Regardless of the drug or alcohol addiction treatment one receives to achieve their sobriety goals, recovery and meditation are often intertwined in substance abuse treatment.
Meditation is a safe exercise that’s centered on connecting the mind and body to create an overall sense of wellbeing. The goal of mediation is to increase mindfulness and training one’s sense of self-awareness. One of the many benefits of meditation in addiction recovery includes increasing self-awareness in order to properly cope with the mental and physical challenges that often present themselves in sobriety.
As a drug and alcohol rehab in Massachusetts, we encourage the use of meditation for substance abuse and understand how beneficial it can be to your mental and physical health.
Why Is Meditation Important in Recovery?
You may have heard that meditation is a relaxing and calming exercise, but there’s more to it than sitting cross-legged and humming. Meditation is beneficial to recovering addicts because it connects physical and mental health without the use of medicines. It helps these individuals cope with the challenges of addiction recovery without turning to medications or other coping mechanisms that may be unhelpful or risky. Meditation is not about shutting down your feelings, but rather developing mindfulness so you can acknowledge your feelings and learn how to manage them.
Patients in our special programs at Banyan Massachusetts are often encouraged to practice meditation for addiction recovery.
Benefits of Meditation in Recovery
Meditation is a generally safe exercise that focuses on connecting the mind and body with the goal of sustaining a calm demeanor. For someone recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, this exercise can be especially helpful in managing addiction cravings and other challenges.
Some benefits of meditation in addiction recovery include:
- Decreased blood pressure: Meditation can help evoke a relaxation response that’s opposite to the fight-or-flight response, which is usually induced by stress. In a study conducted by Dr. Herbert Benson, elderly people with systolic hypertension (a form of high blood pressure) who have undergone relaxation response training were more likely to control their blood pressure to the point where they could reduce or eliminate their medications.1
- Increased self-awareness: In common therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, self-awareness is emphasized. As the term suggests, self-awareness is when you’re aware of your thoughts, actions, and self as a whole.When managing addiction cravings in recovery, it’s important to be aware of how you’re feeling in certain situations. Meditation can help increase self-awareness and help you combat intrusive thoughts and emotions that could threaten your sobriety.
- Improved mental health: Meditation is a technique that’s often recommended to people with depression because it can help improve mental health. Meditation can teach the brain how to stay focused when the person experiences symptoms of mental illness. Research has found that meditation can also break the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, which work off of each other to cause depression.2
- Anxiety relief: Like depression, a person with anxiety may struggle to manage their thoughts and emotions during stressful situations. Any little disturbance can trigger anxiety, especially in addiction recovery. Meditation can teach the individual how to find a center of calm they can return to whenever they’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety.
- Better sleep: Especially for someone in the early stages of sobriety, sleep can be difficult to come by. The person may be struggling with cravings and even withdrawal symptoms. They may also be worried about the other responsibilities they have. Meditation promotes relaxation and reduces stress, which can help them get the full eight hours they need.
Meditation Exercises for Recovering Addicts
Below are some simple meditation exercises for addiction recovery that you or a loved one can try at home.
- Controlled breathing: focus on inhaling and exhaling
- Progressive muscle relaxation: relaxing each individual muscle, increasing physical awareness
- Repeating mantras or phrases: repeating a word or phrase aloud or internally can help you focus when your mind wanders to negative things
- Guided meditation: you can take a meditation class and have a trained teacher guide you through this process
- Movement meditation: this can include yoga, bike riding, swimming, or any exercise that promotes relaxation and includes a consistent pattern of movement
Although everyone is different, meditation can help with a multitude of challenging factors that may present themselves in addiction recovery. There are also various meditative exercises that you can try yourself. It’s all about finding the one that works for you and your sobriety.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, take the first step towards sobriety today. Call Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts at 888-280-4763 for more information about our addiction programs.