Why Meditation Helps Recovery
What if someone said you could feel more calm, stop racing thoughts, control triggers, and sleep better by doing just one thing for 5 or 10 minutes a day? Oh, and it usually doesn’t cost anything. Would you do it? If yes, then let’s talk about how meditation helps recovery.
It’s easy for people first hearing about meditation to picture a long-haired flower child on a mountaintop, legs crossed, staring into the sunrise. And that’s a good (and occasionally, accurate!) mental image. However, millions of people all over the world practice meditation. Since it’s easy to do and doesn’t require special equipment, it’s accessible to anyone who wants to accept peace, calm, and stillness into their lives for a few minutes.
So what is it? Merriam-Webster offers numerous definitions—one of which might speak to you. “Meditate” means:
- To spend time in quiet thought for religious purposes or relaxation.
- To engage in contemplation or reflection.
- To engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.
- To focus one’s thoughts on, reflect on, or ponder over.
- To plan or project in the mind.
While multiple religions feature meditation techniques, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judiasm, you don’t need religious or even spiritual beliefs to practice it. It’s more commonly used for relaxation and stress relief, which is why many people use meditation for recovery wellness.
How effective is meditation? Researchers continue to explore the possibilities. After careful consideration, the magazine Mindful featured its top 10 points about “contemplative neuroscience” studies that it feels are valid.
1. Meditation helps people increase their attention span, improves the ability to solve problems, and reduces mind-wandering.
2. Individuals seem to have more positive relationships with each other when they practice mindful meditation.
3. While it’s known that meditation helps reduce stress, some studies suggest that people develop better stress resilience as well because consistent practice lowers inflammation and helps to regulate the nervous system.
4. Regular practice can also be another tool individuals use to more effectively manage symptoms of mental health issues.
5. It may also help with our overall perceptions of people and circumstances, reducing “our natural tendency to focus on the negative things in life.”
6. Regarding meditation’s benefits on physical health, studies are a little less conclusive, with the exception of lowered inflammation and improved immunity. There’s a possibility that mindfulness makes it easier to reinforce healthy habits, such as adhering to a whole foods diet and regular exercise routine.
7. There’s strong support that meditation allows us to be more compassionate, especially when we see someone else suffering, and more likely to take action.
8. People who’ve suffered severe trauma without healthy resolution might have difficulty with meditation at first, as sitting in silence can bring up unwanted memories. The suggestion is they should try more present-moment exercises, such as following the rhythm of their breath or feeling all the sensations of doing dishes, to foster more calm.
9. Meditation research is also unclear as to how long to practice, as “empirical research has yet to arrive at a consensus about how much is ‘enough.’” The primary point? Try some type of calming practice every day in whatever way suits you.
10. Studies also can’t seem to quantify what type of meditation is “right” but that doesn’t seem to matter. If you’re interested in it, there are numerous styles of meditation to try, and one is bound to be right for you.
The Mayo Clinic lists additional wellness possibilities for meditation practice, including enhanced mood, better sleep, and more control over chronic pain. In this article, it offers a complete review.
How Meditation Helps Your Recovery
- Now that you’ve had the chance to reflect on the possibilities of meditation, in what ways might it help your recovery goals? Let’s take a few of the above points and brainstorm a bit.
- If you feel that stress seems to push you to the edge more often than you’d like, a breathing exercise combined with a couple of minutes of quiet reflection might be the perfect pause. It could help reduce an immediate reaction to the usual triggers or help curb cravings.
- Using a walking meditation allows you to instill a sense of calm and get moving at the same time. Win-win!
- Asking other people in your group recovery session or 12-Step meeting about the types of meditation and present-moment exercises they use helps foster a greater sense of belonging because of this shared interest.
- Having a free and easy method to promote better sleep and reduce inflammation might help with some of your other wellness goals, such as managing emotional, mental, or physical health because you naturally feel better.
- Even if you pride yourself on being more of a realist, having relief from negative thoughts and perceptions of the world around you benefits your mental health and gives you hope in what you want to achieve.
We Are Ready to Help
At Seabrook, our staff wants to understand what works for your wellness, and we strive to provide all the tools and information you can count on to prevent relapse. Review our other holistic therapeutic practices to learn what else supports your rich life of sobriety.