If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, you know just how difficult it can be to pull yourself out of such a dark place. You can begin to feel lonely, ashamed, and like you don’t have control over yourself or your future.
Seeking out addiction treatment is always a great step you can take toward recovery, but it requires a commitment to putting in the work to improve your mental health and well-being.
Many people entering recovery will need to find ways to keep themselves focused on their goals. There are plenty of groups and activities that you can become a part of to build community and get support in your substance abuse treatment and recovery process.
Meditation is both an activity and a method that you can participate in to help you regain self-control, empowerment, and confidence in yourself. Many people with substance use disorders use meditation to control their negative thoughts, put them back on the right track, and aid in relapse prevention.
Keep reading to learn more about meditation and how it can help those who struggle with addiction!
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice and technique that involves connecting the mind and body to feel more at peace within yourself. Those who struggle with substance abuse and alcohol addiction may find this concept helpful. It can be difficult to control your actions even when you know that substance dependency is hurting you.
Meditation often involves a seated, cross-legged pose and deep breathing. White noise or light music can play in the background, but it likely looks different for everyone.
It’s often compared to yoga for its ability to reduce stress and create feelings of peace, but meditation is much less physically involved. You can practice meditation alone or in a group setting with guided meditation.
Types of Meditation
There are different meditation techniques you can try to find the right fit. The ultimate goal is to synchronize the mind and body to become more attuned to one another.
The idea is, especially with addiction, that you will begin to have more control over what you should actually be doing for yourself and learn how to calm yourself down during heightened situations in daily life.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the simplest and most common forms of meditation that you can practice. This is great for beginners as it teaches you to become more aware of your thoughts and surroundings in the present moment.
Here a few ways to engage in mindfulness:
- Sit up straight, whether in a stable chair or cross-legged on the ground. Place your hands palm-down on your knees. Close your eyes.
- Sit quietly and as still as you can. Allow every thought you have to go in and out of your mind, and don’t think too critically about how they make you feel.
- If you’d like to open your eyes, stare a few feet in front of your body and fixate on an object on the ground. It could even be a crack in the floorboard.
- Once you feel yourself no longer focusing on your thoughts but instead just concentrating on the object in front of you or your breathing, you are on the right path.
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and is the basis for many other meditation techniques. Mindfulness-based meditation is particularly useful for raising self-awareness and learning to let go of intrusive thoughts and cravings.
Breathing meditation is what mindfulness meditation can delve into. You often do breathing meditation once you have gone through the mindfulness process.
To practice breathing meditation:
- Sit in the same position you were sitting in during your mindfulness meditation.
- You are going to want to concentrate on your breath. This involves inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly.
- You should work on relaxing your muscles, focusing solely on your breathing. Pay attention to how it feels to have air in and out of your nostrils.
- If you feel yourself becoming distracted, thinking about things that you shouldn’t be, and forgetting about your purpose of doing this meditation, return to your breathing.
Both breathing and mindfulness meditation are very popular techniques practiced in addiction recovery centers. Breathing meditation sessions are great for managing your heart rate, which can help with stress reduction — especially when practiced with a trained healthcare professional.
There are other meditation techniques that you can practice at home. The water method might not be used while inpatient, but it can be very influential at home. Water has a way of making you feel grounded and light at the same time.
This method might take a bit more time and resources to do correctly, as you will need a bathtub or access to a body of water.
- First, you will run a warm bath. You can mix bath salts or oils into the water and set up a few aroma candles around the tub.
- Once the tub is full, you will turn off the tap. However, you will still allow small drops of warm water to drip into the tub.
- Get comfortable in the bathtub and begin to focus on your breathing. Use the breathing meditation techniques from above. If you start to stray, focus on the sound of dripping water to help you ground yourself.
Not only is this technique a great way to practice meditation for addiction recovery, but a warm bath can do wonders for a person dealing with the trauma and struggles that substance abuse brings.
You don’t always have to be at home or sit still to meditate. A technique involves movement during meditation to immerse yourself in the world around you. This method prefers an outdoor space surrounded by nature for you to meditate in.
- Find a place that brings you happiness, whether it’s your garden, a lake nearby, or nature trails down the street.
- However you choose to move is up to you. You could walk, run, ride a bike, or swim. Focus on the movements that you are doing that are propelling you forward.
- Every time you push off the ground, cup water in your hands to push you forward, or push against your bike pedals, imagine negative energy leaving your body and positive energy flowing through.
The purpose of movement meditation is to focus on how all of the processes in your body work together. If you have a 15-minute walk to an appointment or bus stop, use this time to meditate!
How Does Meditation Help With Addiction?
So what exactly is the connection between meditation and addiction? It has to do with how you can learn to improve the quality of your life with just yourself and your willpower. Many people with addiction struggle with motivation or believing in their ability to enter into recovery. Meditation is a technique that you can do on your own with little to no tools needed.
Addiction recovery relies on a balance between physical, mental, and spiritual health. Meditation actually improves all three. A study done in 2005 found that meditators had more activity within the prefrontal cortex and more neural density. This meant that meditation was able to stimulate and train the brain to feel happy without the use of substances.
Meditation has also been linked to reducing stress and anxiety. People with drug addiction undergo more stress than the normal person.
The stress of dealing with cravings, using and putting your life at risk, and disappointing people around you can put a toll on your body. It can also spiral you into even more anxiety — quite the double-edged sword.
Meditation’s purpose is to quiet the mind and allow for focusing on the moment you are present in. This can be used to help manage cravings and triggers. If you feel overwhelmed by a thought, trigger, or craving, practicing meditation can help you to recenter and make a thoughtful choice on how to proceed.
Meditation is also known to boost your mood and keep you in a more positive place. As you practice allowing more positive thoughts in and letting the negative thoughts escape, you make more space for your happiness. By allowing yourself to feel more of that positive energy, you are setting yourself up for success.
You may begin to feel happier the more you meditate, more at peace, intuitive, creative, and independent. It is a great way to learn how to redirect the energy that you are feeling.
Struggling with falling asleep and staying asleep is something many people in recovery suffer from. Having impulsive thoughts, cravings, and anxiety throughout your day can result in exhaustion. You might feel like you are constantly fighting with yourself to stay sober, and while we applaud you for it, we know how hard it can be.
Meditation is meant to bring peace of mind and teach you how to center yourself. You can learn to remain calm and collected in instances of high stress. Meditation teaches you how to become one with your surroundings and make intuitive decisions.
Meditation allows you to relax more and allow yourself the calm that sleep can bring, setting your racing mind to sleep as well.
Tips on Meditation for Addiction
When you are beginning your journey with meditation to help you with your addiction, there are practices you can do to help keep you on track. At first, you might struggle a bit to stay focused on being unfocused on negative thoughts and feelings.
Through practice and dedication, you will think meditation is becoming easier and more of a second nature to you.
Stick to a Consistent Schedule
Something that is known to be useful when struggling with addiction and trying to enter into recovery is sticking to a schedule. You will want to set boundaries and goals each day, followed up with an idea of what every minute of your day will look like. It might seem intense, but it can be very helpful.
When you have accounted for all your time in a day, it’s more difficult to stray off. The same goes for meditation!
If you set a time of day, every day, that you practice 15 to 30 minutes of meditation, you will begin to see improvements. It helps to create a habit, and your body will realize when it’s time to meditate before too long.
You’ll see more of the health benefits of meditation when you practice with greater consistency.
Dedicate a Space for Meditation
Having a quiet, clean, and comfortable space for meditation will also help you stick to it. Before long, you will want to spend time in this space and work on yourself.
The peacefulness of your meditation space should be comforting and enticing. You will know that your energy is shifting when you enter your meditation space, which is the goal!
Keep a Journal
Whenever you have a thought or feeling during meditation, you should be writing it down. Maybe it doesn’t fully make sense to you yet or hasn’t exactly impacted your life, but you never know when it could come in handy.
Having a journal dedicated to your meditative journey can also show the progress you are making. You might feel empowered by the strides you have made, and seeing it all play out in one location should only motivate you to continue on
Practicing meditation during an inpatient or outpatient session with a treatment program group of other people can help break you out of your shell. You might feel lost or like you don’t know where to start, but with guided group meditation, you can better understand your goals.
Talking to others about their journey with addiction and meditation might resonate with you and push you to practice more. You can also join meditation groups that aren’t specific to your addiction, but the parallels and commonalities you might pull from recovery groups might surprise you!
Community is everything when it comes to addiction recovery.
Find Help With Soba Recovery Center
You don’t have to look any further to find a recovery center that offers meditation practices, Soba Recovery Center in San Antonio has you covered. Soba offers yoga, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and meditation to help relax your muscles, build trust within yourself, and set you up for success in your recovery.
The road to recovery may be long and bumpy, but we here at Soba have your best interests in mind.
To learn more about how Soba Recovery Center could benefit you or a loved one, reach out to a Soba representative!
How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains: Sara Lazar at TEDxCambridge 2011 | Harvard University
Meditative Therapies for Reducing Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials | NCBI