My 30-Day Diary of Refuge Recovery Meditation – Part II
Last week I shared part one of my 30-day diary of meditation. I began my journey toward a regular meditation practice in my quest to enhance my recovery – away from the traditional modality, toward a way that worked for me. I discovered Refuge Recovery. My first meeting opened my eyes in the same way recovery changed my perspective on the world – like someone had suddenly cleaned my dirty glasses.
What I particularly loved about the format of Refuge Recovery meetings is that it began with a 20-minute guided meditation. I realized that I hadn’t felt the benefits of a regular meditation practice for some time. I used to practice regularly, but of late I only practiced at times of stress. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to recommit to a practice that I would try for 30 days. I created a journal, to share my revelations, breakthroughs, struggles, and growth.
What I discovered those first two weeks was fascinating. I am a person that struggles to be present – I live in the future. As soon as I wake up, my brain fires up and it is like opening twenty tabs in an Internet browser all at once, with them all fighting for my attention. My brain meticulously plans out weeks at any given time. Meditation showed me that I desperately needed to be more mindful of my current state, focusing only on what I was experiencing right then, in the present. It gave me space – mental space – to detach from my thoughts and provided clarity in spite of those twenty open tabs. This is the healthy detachment, or space, that my brain craves – perhaps that I was seeking in drugs and alcohol for all those years.
- Day 15: Morning, on waking — office chair — Headspace app
Today felt like an effort. The app reminded me that you cannot force your brain to stop thinking — rather you have to let go of trying to control. It was suggested you try not to overthink the process. By doing that, you bring your mind to a place of neutrality and can enjoy the feeling of pausing to balance and catch your breath.
- Day 16: Morning, on waking — office chair — Headspace app
The guidance today was to be curious of emotional states, rather than trying to run from them—something I have a propensity to do. Being a mindful observer of my emotions helps me feel more grounded and less ruled by my emotions. My brain had the opportunity to relax, which I always welcome!
- Day 17: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I really didn’t feel like meditating today, on a Sunday—my day off. I really liked the analogy used in today’s meditation, that there is always a blue sky, but it is easy to get clouded by our thoughts. By letting go of the thoughts, you experience the brilliance of the blue sky.
- Day 18: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I was tired today — was woken up at 5:30 am by dogs licking my face. But by persisting, I became grateful for the mind space the meditation provided. Since meditating, I have become more aware of my thoughts and emotions, and had the space to detach from them.
- Day 19: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I didn’t want to meditate today, but I did it anyway. I realized that I have a feeling of aggression toward my thoughts — a resistance. This meditation has helped me to train my mind to step back and observe my thoughts with neutrality; when I do that, I can introduce compassion toward myself.
- Day 20: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I felt distracted during today’s meditation. My mind wondered off. The app explained the concept of neuroplasticity — that we can change the brain and our thought processes. In meditating, you can create a new pathway and it can become easier to process emotions. Despite my distraction, I was grateful for a few moments of space and reconnection with my body.
- Day 21: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I felt groggy this morning, and emotionally hungover from a disagreement. I was reminded by the app of my motivation to meditate — that is to create mind space, a greater sense of awareness and being mindful of my emotional state, but not becoming it. I gained some relief from my feelings.
- Day 22: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I felt a great sense of connecting with my body today. My mind felt still. That is the optimum place to operate from — a place of centeredness and presence in myself.
- Day 23: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I was preoccupied with travel anxiety today. The meditation gave me the space to prepare for my day and I gained an increased awareness of the present moment. It was suggested in today’s meditation to keep a note pinned up in a place that will catch your eye, reminding you to be present.
- Day 24: Morning — laying down — Yin yoga class
I felt stressed waking up today. I didn’t meditate in the morning and instead went to yoga. For the first thirty minutes, my mind would not stop with invasive and repetitive thoughts. After focusing on my breath consistently, I felt calmer, present, and I created some distance between my thoughts.
- Day 25: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
My brain felt frazzled this morning, with non-stop invasive thoughts. In ten short minutes, I felt like my brain had a vacation.
- Day 26: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I woke up with a headache. During meditation I realized the tension in my body and I was able to decompress, resulting in the headache going away.
- Day 27: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
Today I felt tired and worn out by my brain and its incessant thoughts. I found it difficult to stay present. While I persisted with the meditation, I didn’t feel much peace. I realized that is okay.
- Day 28: Morning — on a chair — Refuge Recovery Meeting & Yin Yoga
The strangest thing happened today: I’d mentioned to someone in the meeting that I was feeling a lot of anger and resentment – and the meditation was on forgiveness. Initially I resisted, but as I practiced the idea of forgiving others and asking for forgiveness I became less resentful. Then, later on, the same meditation was repeated in yoga!
- Day 29: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I felt distracted by my workload. Afterward, I felt a combination of relaxation and focus.
- Day 30: Morning — office chair — Headspace app
I felt depressed today. The practice helped me create some space between that feeling and the reality that my life is blessed. Despite it being an overwhelming feeling, I know that depression will pass.
A Reflection on the Month
These 30 days have been wonderful. I feel more present, have greater mental clarity, and feel more poised. It is now part of my daily recovery practice and I wholeheartedly see its value.
Mindfulness isn’t about focused thinking, introspection, self-analysis, or mindful gymnastics. It’s simply about bringing full attention — not thinking — to whatever occurs.
~ Saki F. Santorelli
Images Courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo/iStock