This is Why Meditation Helps Your Addiction Recovery

Via | Eddie LeShure | October 9, 2023

From Addict to Person in Recovery

Addiction typically involves automatic behavior used to escape difficult unwanted feelings. Mindfulness involves a conscious investigation of difficult feelings, with a curious attitude. People who struggle with addiction to food, drugs, or alcohol commonly describe the desire to fill a hole that seems to have no bottom. They experience emptiness in their lives and substances temporarily relieve the elusive void. Mindfulness reveals a safe sanctuary inside yourself to feel the difference between doing and being so you discover how to react less and respond more from a clear, wise place. The connection to an abundant stream of inner resources flows more vigorously the more we tap in.

Studies Show Results

Addiction is often accompanied by mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. It is common for people to develop disordered eating or a substance use disorder in an attempt to soothe the debilitating symptoms. A review of Mindfulness Meditation in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the practice relieved symptoms of depression to a degree comparable to medication, and that it also improved symptoms of pain and anxiety.

Be the Witness

The unique quality of mindfulness meditation is the encouragement to become the witness to our moment-to-moment experience, just noticing without judging, present here and now. Humans have the wonderful ability to be in two levels of consciousness at the same time. For example, having an experience of engaging in conversation with a co-worker while observing the sensory experiences of standing, talking, hearing sounds, noticing emotions and mentally processing. It is called dual awareness. The art of stepping back to observe our conditioning fosters healthy self-awareness. We can see our habits of mind, our emotional patterns, our stories about ourselves, others and the world. Finally, we figure out how to sense some space between what is happening and our current perception of the moment.

Beginners Mind

By practicing being the witness to our thoughts and body sensations, curiosity naturally arises. With a childlike, inquisitive attention, we can tease apart the stories we have been telling ourselves and choose whether to continue believing that story, and living it, or see it from another perspective with a narrative edit. We might learn how we get into the problems we find ourselves in through self-study. Next comes the exciting part; living into the next chapter with brand new insights, actions and character development. We not only read our own story, we write it as we go.

Rebooting

Mindfulness meditation provides a simple yet powerful pause that gets us unstuck. It is like a shut-down and reboot of the whole system. Give yourself a small amount of time to pause, witness and feel the present moment. Just 2 to 3 minutes has been shown to make a big difference in the ability to notice a calm space in your heart rate, breathing, muscular tension and noisy mind. Practice a mini-meditation by pausing once every 2 hours to take a 2 minute breathing break (a 2-2). Pauses naturally occur in transition moments throughout the day such as walking into the kitchen first thing in the morning, before answering the phone, getting into your car, sitting in a chair, taking the first bite of food (or the last bite).

The Brain Changes

Research continues to reveal what the ancient sages have known all along; meditation has a potent impact upon the way the brain processes emotions such as stress and empathy. Positive improvements in a grounded sense of self occurs in as little as eight weeks, according to a new Harvard Study. The brain can heal and create new neural pathways through the regular practice of meditation. Relaxation is not the point of meditation, although it is a delicious side effect. The main point of meditation is to know ourselves, to remember our essential nature, whole, good and pure, with unlimited potential.

Anyone can learn to become mindful and meditate. Having a mentor to get started or to build on your current practice is truly beneficial for a lifetime or, perhaps lifetime(s).

“Come Learn @ Prama” 

The “Healing Emotional Eating & Addiction Naturally” Retreat starts October 25, 2023.   Check out Prama.org/upcoming-retreats for more information.

 

 

About The Author

Eddie LeShure

Eddie LeShure is a Certified Yoga Instructor (RYT 200), Meditation Teacher, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS), Breathwork Facilitator, and person in long-term recovery. His professional background includes 7 years of training, supervision and direct client contact in addiction counseling. Eddie’s personal journey took him deep into the throes of active addiction and incarceration on a drug arrest. His two years behind bars were mostly spent in the notorious Attica Prison where he survived a rebellion in 1971 that killed 43 inmates and employees. His personal healing and recovery and how he works with others have always been guided by deep understanding and compassion. Eddie has facilitated groups for many years in numerous treatment and recovery facilities for substance misuse and disorder eating, guided workshops and retreats, plus regularly presents at conferences addressing addiction recovery. He began doing yoga in 1971 in prison and started meditating in the early ’80s, having spent the equivalent of two years in retreat settings.

Eddie LeShure and Margaret Kirshner from Mindful Emergence will facilitate the addiction recovery part of this retreat. They teach that an important key to recovery from addiction is to learn “to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable” and to learn tools that prevent past traumas from dominating our lives.

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