As you sit here reading this, try to close your eyes and take a few breaths in and out. Sit in a comfortable position, whether that’s on the floor, in a chair, in a bed or outside somewhere where you can feel the wind blowing and the birds chirping. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, count your breaths in (1, 2, 3) and then out (1, 2, 3). Continue to do this for several moments, taking notice of the thoughts that come in and out of your mind frame, and the rise and fall of your stomach with each breath. This is meditation.
Meditation looks different for everyone, but it’s generally a beautiful practice that helps individuals get more centered with themselves. Meditation has been practiced for hundreds, if not thousands of years – and with that comes a greater sense of calm and enlightenment. In addiction recovery, meditation can help a person feel peace amidst the chaos, which can feel overwhelming as different changes may be taking place.
While not exhaustive, meditation can completely transform us from the inside out. Some research suggests that meditation can also benefit people with breathing problems, anxiety, different types of cancer, issues with chronic pain, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep problems, and headaches. All of these issues can have a significant impact on daily life, not to mention the other issues that arise from substance abuse – and with meditation being such a strong, positive practice for healing, it’s no wonder why so many people are choosing to practice it daily.
Meditation is considered a practice in which a person focuses on a particular object, thought, or activity in order to achieve a calming mental and emotional state of clarity. Meditation can help in changing pathways in the brain that are responsible for learning, memory, and self-regulatory processes, which also can be negatively affected by addiction. If you’ve been considering embarking on the meditation journey while in an addiction recovery program at Avalon Malibu, the following are some (but not all – there’s many!) amazing benefits:
- Greater chance of relapse
- Lower blood pressure (which substance abuse can make high)
- Relief from the harsh effects of anxiety
- Improved immune system
- Enhanced sleep
- Greater regulation of dopamine and serotonin
- Being able to make healthier decisions because of increased coping mechanisms
- And more
The truth is many people who are new to trying meditation find it difficult because they hold too high of expectations for themselves. Don’t attempt to achieve the length of time that some of the most experienced meditation leaders practice – 45 minutes to an hour of meditation is likely going to make anyone new to meditation feel discomforted. At the beginning of meditation practice, it’s best for you to start small – try 5 minutes, then 10, then 15 – as you become more comfortable and confident with it, you’ll find that it becomes easier to just sit still and “be”.
The following are a few examples of meditation that you can try:
- Eating meditation – practice with a small food item, such as a raisin. Before you eat the raisin, recognize its color, shape, size, and texture. Imagine how the entire process went from the grapes being grown to how the raisin ended up right in front of you. Pick up the raisin and begin eating it. Recognize how it tastes, how it feels as you eat it, and what it looks like. This may sound silly, but the purpose is to really tune into the present moment.
- Walking meditation – with this form of meditation, you can go to a park or simply walk around your neighborhood – just make sure you find a place where you can focus. Take small steps, and feel the way your body moves with each step. What comes up for you? What do you notice within yourself and within your environment?
- Sensory meditation – this may involve sitting, but it nonetheless will have you focused on your surroundings. Select one or more of your senses – sight, touch, taste, sound, etc. What do you experience? For example, if you go with sight, you may want to spend a few moments sitting and looking at the things around you for their colors and textures.
As with any routine, it can be helpful to practice meditation at certain times of the day and/or certain days of the week if you hope to make it part of your daily life. In doing this, over time, it will become easier to practice because you will have established a system that becomes more regular for you. Some options for practicing meditation include right before you go to sleep, soon after you wake up, or right before you eat your breakfast/lunch/dinner.
If you’re ready to practice meditation and incorporate it as part of your addiction recovery journey, speak with a professional from True Recovery today. Your journey hasn’t ended – in fact, it has just begun. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with mental health challenges, addiction, and substance use problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.