Practicing gratitude and meditating are two wonderful suggestions to strengthen our recovery. A great way to strengthen both practices is by incorporating the two. Gratitude meditation is a form of meditation where we reflect deeply on the things we are grateful for. Through gratitude meditation, we will feel an increase in positive emotions for others and a sense of peace and serenity says Johnny K – owner of True Life Recovery detox center in Orange County, California.
Why You Need Gratitude in Recovery
Having a feeling of gratitude is more than simply being thankful for something. It’s a state of being that includes the body, mind, and spirit, a way of thinking about our lives. A mindset. When we have a mindset of gratitude, and we live it every day, our overall outlook on life becomes more positive quickly.
Harvard Health reports, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Those are all aspects that are vital to recovery.
Those of us who are in recovery have likely suffered through many struggles leading up to where we are now. We need those good experiences, positive emotions, stronger relationships, better health, and the improved ability to handle diversity to stay on the path of recovery.
Some of the other benefits of developing a grateful mindset in recovery are:
- It builds stronger relationships – Gratitude facilitates a deeper appreciation for others, which strengthens our relationships with friends and family.
- It encourages you to help others – People who live in gratitude are more likely to be compassionate, understanding, and helpful to others.
- It provides contentment – Gratitude can reduce depression and anxiety and provide us with a sense of contentment and joy.
- It promotes better health – Practicing gratitude can lower blood pressure, relieve stress, boost the immune system, and even reduce aches and pains.
One study shows that people who take the time to keep gratitude journals have 23 percent lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also states that practicing gratitude daily can reduce the effects of aging on the brain. Psychology Today reports that spending 15 minutes in the evening writing in a gratitude journal before bed helped people fall asleep faster and sleep longer than people who did not keep a gratitude journal.
Gratitude creates a happier, more positive outlook, reduces stress, encourages us to make better choices regarding our mental and physical health, and it improves sleep – these are all things that aid our recovery from addiction.
What is Gratitude Meditation?
Gratitude meditation is nothing new. According to author and spiritual teacher Jack Kornfield, “Buddhist monks begin each day with a chant of gratitude for the blessings of their life. Native American elders begin each ceremony with grateful prayers to mother earth and father sky, to the four directions, to the animal, plant, and mineral brothers and sisters who share our earth and support our life. In Tibet, the monks and nuns even offer prayers of gratitude for the suffering they have been given: ‘Grant that I might have enough suffering to awaken in the deepest possible compassion and wisdom.’” When meditating, we think about everything that we feel grateful for—from friends and loved ones who have helped us on our journey of recovery to the sun and everything that sustains our life.
When we extend our gratitude to everything we are thankful for, we experience feelings of joy. According to the Positive Psychology Program, “It is important to note that gratitude is not just about being thankful for the good things in your life, but it is about being thankful for everything in your life. There are things in your life which might initially seem bad, but upon further reflection actually give you an opportunity to learn and grow. Part of gratitude is recognizing these blessings in all things.” The meditation practice leads to increases in feelings of gratitude, which, in turn, lead to major mental health benefits. The Positive Psychology Program explains that gratitude leads to decreased levels of depression, higher levels of well-being, increased trust, and increased sleep quality, Furthermore, “Having a gratitude meditation practice will also increase your levels of gratitude, which can serve as a protective factor in the face of certain traumatic events, as well as a protective factor against risky behaviors.”
Using Gratitude Meditation in Recovery
When we stay grateful in recovery, it lessens the risk of relapsing into old behaviors and active addiction. Practicing gratitude meditation can help motivate us to do what you need to in order to guard your sobriety. It’s typically when we stop being grateful and start taking our recovery for granted that problems start and before you know it, we are in the downward spiral toward relapse. Gratitude meditation helps keep us centered, ready to face challenges and struggles as they come up, without sinking into negative thinking and backsliding.
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Paul Harrison, Editor, THE DAILY MEDITATION.