Mindfulness and Meditation Benefits In Recovery
Research has demonstrated that mindful meditation reduces the risk of relapse, and that even short periods of meditation, less than 15 minutes a day, can produce positive changes in the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate. These alterations in the brain positively affect memory, mood, attention and anxiety while expanding the capacity for higher states of consciousness.
Meditation allows the recovering addict to tap into an experience of openness, and can help to heal the effects of addiction on the body. That broader frame of reference and heightened consciousness enables them to engage more deliberately, be more present, be driven less by negative self-talk and unexamined emotion, respond less reflexively to stimulus and take greater control of their actions, emotions, connections and environment.
People accustomed to constant stimulus find quieting the mind and sitting in silence awkward or discomfiting. The barrage of thoughts, emotions and sensations that surface during quiet times early in the adoption of a meditative practice can seem overwhelming. Simply observing the thought or feeling without judgment or engagement and resuming focus on the breath or other meditative activity can remove their urgency.
On the other extreme, addicts who are used to immediate gratification may find it difficult to stick with meditation because they have a feeling that “nothing is happening.” They may feel they have fallen short or are inadequate to the task. Patience will be rewarded, just as it is when adopting a new physical exercise program. New muscles do not emerge overnight and trying to force them to can lead to discouraging sprains and pains. With continued commitment, exercise and meditation efforts will have great rewards. While the changes produced by meditation are more difficult to measure, research demonstrates that measurable changes in the brain do occur and those changes deepen as the mediator masters the practice.
Some individuals in recovery may seek to obtain a high from meditation. Frequently, people who meditate report a greater sense of well-being and sometimes euphoria. For an addict, the temptation to focus on achieving that rush can thwart their experience of self-acceptance and connection with others. A self-centered and isolated practice may exacerbate this negative tendency.
While there are several types of meditation mindful meditation is the most popular and widely used.
This method of mindful is meditation comes from the Buddhist tradition. The Buddhist term sati translates to ‘mindfulness’ and breathes life into the practice. Conjuring mindfulness is essential in overcoming suffering and understanding natural wisdom. It is all about acknowledging reality by letting the mind wander, accepting any thoughts that come up, and understanding the present.
The practice is done by:
- Sitting with eyes close, crossed legs, the back straight, and attention placed on breathing in and out.
- For the period of meditation the individual focuses on his or her breathing, and when wandering thoughts emerge, one returns to focusing on the object of meditation, breathing.
Research has found that a regimen of mindfulness can reduce:
- perceived distress
A major key of healthy living in recovery practices is engaging that best suit you. Consistency is quite essential and vital to maintaining a new way of living. This will provide a sense of purpose, and well-being. Engaging in these activities will then make the negative habits we have engaged in for so many years less appealing, and help you achieve the happy, beautiful life in recovery you deserve!
Crystal Hampton is a 37-year-old avid writer from South Florida. She loves snuggling with her teacup Yorkie Gator and boyfriend Adam. She works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.
MS- Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis
B.Ed.- Bachelors in Elementary Education