When people think of meditation, they likely think of New Age hippies or Buddhist monks. The fact is that meditation can benefit anyone. The best part about it? It’s a free tool that individuals can use to aid them in their addiction recovery journeys. Meditation for addiction recovery has proven to be successful through different recovery programs. For example, meditation is used during Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.).
Contrary to what many may believe, meditation is more than clearing your head. Instead, it focuses on the practice of being mindful of one’s thoughts, while instilling people with the ability to stay calm in heated moments. Hence, meditation during and after addiction treatment can be a great form of self-care.
Meditation can also act as a great skill to have while in addiction recovery. In fact, meditation can help people achieve long-lasting sobriety.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of focusing one’s attention and putting oneself in a calm state of mind. Thus, during meditation, it’s important to redirect any thoughts that don’t serve you.
To meditate on a concept means to deeply think about a topic. The sole concept of meditation is to, through deep thinking and focus, release any emotions that don’t serve a purpose.
In short, meditation helps people have a stable mind to work with. For example, meditating can be the act of clearing all thoughts and focusing on keeping the mind that way. It can also look like conjuring up peaceful imagery, like a peaceful beach.
Meditation can even include practices like passing an imaginary light from the top of the body to the bottom. It can take many forms, and for this reason, can serve many purposes.
What is Guided Meditation?
Guided meditation is when a person (typically an expert in meditation) guides another person through achieving a calm sense of focus. Choosing to do a guided meditation versus meditating alone can actually help people that are new to meditating better maintain concentration. While guided meditation is great for people that are just starting out in the practice of meditation, it’s also still effective for those who already have experience.
Guided meditations often have a purpose, such as releasing stress, anger, or trauma. The series of instructions that are provided to guided meditation participants will help soothe their minds. It will also help focus the participants’ thoughts on positive purposes.
Instead of relying on one’s own brain, guided meditation instructions offer a voice to pay attention to. The mind often wanders during meditation. Guided meditation can act as a reminder to maintain concentration.
What Does Meditation for Addiction Recovery Mean?
As said before, meditation has an overall goal of achieving a calm state of mind. By having a calm state of mind, individuals that meditate can master their own minds. That said, each form of meditation can serve a different purpose within the grand scheme of things.
For instance, meditation for addiction recovery helps people that are struggling with substance use disorders release any trapped emotional trauma that they are struggling with that may trigger their desire to use substances. Additionally, meditation can help people with substance use disorders redirect any thoughts that could push them to consume drugs and alcohol.
Many treatment centers, like Sana Lake Recovery Center, may offer guided meditation for addiction recovery as a form of holistic treatment. Holistic forms of addiction treatment focus on the body, mind, and spirit. While some may be quick to dismiss the practice of holistic treatment, we here at Sana Lake Recovery Center incorporate it into our otherwise evidence-based programs.
Instructors of meditations for addiction recovery are skilled in letting rehab members form a closer bond with themselves. Guided meditation also allows individuals to embrace self-love and compassion for others to the fullest. This is beneficial for individuals in addiction treatment as many of them struggle with loving themselves and thus, others.
A.A. and Meditation for Addiction Recovery
Strict medical treatment for addiction can only help individuals so much. Ultimately, long-lasting recovery involves a sound mind, body, and soul. One of the most widely-known support groups for individuals with alcohol use disorders is Alcoholics Anonymous, otherwise known as A.A. Part of what makes A.A. groups so successful in their treatment of individuals with alcohol use disorders is their use of holistic practices such as meditation.
The literature that holds the basis of A.A. is called The Big Book. In The Big Book, there are 12 steps that help individuals overcome their addictions to alcohol from start to finish. The eleventh step in the book is as follows:
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
This step asks individuals to meditate with the intention of being more conscious as a whole. While the step says God, individuals can meditate on the faith they have in themselves to remain sober. In short, this step means to clear the mind of thoughts that don’t serve a purpose regularly and opt to direct thoughts to a peaceful state of mind.
Does Meditation for Addiction Recovery Work?
A.A. isn’t the only addiction treatment or recovery program that utilizes meditation. For example, Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT), also uses guided meditation to help patients overcome trauma.
There is a clear reason why multiple, successful addiction treatment and recovery programs, such as RRT or A.A., incorporate meditation in their practices. It’s because meditation works.
The American Counseling Association writes in one of its journals that individuals that struggle with substance use disorders will have to deal with difficult situations. It’s because of this fact that addiction treatment programs focus on giving their patients healthy ways to cope with any negative thoughts and emotions that come up when they’re in the face of these unpleasant situations. Meditation helps people in addiction recovery consistently practice the skill of keeping a calm, positive state of mind even in hard times.
The Facts Behind Recovery Meditation
The Harvard Gazette writes about researchers who were interested in finding tangible evidence that meditation works. These researchers examined individuals who learned how to meditate properly through an 8-week course. After the course was over, the researchers measured the participants’ responses to emotional imagery through an fMRI.
An fMRI measures brain activity, unlike a regular MRI. Individuals who didn’t take the 8-week course had much more brain activity in the portion of the brain that deals with emotional memories. The participants of the meditation class, on the other hand, had much less brain activity in this portion of their brain when shown the same imagery. This means that individuals that meditate will have a less emotional response to traumatic memories.
This finding is highly beneficial for individuals that are in addiction recovery, as they are often faced with situations that can trigger their emotions and cause them to use substances again. In fact, according to the Harvard Gazette, meditation can be just as effective as other forms of addiction treatment.
How To Start Practicing Meditation While in Addiction Recovery
Instructors at an addiction treatment facility can properly show individuals how to use meditation to aid recovery. That said, you don’t need a teacher per se to get started with meditation for substance use disorder recovery. The style and underlying intention of a mediation can be curated to each individual. Hence, there is a form of meditation suited for everyone.
Mindfulness and Breathing
Mindfulness and breathing techniques are at the core of every successful meditation. To make the most out of mindfulness and breathing techniques, find a quiet, relaxing space to begin meditating. You can either lie down or sit up straight, just make sure the body is in a straight line. From there, you can keep your eyes open without focus or close your eyes.
Sometimes it’s best to start with unfocused, open eyes, and then progress to closing the eyes. The main goal of this form of meditation is to clear the mind without giving too much notice to the thoughts that bubble up.
It’s very likely thoughts will arise as you concentrate on clearing your mind. Instead of paying attention to these thoughts though, acknowledge them and then allow them to float away like boats on a river.
It can be helpful to focus on breathing or on a word that holds no significance (like “the”) during this form of meditation. You can then move on to breathing exercises.
Work on taking deep, slow breaths and focusing on the overall sensation. If any unwanted thoughts bubble to the surface, return your focus to breathing.
You don’t have to stay still to practice meditation. There are different forms of moving meditation that can also help individuals reach a constant, calm state of mind. One of the most popular forms of moving meditation is yoga.
The same techniques applied in stationary meditation can be applied to moving forms of meditation. Moving meditation can be particularly beneficial for individuals that are new to meditation as it gives them something physical to focus on while meditating. This, in turn, will help people turn their attention away from their own mental chatter.
Other Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness in Recovery
Meditation can not only help individuals in addiction treatment or recovery from substance use disorders, but it can help soothe the mental anguish of co-occurring disorders as well. Many people that struggle with substance use disorders also suffer from mental illnesses. In fact, it’s often the mental illness that triggered people’s desire to first start misusing substances in the first place. Meditation can help individuals that suffer from co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders release the emotional bonds that shackle them to their illnesses.
Moving meditation allows individuals to engage in physical activity. Exercise is known to boost both mood and self-confidence. Meditation can even help individuals sleep better. This is just another benefit that can help improve the lives and well-being of people in addiction treatment and recovery.
Guided Meditation for Addiction at Sana Lake Recovery Center
No addiction treatment plan would be complete without complementary therapies. Here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, we believe in the power of meditation and constant mindfulness. For this reason, we offer a variety of holistic treatments to our members to help them during addiction treatment and long after. Contact us today to see how our programs can offer you peace of mind and freedom from addiction.