The journey to recovery is a long, hard road, and it’s imperative that you arm yourself with the best tools possible to protect and nurture your sobriety. Mindfulness meditation is one such powerful tool for learning how to recognize cravings, resist impulses, and calm the mind. Through mindfulness meditation, you can learn how to manage urges and emotions without experiencing self-condemnation or suffering a relapse back into use.
Mindfulness meditation is based on the traditional Buddhist practice of Vipassana, which literally translates to “seeing things as they really are.” It begins by focusing on the breath and gradually increasing your awareness to include sensations, thoughts, and feelings. The emphasis is to become intensely aware of the current moment, as it is unfolding in the present, and to notice your surroundings, including yourself and your emotions, in a non-judgmental way.
Researchers at the University of Washington used mindfulness meditation to develop an approach to relapse prevention called Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP). The approach was put to the test in a study comparing it to a standard relapse prevention program and a 12-step program. At six months, MBRP proved more effective than the 12-step program. One year later, MBRP proved more effective than both the 12-step and the standard relapse prevention programs in reducing drinking and drug use.
Another recent study shows that mindfulness can help treat addiction in those who also suffer from depression or anxiety. UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center found that mindfulness is beneficial in treating addiction even at the early stages of recovery when symptoms are still severe.
“Our findings suggest that mindfulness is especially helpful for people who struggle with anxiety and depression along with their addiction,” UCLA researcher Glasner said. “This might be because part of their reason for using drugs is to deal with those uncomfortable emotions. Mindfulness helps them manage their symptoms on their own, without turning to drugs and alcohol.”
UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center offers a host of information and research on mindfulness meditation, including free guided meditations that you can practice on your own.
If you live in the Chicago area and are seeking a sober living facility, please contact us. We provide a structured and safe environment that helps men and women rebuild their lives and build a strong foundation for a successful recovery.