Have you heard of mindfulness meditation? It is a contemplative practice with thousands of years of history. This practice can be an effective treatment method in addiction recovery. It helps restore the mind-body connection while facilitating brain healing. Individuals in recovery can implement this practice to see progress in overall well-being and success in sobriety.
What Does Mindfulness Meditation Look Like?
When practicing mindfulness meditation, participants start by quietly paying attention to a bodily sensation. This can be their breath or the sensation of their feet anchored to the ground. When other thoughts arise, acknowledge them and let them pass. Then, they return their attention to their focal point.
During this practice, individuals might listen to music or a guided narration playing in the background. Or they might close their eyes and focus on the sounds in their environment. Participants can heighten their awareness of things around them by focusing on their breath or other environmental sensations. The key is to focus on one thing and return to it when thoughts wander.
How Can Mindfulness Meditation Help Addiction Recovery?
Mindfulness meditation is an effective method for addiction recovery because it helps the brain heal. A recovering individual’s brain can be impacted by cycles of compulsion caused by repeated substance use. Because the brain’s neurological pathways have been changed, a person may experience intense cravings. They also may have limited control over their actions.
While medications and psychotherapeutic interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help you identify and correct negative thought patterns, you still need a calm space to work through those thoughts. It is in the stillness that the brain can heal most naturally. Research shows that mindfulness meditation uses focused attention to calm the flood of internal and external stimuli in the brain.
What Happens to the Brain?
From a brain science perspective, meditation heals hedonic dysregulation of the brain, which is essential to relapse prevention. This is the main reason why people feel calm, content, relaxed, and even joyful after regular mindfulness meditation sessions.
Interventions such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are designed to cultivate sustainable changes in the brain’s chemical processes. They can strengthen the integrity of the brain’s cognitive control networks, a region that gets hijacked by substance-related cues and cravings.
Can Mindfulness Meditation Treat Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions?
Plenty of evidence shows that meditation is effective in treating co-occurring mental health issues among recovering individuals. Take anxiety and depression, for example. Mindfulness practices can regulate symptoms of these disorders by releasing a person from the nervous system’s habitual “fight or flight” response.
Anxiety can blow daily worries out of proportion. By practicing mindfulness, especially sessions with self-affirmative cues, a person may feel calmed of their intense worries. This method is essential in treating people with addiction and social anxiety disorder.
Mindfulness meditation has the potential to soften a person’s posture regarding future challenges. More specifically, this practice can help them think through how to respond rather than react to situations. This is achievable because as the brain’s prefrontal cortex becomes more connected to other areas in the brain, a person will feel less threatened by new things entering their environment or experience.
Can People Get Better Just by Doing This?
Even though mindfulness meditation has many benefits, it is still only considered a complementary treatment method alongside things like detox, therapy, and 12-Step groups. These traditional core programs are what get people to initial sobriety. As a long-term maintenance solution, mindfulness can be essential.
Implementing a healthy regimen by attending therapy sessions, 12-Step group meetings, and practicing mindfulness meditation on one’s own is a strong way to prevent relapse. Addiction is complex, so recovery should include a complex system made of many different methods.
How to Integrate Mindfulness Meditation Into Your Self-Care Regimen
Once recovering individuals overcome denial about addiction, it is important to learn about an attitude of acceptance, including accepting and even appreciating experiences rather than trying to escape from them. Mindfulness meditation trains the brain to stay in the present moment.
Stress management and relaxation are essential for relapse prevention. Both are crucial skills to learn. Most people are not even aware when they are becoming stressed because it happens gradually. Building in regular times throughout the day for meditation can be a crucial de-stressing mechanism.
In sum, mindful meditation is a highly effective and non-intrusive method to support a recovering individual’s ongoing recovery. It does so by reshaping the brain while restoring the mind-body connection. Although it can be challenging to stick with meditation patiently every day, those in recovery can rely on its benefits when they integrate it into their self-care plan.
When you are in recovery, you must learn effective self-care techniques, including stress management and relaxation. Mindfulness meditation has proven to be one of the most effective holistic approaches. You can work with a team of recovery experts to master authentic self-care skills that prevent relapses. Laguna Shores Recovery helps you become an expert in authentic self-care methods. Here, you will find that our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff know the value of positive support networks. Whether you need to distance yourself from unhealthy habits or relearn self-care methods for success, we can help. We integrate clinical and holistic healing methods. Call (866) 774-1532 to discover how you can be part of our strong recovery community.