My 30-Day Diary of Refuge Recovery Meditation (Part I)
When I turned five years sober, I felt like I had hit a wall in my recovery. While AA formed the basis of my initial recovery, I’d fallen out of love with the 12 steps. Conscious that I needed the connection and empathy of a support group meeting, I set about finding alternatives.
Finding Refuge Recovery
I came across Refuge Recovery and it blew my mind. I loved that the meeting began with a 20-minute guided meditation, that no one referred to themselves with anything other than their name, and that it was founded upon Buddhist principles including compassion and non-attachment.
I realized that I hadn’t had a regular meditation practice for a while. I used to practice quite regularly, but latterly only at times of great stress – rather than as a means to create state of calmness, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to recommit to a practice.
As someone who has a propensity to live in the future – with my brain meticulously planning out my next few weeks at any given time – I could certainly do with being more mindful of my current state, focusing only on what I was experiencing right then, in the present.
I created a 30-day journal to share my revelations, breakthroughs, and struggles. I’d like to share that journal with you in a two-part series.
- Day 1: Afternoon – office chair – Refuge Recovery guided meditation
Before, I was irritated, distracted, uncomfortable, and heavily influenced by external factors, namely: PEOPLE! Afterwards, I felt instantly calmer, my thoughts were more collected, and I felt present. I was no longer in conflict with my feelings and emotions.
- Day 2: Afternoon – office chair – Meditation Oasis, meditation for anxiety.
Before, I felt immense anxiety. Afterwards, I felt calmer and more centered, but somewhat distracted during the meditation by a large fly buzzing around my room!
- Day 3: Afternoon – Refuge Recovery Meeting – on non-attachment
This was a fascinating experience. While initially distracted by the building work outside the meeting room, the meditation suggested experiencing sounds without seeking to label them as good or bad. The guide suggested detaching to painful and pleasurable experiences, and, instead, holding them with a sense of neutrality.
- Day 4: Afternoon – during a massage – reflection on touch
Is that cheating?! I took the opportunity to be quiet and just quieten my mind to experience one sense – touch. I explored how touch enhances my life in the same way as meditation, providing headspace.
- Day 5: Afternoon – office chair – Meditation Oasis, on healing
I had experienced some difficult feelings and was scared to lean into them. The meditation helped me to hold my pain with love and compassion, rather than resistance – borne out of a desire to avoid feelings altogether. My body had felt fractured and the meditation helped me to connect with all of myself, creating union.
- Day 6: Didn’t meditate.
I initially berated myself, then I realized that I am a human being, doing my best. No one is perfect.
- Day 7: Evening – bedroom – Meditation Oasis, Relax Into Sleep
I love this meditation. When I was in the habit of a more regular practice, I would play this every night and relax into the most blissful state, falling into a deep sleep; waking completely refreshed. I had pretty much the same experience here, and I was able to let go of the day and the future.
- Day 8: Afternoon – bedroom – Tara Brach, Know That You Are Here
I was drained from travel anxiety. In this state, I felt overwhelmed and craved carbohydrates for comfort. After the meditation, I felt more centered, connected with my body, and relaxed. My cravings dissipated.
- Day 9: Evening – bedroom – Meditation Oasis, Relax Into Sleep
I felt tired, emotionally drained, and needed rest. I quickly decompressed and fell into a deep sleep. This is my favorite kind of meditation, especially as an over thinker – my brain takes hitting the pillow as a sign to continuously review my troubles and search for a solution until I pass out – because it shuts down my thinking.
- Day 10: Afternoon – office chair – Headspace
This was magic! The meditation with Headspace is only ten minutes long, and guides you through the brain’s tendency to distract. It helps you create – quite literally – headspace. The learnings created in this space have been quite profound.
In just a short body scan, the meditation helped to bring me into my body. I live in my head so much that I can be ten feet ahead of my physical self. Stopping and focusing on the body allows me to bring me back in touch with my physical self. I noticed any aches or pains—which might have been affecting my mood. I paused. I noted that my feet are planted on the floor, which gives me a sense of grounding, it slowed me down and helps me become more poised and focused. I felt at one.
- Day 11: Morning – office chair – Headspace
I decided to move my meditation to an early morning practice – on waking – so that I set myself up for the day from a place of calmness, centeredness, and presence. My brain is most active in the morning; from the moment I wake up, it explodes with ideas and plans which I find difficult to tame into a strategy – I guess this is the downside of a creative brain! Meditating first thing, helped calm my brain into a more ordered, focused, and even-paced approach to the day.
- Day 12: Morning – office chair – Headspace
On waking I had a headache and buzzing brain. I felt more focused and less uptight afterwards, with my headache dissipating. The key learning in the app today was that the aim of mediation is to be at ease with your thoughts. So often we label thoughts and feelings arising during meditation in a negative way – becoming frustrated that we can’t control our brain. This was a useful reminder that it is unrealistic to expect the brain to just stop thinking –
especially with a solution-oriented brain such as mine – but when we accept that as more normal, there is less resistance during the process of meditation. When less resistant, we are more relaxed!
- Day 13: Morning – office chair – Headspace
I woke up groggy and tired, with my head filled with thoughts and plans for the day. After creating space during meditation, I felt less overwhelmed. I liked the analogy that the app used today, which was to imagine sitting by the side of the road and watching the cars [your thoughts] drive by. It questioned if you had the power to stop the car/thoughts, or, if you would find more peace at the side of the road, watching, rather than controlling. We can’t stop traffic and we can’t control our thoughts, but we can create space, and observe.
- Day 14: Morning – office chair – Headspace
I was tired and interrupted by dogs placing a wet ball in my lap that they’d been chewing, wanting to play and go for a walk. Fortunately, the practice enabled me to see the funny side of this, detach, and carry on.
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