Meditation can take you so much deeper

People who become addicted to drugs and alcohol often feel a sense of spiritual connection and peace while using. That’s part of what makes it so hard to quit. After all, who would want to give that up?

I used to work with a therapist who was almost ten years clean. When a client would tell him they were afraid of giving up that spiritual or peaceful connection they found through drugs, he would smile and laugh. “Don’t worry,” he’d say. “Drugs can take you deep, but meditation can take you so much deeper.”

Almost everyone I know who is both happy and sober for a long time practices some form of meditation. It’s suggested in the twelve steps and at the forefront of many contemporary approaches to therapy. Over the past five years, Refuge Recovery, a recovery group grounded largely in Buddhist meditation, has become increasingly popular. 

In other words, meditation works.

Here’s why. Meditation, also sometimes called mindfulness, is a practice that can help you get out of your thinking, and into your body. If you pay attention, you’ll probably notice you spend most of your time thinking about the past or the future. If you pay a little more attention, you’ll notice that this doesn’t make you happy. You’re regretting the past or worrying about the future or just wishing things would hurry up and change already. Nothing ever feels quite right just as it is.

Meditation helps teach you to be at peace in the present moment. There are many different kinds of meditation practices, but they all have a common goal—to ease into what you’re experiencing here and now, and get free from the cycle of constantly thinking about the past or the future. 

Remarkably, you can learn to be comfortable with life exactly as it is.

This doesn’t happen overnight. But if you commit to a daily meditation practice—most teachers suggest ten minutes to an hour every day—your relationship with yourself and the world around you will start to change. You won’t notice anything has happened until all of a sudden, you do. It’s really subtle, powerful stuff.

Here are some basic meditation instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably on a cushion, mat or chair (cross-legged if you can).
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. If you feel moved to do so, dedicate your meditation practice to the benefit of all beings.
  4. Gently direct your attention to the air flowing in and out of your nostrils, or to your belly rising and falling with each breath.
  5. When you notice your attention wandering, gently direct it back to your breath or belly. This will happen constantly, that’s okay!
  6. Keep doing this for several minutes. You can start out meditating for five minutes at a time, but aim to work your way up to at least ten.
  7. Finish your meditation with a prayer for the well-being of all.
Joan Borsten