Take a moment to breathe deeply; to breathe with purpose and focus. Concentrate on the breath by inhaling through the nose for four seconds, holding the breath for seven seconds and exhaling for eight seconds.
Now repeat this practice five times and see how you feel. Studies have shown that performing a breathing technique like this can decrease stress and increase positive feelings within the brain.
Truth be told, a simple meditative technique like this can work wonders for someone struggling with various stressors or tension; and, for someone struggling with addiction, a simple breathing technique like this can mean the difference between chasing another high and/or an unexpected relapse and making the decision to achieve and maintain sobriety.
Most people researching meditation and mindfulness training ask themselves, “Can this really help me manage my cravings?” And while the techniques vary from person to person, it is safe to say that meditation can help if you open your mind to the possibilities it provides.
How Meditation Helps with Drug Cravings
While the practice of meditation may seem like a new wave approach to addiction therapy, the centuries-old practice has been implemented for generations to combat all forms of dependency.
The mental discipline associated with meditative practice can help you overcome addiction by increasing your self-control and awareness associated with your addictive triggers.
Research has shown that meditation can help people learn to redirect their attention, increase their willpower, control their impulses and increase their understanding of the causes behind their addictive behaviors. (1)
Additional studies have shown that practicing meditation while in rehab establishes an improved ability to control addictive cravings and the stressors associated with addictive-related behaviors.(2)
Benefits of Meditation in Addiction Recovery
The physical and mental health benefits associated with meditation are well documented. The practice can increase a person’s cognitive ability, while also addressing an array of physical ailments, including high blood pressure and insomnia.
Understanding how the practice can benefit you along your recovery journey is essential to harnessing its potential.
Some of the more impressive benefits of meditation in addiction recovery include:
- Meditation provides a natural “high” by stimulating and training your brain to experience happiness and moments of euphoria without the need of alcohol or drugs.
- Meditation enables you to manage your urges by training you to stop fighting them and start identifying them as mere thoughts (and not uncontrollable compulsions).
- Meditation transforms your central nervous system, shifting your body chemistry out of “fight or flight” mode so that the stress that had you reaching for your once favorite self-medication yesterday no longer affects you today.
- Meditation empowers you to face the situations and scenarios that instigated your addiction in order to realign your life and take control of the thoughts that had once controlled you.
This rewiring of the brain enables you to not only overcome your addictive urges, but it also repairs the issues within yourself that have exacerbated your addictive impulses for too long.
Once meditation has rooted out the true source of your unhappiness, your life can transform, allowing you to achieve sustained sobriety and true happiness.
Where to Start: Meditation in Addiction Recovery
Making the decision to begin a practice of meditation should not be complicated. Simply follow the steps below to begin an easy meditative practice anywhere you find yourself.
Remember, the key to benefiting from meditation is to not overthink the practice. Find a space, clear your mind and let your breath guide your thoughts.
This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques:
- Sit or lie comfortably, making sure you are free of distractions.
- Close your eyes and try to clear your mind of all thoughts, except your breathing.
- Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, gently return your focus back to your breath.
Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods of time as you grow more accustomed to meditation practice.
Meditation in Addiction Recovery through an All-Encompassing, Holistic Approach to Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
With customized treatment plans that fit your unique recovery needs and offering an alternative to the
traditional 12-step program, Ranch Creek Recovery’s holistic treatment services can help you stop
abusing drugs or alcohol and build a fulfilling, clean future.
Through every treatment program, meditation, mindfulness and addiction recovery walk hand-in-hand, helping you center your mind, body and spirit as you begin to forge your new, sober life.
Our treatment programs have a six-client max. This allows us to provide you with complete, individualized care and 24/7 support.
Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.
1) National Center for Biotechnology Information. Mindfulness Meditation for Alcohol Relapse Prevention: A Feasibility Pilot Study. Accessed December 7, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4106278/
2) National Center for Biotechnology Information. Mindfulness meditation practice and executive functioning: Breaking down the benefit. Accessed December 7, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26784917