How Meditation Can Strengthen Your Recovery + a Simple Technique to Getting Started

I dread, like seriously dread bringing up the practice of meditation with my client’s. It’s painful!! These folks are too ‘damned’ busy to close their eyes to breathe and they’re not afraid to make that real known. Yes, I get it, you’re up to big things in this world, it’s true. However, I remind them, you’ve been kind of a hot mess lately. (This is not a therapeutic technique I learned in graduate school). Maybe we could just try this meditation thing, just for two minutes. If it sucks, well, then it sucked, and I’ll never bring it up again.

The reason I’m so bossy about teaching the practice of meditation to my client’s is because I literally think it saved my life. Yes, there is a lot of research on the effectiveness of meditation, which I urge you to read, but for the purpose of this convo, I’m sharing my experience of falling in love with meditation.

The first time I meditated was in a yoga class, years into my eating disorder. Living in my uppity Uptown apartment in Dallas at the time, I had heard of a yoga studio on McKinney Avenue. The idea of doing yoga really spoke to me, but my eating disorder resisted it – ‘it’s a waste of time, it’s not a real workout’, etc. In an effort to stay on trend, my 22-year-old self bought a yoga mat and tried it out one random weekday evening. What happened in that yoga studio changed me. It opened a window.

What happened in that yoga studio changed me. It opened a window.

I walked out of that class in a yoga-induced high; super zen. On the way home I heard a voice saying softly and clearly, ‘you can eat now.’ Not a, ‘you can eat now because you’ve worked out and that it makes it ok,’ but something else entirely. It was a delicate, loving voice, a voice I’ve come to know as my most intuitive, wise self. I walked into that fancy apartment, got into my bed, still fully clothed in yoga attire, and fell asleep.

I woke up that next morning, much like after a blackout drunken night where you call your friend and say, ‘what the hell happened last night?’ But, I had no one to call. No witness to the deep unfolding of my re-connection with my highest self. I met myself all over again on that mat; the mat where I sat with legs crossed, inhaling and exhaling, my mind peaceful and soft for the first time in years. A window opened, and a voice came in, a voice that’s protected me my whole life. Some call it your intuitive voice; others the voice of God. That night, I think it was my guardian angel. I got quiet enough to hear her. She carried me home, tucked my very ill self into bed and allowed me to really rest.

Of course, I won’t say that after that I was magically better because that’s far from the truth. In fact, shortly after that, the wheels completely fell off, like hard core fell off. And sometimes, that’s just how it goes.

The practice of meditation and mindfulness isn’t something that you can hold onto anymore than a high from a drug. It’s a practice. This is when my client’s start to get antsy. Resistance to meditation is powerful in my experience. Nobody wants to sit with themselves and their ‘stuff.’  I push them to do it anyway, I mean, this is the work of recovery people, it gets messy. “I’ve tried this before, I can’t do it,” they say, “I just start thinking about all kinds of random crap. It just doesn’t work for me.”

So here’s my spiel: I’m so glad that all kinds of random thoughts pop up into your mind. That’s a good sign to me; it means you’re both human and alive. Now, back to meditation. This is how this is going to go down. You can either sit up straight with legs uncrossed, or you can sit cross-legged, or even lie down on your back. Softly close your eyes and as you do, notice your whole face softening, nothing clenched. Begin breathing fully, in and out of your nose. Watch the body expand as you breathe in and contract as you breathe out. Our attention remains with the breath, slowly breathe in fully and out fully. Breathe in white light that will illuminate you as it swirls through your body internally, making its way up from your toes all the way to the crown of your head. As you exhale, imagine releasing all that no longer serves you. Continue with this until you feel your entire body flooded internally with white light. As thoughts come and go, as they do even for the most practiced meditation gurus, just observe them. No need to attach to the thought, or judge yourself for having the thought, just watch it drift away like a leaf floating down a stream and return to your breath. You flex the muscle of your brain each time this happens, so view it as an invitation when your mind wanders, and just bring it back. This is a mental rep for your brain. Now that your body is filled solely with white light, connect with the experience. How do you feel? Connect with the sensation that YOU created. Gently open your eyes and return to the room.

“Wow, I feel lighter, calmer. A sense of peace washed over me,” they say in a softer voice than usual. I ask if they would be willing to practice this daily, even if only for two minutes a day.

I invite you, sweet soul, to do the same. Find a quiet space and connect with your deepest self. Let your breath reunite you with the most beautiful version of yourself. Take the time to honor yourself in this way.

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