Managing Anxiety in Recovery: How Meditation Helped Quiet My Mind

Posted On Thursday, 28 February 2019
Managing Anxiety in Recovery: How Meditation Helped Quiet My Mind

I remember lying in bed one night when I was about 13 years old. Out of nowhere, the room felt like it was spinning; it felt like time was passing much faster than I could keep up with. My brain was racing like a broken hamster wheel that I couldn’t figure out how to stop.

I had a feeling of impending doom as my body became tense and I went into a full blown panic attack. I thought I must be crazy; there was absolutely no reason for me to feel this way.

This was my first encounter with anxiety.

These attacks would come on suddenly and unexpectedly. When I took my first drink a few months after my first anxiety attack, the warmth of the whiskey on my throat moved down into my body and I began to relax. Alcohol rapidly became the solution to the hamster wheel in my mind.

What began as my solution made my anxiety worse in the long run. On top of anxiety, I developed a physical dependence and mental obsession towards alcohol. I drank when I woke up in the morning until the moment I reached complete oblivion and fell asleep. I had anxiety about running out of alcohol, I had anxiety about financial security, I had anxiety about my family and friends finding out I had a problem. Anxiety began to encompass every aspect of my life. My entire world revolved around drinking.

After multiple attempts at trying to put the bottle down on my own, I finally reached out to my family for help. I humbled myself enough to admit to them I was probably an alcoholic and that I couldn’t quit no matter how hard I tried. I found myself in a dual diagnosis treatment center where I stayed for the course of three months.

To cope with my anxiety, I was introduced to the idea of meditation, which I had never tried before. I thought meditation was reserved for spiritual gurus and religious people. Desperate to try anything to relieve my anxiety, I put my headphones in, closed my eyes, and listened to a guided meditation.

Towards the middle of the meditation, it instructed me to imagine standing at the top of twelve porcelain steps. As it counted down from twelve to one, I was to walk down these steps, approaching a green valley. Once I had descended into the valley, I was told to walk through the valley into my own sacred, quiet place. This place could be real or imaginary, wherever I wanted it to be. I chose a rock that was protruding from the ocean just a few hundred feet from the shore. The voice on the meditation then went quiet and I was told to spend several minutes in silence in this sacred place.

Sitting on the rock, I could feel the mist of the waves splashing on my face and the salt-water-scented wind blowing through my hair. I could see the families playing in the sand on the shore and the clear blue sky meeting the water on the horizon. I felt calm and at peace. My head wasn’t thinking about alcohol or what I had to do later that day. I wasn’t focused on the fear of leaving treatment in the near future. I wasn’t obsessing over the people I had hurt while I was drinking. I was allowing my mind to rest for the first time.

The voice on the meditation picked back up and I journeyed back through the lush valley to ascend the twelve porcelain steps before opening my eyes at the end of the meditation.

I found that the same relief a drink had once provided me could be obtained through meditation. I felt at ease; my mind wasn’t facing and my body felt lighter. I had finally found a solution that could calm my racing thoughts and shut down my anxiety that wasn’t detrimental to my health.

My meditation practice has definitely evolved over the years I have spent in sobriety. In the beginning, it was sometimes difficult for me to meditate for longer than five minutes, but today I find myself lost in longer meditations. I still do guided meditations often, but there are times when I can meditate without it. I can simply lay still, focus on my breathing, and feel my body and mind relax.

Meditation can also be as simple as spending time in nature, taking in the smell of the fresh air, the warmth of the sunlight, and the beauty of the trees around me. Meditation can also exist in the form of listening to music and drowning out the voices that sometimes run rampant through my mind. The art of meditation is like a muscle: the more you do it, the stronger it becomes. I find new ways to meditate all the time. However, regardless of how I do it, meditation never fails to calm my anxiety.

Cassidy Webb

Cassidy Webb is an avid writer. She writes for Journey Pure at the River and other websites to help spread awareness around the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.

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