The Real Value of Meditation During Recovery

March 17, 2023

When people think of meditation, there are often a wide variety of images that come to mind. One of the most familiar or common is that of monks using meditation as a part of their routines or ritual practices. The art or practice of meditation is not new. The practice has been used by cultures around the world for thousands of years as a way to focus, clear, and expand the mind.

What is Meditation?

The practice of meditation (regardless of the type or school chosen) uses a combination of physical and mental tools that help an individual clear and focus their thoughts. There are several types of meditation, and each type can help with various needs, including stress and anxiety reduction, pain management, and quitting substances. Current research on the benefits of meditation shows that meditation has a dramatic and positive effect on the health of the brain itself and one’s mental and emotional health.

What are the Types of Meditation?

Depending on the source one looks at, there are as many as 25 types of meditation practice. Below are a few examples of common meditation practices.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that one can do at any time and no matter where they are. Although some practitioners of mindfulness meditation prefer to close their eyes in a quiet space so they can focus on their breathing, others may choose to be mindful while taking a walk or commuting to work. The practice of mindfulness meditation is simple. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on and observing your thoughts and emotions but letting them enter your mind and leave again without consideration or judgment. Mindfulness meditation allows you to focus your thoughts and energies on the present.

Transcendental meditation

Transcendental meditation is another basic form of meditation practice. With this method, you choose a mantra (word, sound, or phrase) that you repeat for 20 minutes twice each day. This form of meditation is best practiced in a quiet space where you can be seated with your eyes closed. Transcendental meditation helps to fully calm and relax the body allowing you to feel calm and at ease.

Guided meditation

Guided meditation, also called guided imagery or visualization meditation, involves using situations or mental pictures that you find calming and relaxing. This type of meditation is led by a teacher or instructor and calls upon the participant to try and engage as many of their senses as possible throughout the process. Guided meditation sessions vary in length, with some being as short as a few minutes and others lasting for 20 minutes or more.

Body scan (progressive muscle relaxation)

Body scan meditation can be guided or unguided, depending on what makes you feel most comfortable. This technique encourages you to scan your body for areas that are tense. Upon finding tension, you are encouraged to notice it and then release it. Body scanning begins at one end of the body (it doesn’t matter which) and works its way throughout each muscle group. Body scanning meditation encourages calmness and deep relaxation and can benefit people with a variety of conditions.

What are the Benefits of Meditation During Recovery?

Addiction and mental health challenges affect all aspects of one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Although comprehensive treatment programs like ours at Hillcrest help your teen take the first steps toward healing, they are only a single component of recovery. Because everyone who seeks help to overcome a mental health condition or addiction challenges does so with different needs, there may be many benefits to meditation during recovery for anyone who wants to incorporate the practice into their routines. A few examples of the benefits of meditation during recovery may include the following.

Stress reduction

Stress is a trigger for many mental health symptoms. Elevated stress levels also play a key role in why some people experience relapse after completing a substance abuse treatment program. Whether your teen is still completing their treatment program or if they have returned home to their community and daily routines, the first days of recovery are often challenging and accompanied by new stressors. Meditation during recovery allows your teen the opportunity to set aside time in their day to refocus their mind and relax their bodies. There are some studies that suggest meditation may help your teen (and adults as well) react to stress in healthier ways and allow them to recover from stressful situations and events more easily.

Improvements to physical health

Some who practice various types of meditation experience physical benefits related to their practice. Some research suggests meditation may help to reduce blood pressure, improve one’s immune response and improve heart health. Long-term substances use, and some mental health diagnoses lead to physical damage to organs and body systems. Practicing meditation may help to kick-start the healing processes for these essential bodily functions.

Improved mental health and wellness

In addition to the physical benefits of meditation during recovery, there are also emotional benefits. Although studies show a range of data, the overall evidence of the positive effects of mindfulness-based meditation for addiction and mental health recovery is noteworthy. Studies suggest mindfulness-based practices can help reduce anxiety and the impact of symptoms related to various mood disorders. Mindfulness meditation is also an effective coping tool recovering addicts can use when faced with relapse triggers after completing treatment.

Improved sleep

A common challenge faced by those seeking help to address a mental health condition or overcome a substance use disorder is challenges with sleep. Many people during recovery experience difficulties getting adequate, healthy sleep for a variety of reasons. Practicing regular meditation may help. Studies suggest regular meditation can improve one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Improving your teen’s hours of restful sleep will lead to decreased fatigue and improvement in their physical and emotional well-being.

Pain management

Chronic pain, whether related to mental or physical health, is frequently a root cause of mental health and addiction disorders. A teen who experiences chronic pain may turn to substances or misuse prescription medications to cope with their symptoms. Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate symptoms quickly leads to addiction. Meditation may work as an effective and alternative pain management method for someone who experiences difficulties with pain management or who has completed addiction treatment and needs an option outside of medication for symptom control. Using meditation rather than medication of any form may help to prevent substance abuse relapse in the future.

Getting Started with Meditation

There are many different types of meditation to choose from. As a result, selecting the one that will “work best” or feels the most helpful for you may seem confusing. There are several things you can do to narrow down your options.

  • Research meditation types-take a little time to learn a little about the different meditation types. There is ample information available online, or you can contact your primary care or mental health provider to learn more about the possibilities. During a mental health or addiction treatment program at Hillcrest, your teen has the opportunity to try various types of meditation, allowing them to decide which practice is the most comfortable and beneficial.
  • Talk to your provider or therapist-Your teen’s mental health or primary care provider is an excellent source of information for all health-related concerns. As noted above, our treatment providers at Hillcrest often incorporate meditation into our therapy programs. Although traditional therapy tools are an essential and proven component of addiction and mental health treatment, we understand the value of holistic treatment options as well. Mindfulness meditation and other meditation practices are ideal tools for helping your teen manage stress and anxiety during therapy, but they are also an excellent coping tool that can be called upon during challenging times throughout one’s life.
  • Try a few options-Research and information from providers, family and friends may help to narrow down the options, but perhaps the best way to find the meditation practice you like most is to try a few options. Your provider at Hillcrest or your teen’s primary care provider can suggest options in your area. Also, a search for guided meditation online will offer several free options with lengths of five to 30 minutes.

Once your teen finds a meditation practice that fits and is beneficial to their recovery needs, there are a few tips they can follow to continue reaping the benefits of meditation throughout their recovery journey.

First, it is essential to find what they like and stick to it. There are some people who prefer to meditate just after waking up, and others who choose to use meditation as a relaxation ritual before bed. Still, others may use short meditations throughout the day to control anxious emotions when they arise. What is important is to pick what works best and make it part of your daily routine. Regular meditation is the key to making the most of meditation in recovery.

Also, choosing the environment or surroundings that work best for you is essential. Typically, many meditation practices work best in calm and quiet areas. Because some techniques involve sitting and others lying down, choosing the right location helps to make your practice the most effective.

If meditation is new to your teen, it may not come easily. There are many available resources your teen can use to help discover the benefits of meditation. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our admissions team today to learn more about treatment and recovery at Hillcrest and how we incorporate meditation into our treatment and aftercare programs.