You’ve probably heard about meditation. Maybe you have even tried it. Unfortunately, sitting still and thinking about nothing is much more difficult than most people expect. You probably can’t imagine how it would actually help you beat addiction.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a set of techniques that can help you reach a better state of awareness and focus. Cultures from all over the world have practiced it for centuries. Many religions use it as a way to connect with a higher power and achieve enlightenment. Of course, you do not need to be religious to practice it. All you need is an open mind and willingness to try something new to create positive change in your life.
How is it used to treat drug and alcohol addiction?
Addiction is a complex mental health issue stemming from a variety of factors. Family history, personal struggles, brain chemistry, and history of drug use all play a role. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to battling addiction. In fact, the best holistic addiction treatment centers use a variety of therapies to address the underlying factors that can contribute to addiction.
There is no doubt that traditional talk therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and individual counseling play a crucial role in overcoming addiction. Many people struggling with addiction have also found that holistic therapies like yoga, adventure therapy, fitness, and meditation are helpful in reducing cravings, restoring balance in life, and staying engaged in treatment.
On the surface, it may seem like an easy skill to learn. Just sit in a comfortable position, breathe, and then reap the benefits. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. In fact, in these modern times, our brains seem wired to be constantly thinking. Taking some time to breathe and clear the mind may not only be difficult at first, it can also be uncomfortable. People are not used to just settling into the moment and letting go of any thoughts, emotions, and distractions.
This is especially true for someone struggling with addiction. After all, addiction is a constant loop of obsessive thoughts that lead to compulsive behaviors. Those immersed in addiction can’t seem to shake the thoughts of using their drug of choice when they aren’t currently under its influence. After the brief high of using, the mind settles back into wanting the drug again.
Meditation for addiction helps break this destructive pattern of thoughts and behaviors by allowing you to be more self-aware and accepting of the present moment. Those in treatment often find these classes or therapy sessions to be difficult at first. With practice, they begin to see how it changes the way they see themselves and the world around them.
Therapists use various techniques based on an individual’s personal beliefs, goals, and preferences. If someone has difficulty engaging in a certain type, the therapist will troubleshoot and find another technique that resonates better with the individual.
What are the common types used during recovery?
If you are interested in learning meditation for addiction recovery, there are several types available. With some trial and error, you can find one that helps you in the areas of your life you need it most. Here are some types that have helped people just like you battle addiction:
One of the most common forms of meditation for addiction involves mindfulness. This is simply gaining an awareness of the present moment. If you are not focused on the present, you may be too wrapped up in your own habitual thought processes. Those that practice mindfulness gain an understanding of the importance of the present moment. If you focus too much on the past, it can be depressing. Conversely, if you focus too much on the future, it can cause anxiety.
Mindfulness often involves using the breath as an anchor. Taking time to focus on your breathing, through a variety of techniques, can be an empowering exercise in realizing your thoughts and emotions are fleeting, like clouds passing through the deep blue sky.
Sometimes a person pays attention to the sensations of breath. Others find counting each breath each breath helpful. When a thought or emotion distracts from this practice, the person is encouraged to acknowledge the distraction without judgement and let it pass. It may not be easy at first. Soon, however, you begin to realize your troubling thoughts and emotions are not you: they are just passing discomfort.
Zen meditation is a similar type that is based on Buddhist practices. When used for addiction, it involves focusing on the present moment and your present condition. Using substances and struggling with addiction are considered attachments that weigh you down. By practicing, you can begin to understand how drugs or alcohol are affecting you and become more able to release the attachments leading to your behavior.
Too often, our thoughts and emotions are so overwhelming that we struggle to see beyond them. This is especially true for those in the grips of addiction. Mantra meditation provides an opportunity to detach from these thoughts and refocus.
A mantra is a simple phrase repeated while meditating. While some have origins from various religious practices, you can also create your own mantra based on your goals for a session. For example, if you struggle with anger issues, you can sit down and quietly focus on a phrase like, “I am calm,” or “I am in control.”
The more you practice, the more the messages become ingrained in your mind. Mantras can be a powerful way to rewire your thought processes and reach new strides in personal growth.
Too often, people struggling with addiction are entangled in selfish thoughts and behaviors revolving around their drug of choice. They forget or ignore the needs of those they love the most. This is a common symptom of addiction.
Loving kindness meditation gives you a chance to reconnect with the positive emotions associated with giving love and being compassionate to others. You focus on different people in your life and give them love and compassion. At first you start with someone you truly love. As the practice continues, you start focusing on those that cause you difficulty. While it may be hard, you slowly learn that both you and everyone around you is worthy of giving and receiving love and compassion.
Many individuals struggling with addiction often lose sight of all the positive things in their life. In fact, their focus on the negative or what they don’t have often fuels their addictive behavior. One way to reshape this perspective is by practicing a gratitude daily.
There are many variations, but essentially gratitude encourages you to take time out of your busy day to focus on all the gifts you have in your life. It teaches you to appreciate the many things you may take for granted over the course of the day. By developing a gratitude practice, you develop a much healthier, fulfilling mindset where you actually enjoy everything in your life instead of wishing you had more or something else.
Not everyone benefits from sitting in one place and trying to clear their minds. Walking meditation is a great way to actively meditate. Think of the last time you took a walk. You probably weren’t aware of your steps or what was going on around you. Perhaps you were immersed in cluttered thoughts or distracted by your mobile device.
Taking a walk can be a great meditative exercise. By simply paying attention to each footfall, you get out of the constant loop of thoughts and appreciate each step of your walk. Some holistic addiction treatment centers even have paths or gardens dedicated to this.
Can it help with addiction?
You may be surprised just how powerful meditation is for helping your recovery. It offers several benefits during the initial phase of your recovery and well into the long term. Consider these benefits:
- Self-acceptance. Many people constantly focus on wanting more out of life instead of being happy with what they already have. This includes all areas of our lives. Of course, the constant desire for more is ever present in addictive behaviors. It can help you to accept who you are despite limitations, shortcomings, and situations. This acceptance decreases your urge to want more and helps you to become more appreciative of what you have.
- Awareness of your mind and body. Chronic drug use creates an imbalance in the mind-body connection. Drugs are mind-altering substances. They change the way the brain and body function. It can help you understand how your drug use and habitual thoughts are affecting the balance you need for lasting recovery.
- Reducing cravings. Handling cravings can be the difference between successful recovery and falling back into old habits. It helps you understand when cravings are triggering your drug use. In addition, these techniques may help you reduce the severity and length of these cravings.
- Becoming more compassionate to yourself and others. Those struggling with addiction are often consumed by selfish thoughts and behaviors. After all, their main focus is pleasure from their drug of choice. Meditating can help you realize how addiction is affecting your attitudes toward yourself and others. It can also teach empathy and selflessness.
- Becoming less reactive to stressors and triggers. Too often we are slaves to the intense thoughts and emotions running through our minds each day. Through regular practice, we realize these difficult emotions are fleeting. They are not us, they just pass through us.
- Giving you a chance to let go. Life can be very stressful, especially when you struggle with addiction. The things you’ve been through may be weighing on you. Memories of the past may haunt you. You are probably even scared of what your future will be like. Meditation can help you let go all these worries and unpleasant feelings. There are specific types you can learn to help let go of troubling memories or anything else burdening you. By practicing routinely, you’re training your brain to approach these issues in a different way.
What are the long-term effects?
You’ve probably heard of all the damage drugs and alcohol can do on the brain and body. The long-term effects of these substances could be devastating or even life-threatening.
Meditation, on the other hand, can change the brain and the body for the better.
Research has shown that it has lasting positive impacts on the body. People who meditate regularly often have lower blood pressure, better stress management skills, and the ability to focus more easily. In addition, those incorporating meditation into their daily routine have a better sense of well-being and are able to manage symptoms like anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
In fact, it can actually help change the structure of your brain. A recent study found long-term mindfulness meditation can result in connectivity changes that reduces degeneration of white matter in the brain. White matter has fibers and other substances that connect nerve cells, enabling these cells to function more effectively.
Is meditation treatment for substance use available near me?
If you live near Scottsdale, Arizona, you have access to one of the leading holistic addiction treatment centers. At Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we offer a wide range of holistic treatments including yoga, fitness, and meditation.
At Pinnacle Peak Recovery, you can learn and practice several addiction meditation techniques during our group or individual therapy sessions. You’ll also have the opportunity to practice at our comfortable, scenic campus.
In addition to holistic treatments, we provide comprehensive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), dialectical behavior therapy, and other evidence-based talk therapies. Many people struggling with addiction have found better success when combining these types of therapies.
Let Pinnacle Peak Recovery start your holistic drug treatment today.
Every day you put off seeking treatment options is another day lost. Instead of being a slave to your urges and cravings, Pinnacle Peak Recovery can teach you to once again regain control of your mind and life.
A simple call will connect you with a dedicated admissions counselor who will listen to your story and help you discover the best treatment options. Remember, if you’re suffering from addiction, you are never alone. Many people have called 866-377-4761 and took the first brave step toward changing their lives. Isn’t it time you became the next success story?