Before someone begins their journey towards recovery, they are in a dangerous reward-seeking cycle. They use opiates or other substances for the high they provide. When the high wears off, they need to use again. Living life at the baseline becomes intolerable, routine, and, in the case of withdrawal, terribly discomforting. Lasting recovery from substance use disorder demands a thorough, well-planned and well-executed aftercare plan. There is a myriad of tools recovering addicts can turn to. Meditation for addiction recovery is an invaluable coping tool from many of life’s stressors. Here’s why:
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice that involves focusing fully on the here and now, a condition known as mindfulness. During meditation, individuals direct their attention to their breath, different parts of their bodies, or certain words or phrases.
Many people dismiss meditation, thinking it’s a new-age practice that’s full of fluff, but the science behind meditation is real. Regular practice helps a person learn to be more present in the moment and carefully examine their thoughts and feelings. As a result, meditation has been shown to help people regulate their emotions, relieve pain, deal with stress, combat depression, and promote positive mood states—all outcomes that can greatly benefit a recovering person.
Meditation for Addiction Recovery
Having this skill during treatment or shortly after beginning your recovery can have a positive impact on your overall wellness. In fact, meditation can serve as a safe, natural, and completely acceptable replacement to the high achieved with substance use. During meditation, the prefrontal cortex of the brain is activated, which promotes the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Meditation also helps regulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, so that a person feels more upbeat, positive, and relaxed.
This natural “meditation high” is similar to a runner’s high, but perhaps even more intense (with regular practice). Plus, this elevated state doesn’t come with an energy crash or dramatic mood shift— it can sustain a person long after practice has ended. What a better way to tap into one’s thoughts and feelings, feel enlightened, amplify creativity, and even potentially connect with a higher power (for believers).
How to Meditate in Early Recovery
Many in early recovery may be taught meditation during their stay in treatment. For those who don’t acquire this tool in treatment, it’s a good idea to learn how to get started.
There are countless ways to practice meditation, but here’s a simple way to kick-start the habit:
- Go somewhere quiet with no distractions.
- Find a comfortable seat, either cross-legged on a floor cushion or seated on a comfortable chair or sofa. Avoid lying down just yet to ward off sleepiness.
- Close the eyes or focus on a neutral spot a few feet away.
- Take a few deep, cleansing breaths— in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Focus fully on the breath, noting each inhale and exhale.
- If the mind wanders, don’t cast judgment. Simply return the attention to the breath.
To start, individuals might try sitting silently and focusing on the breath for about 5 minutes. As a person develops the ability, they might increase the time to 10, then 20 minutes.
Once the basics are down, a recovering person can try all different sorts of meditation practices depending on their unique preferences. They may also consider guided meditation tutorials for recovery on YouTube.
Meditation for addiction recovery can be a wonderful addition to someone’s coping toolbox. It allows them to expand on the skills and strategies learned in early recovery. Contact us to learn now about holistic rehab strategies.