Modern approaches to drug and alcohol recovery have helped thousands of patients heal from addiction, but these are not the only effective tools in overcoming dependency. Ancient spiritual practices such as meditation and mindfulness that have been used for centuries to promote mental clarity, wellness and self-awareness are often used to complement traditional treatment modalities. For patients struggling with addiction, meditation and mindfulness can help them manage the difficulties of recovery and gain new insights about themselves, their substance use and what they want out of life.
At Journey Hillside Tarzana, patients can experience the healing effects of meditation and mindfulness in the quiet, secluded hills of Los Angeles. Our serene facility is ideal for calming the mind and looking within to achieve personal and spiritual growth. These simple practices can have a profound effect on the recovery experience by helping patients become more aware of the thoughts, feelings and experiences that have influenced their substance use. When paired with modern treatments such as individual therapy and the 12-step program, meditation and mindfulness can promote a greater sense of peace and well-being for more sustainable, long-term sobriety.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation is an ancient technique used to achieve a state of clarity and calmness.
It’s a mental exercise that involves relaxation of the mind and body to promote an inner focus and deep self-awareness. For centuries, meditation has been used for healing and well-being in all aspects of life. When an individual is meditating, they cultivate an aura of tranquility by clearing the mind and focusing on a particular object or idea. Numerous techniques can be used during meditation, such as visualization or using a mantra, but three modes are most commonly practiced:
In this type of meditation, the practitioner directs their attention to a single subject of focus. This can be internal or external, such as a mantra, a specific object or the breath. Concentration meditation is very deliberate and aids in focus, concentration and patience.
Observation meditation involves being completely present in the moment. Practitioners observe whatever thoughts, experiences or ideas rise into their consciousness without dwelling on or reacting to them. Observation meditation (also called open mind meditation) entails accepting what the moment has to offer.
In awareness meditation, practitioners focus on an object but remain aware of other thoughts, emotions and experiences. The goal is to be present and undistracted, neither concerned with focusing or observing.
Meditation is extremely versatile and can be adapted for various needs and goals. With practice, meditation can help individuals gain unique insights into their minds and promote spiritual or personal growth. For patients in addiction recovery, meditation can help them look within and better understand the thoughts and behaviors that underlie their substance use. Patients can also learn to recognize triggers and harmful patterns that may contribute to their addiction and discover healthy coping mechanisms for handling difficult situations.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness describes a keen awareness of the present moment.
It is a mental state that allows an individual to calmly accept and acknowledge the thoughts, feelings and sensations they are experiencing without expectation or judgment. When someone is mindful, they can accept their thoughts in the moment as they come and go, without reacting to, dwelling on or obsessing over them. This technique is particularly helpful for those that are negative or destructive. Mindfulness practice helps you identify which thoughts are harmful and should be discarded because they are not productive to your goals or overall well-being.
For patients in recovery, mindfulness is extremely beneficial in helping them release their addictive tendencies and respond to triggers and difficulties in a healthy way. It doesn’t eliminate or prevent challenging situations, but rather affects how we respond to them. Mindfulness helps to mitigate reactive thoughts or feelings and reframe our attitudes toward those based on fear or negativity. By increasing our awareness, we can react calmly and rationally to adversity rather than letting harmful thoughts take over. When we recognize them for what they are, they lose their power over us and can be replaced with those that are productive and supportive.
HOW ARE MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS THERAPIES RELATED?
Meditation and mindfulness complement each other and are closely related.
Meditation supports, nurtures and expands mindfulness, while mindfulness enriches the meditative experience. When used in meditation, mindfulness helps you reach a state of detached awareness so you can gain perspective on your thoughts and feelings.
Meditation can help us become mindful, but mindfulness isn’t a temporary state of mind that can only be accessed during a meditative state. Like any other discipline, we can learn to become more mindful and apply it in our daily lives. An individual can practice mindfulness every day by meditating or simply making an effort to focus on what is happening in the present. This allows us to respond more positively to stressful situations because we are grounded in a position that invites a judgment-free perspective.
If we can observe and accept what is happening in the moment, we can free ourselves from stressing over the past or future by “making a mountain out of an anthill.”
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
Those in recovery often dwell on the past, letting their previous mistakes and behaviors control who they are today. All too often, this becomes a roadblock to recovery that prevents meaningful progress. At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we believe that where you are now is more important than what brought you here. What matters is that you’ve decided to seek help for your substance use disorder and are actively working towards getting better. Meditation and mindfulness can help patients remember this by encouraging them to live in the moment, free from the burdens of the past. As a result, they will learn how to accept themselves and discard self-criticism, judgment or blame; these negative feelings only contribute to stress or anxiety and are not productive to healing. By letting go of the past, patients can learn how to live happier, more content lives and focus on what’s important right now — achieving long-term sobriety.
In the age of smartphones and high-speed internet, it can be especially difficult to live in the present. A recent Harvard study found that people spend approximately 47 percent of their day thinking about something other than what they are doing. The mind either wanders to the past, thinking, “What if…” and “I should have…”, or fast-forwards to the future and worries about what’s to come. Although it takes time and focus, mindfulness training and meditation therapies can help practitioners be present in the moment and find more purpose, meaning and pleasure in life. Whether used for relaxation, introspection, contemplation or affirmation, meditation and mindfulness have been shown to provide numerous benefits that can improve one’s overall happiness, such as:
Benefits of meditation and mindfulness
- STRESS REDUCTION
- IMPROVED EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
- GREATER ATTENTION SPAN AND CONCENTRATION
- ENHANCED SELF-AWARENESS
- IMPROVED MEMORY
- FEELINGS OF POSITIVITY
- BETTER QUALITY SLEEP
- PAIN MANAGEMENT
- DECREASED BLOOD PRESSURE
- HEIGHTENED CREATIVITY
- BETTER OUTCOMES IN ADDICTION TREATMENT
JOURNEY HILLSIDE TARZANA
Those in treatment for substance use are often introduced to mindfulness and meditation due to these positive effects. Meditation and mindfulness training can also help patients develop more patience and resilience to manage the obstacles they may face while in recovery.
CONTACT JOURNEY HILLSIDE TARZANA
If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use, our intimate treatment programs and focused care can help patients from all walks of life end their dependency on drugs or alcohol. Located in the quiet hills of Los Angeles, Journey Hillside Tarzana provides a restorative atmosphere ideal for healing.