More and more scientific research is backing up what eastern medicine has known and practiced for years; Meditation is a powerful healing tool. This is especially true for people receiving treatment for anxiety, depression, or substance abuse issues.
Depression and addiction are complicated brain diseases that alter the brain in very fundamental ways. The practice of meditation as a supplement to medical treatment is receiving a lot of attention because of its positive results and non-invasive techniques.
Mindfulness meditation is a form of self-awareness used to focus attention on the present moment.
In its simplest form, anyone can realize the benefits of meditation from sitting peacefully and concentrating on breathing for as little as 5 to 20 minutes daily.
This is a starting point for many beginners, and as they begin to see results, often move on to more complex exercises.
Here are 7 Benefits of Meditation
1. Decreases Anxiety and Depression
A study at Johns Hopkins found that practicing mindful meditation for 30 to 40 minutes a day “appeared to provide as much relief from anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.”
2. Boosts Self-Awareness
By achieving a contemplative state of mind, meditation allows people to examine their behaviors, emotions and memories in a more objective light. For many people in recovery, this helps to process feelings that might’ve previously triggered negative behaviors.
3. Reduces Physical Pain
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin write, “…mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.”
4. Increases Focus
Because mindful meditation is an exercise in focus and being aware when it drifts, this skill carries over when a person isn’t meditating. Regular meditation improves people’s ability to multi-task without getting overwhelmed and experiencing anxiety or stress.
5. Calms the Mind
Modern medical technology, like MRI scans, have shown that in a single 20 minute session of meditation, brain-waves can shift from alpha waves, which is an aroused state of consciousness, to theta waves which indicate a deep relaxation. So meditating on a regular can lead to a better overall mood.
6. Prevents Relapse
According to research done at the University of Washington, people in recovery who meditated daily had lower relapse rates after leaving inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities than those who did not.
7. Improves Impulse Control
It’s been shown that mindful meditation when practiced for as little as five minutes a day can improve your brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses. For a person in recovery, this could essentially be a life saving technique.
Treatment for Addiction and Psychological Conditions
Living with addiction or psychological conditions such as depression or acute anxiety can have a debilitating affect on daily living, sometimes making it impossible to get out of bed or function normally.
Research suggests that about 8.9 million people who abuse drugs and alcohol are also suffering some form of mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. A true recovery cannot take place unless every aspect of a person’s unique issues are addressed and treated.
Many times, people have a difficult time concentrating on a single task because their brain is chemically out of balance, and distraction or distorted thinking gets in the way of regular thought patterns. Meditation helps quiet the mind and has been proven to be effective even for beginners, which is why some treatment facilities have incorporated it into their ongoing therapy routines.
Best of all, the techniques learned through mindful meditation can be easily practiced and incorporated into a daily regime that can be used during recovery and after treatment has ended for a lifetime. Not only is meditation useful during stressful times, but it also works wonders as a daily practice for keeping the mind calm and in control in all situations.
Photo on this page: Nicole Riviere
Listen to her explain the benefits of Yoga for addiction treatment