I was referred a client recently who was frustrated with the results he was getting with his 12
step program. He had just over a year sobriety so that wasn’t the issue. He was having
difficulty meditating, which is suggested in the 11th step. The best guidance he received from
his sponsor was to ‘just try harder’ and 'practice makes perfect'.
After an initial mental health assessment which is a standard practice in coaching and
counselling, he explained to me that everytime he tried to relax his mind and body, he
couldn’t stop his mind from racing and his thoughts went to a negative place.
Now you would think that not being able to slow down his mind would make him an ideal
candidate for meditation, but what came up in his assessment would tell me otherwise; a
former paramedic with a PTSD diagnosis and a general anxiety disorder. This can not only
make formal meditation practices difficult, it can actually make symptoms worse.
Formal meditation may NOT be an ideal practice for everyone and other non-traditional
practices may need to be considered. If you suffer from the following chronic conditions,
meditation may not be your best option:
1. Active Addiction
3. Ongoing Depression
4. Intense Anxiety
5. Psychotic Episodes
Instead of focusing his attention inward, I’m helping him discover some non-traditional
methods of meditation that have him directing his attention outward with a task or activity to
focus on. He’s decided to give yin yoga a try, but other options can include exercise, writing,
fishing, gardening, crafting or building something.
Bless all the well intentioned people who sponsor as part of their 12 step program, but
remember that they are not trained professionals properly equipped to deal with more
complex mental health issues.
The benefit of working with certified professional coaches or counsellors is that they are
trained to recognize internal and external factors contributing to addictive behaviours and
thought patterns. If you can relate to any of the above, let me help you discover the best
holistic approach to your health and well being.
*This post is meant for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for therapy or
professional medical advice.
Call or Text: 778.932.1978
About the Author: Steve currently resides in the sunny Okanagan in British Columbia Canada where he spends his free time camping at remote lakes chasing monster rainbow trout with a flyrod.