Recovery and staying sober consists of changing our way of thinking, acting, and forming new habits.There are times whether new in sobriety or not where either the thought of the drink can overwhelm us or if we’ve been in sobriety, a hard day at work can get us down. However it’s times like these when one of the most talked about practices in recovery can help – meditation.
When I first heard the word meditation, I became panicked.
How am I supposed to sit cross legged with my eyes closed and listen to this calming music when my mind is spinning in circles? There’s no way that’s going to happen.
Overtime, I learned that pretending to be a guru and listening to Tibetan bells or singing bowls didn’t work for me. I needed to take a step back and reassess, and I was surprised to find out that closing my eyes and trying to calm my thoughts down wasn’t the only way to become centered or practice meditation.
The “Cambridge Dictionary” defines the word meditation as:
The act of giving only your attention to one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed.
So, in hindsight, meditation is not just defined as one practice, or activity – we can create meditation whatever we want it to be, so long as it calms us down. In this, we will find that meditation is so much more than sitting still with your eyes closed. Meditation can be an inner discipline of being in the present moment, and we can practice anytime anywhere, as we explore different practices of meditation, below.
Yoga is so much more than a way to tone your muscles and gain flexibility, as us westerners use it as. Yoga is actually a system of practices – including postures called asanas which consist of meditation, self-introspection, and breathing exercises all designed to help the person achieve a union with God. Yoga literally means “to yoke” or “to bind.”
Yogis in the east developed asanas – or postures, as a way of preparing the body and developing strength and endurance for long periods of fasting and meditation. As much as we like to think it’s about getting fit and limber – it’s a path to self-realization. In yoga, there is huge emphasis placed on mindfulness with breath and movement together to unite the mind and body in the present moment. While practicing this meditation does tone and stretch the body, it also makes you aware of thoughts and inner perception in a deeper way.
Mindful walking or mindful meditation has become more popular in recent years. For those who would rather trade their meditation pillow for a pair of walking shoes – this is for you.
To practice this simple meditation, go for a walk outside. Focus your attention with each step you and each breath you take. Instead of letting your mind wander to aimless thoughts, bring your attention to the sensations you’re feeling in your body. Become aware of your breathe, the way your legs move with each step, the way it smells, and the remainder of your senses.
This meditation is probably the easiest and most convenient way to practice an active moving meditation. You can do this anytime, anywhere, and even between walking in the grocery store, or even between meetings at work. Make sure to bring your awareness to where you are in this moment, at this exact step. And with this, you can relax.
For those who want to take the walking to a higher caliber, this meditation may be for you.
Ever feel what some may call a “runner’s high?” This happens when all inside chatter and turmoil falls away – leaving runners feeling alive and present in the current moment. A runner’s high can absolutely be a meditative state – leaving us with the theory that running can be not only a method of exercise, but meditation in motion.
As you run, continue to strive to focus your attention to the same present moment as with the walking meditation. Focus on your breath, the way your legs move, and how the wind hits your skin as you move. Begin to take in the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Focus on the sunrise or the sunset. Hear the birds or wind rustle the leaves in the trees. Get out of your head, because right now, there’s nothing in there for you. Experience the present moment for what it is.
As time goes on, running becomes more easy and enjoyable and it will be easier to look forward to no matter what time of day you run.
Drawing, Painting, Coloring, or Writing
For the artist type, their craft is what keeps them “sane.” Whether that be drawing with a pencil, painting with water colors, coloring in a coloring book, or writing short stories or melodic poems – for some, they can feel “in the zone,” and this can become a meditative, peaceful and mindful state.
You don’t have to be a professional writer or artist to create something beautiful and get a taste of this meditation, however you must be willing to give it a shot with no hesitations. Those who are artists not only seek to create beautiful art, but to create a state of being fully present in the moment to have the highest potential for their craft.
Chose something you want to do. Whether that be picking up an adult coloring book at the store, or drawing stick people in sketch books. Maybe you want to create a short fictional or non-fictional story about something you’re passionate for. Whatever that may be, let your creative muse go where it wants, and don’t let your ego get in the way – doing this is a state of meditation (and one of my favorites).
Singing Or Dancing
Music can be a great way to meditate. Singing, moving along with a good beat, and losing yourself in the rhythm and words of a song can help you achieve a meditative state of relaxation and mindfulness.
In practicing this way of meditation, you can sing with your favorite songs on the radio, dance to some funky elevator music, or for our more spiritual folks, you can sing along to traditional religious music. The most important thing is that you do what feels good.
One important thing about a singing or dancing meditation is that you don’t judge yourself or feel embarrassed about how you sing or dance. Meditation can be best described as getting out of your head and into your body, and with that, we can become careless about stressors and problems of the day and get into the present moment.
Play An Instrument
Whether than be keeping a drum beat or plucking the strings on a guitar, our musically-inclined friends can find meditation in a musical instrument. While knowing how to play an instrument, the real art and meditation piece can come into play to bring those melodies and frets to life with passion, feeling, while becoming one with the music they’re creating.
Playing music demands a musicians complete attention, away from worry, fear, and stress and learning to do this with a full heart can be an introspective path. It connects the person with something greater than themselves, and in retrospect, this is meditation.