When you first hear the word ‘meditation,’ what comes to mind? We often think of tranquility, peace, sitting with legs folded in a lotus pose, waterfalls, zen gardens. These ideas—though not totally unrelated—come from the fact that meditation stems from Eastern traditions, but it is much more than that. Meditation is a very layered practice that becomes stronger with time and diligence, and has become much more available around the world in recent years because of the many benefits it provides. It can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and has also been found to be incredibly helpful for people in early recovery who are looking to recenter themselves, both mind and body.
As research has shown, recovering from substance abuse involves more than just cutting out harmful substances. It often requires deep self-reflection on one’s history, decisions, behaviors, and core values. Many who suffer from addiction find it difficult to be aware of themselves and their surroundings. They often feel like they are sleepwalking through life, interacting with others superficially, and doing the bare minimum to keep up a normal appearance for fear of their addiction being found out. This survivalist behavior leads to a lack of connection with the world around them, creating more space for loneliness, feelings of self-doubt, and despair to fester. The person then reaches for substances to cope, and the cycle continues.
Once a person has the substances removed from their body, they can start feeling things again. It’s almost like a long-dormant car being started up. The world begins to come back into color, focus and connection begin to return. At this very vulnerable point in a person’s recovery journey, they must have ample opportunity to focus inward, and meditation is the perfect vehicle for them to do so.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is defined by Merriam Webster as “engaging in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.” This practice helps a person feel connected to themselves and their body, and generally involves sitting quietly and trying to clear the mind.
One of the great things about meditation is that it can be done from any place, at any time. It is often suggested to beginners to start off in a quiet, serene environment, with gentle background music if they prefer. The person is encouraged to relax their body but sit or lie in a way that they are aware of their physical presence, but are focusing inward rather than outward. Here are some other suggestions on how to first begin:
- Focus on your breathing
- Try to clear your mind
- Make sure you are in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes
- Continue focusing on your breathing for at least 5 minutes to start
As you become more experienced with the process, you can increase your time (some practices can go on for days!) and try different types of meditation, too. Some of those are:
- Guided: A teacher or speaker guides you through the steps and techniques of this meditation practice and can be great for beginners who are starting out
- Unguided: Often with silence or relaxing music, this is done on your own without a guide
- Focused attention: Practice that primarily focuses on the breath to settle your mind
- Body Scan: This practice can be done lying down, and is essentially designed to synchronize your body and mind from the top of your head down to your toes. It helps you tap into your mind as well as your physical self
- Loving Kindness: Invites you to think of a person or group of people for whom you wish to gain some good energy and positivity
- Reflection: This type asks you to try to separate your thoughts from your feelings, and to let your emotions guide you toward an answer for a simple question, such as, ‘What is bringing you peace today?’
A seasoned meditation practitioner often has their own tailored routine that is best suited to them, but you are free to explore the different variations until you find the right one for you. You may choose to mix them up to keep experiencing new planes of mindfulness—it’s a fun way to challenge yourself and explore what’s out there.
How Meditation Aids in Recovery
The benefits of meditation for those in recovery make it well worth the effort. It can assist with blood pressure, the immune system, digestion, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and depression. These physical aspects are akin to those you’ll find through yoga or taking walks in nature. Calming the mind also calms the body, which is often greatly needed after any bout with substance addiction. As you get to know your newly sober self, your mind, body and spirit will have an easier time syncing up with practicing mindful meditation.
Meditation can be implemented into recovery in many ways. It is frequently a core aspect of 12-Step programs, which involve the acknowledgment of mindfulness, self-awareness, and spirituality. Meditation exercises are often practiced in the mornings or evenings at many programs, and can serve as a great ‘bookend’ to begin or end your day.
Meditation Practice at Granite Recovery Centers
Beginning one’s own recovery journey involves foundational shifts in thinking, as it requires the person to leave behind a host of negative and limiting beliefs and behaviors, but to also align with the present moment and what’s going on around them. Meditation can replace feelings of disconnectedness with renewed presence, mindfulness, and dedication towards a healthier life.
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire includes meditation in its treatment plans for substance abuse, along with proven 12-step Programs and compassionate clinical approaches. We’ll help you or your loved one find the meaning, purpose, and hope that has been missing, and is such a vital part of their recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out to our Admissions Team at 866.913.7957 . We can help.