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Meditation is a powerful tool for developing mindfulness, which offers a number of positive health effects that contribute to addiction recovery. From the mind to the gut, mindfulness touches multiple aspects of physical and mental health. Including meditation as a practice in addiction recovery might be the right fit for you. This article will look at focused attention, loving-kindness, and open monitoring meditation and discuss their potential impact on individuals in recovery.

Types of Meditation

There are three main types of meditation, each of which offers a different impact on the addiction recovery process. These benefits include:

#1 Focused Attention Meditation

Focused attention meditation (FAM) is aptly named, as the practice is begun by focusing one’s attention on an object, such as a candle flame. The goal is to notice when the mind wanders and to draw attention back to the object of focus. A wandering mind is normal, so there is no need for judgment in this or the other meditation practice types. Rather, the practitioner is practicing being present with their own mind and redirecting their thoughts as they wander.

FAM is often the first type of meditation the novice-level participant is introduced to. The meditation can be performed anywhere, even in the car, before or after grocery shopping. 

#2 Open Monitoring Meditation

Open monitoring meditation (OMM) differs in that instead of focusing on an object, the practitioner focuses on awareness itself. While meditating, thoughts will bubble up. When they do, the OMM client notes the thoughts and lets them pass again without judgment.

Again, this is a practice that can be engaged regardless of location. Ideally, you will pick a time you know you won’t be interrupted and choose a seat you find to be comfortable. The ideal time might be while waiting for clothes to dry at the laundromat, or it might be in your room before bed. 

#3 Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation (LMM) combines aspects of FAM and OMM by sustaining focus and drawing it inward. The client seeks to first develop a love for themself and then directs love outward eventually toward individuals this person views as unlikeable, replacing negative associations with positive ones. This is a practice of empathy and intentional positivity.

This type of meditation offers a different sort of challenge to the mind. Instead of focusing on not passing judgment, you are engaging in positive judgment in an attempt to redirect negative thinking. 

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation comes with a slew of health benefits, beginning with lowering heart rate and blood pressure. It is also associated with an increase in immune function and can improve the brain-gut connection by bringing mindfulness to the fore in eating. It can also encourage cognitive and social functions in children by promoting a mindfulness-based lifestyle. However, the main point of interest for the purposes of this article is the relationship between meditation and addiction recovery, and that is the reduction of withdrawal symptoms.

Incorporating Meditation Into Your Recovery

Bringing meditation into your life is easy. Possibly the best aspect of meditation is that it only takes a few minutes to do and can be improved over time. All you need is a quiet space where you can draw your attention inward and regulate your breathing. Whether you are noticing what thoughts come up, dismissing those thoughts to return to your breath, or engaging your compassion through meditation, you can reap the benefits of this mindfulness practice. The key is to come back to the practice with regularity, building it into a lasting habit of self-care.

Try setting a timer for two or three minutes. Sit in a comfortable position with an object in front of you. Keep your eyes focused on that object. When your attention wanders, gently draw your focus back to your chosen object. Breathe easily and naturally instead of forcing or adjusting your breath. Keep doing this until your timer runs out. After a few days of this practice, you should notice that you are able to maintain your focus on the object for longer periods. You can then increase your meditation time by a minute or two.

Know that some hard thoughts may come to mind when you are sitting still with yourself. Again, meditation is a beneficial practice partially because it disavows judgment. When using substances, our minds are distracted from thoughts we cannot avoid in meditation. Practicing mindfulness means practicing being present with yourself. It is entirely possible that it may challenge you, and that might be even more reason to give meditation a try. If that is the case, start with just one minute a day of meditation practice. See what you can achieve by being gentle with yourself.

Meditation impacts both the mind and body. It is a practice that increases mindfulness and has the potential to decrease withdrawal symptoms in addiction recovery. There are three main types of meditation: focused attention, open monitoring, and loving-kindness. Each has a different impact on recovery. Since meditation benefits both the brain and body, it is an excellent tool to implement in addiction recovery. All it takes is a few minutes in a relatively quiet space where you can focus. If you or someone you love is seeking new tools or guidance on meditation with the goal of recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, contact West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509. Our team of experts is ready to help you.

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