Meditation in Addiction Recovery

In addition to traditional psychotherapy, Journey offers a variety of alternative therapies, including several forms of guided meditation. Journey’s therapists are in a unique position to teach meditation. Not only do they believe in its therapeutic benefits, they practice it themselves. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.

Many people know something about meditation and most assume it has to do with Eastern religions, sitting in uncomfortable poses and holding your hands in a specific way. While you can certainly approach meditation in that way, these are not requirements.

Why Meditate?

There is significant evidence that meditation is beneficial to physical and mental health. Some specific benefits of meditation that have been documented include:

  • Better mental functioning, including focus, attention and ability to concentrate
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms
  • Improved ability to cope with strong emotions, including loneliness or sadness
  • Reduced levels of stress hormones in your body

Meditation Basics

The idea behind meditation is simple: just as the body needs rest, so does the mind. And just as rest gives the body an opportunity to heal, grow or perform at its optimum level, so too does meditative rest for your mind. Setting aside some time each day to not think and allow the mind to rest is what meditation practice is all about.

There are many different ways to enjoy this experience. For some people, meditation goes beyond rest and becomes an opportunity to experience the spiritual self. Once you still the mind and quiet the chatter of thoughts, the silence can be quite profound and spiritual. Many religions make use of meditation as a way to deepen one’s connection to a sense of the infinite, but meditation does not need to be a religious experience.

Meditation can occur in many contexts. For example, it is a fundamental part of yoga. Yogic meditation typically uses the breath as a way to still the mind. Some other practices include repeating a word, either out loud or silently, as a way to make all the other thoughts become quiet. Finally, some practices involve staring at an object or a painting as a way to allow the rest of the world to drop away. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.

Getting Started

Suggest meditation to someone unfamiliar with this practice and you’ll likely get a mime of the lotus pose with fingers stiffened into thumb-and-finger circles. While some practices do suggest sitting this way, many suggest instead that you sit as comfortably as possible, and lying down is not out of the question. Many practitioners of meditation like to set a timer so that checking the clock isn’t necessary. For a beginner, two minutes can be plenty. After getting comfortable with the practice, 20 minutes a day is fairly standard.

What happens next? Well, for most beginners, your mind decides to think about everything at warp speed. Trying to quiet the mind can be like trying to walk a 3-month-old puppy on a leash for the first time. The puppy will bite the leash, jump, pull, and dance… anything but walk! Similarly, your mind will likely dance a jig, with worries, plans, random thoughts and memories bubbling up before getting quiet. That’s totally normal. Meditation takes some patience. Trying to “not think” is harder than it might sound. It is common to feel frustrated at first, and it is also common to fall asleep.

So what do you actually do while you sit there? The easiest “recipe” for meditation is to focus on your breath. Listen to the sound it makes, and allow your breath to fill your awareness. You will have moments where it feels like it’s working, and then you’ll have a thought pop up. Acknowledge that this happened, and then refocus on your breath. It’s OK if this process of acknowledging a thought and refocusing happens repeatedly—over time it will get easier and you’ll have longer and longer stretches where you are able to focus on breathing. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.

Meditation is a great skill to develop as you heal from addiction; it can help you move from simply being clean and sober to living a full, meaningful life and loving it.