The moment I knew I had a serious alcohol problem was the day I woke up and realized I had been unconscious for almost a whole day after a booze binge the night before, and I had over 50 missed calls and voice messages from friends and work panicking where I was. I spent the next three days in hell…I told work I had a serious case of stomach flu.
Just one lie of many I told to hide my alcoholism. This was not the first time I had blacked out so badly from drinking but it was the first time I admitted to myself something was wrong. I was both a workaholic and a high functioning alcoholic who used drinking as an excuse for the high stress involved in my job and I had reached my alcoholic tipping point.
I knew I needed help and with the support of a very dear friend found a therapist to help me get my life back together. It was rough at first, and I’m not going to lie, there were moments where I would have killed for a drink.
Having the support of my friends and therapist kept me going and today, I think that discovering mindfulness meditation has probably been the reason I’m clean and sober still.
I always thought meditation was a bunch of hippy propaganda aimed only for health nuts and trendy vegans. Turns out there is more to meditation than just spiritual enlightenment. There are many different types of meditation but mindful meditation helps you focus on the now.
Mindful meditation teaches you to be aware of your surroundings and the present moments you live. Some of the main reasons alcoholics drink are to forget or escape. Mindfulness keeps us conscious at the moment so we can understand better what is happening around us and how to deal with it.
In this article, I will share with you 7 ways mindful meditation can help your recovery as an alcoholic or help someone you know who is going through this difficult process.
1. Mindful Meditation Helps To Reduce Stress
Mindful meditation not only helps you stay calm in stressful situations and helps you manage stress more effectively but also has a biological effect on your body. In times of distress, your body produces the hormone cortisol which can increase feelings of stress.
It is at this point when cortisol is released that you are at your most vulnerable to turning to alcohol as a stress reliever. Research has shown that mindful meditation may help reduce your cortisol levels to neutralize feelings of heightened stress.
2. Mindful Meditation May Help You Feel Less Alone
Feelings of loneliness or isolation can be a trigger for alcoholics. Some people feel terribly alone and aim to fill that void with drinking. Mindful meditation works towards building acceptance of your present and your surroundings.
Mindful meditation promotes self-awareness and acceptance to get to know our true selves. A study on the benefits of mindfulness meditation showed that after eight weeks of 30-minute practice people experienced decreased feelings of loneliness and increased contentment instead.
3. It Has Positive Effects On Your Brain Health
Mindfulness meditation can encourage better decision making and improve concentration. Practicing this meditation technique helps to train your mind to focus more easily even if carrying out boring tasks or activities.
Doing as little as a 15 minutes deep breathing yoga technique each day can allow you to take a moment to hit pause on the world and clear your mind to make better decisions about your surroundings.
4.You Don’t Always Have to Be Meditating to Feel The Benefits
Mindful meditation is not just beneficial at the moment of practice but can help you at any moment during your day. People who regularly meditate can begin to tap into the same state of mind without having to concentrate so much whenever an emotional situation occurs.
It is as if mindfulness meditation forges a piece of “mental armor” every time you practice it.
5. Mindfulness Meditation Helps You Become A Better Listener
Because this kind of meditation focuses on the bigger picture; meaning the world around you, your place in it and the people who surround you, mindfulness helps you to awaken your compassion towards others.
Sometimes when you are in the grip of alcoholism all you see is yourself and what is happening to you. We suffer from a kind of blindness to the problems of others because we are too busy trying to drown our own sorrows.
Mindfulness meditation can help you see that there are others around being affected by life and can make you a more compassionate listener to those you care about.
6. Mindfulness Meditation Can Significantly Help Reduce Anxiety and Depression
There are many alcoholics who might turn to drinking to cope with an underlying condition they aren’t even aware of. General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and depressive disorders affect approximately 40 million Americans and many more sufferers go undiagnosed.
Alcoholism is a common coping mechanism for anxiety and depression sufferers and practicing mindfulness can significantly help reduce the symptoms and effects of these disorders.
Clinical studies into the efficacy of mindfulness vs. traditional stress management therapy resulted in a greater improvement in managing their anxiety levels with the group practicing mindfulness.
7. You Will Get A Better Night’s Sleep
One of my favorite excuses for a “nightcap” was to help me get off to sleep after a long stressful day. I would often find my mind racing as I tried to sleep and somehow a few drinks would numb those thoughts long enough for me to get a few hours sleep.
Mindfulness meditation helps you compartmentalize all the events of the day and slow down the pace of life so when you go to sleep your mind is much more focused on resting than all the stressful things your life is filled with.
Mindfulness meditation is praised by both scientists and mental health experts for the beneficial effects it can have on your recovery from alcoholism. Once I embraced the idea of using mindfulness to battle my addiction to alcohol I never looked back.
Mindful meditation has become an everyday practice in my life now and I can’t imagine life without it. I am a more centered compassionate human being and even though I still work hard, my perspective has changed and I no longer want to drive myself into the ground because of a job and I certainly don’t want to kill myself through alcohol to get through the day.
Are you a recovering alcoholic who uses mindfulness meditation to conquer the addiction? Perhaps you would like to know more about how mindfulness meditation can work for you or a loved one suffering from alcoholism?
Leave us a comment below and share your thoughts.