The addiction recovery path is paved with a variety of treatments, therapeutic modalities, and techniques. While you may be more familiar with ones like residential treatment or professional counseling, there are other methods that can complement such treatments.
Meditation is one technique that can be an effective tool in any stage of addiction recovery. In fact, consistent meditation for addiction recovery has been found to help with decreasing withdrawal symptoms, cravings, decreasing triggers, and increasing feelings of peace.
It is considered a complementary and alternative (CAM) approach to substance abuse recovery modalities like rehab or professional counseling.
Mediation is an ancient technique that can provide a wonderful antidote for a stressful, chaotic life. Essentially, meditation is when you sit in silence and attune within by focusing on your breath. There are various meditation techniques based on different schools of thought, but essentially, they all teach that it’s a tool to help tame the mind with its incessant thoughts.
Mindfulness goes hand in hand with meditation, essentially referring to becoming aware of each moment as it arises. Being mindful can help you become more self-aware mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually – which can certainly help you stay on the sobriety path.
There are various types of meditation exercises that may help in addiction recovery. You can meditate on your own, listen to a guided meditation, or use a movement type of meditation, such as in yoga or walking in nature.
You can try the different types to see what works best for you. Essentially, each technique will have you focus on your breath – inhalation and exhalation. You will also relax your body by bringing your awareness to every part of it from head to toe.
A simple form of meditation is breathing meditation, where you concentrate on the breath. Just sit quietly and focus your attention on your inhale and exhale. If a thought comes to mind, just acknowledge it momentarily and then let it go.
There is a direct relation between your mind and breath. The breath is slow and composed when the mind is calm, but when one is agitated it is rapid and uneven. Therefore, while trying to meditate, you must focus the mind on the rhythm of inhaling and exhaling. You’ll notice that your breathing becomes slower and deeper and the mind becomes more tranquil.
When you begin to meditate, select a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position. Many people sit cross-legged and keep the back straight, but you can also lie down. The aim is to free the mind of thoughts and experience inner silence and peace.
You may find it challenging to stop your thoughts from entering the mind in the beginning. As soon as you sit silently for some time, the thoughts just float in, but if you try continuously and sincerely, you can reduce the number of thoughts and gain more control over your mind.
This can be quite powerful, especially when it comes to cravings or withdrawal symptoms. For addiction recovery, it can help significantly if you will automatically go into meditation when those cravings hit. Or, when you find yourself in a situation where you become emotional and start thinking, “I need to use!”
When you can get into the habit of daily meditation, you’re more apt to be calmer and less likely to react. Your thoughts will be less chaotic, and you may even become more focused.
Since meditation is a technique that can ultimately help you experience more peace in your life, it can surely help you when you’re going through an alcohol or drug detox. The first few days to a week of detox can be pretty rough. In addition to professional addiction treatment, daily meditation can certainly help reduce some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
You may want to set a particular time each day for meditation. This way it will become a habit that sticks. Some prefer to meditate in the morning, while others prefer the evening. There really is no right or wrong timewise. Just do what feels right for you.
Consistency is key. Even if you designate only 10 to 15 minutes a day, over time you’ll likely notice that you’re more relaxed and not obsessing about things. Meditation has been around for many centuries and has proven to help people slow down the thoughts running in the mind and give them more peace, clarity, focus, and joy.
Meditation isn’t just for spiritual people. The topic has been studied greatly in science over the past few decades and many hospitals, rehabs, and clinics promote meditation as a tool for change and healing.
Meditation has been linked to less stress, positive changes in blood pressure, feelings of wellness, compassion, pain reduction, and more. It also helps with emotional regulation. This might help you to face depression, anger, and anxiety in a more effective manner.
Meditation can be practiced by anyone, as it is just a journey towards peace and joy of living. The feeling of contentment and satisfaction will help you cope better with the stress and tension of your busy lives.
Addiction is known as a “chronic relapsing condition”, where some people relapse over 60% of the time, according to The National Institute of Health. Traditional treatments and therapies work well, but with the relapse rate being so high, it only makes sense to combine alternative modalities too.
Learning to observe and be fully present, rather than getting caught up in a racing mind full of anxious thoughts, can help those in recovery respond mindfully in any situation. This is especially true for those who tend to get caught up in ruminating about their next “fix”.
Various addiction recovery centers now offer classes on meditation to help patients learn how to minimize negative thoughts, practice self-control, increase mental clarity, and decrease cravings for substances. In combination with more traditional forms of treatment, even just a few minutes a day meditating can be beneficial.
If you’d like to learn more, reach out. We’re happy to assist.