There are many different treatment methods for addiction that are helpful to recovery. Some are good for preventative healing, helping to strengthen the mind and body. Other methods are good for crisis situations and when a trigger or craving arises and can help avoid relapse. Breathwork is powerful because it has applications in both scenarios, both in preventative and crisis situations. Breathwork helps to reconnect you with your body.
The Power of Breathwork to Connect
During active addiction, the body can become disconnected from the mind. As the mind focuses on seeking substances, even the most basic needs of the body can be ignored. Breathwork uses the mind to focus on the breathing in the body, effectively connecting them once more. This process brings an awareness of the body and its needs to the forefront of thought once again.
Breathwork is more powerful than just making the simple connection again. Breathing is one of the easiest ways for us to activate our own parasympathetic nervous system. This is important for people who have had trauma or addiction, as it is the “rest and digest” response that allows the body to relax and repair itself. Gaining autonomy over this response is one of the benefits of breathwork.
Using Breathwork to Train the Body
Breathing has an impact on both the mind and the body; it not only affects the ability to relax but the ability to regulate emotions and stress, the ability to overcome cravings, and more. Being able to train the mind and body to regulate all of these functions gives you more control over your life.
Training your body through breathing can help everything from managing chronic pain and regulating sleep to lowering your blood pressure and reducing lactic acid buildup after exercising. There are so many mental and physical advantages to understanding and being able to control your breathing. Mindfulness meditation intentionally uses breathing techniques as a focal point to help strengthen and train the mind and control the body.
How Cold Therapy and Breathwork Integrate
In addition to just breathwork, there is a specific method that also integrates cold therapy and is used in the treatment of addiction. This is known as the Wim Hof Method, named after the man who developed it. He wanted to harness the power of breathing to be able to give us control over both our minds and bodies. He noted that, ultimately, addiction is a series of negative conditioned responses in our minds. By continuing to add stress and negative responses to those negative responses, the addiction continues. He also noted that we needed something to be able to break through that loop of negative responses.
Wim Hof learned that by carefully training his breathing, he could control his body’s responses to many stimuli, particularly the cold. His idea was that utilizing the cold temperatures helps to train the mind and body well enough to give you enough power to break through those negative conditioned responses. We can use that same power he uses with his breathwork to overcome the cold to overcome our own addiction.
Breathwork Within Yoga
Yoga is another example where the power of breathing has long been used. Breathing is once again the connection between mind, body, and spirit in this activity that can be used for exercise, spiritual purposes, and also in addiction recovery.
There is great healing power in yoga, and breathwork is a significant part of that healing power. Breathing does so much more than simply bringing oxygen into the body. It helps to move energy and create that focal point for the mind. Additionally, breathing also cleanses the body as the body moves by bringing clean oxygen in and clearing the body of negative energy and toxins as you breathe out. Breathwork is at the heart of the healing power of yoga.
Using Breathing as a Distraction
Breathing can also be used in crises, especially as a distraction during a craving. Whether it is using deep breathing, specific relaxation techniques, or breathing as you practice mindfulness, breathing can help distract the mind and body during a tough moment.
Breathing is actually a part of many coping strategies, including urge surfing. When a craving comes, you acknowledge that it will have a rise, peak, and fall, just like a wave, and also just like a wave, it will pass you by. By breathing through it and just riding the urge like you might surf a wave, you can avoid a relapse in a tricky situation. Breathwork holds the power for healing from addiction, both in crisis situations and for preventative healing.
Breathwork offers healing in addiction recovery through many different methods. Whether you use breathing to connect your body or train your body to overcome even the harsh cold, breathing can also give you the power to overcome addiction. Using breathwork preventatively or in crisis situations gives you multiple different ways to harness the power of breathwork. West Coast Recovery Centers offers environments that give you the support you need as you transition from residential treatment into routine living. We give you the structure and environment for success as you begin your recovery from addiction. We can help you to continue learning about breathwork and relapse prevention as you put your skills into practice. Our programs allow you to build your independence while also continuing to build your support network. Call West Coast Recovery Centers today at (760) 492-6509 for more information.