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  • Writer's pictureDr. Paul Schmidt

Retraining your Brain through Prayer and Meditation

Recovery from troubling thoughts, emotional surges, addictions, and bad habits can be greatly assisted by retraining the brain.  To get the most out of everything you want to learn by hearing and reading, it will benefit you greatly to start five sheets of paper, or better still, five documents on your computer that you can revise over time. Make these statements brief, like one line:

         DO LESS  will list behaviors you want to cut out or cut back.

         LIES  are the false ideas that motivate your bad choices (see DO LESS).  These lies operate continually, in and out of awareness, so they need to be opposed deliberately.  You may want to put right beside some of them a positive true idea in bold type to embrace in its place.

         DO MORE  will list things you will try to do more often.  Some will be regular routines, and others will be for certain situations, like your outline of how to escape a temptation, or aids to an apology for clean-up after making a mistake.  The Do More list might have two parts.  The first part is things to be done only once, and the second part would be things to do repeatedly, whenever the situation arises.  

         REALIZE  is for ideas to recall and repeat to yourself often.  First you try to believe, then act on these beliefs, then you discover they are true, and finally you will feel how true they are.  The more you act out your faith, the more good feelings can come to you and abide.

ACCOMPLISHED  is where you list what you have read:  the titles of articles I you read, the pages/chapters of books/workbooks you have completed. 

These five lists will help you show a spouse, sponsor, or counselor all that you are doing and learning.

You will do well to review the first four lists regularly, for example, one every morning on a four-day rotation.  And you can keep adding to each one the new things you learn in your readings, meetings, meditations (listening prayer), or future counseling sessions.  Once you have gotten an item into your mind and your lifestyle, you can drop it out to two other documents/lists, for LESSONS LEARNED and HABITS CHANGED.  Review these once every two to four weeks, depending on how early you are in recovery, and any time you get severely tempted.

To retrain your brain, pray and meditate about one of these lists every morning for 15 minutes.  Prayer is saying something out loud slowly to God, and meditation is listening a minute or so for a response.  A response can be an illustration from your life (past, present, or future), from someone else’s life, or just a quickening of the Holy Spirit inside your heart as a confirmation and an incentive for recalling it later.

In addition to this method, you can personalize and absorb all the information you read or write by underlining/highlighting the key words and ideas, and beside each one in the margin, make a little sign that would indicate your level of understanding and compliance:

A   ✔  to show you understand this well, are willing and able to do this behavior

An  to show you don’t understand, aren’t ready to comply

A    ?   to show you’re not sure, have questions or reservations

You can use this information in the margin in two ways:  to transfer insights and behaviors onto your first four lists so you can absorb them with meditation, and you can review them to see if there is anything you need to discuss with someone before you can digest it.

Dr. Paul Schmidt is a psychologist life coach you can reach at, (502) 633-2860.

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