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Meditation & Addiction Recovery: How One Helps the Other

Meditation offers numerous benefits for both your mental and spiritual health, while helping to heal the physical and spiritual damages of addiction. For this reason, many recovery programs and sober living homes include meditation as part of the recovery process and treatment.

There are many different methods you can try, depending on your preference. These include practicing meditation:

  • Alone or in a group
  • In silence or accompanied by ambient music/sounds
  • In a calm, quiet area or in the middle of daily life

Whatever method you choose, practicing meditation consistently helps you acquire its positive effects for your overall well-being.

Benefits of Meditation

There are numerous benefits of meditation that can improve different areas of your life, which in turn helps you progress in your addiction recovery.

Physical

Meditation can improve your physical well-being by lowering blood pressure, increasing serotonin production, and releasing pain from tension. Studies also show that meditation can increase your immune system and help with pain relief. Stress management also becomes easier and you will be able to sleep more soundly.

Mental/Psychological

Meditation has several mental and psychological benefits, including a decrease in anxiety and stress and an increase in overall calmness. Your ability to focus will likely become easier, and you will also see improvements in your emotional stability and peace of mind. By meditating consistently, you are sure to feel more relaxed.

Spiritual

The spiritual benefits of meditation include a heightened sense of awareness, an increase in open-mindedness, and more access to your creativity. Overall, this can leave you feeling happier and more connected to yourself.

How Meditation Helps Addiction Recovery

The benefits of meditation work together with many other aspects of recovery, including physical exercise, healthy eating, emotional regulation, rebuilding relationships, and more. By retraining your mind, you can find ways to calm yourself, set boundaries, and become more aware of your body and emotions.

According to neurological studies, meditation and other mindfulness activities influence the amygdala, the part in the center of the brain that regulates emotions. Meditation relaxes the amygdala, causing the central nervous system to counteract the anxiety response by lowering your heart rate, slowing your breathing, and stopping cortisol and adrenaline production.

Meditation can help you detach your mind from urges and cravings, ultimately helping to prevent relapse. Some exercises you can do to help with addiction recovery include:

  • Breathing: Focus on your inhales and exhales.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Become more aware of every part of your body as you relax your muscles from head to toe.
  • Mantra-based: Repeat a word, sound, or phrase to keep your mind from wandering during meditation.
  • Guided: A trained teacher will guide your meditation verbally online or in-person.
  • Movement meditation: Meditate while engaging in physical movements such as walking, hiking, surfing, or yoga. Be aware of each body part as it moves.

How to Start Meditating

Meditation can be a daunting task at the beginning. Taking the proper steps to calm your mind and begin the process can help ease any anxiety. This way, you can begin proper meditation exercises to aid you in recovery.

First off, make sure you are comfortable and prepared to sit still for a few minutes. Begin by focusing on your breath. Where do you feel your breathing most, in your belly or your nose? Focus on the breath for two minutes. As you breathe, take deep breaths to feel your belly expand and contract as you breathe in and out.

Each time you have a meditation session, try to gradually increase the time. Take notice if your mind wanders during each session. Analyze how good you feel while being centered with yourself.

Other Mindfulness Activities

If meditation isn’t your thing, there are other mindfulness activities to try in your journey to recovery.

Yawn & Stretch

Once per hour, yawn very slowly while stretching your arms up. Pay attention to how you feel both mentally and physically at that moment. After the yawn, sit in place for at least 20 seconds to take in everything around you, then return to what you were doing before.

Three Hugs, Three Breaths

Hug another person tight and take three deep breaths together. This can make you feel more connected to another human being while also helping to ground you.

Stroke Your Hands

Close your eyes, then take the index finger of your right hand and slowly move it vertically on the outside of the fingers on your left hand. Once you finish your left hand, switch hands, and repeat the process.

Mindfully Eating

Taking a raisin or piece of chocolate, eat it slowly. Focus on each aspect of it, noticing how it tastes and feels in your mouth. Savor it and smile in between bites. Take notice of it by seeing it, touching it, smelling it, tasting it, and sensing it. Let the taste linger and swallow. Smile and repeat until you are done eating.

STOP

  • Stand up and breathe: Feel your connection with the planet around you.
  • Tune into your body: Become aware of your body and emotions. Breathe out any negativity, and inhale positivity.
  • Observe: Lift up your eyes and examine your surroundings. Focus on something beautiful, expressing gratitude for its beauty.
  • Possibility: Ask yourself what is possible, new, or a progressive step forward.

Meditation has numerous benefits, both for your overall well-being and recovery. Take this opportunity now to become more at peace with yourself.

Many recovered addicts can attest to the benefits of meditation in recovery. That is why Camelback Recovery makes meditation a part of the healing process. Our sober living homes and recovery programs can help you achieve long-term sobriety. To learn more, call us today at (602) 466-9880.

How Does Wellness Affect Your Recovery?

Health and wellness are common tools in recovery that are used to stay sober and clean. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “wellness” refers to being in good mental and physical health.

Of course, this can encapsulate many different areas of your life, and not every treatment program promotes the same types of wellness. Keep reading to gain a deeper understanding of wellness and the role it plays in your recovery journey.

Types of Wellness

There are eight main classifications of wellness:

  • Emotional wellness: Dealing with life appropriately and maintaining healthy relationships
  • Environmental wellness: Placing yourself in a supportive environment that promotes health and well-being
  • Financial wellness: Being content with your current and future financial situation
  • Intellectual wellness: Constantly expanding your knowledge, skills, and creativity
  • Occupational wellness: Being happy with your professional life
  • Physical wellness: Exercising, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting enough sleep
  • Social wellness: Promoting positive interpersonal relationships and cultivating a healthy support network
  • Spiritual wellness: Having a sense of purpose and meaning in your life (not necessarily religious)

Many treatment facilities work to promote these different areas of wellness. This is why so many programs focus on exercise, clearing your mind, improving self-awareness, finding purpose, and more. Taking care of your health and wellness — mental, physical, and otherwise — can give you the sense of a fresh start. This ultimately gives a person new meaning in their life as well as a more positive outlook.

Physical Health & Wellness

Addicts who have just entered recovery first must go through detox. This can result in poor nutrition due to diarrhea, vomiting, insomnia, muscle cramps, and flu-like symptoms. Alcohol abuse specifically can lead to mineral deficiencies as well as damages to the pancreas, liver, brain, and heart.

It’s important to initially replenish a detoxing individual’s vitamins and minerals. You must also be sure to keep them hydrated to get their body properly functioning again.

Once someone has gone through detox, it is essential to keep up regular exercise and a healthy diet throughout rehabilitation and the following treatment(s). A diet full of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy is crucial. Exercise also helps to release endorphins and stimulate serotonin production in the brain.

Taking care of your body physically can help progress your journey to sobriety when combined with taking care of your other areas of wellness. Health and wellness should be treated in a holistic approach in order to maximize each dimension of wellness. This helps to process memories, emotions, and challenges from a more secure mindset.

Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness has an enormous impact on sobriety. You will be taught skills to help you become aware and more adequately analyze your thoughts, moods, feelings, and behaviors. You must learn to recognize if they are positive or negative, as well as why you feel the way you do. What are the core causes of your emotions? And what will you do with those feelings?

As you learn to cope with negative emotions, you will learn that they can help you understand how you feel about certain situations and why. Being unhappy is a normal emotion, and it’s important to remember that feelings of sadness and despair do pass. You don’t have to use drugs or alcohol to get through them.

By improving your emotional wellness, you will begin to make mature decisions that take into account the feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors of yourself and those around you. You will be more willing to take risks, understanding that they can be healthy and beneficial to your life. You will also begin to take more responsibility for your actions, making your life more personally rewarding.

Overall, emotional wellness truly allows you to put memories — even the traumatic ones — into perspective. Managing your reactions to them is powerful when it comes to healing. This will lay the foundation for a more healthy future in which you are able to deal with triggers properly when you feel the urge to relapse.

Mindfulness & Shame

Those with addictive personalities as well as mental illnesses typically have feelings of shame and guilt that never go away. These feelings can reactivate negative thoughts, causing a worsening of the addiction or mental disorder. Self-loathing then becomes intense as personal relationships start to disintegrate.

To overcome these emotions, there are certain steps and actions you must learn:

  • Process your thoughts in a constructive, healthy manner
  • Forgive yourself for past actions
  • Acknowledge and recognize your emotions and their causes
  • Take responsibility for what is causing you to feel shame
  • Make amends to those who may have been hurt by your past actions
  • Let go of any guilt or shame

By learning how to properly execute these skills, you will be able to decrease your depression or anxiety, as well as any urges to relapse. You will also begin to stop coming up with excuses and justifications for your past actions. The guilt and shame will gradually begin to disappear, giving you a new perspective on life.

Mindfulness Therapy

Going to mindfulness therapy teaches you how to regulate your emotions. Here, you will learn that emotions are perfectly normal and human. You can learn from your emotions to understand how things affect you and what they mean.

Instead of living in your thoughts about the past and future, you will also learn how to live in the moment and appreciate life for what it is. As you build confidence and self-esteem, you will learn to live without harsh judgment towards yourself and others.

Breathing exercises, meditation, and other techniques help fulfill the needs of mindfulness therapy for healing. The goal of wellness is to be comfortable, confident, and content with yourself. Physical and mental wellness as well as mindfulness therapy can help impact the other areas of wellness in your life.

Sober living homes are a great option to learn how to manage wellness. Camelback Recovery offers programs such as recovery coaching, 12-Step programs, therapy, and more to aid your sobriety. You cannot get better if you do not take care of yourself, both inside and out. Camelback Recovery is ready to help you. Call us today at (602) 466-9880.