As a collective society engaged in countless external distractions, we often underestimate the power of the mind and how it contributes to our sense of fulfillment. When we develop a strong mental foundation of contentment in the ordinary moments, we are less ruled by unconscious impulses. For those on the path to recovery, harnessing the power of the mind is an important step in maintaining a satisfying sober life. Here’s what cultivating a daily mindful meditation practice can do for you.

Stress reduction

Mindfulness is a term used to describe a state of mind that is fully engaged in the present moment. This means that thoughts about the past or future are not disturbing the present experience. When you are meditating, these thoughts may come to mind, but the practice part is to let them go just as quickly. Without dwelling on hurtful thoughts of the past or worried ones about the future, the mind experiences significantly less stress.

Reduces depression and anxiety

Learning how to filter your own thoughts gives you more control over the negative ones. Mindful meditation keeps your mind from traveling down the rabbit hole of depressing thoughts that lead to low self-esteem and poor decision making. Letting the negative thoughts go also means you’re actively embracing the positive thoughts. Over time, this shifts your perspective into a more optimistic outlook.

Meditation is often achieved through deep breathing which reduces anxiety all by itself. On a biological level, deep breathing improves your blood circulation, allowing your heart to rest and gain more strength. The inhaled oxygen also relaxes your muscles, effectively releasing tension from the body.

How to begin

Start by meditating for five to 10 minutes at a time, and gradually work your way to longer sitting times. Find a comfortable place to sit down where you won’t be disturbed; put a sign on the door if necessary. Close your eyes and position yourself so that you’re relaxed. Take deep even breaths; count slowly on your inhale and exhale if you need help focusing. When thoughts come to your mind, notice them and let them go without judgment or engaging in an inner dialogue.

Letting go of your thoughts can be difficult in the beginning; be patient. Focus on your breathing or on the subtle sensations going on inside and outside of your body. For some, choosing a single mental image to focus on helps thoughts fall away. The most important thing is that you enter your meditation time with an authentic desire to be at peace: the benefits will grow as you do.