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Can Meditation Help Recovery?

Research shows meditation can help reduce drug or alcohol use and decrease the risk of relapse.

Drug rehab programs often merge traditional evidence-based treatment methods with holistic mind-body practices like yoga or acupuncture to provide well-rounded treatment. Although addiction is a complex disease, mind-body therapies can help people achieve lasting sobriety. For example, meditation is one commonly-used mind-body practice. But, can meditation help recovery? Let’s take a closer look at its benefits.

Related post: 10 Reasons to Add Yoga to Your Daily Routine

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a mind-body therapy that has been practiced for thousands of years. Originally, it was intended to help people understand the spiritual, mystical aspects of life. However, today people primarily use meditation as a way to relax and de-stress.1

Above all, when you meditate, the goal is to achieve a state of relaxation and a calm mind. You do this by focusing your attention and eliminating all the random streams of thoughts that tend to crowd your mind and produce stress. Even just spending just a few minutes in meditation can help you feel calmer and more at peace. And the best part? You can do it anywhere, anytime.

Types of Meditation

There are several different types of meditation. But, the one that works best for you will depend on your preferences. If you’ve never practiced meditation before, your treatment team in rehab can recommend a type of meditation that may be helpful for your recovery.

Regardless, let’s take a quick look at some of the different types of meditation:2

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the most common type of meditation practiced in the West. With roots in Buddhist teachings, mindfulness meditation merges concentration with awareness. Essentially, you take note of your thoughts as you think them, but instead of getting involved with them, you observe without judgment.

Spiritual meditation

Spiritual meditation is practiced by people of many different faiths, including the Christian faith, Hinduism, and Daoism. When you practice spiritual meditation, you use silence to connect to God or the universe. Additionally, many people use essential oils like sandalwood or sage to enhance their meditation practice.

Focused meditation

Focused meditation is ideal for anyone that wants to develop better focus in life. Much like its name suggests, you practice this type of meditation by focusing on one single thing without allowing your mind to wander. Examples include the flicker of a candle’s flame, your breath, or listening to a song. However, if your mind does wander while you’re meditating, it’s important to stop and re-focus on your meditation.

Movement meditation

On the other hand, if you prefer to let your mind wander, movement meditation might be right for you. While practicing movement meditation, the goal is to let gentle movement guide you. For example, walking, doing yoga, or painting are great examples of purposeful motion. However, the most important thing is that you try to be present in the moment and focus on the movement instead of your stressful, busy day.

Mantra meditation

Instead of focusing on your breath (like with focused meditation), mantra meditation allows you to focus on a single sound, word, or phrase. In other words, to practice mantra meditation, you choose a word or a phrase and repeat it while you meditate. Ideally, after you chant your mantra for a while, you’ll be more in tune with your environment.

Transcendental meditation

In transcendental meditation, you silently repeat a personal mantra while you allow your body to settle into a state of rest and relaxation. Consequently, this type of meditation may help you achieve inner peace without putting forth effort or focus to concentrate.

Progressive relaxation

Many people use progressive relaxation to de-stress and unwind before bedtime. It involves slowly tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time throughout the body. As a result, this type of meditation is meant to reduce physical tension and promote relaxation.

Loving-kindness meditation

Conversely, if you tend to hold on to feelings of anger or resentment, this type of meditation might be good for you because it’s designed to help you develop kindness and compassion. To clarify, in loving-kindness meditation, you open your mind to receive love from others and then send well wishes to loved ones, friends, enemies, or whoever you want.

Visualization meditation

In visualization meditation, you visualize positive scenes or images, using all five of your senses to add as much detail as possible. For example, many people use this type of meditation to improve their motivation by visualizing themselves achieving a specific goal. In turn, this practice often also boosts mood, reduces stress, and promotes inner peace.

There is no wrong or right way to meditate. However, not all meditation styles are right for everyone. It’s best to be open to trying new ways of meditating, try them out, and find what feels most comfortable for you.

Can Meditation Help Recovery?

If you’re wondering, “Can meditation help recovery?” the answer is yes! Meditation has many physical and mental health benefits that can help people sustain a fulfilled and sober lifestyle. Research shows meditation:3,4

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Helps individuals manage stress
  • Decreases insomnia
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety
  • Reduces symptoms of depression
  • Improves mood
  • Decreases pain

Often people in recovery struggle with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Therefore, they may also have difficulties managing stress, which is a primary trigger for alcohol and drug use. Consequently, the benefits of meditation are great for people in recovery! For example, regular meditation practice can help people stay calm, cope with triggers, and avoid relapse. Also, it can help people develop self-awareness and improve their mental functioning. As a result, they’re more able to detach from impulsive thoughts that have the potential to cause relapse.

Can Meditation Help Me Stop Drinking?

Yes, meditation is one type of mind-body therapy that can help you stop drinking. For example, evidence from recent research studies shows mindfulness-based practices like meditation may reduce a person’s drug or alcohol use. It may also decrease cravings and the risk of relapse.5

In other words, meditation won’t replace a comprehensive drug rehab program, evidence-based therapy, or recovery support services provided through sober living programs. Instead, it’s a valuable holistic tool that can enhance recovery.

How Do You Meditate in Recovery?

Initially, you might feel intimidated by the idea of learning how to meditate. However, meditation is easy to learn and can be practiced anywhere at any time. Additionally, guided meditation in a residential rehab program or intensive outpatient program (IOP) can also be beneficial for people who are new to meditation. (Guided meditation is done under the guidance of a trained practitioner or teacher. Or, it can be practiced with imagery, music, and other techniques.)

If you’re new to meditation but you want to give it a try, here are a few basic steps you can take to get started:

  1. Find a distraction-free environment that is quiet.
  2. Sit down or lie down (whichever is most comfortable).
  3. Be still and focus on your breathing. Or, you can choose to chant a personal mantra out loud or to yourself and focus on that.
  4. Maintain an open mind.
  5. Start with just a few minutes at a time and gradually work up to longer meditation sessions.

To clarify, you don’t have to be spiritual or religious to meditate. Instead, simply focus on developing an awareness of your present feelings, senses, thoughts, and surroundings without placing any judgment.

Related post: How Can Therapy Support Addiction Recovery?

Meditation: A Valuable Sobriety Tool When Combined With Recovery Support Services

Clearly, meditation is a powerful recovery tool. However, when it comes to answering questions like, “Can meditation help recovery?” the answer largely depends on the individual. To sum things up, meditation won’t replace a treatment program. However, when it’s combined with addiction treatment and recovery support services, it may enhance their efficacy.

At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, our sober living residents and IOP clients are encouraged to practice meditation as a part of their daily ritual. Residents start their day early with thoughtful and intentional behaviors like meditation. Consequently, actions like these help foster positive behavioral changes and a more mindful state of being, which contribute to a more fulfilling life in recovery.

If you’re interested in learning more about our sober living homes, IOP, or other recovery support services, please call (512) 363-5914 or contact us online today.

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/types-of-meditation
  3. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth
  4. https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/37903/mindfulness-meditation-promising-tool-help-reduce-chronic-pain-opioid-use/
  5. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/mind-and-body-approaches-for-substance-use-disorders-science

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