If you are a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you may have seen the episode in which Sheldon Cooper tries meditation as a strategy for overcoming stage fright. His friend Raj tries to guide him through a meditation session, but things quickly go awry.
First, Sheldon is afraid Raj will punch him if he closes his eyes (because that’s what his sister used to do). Next, Sheldon identifies his “happy place” as a SimCity creation of his own that he calls “Sheldonopolis.” Then, Sheldon worries about the weather in Sheldon Square, concerned that it is too nippy in that particular location of his imaginary city (Raj convinces him to buy himself a sweater at Shelmart). And finally, Sheldon announces “Oh, no! A Godzilla-like monster is attacking the city!” In his role as mayor of Sheldonopolis he loudly announces the need for an evacuation (“Oh, the simulated horror!” he exclaims).
Then he opens his eyes. Raj is gone. The lesson Sheldon takes away from this experience is not the one Raj was hoping to impart.
“Just as I suspected,” Sheldon says. “Meditation is nothing but hokum.”
Sheldon Is a Genius… But Not About Meditation
Listen, if we have a question about theoretical physics, Sheldon Cooper is definitely our guy. But when it comes to his analysis of meditation, Sheldon’s reasoning does not hold up to scrutiny. In fact, the evidence would suggest that meditation can have a variety of beneficial outcomes related to both physical and mental well-being. And anything that supports your physical and mental health supports your sobriety as well.
What sorts of benefits are we talking about? Here’s a partial list:
- Greater adaptability, less anger/aggression, and a greater sense of empathy and connection
- Reduced stress, an improvement in mood/emotional regulation, and better focus
- A reduction in blood pressure, higher quality sleep, and support for healthier aging
- Moderation of symptoms for a variety of mental and physical health problems including:
- depression, anxiety disorders, and insomnia
- cardiovascular disease and chronic pain
- dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Sound good? Probably so. So, the next question is: What sort of meditation is right for you?
You have a number of choices. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Multiple Meditation Methods
The word “meditation” is kind of a catchall. There are, after all, several approaches to meditation, and finding the best for you might take a little time and little experimentation. Here are a few of the options:
- Mindfulness meditation: We have written quite a bit about mindfulness in the past for this blog because it can be quite helpful to a person seeking to improve their mental health or who is in recovery from a substance use disorder (or both). The central idea of mindfulness practice is that you learn to bring your focus into the present moment rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
- Movement meditation: Many kinds of meditation involve sitting still—sometimes for extended periods of time. That approach may not work for everyone, and movement mediation provides a wonderful alternative. Whether you take up yoga or gardening or swimming or any of a number of other activities, movement meditation combines mental and physical health practices.
- Spiritual meditation: If you are a person of faith who engages in regular prayer, you already are familiar with spiritual meditation. Of course, the practice can take different forms for different faiths, but the idea is similar across the board: spiritual meditation encourages you to connect with the idea of a higher power. (For those in recovery from a substance use disorder, that notion is in keeping with the Alcoholics Anonymous approach to recovery, which includes reliance on a power greater than yourself.)
- Body scan meditation: This form of meditation can be particularly useful as part of a bedtime routine. The idea is that you slowly tighten and relax the various muscles in the body so that you are making a conscious decision to sink into relaxation. The practice can also involve visualization. For example, you might imagine a beam of sunlight filling your body from your toes to the top of your head. All the while, the warmth of that sunlight encourages each part of your body to relax.
First Steps to a Clearer Mind? Getting Sober and Committing to Better Mental Health
Meditation of any kind is going to be difficult if you are under the ongoing influence of drugs or alcohol. The best way to clear your mind and start to reclaim your physical and mental health is to get sober. And at Peak View Behavioral Health in beautiful Colorado Springs, we can help with that. We offer compassionate, personalized, evidence-based care that will help you reclaim—and maintain—your sobriety.
And we are here to help with mental health disorders of all kinds—from the various kinds of depression to trauma-based disorders to panic and anxiety issues.
Whether you are struggling with a substance use disorder, a mental health disorder, or both, you don’t need to spend much time lost in meditative thought when it comes to deciding to get help. Make the decision to get treatment now and get your life back. We are always ready to help.