Meditation for addiction recovery is a powerful tool for controlling your response to urges and cravings. Getting in touch with your body on a more intimate level helps you become more aware of the changes which can predict the onset of cravings.
It can be hard to know where to start when integrating meditation into your recovery plan. Do a bit of research to figure out what form will be most effective for you. Guided videos can be a good place to start, but when the focus is meant to be inward, these things can be distracting. Just as with anything else you gain through sobriety, meditation for addiction recovery will take some time to get used to and master. Here’s where you should start:
The Basics: Concentration Vs. Mindfulness
Think all forms of meditating has the same goal? Wrong! Depending on your needs in the moment, you will either engage in concentration or mindfulness meditation.
What’s the difference?
Concentration meditation is perfect for dealing with anxiety and sudden urges. By focusing one’s mind on a single point all other things fall away, allowing one to stay centered in sobriety. Breathing techniques, single words or mantras, or even candles draw one’s focus away from the whirlwind that can become our thoughts and emotions. Beginning your journey here can help ease you into the more advanced form of meditating.
Mindfulness in practice is all about being aware of your thoughts and thought patterns. Focusing on following your thoughts without necessarily controlling or being engaged with them comes with practice, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work immediately. As you get better at meditating you will gain an inner balance and peace from mindful meditation.
Other meditation practices include:
- Tai chi, which is an ancient Chinese martial art form meaning “meditation in motion” and promoting stress and anxiety relief.
- Qi gong, another Chinese practice integrating physical postures and breathing techniques for inner peace.
- Walking meditation, which focuses on the flow of energy and body movements through slow, small steps.
- Guided visualization, in which a practitioner guides one through a meditative journey utilizing calming descriptive language
Benefits of Meditation
Beyond helping to control cravings and urges, meditating has both physical and mental health benefits. Meditation for addiction recovery has the additional benefits of:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering heart rate
- Slower breathing
- Less stress
- Anxiety control
- Promoting relaxation
Meditating can help you work through difficult thoughts and emotions safely; being in tune with yourself on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level promotes the type of healing necessary for long-term sobriety. So let’s get started, shall we?
How-To Guide to Meditation for Addiction Recovery
You want to begin with the proper environment. Experienced practitioners may be able to meditate just about anywhere, but to start, find a quiet area. Low external stimulation such as ambient noise is preferable.
When you’re ready sit down comfortably: don’t worry about sitting cross-legged or in any particular pose. Find your most comfortable chair or even lay down if necessary. Lighting incense, candles, or warming your favorite essential oils helps to sets up the right atmosphere for meditation.
Close your eyes. Not only does doing this help block out external stimuli , but it forces attention inward. Sitting with yourself this way helps you become aware of things you normally wouldn’t notice, like muscle tension. Take a moment to take a full inventory of your body and fall into sync with it.
Inhale and exhale as you would normally. Notice the way your chest and shoulders rise and fall as you do so. With each breath feel just a little more tension easing its way out of your body. On the next inhale feel your lungs inflate like a balloon in your chest cavity; be aware of the way they lift and carry your upper body upward.
Hold that breath for a moment, then as you exhale, feel everything slowly descend back to its original place. Empty your lungs completely and take a moment to feel how grounded this makes your body. Complete this cycle again, releasing any and all negative energy that has been stored in your mind and body throughout the day on each exhale. When you breathe back in, welcome with it positivity and light.
Meditation for addiction recovery is not about sitting prone for hours on end. Your first few sessions should be short: 2 to 3 minutes is fine. As you continue incorporating meditation into your life you can find time for longer sessions and to test out different methods to see what benefits you the most.
When Should I Practice Meditation?
Meditation can be a daily practice for winding down before bed or getting ready for the day. You can also keep your new meditative skills in your arsenal for combatting sudden urges. Having a set scheduled time for meditating can help keep you going strong throughout your busy week, but you don’t have to dedicate daily time to it. Use meditation as a method of keeping yourself mentally fit and healthy!