Early on in my recovery I was exposed to the concept of meditation. I was eager to learn any way to improve my life and increase my chances of staying sober, so I learned by asking around. There are quite literally hundreds of ways to meditate. In eastern religions, such as Buddhism, there are actual debates going on about the best way to meditate — these debates have been going on for hundreds of years.
Basically, you sit down somewhere quiet and comfortable for around 20 minutes and let your thoughts drift, not focusing on any one thought, but just letting them come and go. My first thought after hearing this was something along the lines of “Well, I’m never doing that”. In my mind 20 minutes was a really long time to do nothing.
The thing is I kept hearing about how everyone was meditating, and how great it was. I even heard it referred to as a “contemplative practice” or “mindfulness-based intervention”, probably in an effort to make meditation sound less hokey-new-age-hippy-yogi and to put science behind it. In fact, there is science behind meditation… a lot of science! Just one such example, written in collaboration with 5 different psychiatric and university hospitals in Spain from just a few months ago in March of 2018, fully supports these meditation practices, especially in addiction recovery.
I was convinced that meditation was good, I saw the science, and I heard what people were saying, but I still didn’t want to do it… until I heard about the concept of Quiet Time. For me, Quiet Time is a form of meditation. However, I’m not totally inactive. I’m usually doing some type of activity but my goal is to limit externalities (things that exist outside of me). How do I this? At the gym, I don’t listen to music the whole time. I just focus on lifting, running, or whatever it is that I’m doing there. In the sauna, I don’t bring my phone in with me, I just sit there with myself. When I’m in my car or riding on my motorcycle I don’t listen to music, I just have the sound of the road and the wind and the thoughts in my brain.
Would a fully quiet, 20 minute session with no distractions be better? I think so. However, if I were to add up all the time I spend driving, or working out, it would certainly add up to well over two hours per day. That’s akin to 6 twenty minute sessions!
If you’re like me and just don’t want to set aside the time to only meditate, try some quiet time. Turn off your car radio and focus on the road at let your thoughts flow. At the gym, take the headphones off, focus on the movement of the weight or putting one foot in front of the other and listen to your thoughts. Don’t make your technology an appendage, don’t keep your phone attached to your body at all times and see what happens. I found that opening my mind to these options made the idea of meditation far less awful and daunting. Worst case: you could always just the radio back on.
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