For thousands of years, meditation and mindfulness have been used as a way to achieve wellness and even spiritual awakening. Modern science has proven that meditation and mindfulness can help people manage stress and maintain good brain health, which is fundamental to overall well-being.
In the field of addiction recovery, meditation and mindfulness are integral to holistic healing. Many treatment centers provide coaching on applying these techniques as part of relapse prevention plans. These two practices provide benefits for the mind and the body, improving both physical and mental health.
Defining Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation is a simple way to ground and calm you to achieve a mental state of calmness, relaxation, and positive awareness. It has been proven effective in reducing stress and anxiety. The basic techniques are simple, including taking deep breaths, chanting a mantra, or focusing on your sensory awareness of the moment. There are different kinds of meditations, including mindfulness meditation, breathing meditation, Zen meditation, walking meditation, guided meditation, and more.
Mindfulness can overlap with meditation, but it has its own distinct techniques. Several common practices can cultivate mindfulness, including yoga, tai chi, qigong, and some forms of martial arts. They help promote metacognitive awareness and enhance attentional capacity and memory retainment. Mindfulness essentially helps you be more intentional about your movements, decisions, thought processes, and physicality.
Top Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness
In the modern age where everything is in flux and people are busy chasing career aspirations and media news cycles, the benefits of meditation and mindfulness are obvious. First, they improve your level of concentration by forcing you to slow down and take things in one at a time. Meditation and mindfulness are contemplative activities that sharpen and sustain attention.
Second, meditation and mindfulness push out negative self-talk and thinking patterns to allow you to focus on positive thoughts. This creates balance and tranquility. By turning off other sensory stimuli in your environment, meditation and mindfulness soothe the brain by focusing on less.
Lastly, these practices help increase compassion towards yourself and others. This is because an increased level of concentration often leads to less judgmental and more empathic emotional responses. When applying this calmness to a sense of self, you are more likely to accept and forgive yourself. The same applies to interpersonal relationships.
Brain Science Affirms These Benefits
The attention and acceptance aspects of meditation and mindfulness can significantly reduce stress caused by self-judgment and a chaotic emotional state. Scientists find these practices influence two different stress pathways in the brain, changing brain structures in regions associated with attention and emotion regulation. By reducing distractions, your brain cells can better regulate the flow of information, leading to more cognitive awareness.
Scientists find mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy and cognitive therapy successful in many areas. Research shows that people receiving these therapies are less likely to react with negative thoughts or overly emotional responses in times of stress. People who practice mindfulness regularly tend to experience fewer depressive symptoms and emotional reactivity. People who have completed a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program may show “structural and functional brain changes” that are conducive to mental health.
Returning to the Basics
At its core, mindfulness is a natural human state in which you experience and attend to the present. This natural state does not dwell on past mistakes with guilt or project worries into the future. Unfortunately, modern-day people need to relearn this basic skill because we are overloaded with information and other demands in life. Mindfulness is a way to unload and return to the basics of self.
Because meditation and mindfulness allow you to connect with yourself, they are integral to a self-care regimen. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals and caregivers are encouraged to use meditation and mindfulness for reducing stress and anxiety. People with anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder can also benefit greatly from these practices.
Practice Techniques of Mindfulness Meditation
There are many ways to practice mindfulness as long as you achieve a state of relaxation and alertness by paying attention to thoughts and sensations at the present moment without judgment. Basic mindfulness meditation involves sitting quietly and focusing on your natural breathing patterns. You can also repeat an uplifting word such as “joy” or “peace” to center yourself while observing your breathing patterns.
Sensory mindfulness practices guide you to notice subtle body sensations without judgment and let them pass. You can also notice sounds and smells in the environment, acknowledge them, and let them be. Allow emotions to be present, name them, and let them pass.
When coping with urges and cravings, mindfulness techniques also allow you to notice them and allow them to pass without judgment. Notice how your body feels as cravings come and go. Gradually, you will grow into the certainty that although a craving might emerge, it will subside when you wait or focus on other sensory experiences.
Did you know that meditation and mindfulness are effective means to help people recover from the harmful influences of drugs and alcohol? Meditation and mindfulness can help people manage stress and maintain good brain health, which is fundamental to overall well-being. If you are considering addiction treatment, choosing a facility that follows a holistic approach by including meditation and mindfulness can boost your chance of long-term recovery. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists are experts in these two areas. Many of our staff have been in recovery themselves, and have benefited from these methods. We help you design custom treatment plans to see that life begins once you get sober. Our full medical residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, and 12-step programs. We commit to first-class service, and meeting your needs is our top priority. Call us at (866) 906-3203. We can help you recover and thrive.