Meditation can be a vital—even life-changing—tool in your recovery from addiction. After all, it is an important part of step 11 in the 12-step process promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs. That is because meditation can be powerful in creating more awareness about your life and the triggers that may have caused your addiction, while also playing a big part in a healthy, sober lifestyle.
Meditation is frequently recommended during addiction treatment, as well as afterward in recovery. It has many benefits for body, mind, and soul. Meditation is a mindfulness practice that helps you develop a greater awareness of yourself psychologically, physically, and emotionally. This can lead to a greater sense of clarity and calmness in your daily life. That, in turn, can help you during times of stress or worry that in the past would have been occasions to turn to drugs or alcohol. When practiced regularly, meditation can be cleansing and grounding—and the foundation for positive change. Here are just some of the ways meditation can benefit you if you are in recovery from addiction.
Meditation reduces stress.
It’s too easy to get caught up in the pressures of daily life, and if you don’t stop and breathe for a bit, you can feel overwhelmed. Meditation allows you to step away from the stress and tune into the present, without focusing on the problems of the past or the “what if” worries of the future. It can also serve as a good coping mechanism. If stress was one of your triggers for your addiction, you can alleviate that with meditation instead. And because meditation is easy to do anywhere, developing a practice means that you can meditate anytime you feel the pressure starting to mount.
Meditation improves mood.
When you are less stressed, you feel happier, and meditation can help boost your feelings of happiness and contentment. Studies have shown that meditation can be beneficial for reducing feelings of anxiety and depression; in fact, some studies indicate that meditation can actually change the structure of certain parts of the brain. The relaxation that comes with meditation helps improve mental health and can give you the strength and perspective to handle anything that comes your way.
Meditation helps overall health.
Meditation doesn’t just boost your psychological health. Research indicates that it can help you physically, too. Meditation can help boost immunity to prevent you from getting a cold or flu, and it may have positive effects for certain health issues, such as insomnia, high blood pressure, or certain types of pain.
Meditation gets you more in tune with yourself.
Because meditation is a centering practice, it allows you to really focus on yourself without any distractions. You can take this valuable time of self-examination to reflect on your life and recognize the negative patterns and triggers that you used to medicate with drugs or alcohol, and figure out new ways of dealing with them.
How to Start Meditating
Now that you know some of the many benefits to meditating, here’s one more—it’s easy to get started. The first thing to do is find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted. If you choose to do an active meditation, such as one that incorporates tai chi or yoga moves, make sure the space is large enough for movement; if you will be sitting or lying down, make sure it is in a comfortable spot, perhaps with a blanket or throw pillow. You may also opt to burn incense or diffuse essential oil to create an aromatic space that will enhance your sense of relaxation.
There are several different types of meditation. One of the easiest for beginners is guided meditation. During these sessions, you are led through a meditation by a guide who will help direct your thoughts. There are numerous guided mediation apps and videos online, and many of them center on specific themes, such as anxiety or getting a good night’s sleep. Another option is to use a mantra—a sound, word, or saying—that you chant repeatedly during the meditation. If you are practicing meditation on your own, you can choose the mantra to use; group sessions may assign all participants the same mantra. Other types of meditation focus on physical sensations, such as breathing, or external factors, such as the ringing sound of a crystal bowl. Finally, your meditation can have a spiritual element to it where you focus on a higher power.
Whichever you choose, you may find it tricky to focus at first, but don’t be hard on yourself. If you find random thoughts are skittering across your brain instead of your mantra, just take a deep breath, recognize the thought without judging yourself, and then release it and return your focus to your practice. As you continue meditating, you will find it easier and easier for your brain to focus and you can stretch out your meditation session for a longer period of time.
When living in recovery from addiction, it helps to develop tools for a healthier life that can take the place of the substances you used to depend on. Meditation can benefit you in so many ways that it should be part of your daily life. If you are grappling with substance abuse and want to find a clear path to a brighter future, contact Sheer Recovery today for the help you need to get started on the road to recovery. We can give you the tools you need to live a vibrant life of sobriety.