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The impact of meditation for recovery


The early months of recovery can be a particularly trying time for addicts. As they attempt to adjust to life without drug abuse, they may struggle to think clearly – a symptom termed as ‘mental fuzziness.’ They’ll often struggle with stabilizing their emotions as well.

Unfortunately, those who fail to overcome these challenges in this period are more likely to relapse. Thankfully, there’s an excellent tool available that enhances their chances of achieving a full recovery: mindfulness meditation.

What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice the involves the focusing of the mind (such as your thoughts, emotions, and sensations) in the present moment. It’s the act of paying attention to whatever you are experiencing, as it occurs in real-time. Practitioners of mindfulness meditation have more control over their emotions and often experience enhanced mental clarity.

How does mindfulness meditation work?

But – can the benefits of mindfulness meditation be quantified? Well, research says yes – it seems that you can create new neural networks within your brain by retraining your mind through mindfulness practice!

For example, if you have issues with aggression, you can tap on mindfulness meditation to temper that aspect of yourself. Mindfulness meditation can allow you to become assertive and clear about your boundaries without entering into a self-sabotaging, hostile, and competitive mindset.

And mindfulness meditation’s benefits extend beyond temper regulation. It is capable of rewiring your left prefrontal cortex – a region associated with optimism, compassion, and self-observation – of the brain.

Ultimately, when daily attention is devoted to being mindful, you’ll learn to master the mind and open the doorway to the creativity available in open-mind consciousness.

So – how does it help with rehabilitation? 

Mindfulness meditation can be an incredibly useful tool for recovering drug addicts, explaining its popularity in great amount of holistic recovery programs. Let’s further examine why:

Reduces stress and anxiety 

The early recovery period can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. As a recovering addict, you need to overcome withdrawal symptoms, practice self-control, and (possibly) deal with the emotional backlash from family members who’ve now found out that you’re struggling with drug addiction.

Thankfully, the practice of mindfulness meditation can enhance your ability to manage stress; you’ll place focus on the present without excessively fretting over the future. Given that stress is a known contributing factor to the development and continuance of addiction problems, the management of stress and anxiety levels through mindfulness meditation can help you better deal with the highs and lows related to recovery.

Better control over cravings

No matter where you are in your recovery journey, you’re bound to face cravings – it’s merely an inevitable part of the process. The practice of mindfulness can teach you how to observe your thoughts related to cravings without being carried away by them.

As a result, you’ll come to realize that you are not always responsible for your thoughts, and nor do you have to be a victim to them. As a result, you’ll be able to make much better decisions, such as that of you staying clear of harmful drug usage.

Fosters better interpersonal relationships 

Recovering from addiction is challenging; the presence of an inner circle of supportive family members and friends can provide you with crucial encouragement, guidance, and comfort for those particularly tough days. Research has shown that social support has consistently been found to predict positive outcomes in overcoming addiction.

But – what if you face damaged interpersonal relationships because of your addiction issues? Well, mindfulness meditation can help; those who practice the technique find it easier to manage their interpersonal relationships.

The practice of meditation may serve as a critical first step in repairing the crucial relationships you hold dear to your heart. You’ll have your support group back in no time.

Types of mindfulness meditation

In general, recovering addicts undergoing a holistic rehab can choose from many different types of mindfulness meditation, depending on their preferences and goals.

Here are the six most common tactics employed in holistic drug rehabs:

  1. Traditional meditation – A practice in which you focus on your breath, or similar action. There are ten recommended objects that people can focus on when it comes to Buddhism.
  1. Moving meditation – This practice cultivates a meditative state – a shift of consciousness – while doing simple movements. It’s a way of calming the mind and creating awareness. This technique highlights the fact that movement can also pave the way to contemplation. Tai Chi and yoga are the two activities commonly used in holistic drug rehab centers.
  1. Walking meditation – The art of walking meditation teaches you how to be aware as you walk – to use the natural movement of walking to cultivate mindfulness and wakeful presence. Walking meditation is always carried out with small, measured steps.
  1. Body scan – Practitioners of body scan meditation focus attention on physical sensations in the body. This practice is completed through the ‘scanning’ of one’s awareness through the length of the body on a micro level; you need to give attention to every single inch of your body. The body scan is a useful practice to learn self-awareness about how physical experience is inherently tied to emotional experience.
  1. Loving-kindness meditation – A practice that teaches you to foster positive feelings of care and love, initially toward a close loved one, and then to yourself. You’ll also learn how to extend these favorable feelings to others, and eventually the whole world.
  1. Observing-thought meditation – A practice that teaches you to notice as thoughts arise, label them – for instance, as negative or positive, focused on others or yourself – but prevents you from getting absorbed in them.

The Bottom Line

Mindfulness meditation can be useful for recovering addicts who find themselves overwhelmed with thoughts of using again during the initial months of addiction recovery. If you’re a recovering addict seeking to glean the benefits of mindfulness meditation, be sure to set aside a daily time for formal meditation.

Start from 20 minutes, and build from there. Full recovery is just around the corner and a few meditations away! 

About the Author 

John Adkins is a professional writer and volunteer who deals with issues of mental health, addiction, and life in recovery. Also, he works with a foundation that helps drug addicts, so he has a clear insight into their problems. John is currently a writer for Addiction Resource.