Meditation is a practice that has gained more and more attention in recent years for the countless ways it is said to improve many aspects of a person’s life. One of the many ways meditation can help is for those overcoming an addiction.
Meditation has been shown to affect several parts of the brain, particularly helping to relax the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ centre. If this part of the brain is more relaxed, people who would usually reach for a substance in an emotional situation are less likely to.
How It Works
When meditating the prefrontal cortex is stimulated, which is the part of the brain that helps you to think logically. The more active this is, the more it prevents people from making irrational decisions and allows more control over bad habits, making addicts less likely to relapse.
One of the things meditation does is it allows people to focus. For recovering addicts, stress is a difficult emotion that can often lead to substance abuse again, yet with meditation, this can be used instead to focus and calm down.
When in a calmer state they will feel more in control of their emotions and choices, and so will be less likely to depend on substances to make the feelings pass.
One type of meditation that is useful when overcoming addiction is mindfulness meditation. During this meditation, people can think about what urges them to depend upon a substance and reflect upon what they could do instead when they have cravings.
Other Benefits of Meditation
It also helps people to become more self-accepting and self-aware, to handle stress well, lessens anxiety and helps keep difficult emotions under control. All of these traits are great for people who want to overcome an addiction.
Meditative exercises such as yoga also help a recovering addict as when they focus on their breathing it helps them to relax and relieves them of negative emotions.
Research has shown that a person who meditates has less of the stress hormone cortisol in their bloodstream, which is linked to a lower immune system and greater mental and physical problems. Meditation also helps to increase the efficiency of the immune system directly as it improves the level of interleukin in the body – meaning you have more energy.
With a better immune system it is easier for your body to get rid of toxins. There is a strong theory of the mind-body connection that demonstrates how having a healthier body, with fewer toxins, is closely connected and can greatly impact the state of the mind and mood. Having fewer toxins in the body can alter mood and make people feel better. For recovering addicts this helps reduce the chances of relapse.
Meditation is a great tool to help overcome addiction because it is very effective and very easy to learn. It is also not too time consuming, as it’s not necessary to spend hours meditating for it to be effective. The benefits can be seen with just 20 minutes per day.
Mindfulness meditation can be done alone or in a group setting, allowing addicts to find support from others and share experiences.
Many people who struggle with addictions find it difficult to think straight and their thoughts loop, creating negative patterns in the brain, which is one of the many reasons why it’s so difficult to overcome an addiction.
But meditation helps people to see things more clearly, helps to break the loop and begins to reprogram the negative patterns in the brain, leaving positive ones in their wake, allowing the old impulses of addiction to be rewritten and ultimately helping addicts to overcome addiction. Meditation is a very powerful tool.