Using Meditation Practices in Recovery

Recovery from alcoholism and addiction is a long-term, difficult journey that requires attention to one’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Most treatment centers and sober living environments introduce patients to 12 step recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, in the hopes that these programs will help patients achieve long-term sobriety. These programs often encourage participants to adopt meditation practices, as a part of a spiritual program of treatment. That can sound intimidating to people who are unfamiliar with the concept of mediation, but there are many different ways to incorporate meditation practices into your daily life and recovery program.

Different Types of Meditation Practices

Meditation practices have existed since 1500 BCE when the earliest record of meditation was written in India. Throughout history, meditation has spread to cultures around the world, and it can be practiced in a variety of ways. Some cultures practice meditation through yoga, in which the body’s movement and the focus on breathing help quiet the mind and bring about a conscious, relaxed state. Other cultures use meditation practices that involve sitting quietly in a certain position, trying to empty one’s mind of all distracting thoughts. There is no right or wrong way to meditate, just different methods of putting it into practice. Forms of meditation include:

  •      Zen, or seated meditation

This involves sitting quietly and paying attention to the breath while observing and letting go of any passing thoughts. The purpose is to be quiet and allow for the brain to achieve insight or enlightenment

  •      Guided meditations

These are non-religious meditation practices in which one listens to a recording that guides them through a meditation process. Guided meditations can involve formats that ask the listener to do a “body scan”, paying attention to the feelings in each part of their body, perform breathing exercises, or focus on specific imagery designed to calm the mind. This is a popular form of meditation for many because there is not religious or cultural aspect to it.

  •      Mantra meditation

When practicing a mantra meditation, the individual picks a word or phrase- a mantra- to focus on, and repeats this phrase while meditating in order to train and focus the mind.

  •      Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of what is going on at the moment. Therefore, mindfulness meditation practices require the individual to pause and use their senses to focus on what is happening at any given moment. This slows the mind down, relieves stress, and reminds one to stay present.

There are thousands of ways to meditate, and choosing the best practice for you requires exploration of all of the different techniques.

Benefits of Meditation Practices

Meditation can aid individuals in recovery from substance dependence in many ways. In early recovery, patients often suffer from emotional and physical pain and struggle to find relief from these feelings without turning to a drink or a drug. Meditation has been scientifically proven to help because it:

  •      Decreases depression
  •      Helps to regulate mood
  •      Reduces stress and anxiety
  •      Reduces frequency of panic attacks
  •      Improves decision-making function in the brain
  •      Helps promote healthy sleep patterns
  •      Reduces physical pain
  •      Improves focus and learning
  •      Reduces blood pressure
  •      Helps to regulate heart and respiratory rate
  •      Decreases feelings of loneliness and isolation

These benefits of meditation are especially useful in recovery when maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol gets difficult, and repairing damaged relationships is painful and stressful. Adding meditation to your daily routine of recovery can assist any alcoholic or addict in pursuing long-term recovery and emotional health.

Want to Recover?

The first step towards emotional and physical health for the addict or alcoholic is the treatment for their disease. If you struggle with addiction, Discovery Institute in New Jersey can help. We are a facility that is dedicated to promoting long-term recovery in our patients. To help people achieve this, we offer detox services, rehabilitation, intensive outpatient programs, relapse prevention, family counseling programs, sober living, and holistic treatment. To begin your journey toward a happy, healthy, and productive life, call Discovery today at 888-616-7177. Our staff is available to take your call 24/7, and calls are always confidential.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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