Addiction can really mess up your life: it damages your body, your relationships, your physical and mental health… It even gets to a point -at least it did for me- where you think there’s no way out, when you feel completely helpless because of your addiction. Luckily, when I got to that point, I found out the best way to battle these problems: mindful meditation.
My problems with alcohol and drugs started when I was only 9 years old. Being the curious kid I always was, I stole a bottle of liquor at a family party when the adults were not watching. It only took a few sips for me to get drunk. Even though that clear liquid tasted horrible and burned my throat, I loved how it made me feel. That was the beginning of a downwards spiral that lasted all through my preteen and teenage years.
At 14, I tried marijuana for the first time. Soon after I started experimenting with more hardcore drugs like meth and cocaine. At this point, my family and friends tried to help me but I pushed them away thinking they were exaggerating. I was only having fun. Until I wasn’t. At 23, I got sentenced to two years in prison for drug-related charges.
While in prison, I used to get so depressed just staying inside my cell that I started attending AA and NA meetings just so I could have an excuse to get out. At first I didn’t participate, most of the time I wasn’t even listening. But one day, a middle-aged man shared his story, about how his alcohol addiction had caused him to lose his wife, his daughter, and everything and everyone he cared about in his life. I felt like I could identify with him. I thought about my family, how ungrateful I had been and how I was risking losing them if I kept consuming. That was when I made the biggest decision of my life, to get clean.
After I was let out I checked into a drug addiction rehab facility. I completed my treatment and managed to find a job, which I got really good at in a very short time. I started working so much that I put myself under a lot of stress. Anxiety and depression hit me, and I relapsed. Before I knew it, I was back in rehab.
This time though, I was determined to make it stick. I was open to try anything, even unconventional ways that could help me recover and stay clean. That’s how I found mindful meditation.
The art of mindfulness
Mindfulness helped me ease my mind, making my (second) addiction recovery that much easier without all the stress. However, you don’t have to be an addict or suffer from a troubled mind in order to benefit from mindful meditation.
Mindfulness can be described as the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment, according to theAssociation of Psychological Science. More often than not, we’re living our life in autopilot. We are always worrying about the future or dwelling on our past. Mindful meditation teaches you how to fully experience the moment: concentrate on every sound, every smell, every sight… This helped me achieve a higher state of consciousness in which I could see my problems in a more objective way. I realized they were not as bad as they seemed, that everything has a solution and there is no point in worrying over things that are out of my control. It taught me to let go.
Mindful meditation is all about discovering your true self: analyzing your strengths and weaknesses. When I was first able to truly get to know myself, it came with a feeling of relief. I had spent so much time not giving myself the love and respect I deserved, that when I met my true self, someone I had never taken the chance to get to know, I realized I wanted to love myself. I had the chance to make things right.
These feelings came at a time when I was completely vulnerable. I was letting myself really feel for the first time in my life and it was wonderful. The void I had felt my entire life, the one I tried to fill with drugs and alcohol and bad habits, was filling up with self-love, self-respect, and self-compassion.
A lifetime process
By the time I completed my second treatment, I was feeling more confident than the first time, I felt like my willpower had grown stronger thanks to mindful meditation. But it didn’t end there. It never ends. Temptation will always be there. I have to keep working on my willpower day in and day out. Just like stress, fear and other troubling emotions will always be there too. Mindful meditation isn’t a one-week, one-month challenge which you complete and just go back to where you were before. In order to get the benefits of mindful meditation, you need to keep practicing it constantly.
I was assisted by a wonderful, professional therapist at a rehab center, but there are many ways in which you can practice mindful meditation by yourself. If you want to discover the wonders of mindful meditation, you can just sit in silence for a few minutes. Close your eyes, breathe consciously through your nose and try to really feel every smell, every sound. This daily practice of being completely there can help you feel more relaxed throughout the day.
It’s been almost a decade since I got out of rehab for the second time and I still meditate three to four times a week. It has become part of my life and I owe a great part of everything I have achieved up until now to it. I’m certain mindful meditation can help just about anyone who tries it, so I encourage you to embark upon this wonderful journey.
What are your thoughts on mindful meditation? Let us know in the comment section below.