How Meditation Helps Addiction Recovery [Guide]

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and fact-checked by an addiction expert.
Clinically Reviewed By: Karen Williams, LPC
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and fact-checked by an addiction expert.
Meditation is about practicing awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. The act of meditating is simple and can benefit day-to-day happiness. We can improve our overall well-being by practicing meditation every day, even for a short amount of time. Meditation connects to spirituality, an essential aspect of recovery, especially in 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
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What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a practice where you use a technique to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm, stable state. It can offer time for relaxation amidst stressful times. Meditation improves not only your mental state but physical health as well. It is a personal practice that can be done how you see fit, but there are several common types of meditation, such as loving-kindness meditation, progressive relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and breath awareness meditation.

Loving-kindness meditation is also known as Metta meditation. The goal of this type of meditation is to create an attitude of love and kindness towards everything–particularly yourself. To practice this type of meditation, you breathe in deeply while opening your mind to receiving loving-kindness. You can send messages of love and kindness to the world or specific people. It can help specifically with feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, or interpersonal conflict. 

Progressive relaxation is the practice of scanning your body for areas of tension. The goal is to notice tension and allow yourself to release it. To practice progressive relaxation, you start at your feet and slowly work your way through your whole body. There are different techniques for releasing the tension, such as tensing and relaxing muscles or visualizing a wave that drifts over your body to release stress. Progressive relaxation can help promote feelings of calmness and relaxation and help you sleep better.

Mindfulness meditation is used to remain aware and present at the moment. It encourages you to be mindful of your surroundings, rather than dwell in the past or dread the future. You can practice this form of meditation anywhere, at any time. Mindfulness can reduce fixation on negative emotions, improve focus, improve memory, lessen impulsive behaviors, regulate emotional reactions, and improve relationship satisfaction. 

Breath awareness meditation encourages mindful breathing. To practice this, you breathe slowly and deeply, counting your breaths. The goal is to focus only on breathing and ignore any thoughts that come to your mind. Breath awareness is a form of mindful meditation and can reduce anxiety, improve concentration, and create better emotional flexibility. 

Meditation and the Brain

Meditation has various neurological effects. It is believed that meditation reduces activity in the “me center” of the brain. Mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the part of the brain responsible for mind-wandering and self-centered thoughts. The DMN is active when your mind is wandering from thought to thought and is associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future. Since meditation decreased DMN activity, it means that it lessens negative thoughts. Through regular meditation practice, it becomes easier for you to snap out of running and negative thoughts. Other positive brain changes that occur with meditation include improved concentration and attention and reduced anxiety.

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Meditation and Spirituality

Meditation can help you connect to something greater than yourself. To do this, you must practice honest self-reflection. As you increase your awareness, your spirituality rises, creating a desire to be better for ourselves and others. When you weed through selfish motives with meditation, you can begin to find peace that you never imagined possible. To connect to spirituality through meditation, you must be open-minded. As you move on from self-importance, you can open your mind to all the possibilities freedom presents. 

The Importance of Spirituality

Spirituality is essential to addiction recovery. 12-Step programs, such as AA or NA, believe that spirituality is the basis for a successful recovery that offers unlimited growth. Spirituality enables you to live life to its fullest, feeling grateful for who you are and what you have done in life. As you grow spiritually, you become attuned to your feelings and purpose in life. It also allows us to see the real value of being ourselves. Joy does not come from material possessions, but from within ourselves. When you lose self-obsession, you can understand what it means to be happy, joyous, and free. 

By shaping your thoughts with spiritual ideals, you are free to become who you want to be. What you may have feared, you can now overcome with spirituality. Faith replaces fear and gives you freedom from yourself. 

Meditation allows you to be aware of yourself to help gain a healthy perspective on life. Common types of meditation include loving-kindness meditation, progressive relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and breath awareness meditation. Despite having standard practices, meditation is pertinent to the individual and can be practiced how you see fit. Meditation causes a decrease in negative thoughts, improves concentration and attention, and reduces anxiety. It can also help you connect spiritually, which is an essential aspect of recovery. When you gain spirituality through meditation, you are rewarded with unlimited growth. Meditation can help you let go of self-obsession, opening up happiness and freedom. Spirituality allows you to develop faith, which can replace fear in your life and give you freedom from yourself. At Cornerstone Healing Center, we can help introduce you to the world of spirituality through 12-Step programs. We combine science and spirituality to help you overcome addiction. For more information on meditation and spirituality, call us at (480) 863-0220.



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Published On: 11/30/2020

Author: Estil Wallace, Founder/CEO of Cornerstone Healing Center

Author: Estil Wallace, Founder/CEO of Cornerstone Healing Center

Estil is the CEO/Founder of Cornerstone and has worked in the addiction recovery field for 12 years. He has served as the organization’s’ Executive Director, Board Member and President. Estil has a passion to help people get sober utilizing abstinence-based recovery.

Clinical Reviewer: Karen Williams, LPC

Clinical Reviewer: Karen Williams, LPC

Karen is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 15 years experience. She not only specializes in addiction, but is in recovery as well. Karen is our clinical director.

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