You had a drug or alcohol problem. You acknowledged it was out of control. You underwent rehabilitation. You are clean. Now begins the journey of staying that way; in many ways, this may be the hardest part. During rehab, you were in a safe environment with constant support and a lack of access to drugs or alcohol. When you go back into the real world, the world where you were once a drug addict or alcoholic, it can be a challenge. The temptation will be everywhere.
You will be dealing with the same stressors and problems that triggered your desire to get high or drunk. Tools that help you deal with these stresses and problems in a different way is vital to staying sober; without them, it will be all too easy to start using again. The ancient practice of meditation may be one such tool to help you stay clean.
Meditation Changes Perception
Most of our suffering in life comes not from the circumstances of our lives, but how we perceive them and how we choose to deal with them; there is always a choice, there are always multiple ways to look at a situation. Being flawed humans, we do not always apply this wisdom and we do not deal with things in the healthiest ways, such as using drugs or alcohol to drown our problems and numb ourselves. Meditation allows us to gain better control of our minds and feelings and when we have greater control of these things, we are able to process what is happening around us much better; we can view things more for what they are.
Things do not seem as bad. Changing perception is at the root of how we choose to handle situations and when we perceive things with less emotion and attachment, we naturally handle unpleasant situations with greater ease.
Meditation Helps Us Sit with Discomfort Better
You probably used drugs or alcohol as a way to feel better—when things were going badly or you were not feeling so great, they were the perfect escape, even if just for a little bit. The discomfort caused by your negative emotions was just too much to withstand and you needed to find a way to make them go away. One of the hardest parts of being sober is finding new ways to deal with your negative feelings so that you do not feel tempted to use them.
Meditation is a very powerful tool for accomplishing this because it helps us realize the fleeting nature of our thoughts and feelings and their impermanence; it also strengthens that space between the true essence of us, which is pure consciousness, and our thoughts and feelings, which are separate entities which are constantly in flux. When you get better at observing your feelings and their ever-changing nature, they do not feel as overwhelming. You may not feel great, but you will have a greater awareness that your current state is temporary and this will reduce the urge to find some way to make it disappear as fast as you can, which may include relapsing.