When you’re an addict, you use substances to make it through the day. They numb you from stress, anxiety and emotional pain. Addiction serves as a way to disconnect from yourself and the world emotionally, physically and spiritually. When you’ve made the conscious decision to seek help and beat your addiction, you will see that treatment will address the ‘whole’ you—mind, body and spirit.
Mindfulness for Addiction Recovery
One technique used in treatment is mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”, according to John Kabat-Zin, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. In the 1970s, Kabat-Zin spearheaded the therapeutic application of mindfulness to help treat people with a wide variety of diseases—including addiction.
Mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation have proven to have a tremendous impact on those in recovery. These practices train the mind to quietly observe unpleasant thoughts and emotions, without feeling the need to escape from them. You simply allow the thoughts to pass without reaction. You notice the thought, briefly observe it, and then let it go.. This new level of self-awareness and non-attachment lowers your risk of relapse because you don’t readily give in to cravings and other forms of impulsive, self-destructive behaviors. Combined with a 12-step program, these holistic therapies have become a standard part of addiction treatment.
There are many benefits to integrating yoga and meditation into a recovery plan. Practicing these techniques together on a regular basis:
- Changes your brain chemistry by lowering adrenaline and cortisol levels (the hormones responsible for stress and anxiety), improving overall mood and quality of life.
- Teaches breathing techniques that promote a calm, relaxed and tranquil state.
- Encourages a non-judgmental attitude toward yourself and others, which is key to a recovering addict’s success.
- Promotes self-reflection, which can help you better understand negative behavior patterns.
- Helps release anger and resentment.
- Improves physical health by increasing strength and flexibility through yoga poses.
There’s no question that yoga and meditation are invaluable tools during the recovery process, balancing the mind, body and spirit. Incorporating these techniques into your daily routine can transform every area of life during recovery and in the years to come. Namaste.