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Meditation for Addiction: How It Can Help

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One of the many challenges of maintaining your sobriety is replacing unhealthy habits with more productive activities. As you determine what types of lifestyle changes you need to make, don’t overlook the many benefits of meditation for addiction recovery. 

What Is Meditation?

Meditation isn’t just one activity. This term encompasses a variety of practices, many of which date back thousands of years, that share common features such as:

  • Calming the mind
  • Reinforcing the mind-body connection
  • Establishing inner peace
  • Being fully present in the moment

While you are meditating, you will often focus your full attention on one point, such as your breath or a mantra (a specific word, sound, or phrase that you repeat softly or mentally). 

When thoughts and feelings arise, you can acknowledge them, allow them to dissipate, and return your attention to your breath or other point of focus.

Types of Meditation for Addiction

Meditation for addiction isn’t a separate practice from other forms of meditation. Instead, this refers to ways that you can use meditation to improve your relapse-prevention skills and protect your recovery.

We’ll discuss the benefits of meditation for addiction recovery in the next section. Below, we’ll highlight a few of the many types of meditation that can be helpful:

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is what many people visualize when they hear the word “meditation.” Mindfulness itself refers to the practice of accepting your thoughts, emotions, and environment without judgement. 

During a mindfulness meditation session, you will sit quietly in a chair or on the floor with your eyes closed. You will direct your attention toward your breathing, and what your body feels like as you inhale and exhale. As we noted in the previous section, when you notice that your mind has begun to wander, you simply refocus your attention on your breath and begin again.

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation is similar to mindfulness meditation. However, instead of focusing on your breath, you will follow the directions of a teacher. Guided meditation sessions can be conducted in person or online. You can also access recordings of guided meditations, so you can practice whenever it’s most convenient for you.

Guided meditation can be an excellent option for people who are new to the concept of meditating. Having an experienced meditator talk you through the process can help you become more comfortable with the idea of meditating and alleviate your anxiety about not doing it “correctly.”

Walking Meditation

The definition of walking meditation is summed up pretty well in the name of this practice. Unlike traditional mindfulness or guided meditations, where practitioners sit on chairs, pillows, or the floor, walking meditation is a more active option. 

Another key difference between walking meditation and either mindfulness or guided meditation is where you place your attention. Instead of focusing on your breath or on the words of the person who is leading the session, you will pay close attention to all five of your senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell), as well as your surroundings.

Transcendental Meditation

If you are of a certain age – or a fan of music history – you may associate transcendental meditation (TM) with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the Beatles. The Maharishi is the founder of TM, which received a significant boost in popularity in the late 1960s when the Fab Four and their entourage traveled to India to meet with him and learn this practice.

Here’s how TM teacher Deboragh Varnel describes the difference between transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation: 

“The main difference between the two is that the goal of mindfulness meditation is to have one’s thoughts be on the present moment, whereas with transcendental meditation, the goal is to transcend thought itself and experience a state of ‘pure awareness,’ in which one is aware but without an object of thought.”

Metta Meditation

Also referred to as loving-kindness meditation, metta meditation differs from the other forms discussed in this post by encouraging practitioners to direct their thoughts outward instead of focusing solely on their breath, a mantra, or their immediate environment. 

Metta meditation sessions involve sending thoughts of peace, happiness, safety, and joy to yourself and to others. Examples of these types of thoughts can include: “May I be safe, healthy, and happy. May you [thinking of a specific individual] be filled with loving-kindness. May all beings be peaceful and filled with joy.”

man meditation during addiction treatment in nashville, tn

Benefits of Meditation for Addiction

Meditation for addiction recovery offers a range of benefits, such as:

  • Stress management: Healthy stress-management skills can be essential tools for maintaining your recovery. Several studies have documented meditation’s ability to ease stress, anxiety, and similar negative emotions. 
  • Remaining present: When you are meditating, you’re not beating yourself up over past mistakes or worrying about current or future challenges. Similar to the “one day at a time” saying that is so prevalent in the recovery community, meditation encourages you to focus on one moment at a time. 
  • Improved physical health: Even though most forms of meditation involve limited or no movement, the practice can still yield various physical health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure and improved functioning of the immune system. For someone whose body had been subjected to the devastating impact of active substance abuse, meditation can be an opportunity to heal physically as well as mentally.
  • Connecting with others: Meditation doesn’t involve any direct interactions with other people. But it is common for people to meditate alongside others, either by being in the same room or by joining an online meditation session. Meditation classes, retreats, and similar gatherings can be excellent opportunities to connect with others who are committed to living a healthier, more mindful life.

Learn More Benefits on Meditation for Addiction at Nashville Treatment Solutions

Meditation can clearly be a beneficial activity for people who are working to maintain their recovery. But if you are still in the throes of active addiction, meditation alone may not be enough to help you overcome your self-defeating urges.

Nashville Treatment Solutions offers personalized outpatient programming for adults who have become addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Your options at our rehab in Nashville, Tennessee, include a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an evening IOP, and an outpatient program (OP).

In each of these programs, you can expect to receive customized care from a team of skilled and experienced professionals. With our help, you can stop using drugs and start living the healthier life you deserve.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.