Meditation: The Simple Tool That Can Reduce Depression and Anxiety in Recovery
If you struggle with addiction, you may also experience episodes of depression and anxiety in your recovery. These emotions are a natural part of recovery as you withdraw from substance use and adjust to a new lifestyle and/or environment, which can be challenging.
When you feel depressed, it means you have an attachment to stories or experiences from your past, perhaps when you were active in addiction. This attachment can bring up negative feelings such as guilt or shame. On the other hand, anxiety suggests you’re living in the future, and spending your energy focusing on worries and concerns— perhaps about whether you’ll succeed at creating a new, fulfilling life amidst the challenges and obstacles you’re facing.
When you feel these emotions, you’re separated from who you really are, and the true source of your being. This can cause you to look for peace, direction and fulfillment outside of yourself. But the truth is, joy, fulfillment— and the answers and direction you’re seeking— are always within you.
How Meditation Can Help You Heal From Within During Recovery
To avoid looking outside for answers, or a sense of security and happiness during recovery, it’s essential to train your mind to begin looking within. This involves attaining a higher level of consciousness, which can be done through meditation.
Meditation is best described as the “progressive quieting of the mind until it reaches pure silence”. Meditation takes you to the source of thought, which is the awareness of an unconditioned mind. It’s your very own source of possibilities, correlation, synchronicity, and creativity. This power tends to remains untapped until we get quiet, and let our consciousness bring us back to this place.
For example, if you’re addicted to a substance or behaviour, you’re operating from a conditioned mind, which repeats the same experience over, and over again until no amount of the substance or activity you’re addicted to will be enough to fulfill your desire. In order to heal addiction, you must recondition your mind and end these patterns. Meditation helps you do exactly that.
Connecting to the power you hold within your own being can also prevent you from looking to other vices to numb depression or anxiety, such as social media, gambling, television, shopping or drugs and alcohol. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a person in recovery to substitute one addiction for another, in order to ease discomfort. This keeps you in the vicious cycle of addiction, and prevents you from healing. Meditation can help prevent future toxic habits, by creating conscious awareness in the mind, body and spirit.
In fact, there’s a quote that illustrates the process of meditation beautifully: “Prayer is when you talk to source (or the Universe, God, the Divine — whichever word you’d like to use to describe a higher power), and meditation is when source talks to you.”
Surprising Benefits of Meditation (Whether or Not You’re in Recovery)
When we meditate and access our unconditioned mind, the benefits can be felt on a physical and psychological level. Many people report the following benefits:
-Physical health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure, lowered cortisol levels (stress hormones), and decreased LDL cholesterol
-Reacting less to negative situations and circumstances
-Improved sleep quality
-Feeling calm and grounded in stressful situations (not only limited to recovery, but in traffic or high stress jobs, too)
-Coming up with creative ideas and visions
-A stronger sense of connection to themselves and the environment
-A renewed feeling of hope and faith, and believing in oneself
When it comes to addiction recovery, meditation can also help you make more conscious choices in the face of your challenges. For example, if you find your mind thinking back to resentment of the past or worries about the future, the peaceful state of mind that results from meditation can help build your resiliency to these thoughts as they enter your mind.
Now of course, meditation will not guarantee tough situations won’t arise— but a regular meditation practice can certainly provide you with the tools and abilities to react in a healthier, positive way, and encourage you to “go with the flow”.
Over time, this can help train your mind to detach and give up control. This is an invaluable benefit of meditation, as trying to control outcomes is exactly what blocks the “flow” of positive energy and circumstances, and goes exactly against what you’re trying to achieve.
In order for meditation to be an effective tool for easing pain and discomfort during recovery, it must be done consistently. After all, it is a practice. We understand that working toward recovery from addiction is challenging work, and usually comes with a lot of stress. Meditation provides the perfect opportunity to release this stress, as well as lingering emotional toxicity.
You can practice meditation with guided meditations on CD’s and YouTube videos (which are free online), or simply sit and “be” while focusing on your breath. Yoga is also considered a moving meditation when you connect your awareness with your breath as you move through different postures. Many local temples and community centers also have meditation classes that are free or inexpensive to attend.
By practicing meditation each day, you can expect to move towards conscious choice making, a stronger sense of fulfillment and well-being, and adopting the behaviours that will ultimately allow you to experience greater peace, love, creativity, and success.