Just For Today Meditation for NA: What It Is and How It Helps

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The power of positive intention may sound like something a corny sign or guru might try to push on unsuspecting skeptics, but the concept is real and backed by an increasing amount of science. In fact, the concept of a positive daily meditation is at the very center of the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) program and it’s one that’s helped thousands of people through their battles with addiction.

What Is The Just For Today Meditation?

You might hear it called the Just For Today Meditation or Just For Today Prayer, or see it simplified in writing as the JFT. But it all amounts to the same helpful concept.

The Just For Today ritual is a form of daily meditation, often administered at NA meetings (and other self-help groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous), in which a list of daily goals and affirmations are recited. Each line starts with the phrase “Just for today,” making the prayer almost like a daily spiritual to-do list.

These goals can be, and usually are, centered around the smaller day-to-day details that add up to the big-picture ways we deal with daily stressors. Most of the time, each promise is structured so the reciter is pledging to let go of or accept these small things, in the name of their recovery, mental health, and inner peace.

One classic example is the short-and-sweet: Just for today, I am grateful to be alive.

That one is a bit all-encompassing, asking us to focus on gratefulness above all else. But there are nearly as many versions of the Just for Today prayer as there are days or people.

Other frequently-used lines include:

  • Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not tackling my whole life problems at once.
  • Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is and not force everything to adjust to my own desires. I will accept my family, friends, my business, my circumstances as they come.
  • Just for today I will have a program. I may not follow it perfectly, but I will have it.

The concept behind the prayer is twofold: First, it allows us the opportunity to check in with ourselves, and our recovery journey, on a daily basis. Since the daily meditation compiles a list of things we pledge to accept and live in peace, it can be used as a running tally or check-list to remind us of things that may potentially trigger us.

More importantly, though, is the affirmation this prayer offers us; it is a daily pep talk, reminding us that recovery is possible, and we can achieve it, by living one day at a time.

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How Does the Just For Today Meditation Help?

So how, exactly, is this more than just a corny concept?

Scientists and psychologists are increasingly finding that self-talk is an essential part of mental health and positive self-talk is even more important.

As often as our thoughts inform our words, our words can likewise inform our thoughts. And while thinking positively offers plenty of cognitive benefits in itself, saying these thoughts out loud offers even more.

The physical act of recitation activates all sorts of different areas in your brain and body, including those connected to actually moving your jaw, mouth, and tongue, and others that ring in your ears when they pick up the vibrations of your words. The act of forming words, hearing words, then processing those words gets our brains to light up in several different areas, giving the act a greater overall impact.

It’s the same concept behind the age-old (though, now, outdated) educational concept where teachers had children repeat facts out loud while writing them down. Hearing the words, speaking them, seeing them written on the page, and actually writing them stimulates more senses at once, helping the information stick.

On that note, repetition is another important physiological aspect of the Just For Today meditation. Numerous studies have found that repeating an action can not only form muscle memory within our body but actually rewire neurological pathways in our brains.

In this way, when we’re reciting the Just for Today prayer, we’re literally building a positive thought pattern in our minds. The pathway is formed by the repetition of the act and fortified by associating those positive words with the positive feelings they bring us. It’s strengthened even more when those positive feelings help us create more positivity in the world by letting go of stress, loving ourselves a little more, and finding times and ways to help and love others.

Eventually, this outlook becomes so entrenched, thinking positively simply becomes an afterthought.

How Do You Use the Just for Today Meditation?

So now we know why daily meditation is so powerful. But what’s the best way to yield that power?

As explained above, the just for today meditation takes on more mental might the more it’s used so many people find it helpful to incorporate a JFT prayer into their everyday routine.

Pick out a time during the day when you have a few minutes to yourself, where your mind can be cleared and kept away from the usual running tally of everything else waiting for you in the next 24 hours. Take a deep breath, and allow yourself to sink into the moment. Then say the meditation to yourself.

This is even more effective if you can incorporate the meditation into a morning or evening routine, like when you’re brushing your teeth, so you can have access to your bathroom mirror.

Watching yourself say the words not only activates even more areas of your brain, amplifying the power of the meditation even more but leaves an even deeper psychological impact, by letting you see yourself make those proclamations. By reciting the Just for Today prayer, you’re literally making a promise to yourself and when you look yourself in the eyes while making those pledges, they hold that much more weight.

That those promises only need to last just for today is another very special part of the meditation’s power—it’s a fresh start, and a new chance to live up to our own best intentions.

The fact that it’s just for today makes that list of goals seem that much more achievable. Anyone can do anything just for one day. Even if the list is long, the short time period it covers can work to alleviate any stress that might crop up if we start to think of these promises more like long-term, ongoing chores.

Renewing our self-promises every day also makes any hiccups feel like a more temporary setback. Indeed, it’s why one of the most popular Just for Today promises is some version of acknowledging that this day might not be perfect, and that’s okay.

When we know we’re going to pledge ourselves anew tomorrow, we can more honestly feel that it’s okay to not reach all of our goals today. The most important thing is trying our best, and pledging to try our best again tomorrow.

Are There Other Options For Daily Meditation?

Again, there can be nearly infinite versions of the Just for Today meditation. Even when recited at NA meetings, the pledge is still a personal tool, and can take on any number of personal goals.

Still, many people enjoy and benefit from reading pre-arranged daily meditations, and there are plenty of places to find daily Just for Today prayers or other similar types of affirmations.

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation publishes a new Thought for the Day and Daily Meditation every day, and most Narcotics Anonymous chapters will have daily Just For Today meditations for NA on their websites.

There are also plenty of apps designed to offer JFT-style meditations and other helpful tools for recovering addicts.

And if you want even more help with recovery, or want to talk to someone about rehab options, call (800) 407-7195(Who Answers?) .

the Take-Away

Learn how the Just for Today meditation can help you overcome your drug addiction and how to use it in your every day life.