In 12-Step recovery, Step 11 is devoted to the use of prayer and meditation. Early in recovery, many addicts will read a book that has a spiritual message and call that meditation. While they may devote long periods of time to the practice of prayer, not all addicts in recovery practice meditation. Yet, it is an even more important component of recovery. Few recovering addicts know much about meditation at all. They believe it is sitting in a lotus position for long periods of time with your eyes closed, not speaking or moving. For many of us, this almost sounds like torture. And for addicts with a very busy “monkey mind,” it can very well be.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that goes back thousands of years. Often used to enhance spiritual connection and enlightenment, the practice essentially involves quieting the mind and concentrating on a specific thought or idea. Meditation is usually done in a quiet place. While many who practice it do it alone, it can also be done in a group setting.
There’s no set time frame for a meditation session; it can be done for just a minutes or an hour or two. Meditation can be done any time of the day. However, many – if not most – individuals who meditate regularly strive to do so at the same time each day. It can be practiced by anyone, regardless of spiritual or religious beliefs. In fact, many people who meditate do it to relieve stress and feel more centered – with religion having no connection to their practice.
Relation to Rehab
Many alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs have included meditation in their overall treatment plan. It’s not used in place of other therapies. Instead, it provides powerful additional support for addicts in recovery. Part of the value of meditation is that those in treatment can practice it even after the initial recovery period is complete. This makes meditation a valuable tool they can use to stay sober for the rest of their lives.
How Meditation Works
Meditation is effective because it rewires critical pathways in the brain. In one study, people who meditated for approximately 30 minutes daily for 8 weeks showed an increase in gray matter in the parts of the brain associated with learning, memory, self-awareness, and introspection. In addition, brain imaging revealed that participants also showed a decrease in gray matter in areas linked to anxiety and stress .
By changing how their brain processes self-awareness, introspection, anxiety, and stress, addicts can reasonably evaluate everyday situations, and react to them more appropriately – without the help of drugs or alcohol. Meditation’s positive effect on stress and anxiety is especially important because both are frequent triggers for relapse.
In general, meditation is a practice that allows a person to focus on any number of things. For example, addicts may use it to slow down their breathing and calm their nerves then they’re feeling anxious or stressed. This helps reduce the negative feelings that compel alcoholics and drug addicts to reach for substances. It may also be used to connect in spiritual ways during recovery. Many individuals use meditation to connect with a higher power through prayers or mantras. Feeling connected to a higher power has helped many addicts stay on the path of recovery.
Again, these meditational treatments are meant to be practiced in conjunction with more adjunctive treatments. They supplement certain standard procedures with an emphasis on the psychological impact suffered by patients. They are proven methods of addressing the issue of psychological health, and studies continually demonstrate the impact and success in this area. Specifically, anxiety, depression and distress have been reduced in numerous instances through these meditational techniques. Meditation has been a tool that has been used throughout history by both those suffering from medical ailments as well as those who are healthy. Routine usages of meditational practices offer all individuals an opportunity to “clear” the overabundance of anxiety inducing issues that flood the mind in our fast paced contemporary society. While there are still studies being conducted to determine who is most prone to the benefits of meditation, undoubtedly, those who struggle the most with anxiety and stress have the most to gain from this kind of treatment.
Drug and alcohol addiction more often than not involves psychological distress. While addiction recovery treatment from these involves numerous therapeutic techniques and treatments, meditation is certainly an inviting and inclusive option that has already proven to be both effective and easily incorporated into any treatment program. Meditation brings a deep sense of peace and contentment when practiced regularly over time. Addicts are so used to the instantaneous relief provided by alcohol, drugs, or behaviors that they have little or no patience. Meditation will increase this benefit as well.
Sober meditations is a FREE website with videos to help get you started on your mediation journey.