3 Ways Meditation Helps Your Sobriety
There are many different paths to achieve long-term recovery, but most people find success in utilizing different methods to avoid getting stagnant. Therapy and 12-step programs are some of the most popular ways to build a strong foundation, but meditation often goes overlooked. One of the main reasons for this is because there are many misconceptions about what meditation actually is. Although mindfulness meditation was derived from Buddhism, it’s a completely secular practice that you can easily learn and benefit from. Check out these three ways meditation helps your recovery.
Maintaining Your Attention
One of the most simple practices for meditation is to focus on your breath. Many people fall to the belief that meditation is about stopping your thoughts, but this isn’t the case. The best meditators in the world who have been practicing for decades can’t stop their thoughts. Meditation is about noticing your thoughts and training your attention. So, if you focus on your breath for five minutes and have 100 thoughts but gently return to your breath 100 times, you had a successful five-minute meditation.
This is extremely beneficial for recovery because thoughts have a tendency to spiral into cravings, which then turn into obsessions. Although you’ll become more aware of your thoughts while meditating, you’ll even start to notice this in your everyday life. As you begin to strengthen your attention, you’ll begin catching yourself before you start ruminating. This is also helpful for when you’re having negative thoughts and emotions. This is why the core of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is rooted in mindfulness.
There’s actually quite a bit of science out there that backs the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Not only does it help with decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety, but it can also help you with cravings. The leading neurological researcher and scientist on this subject is Dr. Judson Brewer. His TED Talk has over nine million views, and it’s all about habit formation. One meditation practice that he emphasizes is called R.A.I.N. This practice involves recognizing what’s happening, accepting and investigating it, and then noticing your experience. We often judge our cravings and try to escape them, but this practice helps you monitor your cravings and watch them crest and fall away much like the waves of the ocean.
Strengthening Your Brain
The part of the brain that separates us from the animals is called the prefrontal cortex. Studies have shown that as little as five to 10 minutes of practice a day can strengthen this part of your brain in as little as two weeks. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but once you understand what this part of the brain is responsible for, it makes more sense. Some of the primary responsibilities of the prefrontal cortex include the following:
- Emotional regulation
- Impulse control
Oftentimes, intense emotions and a lack of impulse control and awareness can lead to bad decisions. So, having a meditation practice can improve your ability to manage your emotions while also pausing before you make a decision that you’re going to regret. This is why Enlightened Solutions teaches our clients a variety of holistic methods like meditation to help with their recovery. If you’d like to learn more about our program, give us a call today at 833-233-7336.