Bigger Than Me – Episode 14 – Meditation in Recovery

On this week’s episode of Bigger Than Me, Rocky and Bri discuss meditation. Rocky starts off saying that meditation is probably the least done suggestion of all the 12 step fellowships. “So, who is a good meditator? One who meditates” is the quote that started off the blog that Rocky wrote about meditation. There are two main types of meditation; western and eastern. There is no wrong or right way to meditate; there are just differences in how they’re executed.

Meditation affects our concentration more than anything, and our ability to stay in the now. Meditation approves the depth of our focus and the endurance of it as well. Meditation isn’t restricted to certain situations or people, it is for everyone and can positively influence your entire life.

Eastern Meditation Philosophy

The Eastern meditation philosophy is based on posture, breath, and mindful attention. Rocky explains it as if our mind is Grand Central Station – one of the busiest train stations – and our thoughts are the trains. The trains are constantly coming and going, just like our thoughts. In the station, if we get on every train and leave the train station, we end up somewhere completely different. The same goes for our thoughts. If we get on board with every thought we have, we get carried away and taken somewhere else.

Meditation helps to give us the ability to watch the thoughts go by without jumping on board with every one of them. Rocky brings up that in early recovery that the urge (for anything) almost immediately turns into an action. There is no pause in the situation we react. Meditation gives us the chance to experience thoughts without judgment, and to let them pass as most thoughts do.

When we act based on an urge, it is usually emotion-based, and there is no pausing. Practicing meditation can allow us to go from purely reacting to acting on our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes that means that once we can pause, we realize that we may not even have to have an action on a thought.

Most people also think that you are supposed to control your thoughts with meditation, that’s not right. You aren’t going to be able to control your thoughts, but meditation allows them not to control you. Like the idiot and the genius, we talked about the last podcast; it gives you a break you need to recognize that it’s just a thought.

Western Philosophy or “Christian Meditation”

This type of meditation is also referred to as the 5 R’s method of meditation. Read, reflect, relax, request, receive. Rocky uses an example from the 11th Step Prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous or the St. Francis of Assisi Prayer. In the prayer, it says: “Where there is error, let me bring truth.” You read that, and then you reflect on it, where in your life is there an error that you can bring truth to? Have you been dishonest anywhere that you can tell the truth? You then relax and continue to reflect on that part of the prayer. Take some deep breathes and envision how you can carry that out, where can you bring truth to your life. Request that your Higher Power shows you how to embody that and be the face of truth in your life. Then you receive the wisdom or the strength to be such in your life.

This form of meditation is very similar to prayer; it allows us to maintain that connection with our Higher Power and to work through our thoughts with the help of our God.

What Other Meditations are There?

Daily meditations or readings like the NA Just for Today readings, and AA Thought for the Day are great ways to start off the day. When we first wake up there is typically a “committee meeting” in our head of thoughts that berate us. That is why it is recommended in the Big Book that upon waking, before a cigarette, before a cup of coffee we make contact with our Higher Power. These readings are short and simple. You can read them in about a minute and then move on with your day. It gives you that small break at the start of the day to meditate on something and then continue with your day.

The more that you do this it becomes part of your routine. Having this meditation as a part of your daily routine only strengthens your recovery and shows you how to pause in your mind. It’s an in the ‘now’ practice.

You can start meditation at any time. Meditation doesn’t have to be going to live in the mountains in a foreign country and swearing off all practical needs. It’s a way to change the way you handle your thoughts. Start small, if you want to start meditating for 1-minute go for it, then when you are comfortable increase it. Go minute by minute or in 30-second increments until you’re in a place that works for you.

Remember that any meditation is still meditation. It is a practice, one that you can grow and strengthen as you continue to do it. When we were using and drinking, we mixed a manner of different drugs and alcohol to get the desired effect. Do the same thing for your recovery, branch out. Expand your horizons and craft the meditation that works for you and supplements your life in the best way.