Benefits of Meditation in Recovery
In the early months of recovery, finding ways to meditate can be crucial. Meditation can loosely be defined as reflection and contemplation, and additionally looking inward in order to improve the outward and the rest of the world. Meditation can help promote a sense of inner peace and calm, increased self-awareness, improve mental functioning, and can help a person detach from thoughts and impulses. In turn, this can help reduce cravings and prevent relapse. However, meditation and addiction recovery can factor into each person’s journey to sobriety differently. While some find that divulging themselves into a religion with formal ritualistic prayers an essential component of the recovery process, other’s find non-traditional methods and practices as a better fit for their sobriety. Whatever the case may be, meditation is a vital tool that can help throughout treatment and the recovery process.
In order to be effective, there are a number of things that all meditation techniques require.
- Finding a quiet and calm place
- Sitting or lying comfortably
- Focusing on breathing
- Keeping an open mind
In a way, meditation and addiction can be quite the opposite. While meditation is checking in with the here and now, addiction is checking out of the here and now. This practice can teach individuals how to make healthy choices. While cravings arise, people can observe their thoughts and desires without having to act on them. Those recovering soon learn they are not responsible for their thoughts, but how they act to them. Through meditation, individuals can acknowledge their thoughts, however, and continue to choose the path of recovery.
Additionally, meditation is an essential part of 12-step programs, which recognizes that for many addictions, spiritual health is key to freedom from addiction. In short, step 11 of 12-step recovery includes, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand him.” While there are numerous forms of meditation, different exercises can include:
- Breathing – Focusing on the inhalation and exhalation.
- Muscle relaxation – Bringing awareness to each part of your body.
- Mantra-based – Repeating a word or phrase out loud or internally.
- Guided meditation – A trained teacher verbally guiding you through the meditation
- Movement meditation – This can involve physical activity, such as walking, yoga, hiking, etc. Being mindful of the body as it moves.
The benefits of meditation in recovery are often minimized to the detriment of addicts and alcoholics that are searching for a way to calm down and relax. While in treatment or early recovery, most people experience mood swings. By training the mind to focus on one thing – a sound, word or breath – meditation can help recovering addicts maintain a degree of emotional balance. Researchers believe that meditation can change the physiology of the brain, building up areas associated with optimism, compassion, and minimize the strength of areas associated with fear, pessimism, and depression.
While trying these new techniques, it is important to keep an open mind. What works for one person, may not necessarily work for another. Restore Treatment Center offers meditation training, with classes led by certified members of our staff. Therapists guide participants through mindfulness and meditation exercises and teach those recovering how to enter a meditative state, bringing awareness to the individual’s body and the present moment. Habitually practicing meditation can help people from all walks of life to achieve a healthy lifestyle, balance, and sustained life-long recovery.