Plenty has been written on the science and the art of meditation. You may have read a number of books telling you what to do, how to do it, and why you should do it. But as an addict, I’m sure you’re wondering how it’s supposed to fit in with your recovery.
Do we practice meditation just because Bill W. makes mention of it in Step 11? After all, it’s just a suggestion… right?
Perhaps if we understood the benefits of meditation, we would be more inclined to give it a try. One type of meditation I practice is called “mindfulness.” In the spirit of the 12 step program, here are 12 reasons why you should practice ‘mindfulness’ meditation:
1. Improve focus: There is a connection between focus and mindfulness. When we’re not focused, we have slipped into some form of mindlessness. The daily practice of focusing your mind will impact your entire day. Improved focus will develop your ability to perform any task with more accuracy and effectiveness.
2. Enhance your relationships and communication: Much of our dysfunction in relationships with other people has to do with fear. Fear breeds all kinds of toxic attitudes that spill over into our interactions with others. Mindfulness can help us to let go of the fear – fear that crowds our inner lives without us even knowing it.
3. Relief from anxiety and depression: This is a biggie. I don’t think I need to explain how important it is to gain freedom from the ill effects of anxiety and depression. Emotional balance is what we all need to help us gain full recovery.
4. Improve your self awareness: When you know better, you do better. If you become aware of what is going on – and what you are doing to resist what is going – your self-awareness will enable you to make the changes necessary to gain full recovery.
5. Deepen peace of mind and sense of flow: An addict is very fragmented – compartmentalized into a million little pieces – because of the shame and the lies. This reference to ‘peace and sense of flow’ describes what is called “oneness.” A feeling of wholeness; not fragmented any longer.
6. Master stress and the ability to relax: I am a stressed out person. You would never know by looking at me. On the outside I appear to be calm (most of the time). Handling stress isn’t our strong suit as addicts. Mindfulness practice teaches us to become masters of stress.
7. Deepen insight and intuitive wisdom: A ‘deepened insight’ goes much deeper than intellectual insight. You don’t attain ‘intuitive wisdom’ by studying all night long for a test the following day. Instead, you access it by learning to remain quiet and observant.
8. Increase resilience to change: As you learn to stop resisting the things that happen to you (some sort of change to your routine) you gain mental elasticity and emotional flexibility. It is what it is.
9. Strengthen faith and self-confidence: ‘Acceptance’ doesn’t mean you have to settle for second best. There’s no ‘resigning’ yourself to a lousy situation. Acceptance gives you the ability to see past ‘what was’ and begin again with what is. And this stance puts you in a powerful position: Connection with God, and belief in your true self.
10. Develop emotional stability and balance: Emotional sobriety… absolutely!
11. Increased flexibility and acceptance: Just as you gain resilience to change, you can learn to accept what is: Your circumstances; your family; your boss; your financial situation… the things that normally stress you out.
12. Awaken more gratitude and caring: We live in an abundant universe that is generous and friendly. When we learn to trust God and this magnificent Universe of which we are a part, it awakens within us a deep respect for all that is. As we become more grateful, we become more caring; as we become more caring, we become more grateful.
These 12 benefits of meditation I have listed here just scratch the surface. If you have done the steps together with a sponsor, but still have questions about the spiritual emphasis in the program, I suggest you get started doing Step 11 and begin the practice of mindfulness meditation.
There are practical benefits that you can receive if you remain honest, open and willing. Open yourself up to the possibilities of practicing meditation on a daily basis.