When you picture meditation, what do you think of? A few years ago, the most common answer was someone sitting cross-legged in nature chanting “ohmmmmm” over and over again. While it IS possible to meditate like this, it is far from the only way to meditate – and far from the most common way to practice meditation. In fact, meditation can play a very strong role in the healing process from addiction and a number of mental health disorders.
What is Meditation?
Let’s start with the basics. Meditation is NOT about becoming someone completely new or even achieving a completely empty mind. Meditation is the practice of being able to observe your thoughts objectively and without judgement.
When people hear about meditation, they usually either think it’s going to be too hard or that it’s going to be super simple to master. The truth of the matter is somewhere in the middle. Meditation is a practice. It’s something that you have to do regularly in order to get to a point with it where you feel comfortable with it.
However, anyone can practice meditation. It isn’t about getting great at it or achieving a certain skill level. The idea is just to practice and to be consistent with it. The more you do it, the more you’re likely to get out of it.
Meditation for Beginners
When you first start meditating, there are a few things that you’ll want to do. First, you’re going to want to find a quiet, comfortable space where you’re unlikely to be interrupted. With enough practice, incorporating meditation and mindfulness into busy environments will get easier, but it could take a while.
Once you’re comfortable, try the following:
- Start by taking a few deep breaths and closing your eyes
- Take stock of your senses – what do you hear, smell, feel, and taste?
- Do a body scan. Are you carrying tension anywhere? What do you notice about your breathing? Don’t try to change anything. Just make note of it.
- Now, focus on your breath and start counting. One on the inhale, two on the exhale. When you get to ten, start over. Do this for about two minutes. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to counting.
- Once you’re finished, slowly open your eyes and come back to the world around you.
Take a few minutes to assess how you feel. Are you calmer? Were you able to bring your mind back? You’ll get comfortable with more practice and may even begin to really look forward to a few minutes of meditation. It gives you an opportunity to pause and connect with yourself.
Incorporating Mindfulness into Everyday Life
Mindfulness and meditation go hand-in-hand. When you practice meditation, it can help you begin to live in the moment and really notice how things make you feel. There are a ton of ways that you can start incorporating mindfulness into your life:
- Take a walk and leave your phone at home. What do you see and hear? How does the wind feel on your skin? Do you notice a rhythm to your steps?
- Eat without distractions. Turn off the TV and eat quietly by yourself. Enjoy each bite and really take in all of the flavors.
- Do a breathing exercise in your chair at work. Any of these are great options and only take a couple minutes to help you ground yourself.
Even if you just take a few minutes for mindfulness every day, it can help you improve your mental health and reconnect mind, body, and soul.
The Role Meditation Plays in Addiction Recovery
Meditation can help reroute pathways in the brain to make people feel healthier and happier, similar to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). As you continue the practice, your brain learns new habits and can make room for you to see things from a different perspective.
Additionally, meditation can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. At RAIN Recovery, we believe in combining traditional, clinical therapies with holistic treatments like meditation, Reiki, and crystal healing.