Some common pieces of advice that people in recovery receive are to stop judging themselves and others, to listen to their bodies, and to implement some structure and stability into their lives. One way to work on all of these things together is meditation. While meditation cannot replace addiction treatment, it can strengthen a person’s ability to stay sober.
What Is Meditation?
There are several ways to meditate, but they all include:
- Focusing on the moment by temporarily detaching from both the past and the future
- Reconnecting with the world and your own body
- Focusing to facilitate relaxation and calm
- Disengaging from judgment of yourself and others
What Does Meditation Require?
Meditation is low-cost and low maintenance. All you need are a few simple things:
- A quiet location
- A comfortable position with a lengthened spine (lying on your back or sitting on the floor or on a chair)
- Focus, which will develop over time (start by paying attention to the sound and feeling of your breath)
- An nonjudgmental attitude toward yourself and your thoughts and emotions
What Are the Benefits of Meditation?
The benefits of meditating that specifically apply to addiction recovery include:
- Improved inner peace – Meditation enhances the ability to find harmony within yourself and let go of difficult and painful feelings.
- Stress reduction – Unmanaged stress is one of the biggest contributors to relapse.
- Emotional well-being – Being able to feel positive emotions without the use of alcohol or other drugs helps to sustain long-term recovery.
- Fatigue management – Being overly tired is one of the risk factors that is often correlated with relapse.
- Reducing symptoms of co-occurring conditions – People who have struggled with addiction are also more likely to experience physical and mental health conditions, many of which can benefit from meditation.
How Does Meditation Compliment Treatment?
It is a good addition to a whole-person focused treatment plan. Here’s why:
- It can provide structure, predictability and routine
- Many meditation practices can happen anywhere a person can find a quiet space and do not require the person to do anything that would draw attention to themselves
- It does not interact negatively with medications, therapies, or other tools used in treatment
- Modifications can be made to meet the needs of each individual
- Classes and groups can provide an opportunity for connection with others
- Free online tools are available to help you get started
Types of Meditation
Of the many types of meditation, some of the options most commonly used in recovery are:
- Mindfulness – Relaxing the mind to allow thoughts and feelings to flow without judgment. All focus is on the present moment.
- Mantra – By repeating a word, sound, or phrase over and over, a person finds stillness and clarity.
- Breathing – Focusing on how breath moves in and out of the body promotes relaxation.
- Guided – A facilitator provides instruction, either in person or through a recording.
- Moving – In practices like yoga or tai chi, intentional movement is used to provide focus.
How Do I Choose a Type of Meditation?
While research shows the specific benefits of mindfulness meditation for people in recovery, if you find that another type of meditation works better for you, use it. Or you might enjoy rotating between several types. While most meditation is not specifically focused on substance abuse recovery, it is possible to find videos and other meditation tools that promote meditation specifically for people in recovery from addiction.
When Should I Meditate?
You can meditate whenever you can find sufficient time to focus and a quiet space. Some people find that they prefer to start or end their day with meditation because it can set a positive tone for the rest of their day or make it easier to fall asleep.
If you would like to learn more about how meditation can play a role in a holistic plan for sustaining long-term sobriety, the team of recovery experts Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, VA, is happy to answer your questions.