You could probably hear my eyes roll the first time my friend drug me to a meditation center. The whole idea sounded so stupid to me. She said that learning to live a healthier lifestyle meant I had to confront a lot of things I’d been avoiding and that I that I needed to learn new coping strategies. Meditation, she claimed would help with both. She was right.
Replacing the Substance
The thing is: meditation was really hard. It looks like you’re just sitting there, but there may be a battle raging in your head. Every battle fought is a battle won. Some people say that they have trouble meditating because they have so many thoughts to calm, but the act of doing that is meditation. It’s exercising, but for the mind.
When you are addicted to something, be it opiates, Xanax, alcohol, or a codependency, your mind has developed a need to frequently experience those things. When the subject of your addiction is denied, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else, making detox a particularly difficult thing to do on your own. That’s where new coping strategies come into play. Learning to meditate is a great way to learn how to recognize, explore, and manage those feelings.
It was quite a while before I actually experienced a relaxing meditation session because I was essentially rewiring my brain to learn a healthier coping strategy. It was hard, but absolutely worth the work.
Old Chapters and New
The healthier lifestyle demands that certain things be put away. We might need to look back at all those fun times in the bar as one chapter, and now focus on the new. I’ll admit that the old me would have hated the idea that I’d be drinking a tea instead of a beer while writing this. But I’ve learned to enjoy tea. The old me would have laughed like the closed-minded jerk he was if he saw me do yoga–though I’m sure my poor form is worth laughing at–but I’ve learned that there actually is value in it.
You don’t have to turn into some kind of “hippie” when you get sober, but you do need to accept that certain things that you’ve done in your life are over. Be open to forging new relationships, and recognizing that the shape of your new life may be very different than the old. And that’s okay.
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