No matter what form of treatment a person receives for addiction, a significant portion of recovery focuses on mental and emotional health. As much as addiction takes a toll on a person’s physical health, their mental and emotional health is often affected just as significantly. Whether they realize it or not, there is often an emotional component in the development of addiction that must be addressed throughout recovery. While various forms of therapy are used to address underlying issues, there are other practices and tools that can strengthen the recovery process.
Meditation and Addiction Recovery
Meditation has a profound impact on physical and mental health, and it has been found to be especially effective in addiction recovery. Substance abuse rewires the brain and much of treatment focuses on undoing the damage caused by prolonged use. As a result, many people struggle with a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional health needs. While much of this is addressed throughout treatment with the assistance of a healthcare team, it is important to help those in recovery reclaim control over their lives. Practicing meditation is a way to provoke inner change and encourage people to become active participants in their own recovery.
There are numerous approaches to meditation that include:
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation is the practice of allowing your thoughts to pass through your mind without actively engaging them. An increased awareness about the patterns in your mind can help you guide your thoughts more actively.
- Spiritual: Spiritual meditation often occurs alone or in a place of worship. A person may use prayer and/or essential oils to heighten the experience.
- Movement: Movement meditation is effective for those who find more peace through action rather than stillness. Yoga, walks in nature, and other forms of motion are commonly used in this form of meditation.
- Focused: Focused meditation involves concentrating on any of the five senses. It can be difficult for beginners to focus as minds tend to wander, but it is incredibly effective for those who need to focus their attention on something specific.
- Mantra: Mantra meditation uses a word or phrase to guide the practice. This is unique to the person and it may be spoken out loud or only repeated in the mind. The phrase is repeated and focused on to encourage more inner awareness.
- Transcendental: One of the most popular forms of meditation, transcendental uses silent mantras, closed eyes, and focused breathing to guide participants. Focusing on your breath and mantra helps create stillness and improved concentration.
Benefits of Meditation
Although the benefits of meditation may not be immediately apparent, engaging in this practice can greatly improve physical, mental, and emotional health. While meditation can help a person through recovery, it is also a practice that works well in everyday life. With just a few minutes of focused time every day, you can boost your mood, reduce stress, and improve concentration.
Some of the most notable benefits of meditation, particularly for those in recovery, include:
- Reduces stress: Stress is one of the most significant reasons people start meditating. It can have a significant impact of physical and mental health, causing a person to experience poor sleep, increased blood pressure, and fatigue. Stress is also one of the root causes of substance abuse as drugs and alcohol are used as a means of escape. Meditation provides a healthy way to reduce stress and has shown an ability to reduce the impact of symptoms of stress-related conditions.
- Lowers anxiety: Meditation has also been linked to lower levels of anxiety. Whether anxiety is linked to work, life events, or medical conditions, meditation has proven to help manage symptoms. Anxiety is often a co-occurring disorder found in substance abuse treatment making the use of meditation especially important for those recovery.
- Improves emotional health: Meditating can help improve your outlook on life. In addition to reducing symptoms of depression, it can help you develop a more positive self-image. Improved emotional health can be a catalyst for making significant changes in recovery to support sobriety.
- Increases attention span: Meditation requires concentration and focus in order to be successful. The practice itself improves attention span because your mind must stay engaged throughout the process in order to make it effective. Meditation can help you maintain control over where your thoughts go and redirect your mind when needed.
- Improves sleep: Many people in recovery struggle with getting adequate sleep, especially early in treatment. An inability to relax, symptoms of withdrawal, and other factors can all play a role in this. Meditation can help relax the mind, allowing a person to maintain control over the thoughts or feelings that may drive insomnia. Meditation also relaxes the body, reducing stress and tension, allowing a person to fall asleep more easily.
- Lowers blood pressure: Because of meditation’s ability to lower the impact of stress and anxiety on the body, many people experience lower blood pressure as a result. Meditation helps relax the body, reducing tension that elevates heartrate.
Meditation creates space for a person to reflect and focus on their physical and mental state. Just a few minutes a day can be all that is needed to experience the benefits. Best of all, it can be done anywhere. With numerous approaches to meditation, it is possible to find a method that works best for your needs.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 310.403.1032 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.