Meditation has moved out of the spiritual realm and into the medical field. Studies have shown that meditation assists in recovery from illnesses of the mind and the body. It also helps those in recovery from addiction.
How Meditation Promotes Recovery
People battling addiction have far more stress than the average person. Cravings plague us. Resentments gnaw at us. We live in a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Meditation assists with all of these. Clinical investigations show that meditation alone provides the following benefits:
• Stress relief
• Improved emotional awareness
• More control over anxiety
• Identifying addiction triggers
• Greater compassion towards self and others
• Increase in positive neural transmitters
• More flexible thinking and problem-solving
• Promotion of acceptance
• Cultivation of better coping skills
Add meditation with talk-therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise and medication-assisted treatment, and the results are even more profound.
What is Meditation?
In general, meditation is nothing more than training the mind to relax and focus. Then seeing the patterns of the mind from a detached emotional state. It fosters calm and reduces stress by directing thoughts inward or drawing attention to the present moment. Through concentrating on a simple concept, racing thoughts are released. Relaxing physically eliminates strain on the body.
The natural image that occurs when we think of meditation is of a monk sitting in the lotus position, peaceful and tranquil. It conjures images of deep serenity and oneness with the universe. This is only partially true. In fact, there are as many different types of meditation as there are those who practice it.
Types of Meditation
There’s no wrong way to meditate. The methods are easy and require no special training to accomplish.
The most popular types of meditation for recovery are:
Typically accomplished by focusing on the breath and merely watching your thoughts and the air as it passes into and out of your body. The goal is to be aware of what you think and how you feel so as to know what thoughts or feelings are troubling you. You detach from these thoughts, and because you are detached you can observe them without allowing them to carry you away. According to scientific research, this style is one of the most useful in addiction recovery.
When picturing a monk sitting serenely in meditation, she or he may be chanting “Om.” This is mantra meditation. A basic word or phrase – called a mantra, taken from the Vedic tradition – is repeated over and over. The goal here is to focus the mind on the word while releasing other thoughts. Transcendental Meditation is one form of mantra meditation.
All meditation involves relaxation, but in this style, the entire goal is to soothe the mind and body by tensing and then relaxing muscles. Start at the feet and strain them, then release. Move up the legs. Then the arms, chest, neck, and face. By doing this, tension releases and the brain focuses on the body instead of stressful thoughts.
Emotions are the focus of loving-kindness making it particularly useful for anyone with resentment or anger. Compassionate thinking and openness toward to love toward one’s self, family and all life is the aim.
During visualization, a happy, unworried place is pictured. It allows the person to mentally live in that place and generates the feelings that space creates. Using all five senses helps add texture, which makes the relaxation deeper and the emotions more real.
This list is by no means comprehensive. Not every style is right for every person. Experiment with each, use combinations or blaze a trail to find a new style that allows you to unwind.