When you’re in recovery for drug or alcohol addiction, you need to heal on every level to achieve long-term sobriety. This includes healing your spirit and mind as well as your body.
For thousands of years, people have been meditating to experience calmness, compassion and balance. When you meditate, you center yourself and achieve peace that carries you throughout your day. Practicing meditation can offer a range of benefits if you’re in recovery.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a relaxed state of being when your mind is free from thoughts. When you meditate, you actively focus on one activity. Whether you’re focused on your breathing, listening to the birds or what each part of your body feels, you don’t have other distractions in your mind.
What it’s not is a form of prayer, worship or another spiritual practice, although many people assume it is. It doesn’t matter what religion you are — you can practice calming your mind.
One of the most common and easiest-to-practice forms of meditation is mindfulness. Mindful mediation, in its basic form, is the process of being quiet and focusing on one thought. Typically, you focus on your breathing. If other thoughts enter your mind, you acknowledge them and let them go.
You can do it anytime during the day and for however long you’d like. If you’d like to reap the greatest benefits from meditation, however, you should do it on a regular basis. You may find it’s easier to schedule your meditation into your daily routine.
How Meditation Works
When you practice mindful meditation, you:
- Regulate your attention
- Become more aware of your body
- Regulate your emotions
- Change your self-perspective
When you combine these components, you improve your overall ability to self-regulate. You have better control over your attention, behavior, thoughts and emotions — even when you’re not in the act of meditation. By regularly practicing meditation, you rewire your brain.
Researchers have proven the benefits of meditation. In one study, people who practiced meditation for 30 minutes daily for eight weeks increased the amount of gray matter in the areas of the brain associated with introspection, memory, learning and self-awareness. The areas of the brain responsible for stress and anxiety had a decrease in gray matter.
Meditation Benefits in Recovery
A decrease in stress and anxiety, coupled with an increase in introspection, self-awareness, learning and memory, can have significant benefits for your recovery, such as:
- You will be better able to assess situations in your everyday life and react appropriately — without turning to alcohol or drugs.
- When you’re less stressed and anxious, you lower your potential risk of a relapse.
- When you do experience stress and anxiety, you’ll know how to re-center yourself and make the feelings go away.
How to Get Started
Many leading recovery centers incorporate mindfulness meditation into their therapy programs because it’s easy to learn, and you can do it anywhere. Getting started is easy, too, using these steps:
- Find a spot without any noise distractions.
- Choose a short time — five to 10 minutes — for the session and set a timer.
- Find a comfortable position to sit in, such as in a chair with your feet on the floor, on a pillow cross-legged, or kneeling on a blanket.
- Once seated, pay attention to your breath. Focus on it going in and out of your body.
- When other thoughts enter your mind, don’t judge them or think about their contents. Instead, re-focus your attention back to your breathing.
As you practice meditation regularly, you will have longer stretches of time when you are fully focused on your breathing. Over time, you will also be able — and want to — spend longer periods in meditation.
If you’d like help overcoming your addiction, 12 Keys Rehab is here. Contact us today to learn more about our holistic program, which includes time-tested therapies and experiential techniques such as meditation.