Addiction can affect you physically, mentally, and spiritually. As you continue to use drugs, you may experience an impact on the physical body, including damage to major organs, cardiovascular system, skin, teeth, and more. Addiction can even lead to dangerous infections, malnutrition, and chronic pain conditions. Substance abuse can also affect your mental state; a life of using drugs can lead to feelings of helplessness, sadness, guilt, and more that can manifest into mental health disorders. Spiritually, addiction can rob you. Living a life of craving drugs, obtaining drugs, and using drugs can lead to a loss of identity. When you get sober, this can lead to a “void” within you. Luckily, a common coping tool used in recovery can benefit you in all of these areas: meditation.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a set of techniques intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. When you meditate, you learn how to pay attention to your breath as it goes in and out and learn to notice when the mind wanders from this task. This practice of returning to the breath builds the muscles of attention and mindfulness. When you pay attention to your breath, you learn how to return to, and remain in, the present moment. You can anchor yourself in the here and now on purpose, without judgment.
How Do You Meditate?
There are various meditation techniques to choose from when starting your journey into the practice. You can attend meditation classes, online guided meditations, and books about meditation to start a foundation. However, meditation can be as simple as sitting quietly in your room and concentrating on your breathing for ten minutes before starting your day.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the most common meditation practices used in addiction recovery. It can help you regulate emotions, focus attention, and increase self-awareness. When you practice mindfulness meditation, you accept yourself and all things in the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is also a simple practice. To practice mindfulness meditation, you can:
- Find a quiet place where you can sit
- Sit in a chair or on the floor, close your eyes, and breathe
- Try not to judge any thoughts that arise and focus attention on the present moment
- If thoughts are wandering to the past or future, try to bring awareness back to your breath
- Each time your thoughts wander, you can bring attention back to your breath
One of the best qualities of mindfulness mediation is no special equipment is required. This type of meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time.
Getting Through Cravings
Everyone experience cravings at some point in recovery, whether they have a few days, months, or even years sober. When you experience cravings, meditation can help you observe your thoughts without having to act on them. Through meditation, you can learn that you are not responsible for your thoughts, but you are responsible for how you act on those thoughts. Meditation can help you acknowledge these thoughts without having to push them away or act on your cravings.
Recovery can be an emotional rollercoaster at times; when you stop using drugs or alcohol, many of the feelings you were attempting to numb come back full force. However, training the mind to focus on one thing, such as your breathing, through meditation can help you maintain a degree of emotional balance. Many people who meditate find that they can change their temperaments through mindfulness meditation. For example, you may be able to turn your aggression into assertiveness or your passivity into peacefulness. Research shows that just after eight weeks of mediation, your brain experiences changes that can help reduce stress and bring a feeling of calm.
When you practice meditation, you can gain insight into yourself that allows you to make decisions that support your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. When you keep in touch with yourself, you are more likely to recognize the early warning signs of relapse. Recognizing these signs early on can help you use tools to avoid relapse.
Meditation and 12-Step Programs
Mediation is also an essential aspect of 12-Step programs. These programs recognize spiritual wellness as key to breaking the addiction cycle and suggest members use meditation to improve their spiritual health. Step 11 even states, “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him.” Meditation in 12-Step programs can help you keep things simple, reduce anxiety and depression, and calm obsession over drugs and alcohol.
Meditation is an excellent tool for those in recovery from addiction. Meditation has countless benefits to mental, physical, and spiritual health. There are many forms of meditation; the practice is not one size fits all. However, one of the most common forms of meditation is mindfulness mediation. During this practice, you focus on your breath and allow yourself to live in the present. We at West Coast Recovery Centers recognize the benefits of mediation and would love to help you incorporate the practice into your recovery efforts. While in treatment at West Coast, clients participate in Guided Meditation, Walking Meditation, Mindful Self- Compassion, Sound Healing, Guided Imagery, Deep Breathing Exercises, Yoga, and Creative Arts Expression. This holistic modality can be used in combination with many of our traditional therapies, providing many benefits extending beyond substance use disorder treatment. For more information on our facility, call us today at (760) 492-6509.