, reputation and professional standing. Recovery can be a long and difficult journey, and it’s important for every alcoholic to equip themselves with all the tools and coping strategies that they possibly can.
Meditation can be a very powerful in alcohol addiction recovery. It’s doesn’t replace residential rehab or therapies. The idea is that it supports long-term recovery in a flexible yet effective way.
What is meditation?
Many of us have pre-set ideas of what meditation is. Sometimes perceptions can be uninformed and close our minds to the opportunities that meditation creates. Put simply, meditation calms the mind by concentrating on a specific thought or idea in a quiet place. It’s a very non-judgemental form of observation that’s based in the present.
At the moment, there’s a lot of talk about mindfulness. Mindfulness is an element of the broader umbrella of meditation which also includes tantra, yoga, sexuality, silence and breathing. Both have their roots in ancient Buddhism and ultimately have evolved to help ease a troubled mind.
Meditation and alcohol cravings
Living with cravings for alcohol is something that all alcoholics experience. Craving alcohol is one of the clearest signs of addiction. Another is being unable to control these cravings no matter how much you promise others (and yourself) that you’re not going to drink alcohol again.
Many people use the word ‘crave’ in terms of wanting something. This is not the same as an addictive craving that’s so intense people will do anything to relieve it. Cravings are based on a physiological and psychological dependence on alcohol and can originate in the subconscious mind making them very difficult to avoid. Even people who have been sober for many years can experience cravings for alcohol.
Meditation can help people living with alcohol addiction manage cravings by building awareness that they don’t have to act on the impulses (or cravings) that come to mind. If they are mindful, they understand that just as the cravings appear so they will disappear. Sometimes it can be enough to acknowledge the craving to make it go away. The truth is that in some ways the state of mind hasn’t changed – the person living with alcohol addiction still has cravings. But what’s so crucially different is their approach to the cravings. Instead of acting on them or living in fear, the alcoholic recognises the cravings then allows them to subside.
Meditation for long-term sobriety
When an alcoholic first stops drinking and begins on their road to recovery, the pain of alcoholism is very fresh in the mind. Over time, it’s easy to forget how heartbreaking alcoholism really is as memories fade. You might find yourself remembering the ‘good’ times with alcohol and it can begin to feel that you’re missing out. This is a very common element of the recovery journey and it’s important to take control right away as the risk of relapse is high. Think about all the reasons why you gave up alcohol in the first place and turn to meditation to reflect on everything that is wonderful here and now because of your sobriety.
Other benefits of meditation
Being equipped to overcome cravings is integral to successful sobriety. But there are lots of other benefits to practising meditation that can make a huge difference in recovery. These can include:
- Feeling more connected with others and less judgemental
- Accepting yourself and becoming more self-aware
- Feeling calmer and more peaceful with emotions more under control
- Dealing with stress in healthier, more productive ways and feeling less anxious
Meditation at Step One Recovery
We believe that meditation can play a critical role in overcoming alcoholism. Our meditation teachers are highly experienced and can help build your understanding of meditation and how to practise it, whether or not you’ve tried it before. We provide meditation therapy as a complement to our bespoke treatment programmes at our peaceful rehab centre in Spain. It’s a fundamental part of our holistic approach to helping you begin and continue recovery both while you are with us and when you return home.