Millions of people are plagued by alcohol and drug addiction every year. Once you’ve completed your rehabilitation, the road to recovery never ends; you are constantly enhancing and rebuilding your road, finding better ways to cope and succeed. Meditation is one practice that serves as a vital source of added support during the recovery process. In fact, many treatment centers have adopted meditation as a part of their overall treatment program.
Meditation is a powerful practice that has been used for thousands of years to lead the meditator towards enlightenment and spiritual connection. You don’t have to be religious or consider practicing meditation, as it is first and foremost about the self, and being one with your mind.
While there is no set time frame for practicing meditation, it is most effective when sticking to a routine. Like any sport, the more you practice, the better you get. Setting aside even just 20 minutes per morning to meditate before beginning your day will yield long term benefits. Meditation not only connects you to your mind and body, but is proven to be stress-reducing.
Meditation in Recovery
Research supports the concept of meditation in addiction recovery. Sara Lazar, a researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital, found that the more a person practiced meditation, the thicker the brain became in mid—prefrontal cortex and the mid-insular region of the brain. It also displayed a decrease in gray matter in areas linked to stress and anxiety. In one study, research found that incarcerated substance abusers who learned how to meditate had lower chances of relapsing and did significantly better upon release than those who did not. Another study showed that people meditated for half an hour per day for two months displayed an increase in gray matter in areas of the brain associated with memory, learning, introspection and self-awareness. By altering how your brain chemically processes stress, self-awareness, and anxiety, you are more likely to reasonably process day to day situations without the aid of drugs or alcohol. This is especially important, as stress and anxiety tend to be primary triggers for relapse.
Following treatment, you may also find that you’re holding onto negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and remorse. Mindfulness helps you develop the mental ability to clearly see where those negative emotions live, and to let go of it.
Different Types of Meditation
Different types of meditation make it easy for you to pick a practice that works for you. Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that allows you to examine your thoughts and feelings and to process them in a meaningful way. This helps you learn how to deal with your daily thoughts, to constantly be aware of your urges without overexerting, and most importantly, how to react to them.
Meditative exercise: Some forms of meditation combine the practice with physical motion. The most popular example of this is yoga, a meditative exercise where the person moves through several motions designed to increase strength and flexibility. These techniques also teach you how to control your breathing, promote relaxation in the mind and body, and relieve stress and other negative emotions.