No matter what substance you use, if you do it regularly, some changes leading to addiction inevitably occur in your brain. To rewire an addicted brain, you need to undergo a treatment process that will heal not only body but mind as well. Reaching abstinence is a big victory. But the struggle will continue as you will face triggering situations in your life. Fortunately, there is a method that can help you stop reacting to such triggers. This method is called meditation.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is used in outpatient rehab centers but can also be used by anyone at home for the same purpose. This practice involves safe exercise with a focus on the mind-body connection. The goal is to foster well-being.
There are many meditation techniques. But the clients of outpatient drug rehab centers are taught the techniques that are within beginners’ capabilities. Here are the most popular and effective.
Though this technique is one of the simplest, it’s still very effective. The goal is to reinforce your awareness and observe your thoughts and sensations – to do the things addicted people often don’t do. Here’s how you can practice it:
- Sit up straight. Your spine, neck, and head should be in one line. Put your hands where they are comfortable (if you’ve tried yoga or stretching, you may feel comfortable in the traditional cross-legged posture).
- Close your eyes.
- Sit quietly and still. Allow your thoughts and sensations to wander in and out of the body without labeling them as good or bad.
- You can open your eyes if you want. But you should direct them a few feet in front of the body, fixing your gaze on a fixed object on the ground.
- If you stop focusing on your thoughts and concentrate on your breath or some object, you are doing everything right. Now you can proceed to the next technique.
The purpose of breathing meditation is to calm the mind and develop inner peace. It’s easy to practice:
- Sit in the same position as for the first technique and close your eyes.
- Concentrate on your breath. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly.
- Relax the muscles. Take the energy your brain spends on thinking about your cravings and divert it toward your body.
- Pay careful attention to breathing. Feel how air is coming in and out through your nostrils.
- If some thoughts start to distract you, return to your breathing.
This technique isn’t usually included in outpatient rehab programs. But you should try it at home. It is an effective way to deal with the burden of your old drug-related thoughts. Make sure you have enough time and start:
- Run a warm bath.
- It is a good idea to mix it with aromatherapy, and light aroma candles or add bath salts or oils.
- Turn off the tap but allow for small drips of warm water to continue dripping into the tub.
- Plant yourself in the bath in a comfortable body position.
- Focus on breathing as described in the above technique.
- If your mind gets distracted, return the focus to the sound of the dripping water.
People usually meditate while sitting still. But the Buddha himself recommended meditating while moving. This technique is aimed at immersing in the world of nature which implies an absence of thought and a sense of unity with nature. Here’s how to practice it:
- Find a perfect place for this technique: a garden, forest, lake, river, or other natural surroundings near your house.
- You can walk, run, or ride a bicycle. The emphasis is not on your motion, but a state of mind. If you choose walking or running, keep your focus on your feet hitting the ground. If you are cycling, focus on your feet pushing the pedals.
- With every step you take, imagine how negative energy is leaving and positive energy takes up vacant space.
- Pay attention to the processes in your body – the contraction and relaxation of the muscles, the air coming in and out, the blood coursing through your veins.
The length of a meditation session depends on the time you need to feel fulfillment. Usually, 10-15 minutes is enough.
What Does Science Say about the Role of Meditation in Addiction Treatment?
The benefits of meditation were once viewed as “out there” and “alternative”. You may also underestimate the advantages of this unconventional approach and start searching for “outpatient rehab near me”. But today, holistic outpatient rehab is valued for helping its clients to find the balance between their physical, mental, and spiritual selves which is vital for recovering addicts.
Holistic methods have already been validated by science. A 2006 study done by researchers from the University of Washington showed preliminary support for the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation as a treatment for substance use disorders. And according to a study published on the nih.gov, meditation practices can be an effective adjunctive therapy for relapse prevention in alcohol dependence.
Why is meditation so effective? Intoxication stimulates activity in the prefrontal cortex (the brain’s happiness center), and during withdrawal, it’s extremely under-active. Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, conducted a study in 2005 and found out that meditators had more neural density, cortical thickness, and overall activity within the prefrontal cortex. That means that meditation stimulates and trains the brain to feel happy (“a natural high”) without drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or taking drugs.
There’s also evidence that meditation relieves anxiety, reduces stress, helps to cope with depression, strengthens the body’s immune system, and improves sleep. So, it suppresses the withdrawal symptoms.
With so many health benefits, it’s not a surprise that meditation is incorporated in addiction treatment programs. But the major benefit is the opportunity to practice it at home and reap all those benefits for free.
Author Bio: Gordon Goad is a writer focused on sharing information on addiction treatment and rehabilitation. He also provides people suffering from addiction with psychological support and creates innovative treatment programs for outpatient drug rehabilitation.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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