Meditation and Addiction

Meditation beads

 

One of the many reasons I wanted to learn how to teach meditation is that in recent years, studies have shown how beneficial it is for addiction recovery. For example, from the Headspace Meditation for Addiction website, “Neuroscientists found that after just five 20 minute sessions of a mindfulness meditation technique, people had increased blood flow to an area of the brain vital to self-control, the anterior cingulate cortex. After 11 hours of practice, they found actual physical changes in the brain around this area.” As the child of an addict and someone who, like many, has friends and loved ones who are addicts or recovering addicts, this connection between meditation and addiction is a personal one.

This point was driven home when this morning, a person with whom I’m very close and love very much called to admit to me that he is an addict. It took so much courage for him to share this burden. While I already knew about his problem, I’m grateful and humbled that he trusted me with something so personal. In that moment, I let him know how much I love him; that I do not judge him; and that I will support him on and off the wagon. Love the addict; hate the addiction, as they say.

This person and I watched helplessly for years as my mother fell deeper and deeper into addiction, until ultimately she died from an accidental overdose. She was 53. He promised me he wasn’t going to let that happen to him. Thankfully, now his addiction is out in the open and he can get the love and support he needs to fight it. My hope is that in addition to whatever therapy and recovery program he choses, he will incorporate meditation. While I’m not yet in the position to teach him, I offered to send him some resources. One of which is the link to the above referenced Meditation for Addiction website from Headspace. It’s of course up to him now whether or not to use meditation and any other form of treatment. This is the part where I continue to offer love and support. The important thing is that he gets clean. Period.

If you are reading this and you are an addict, please get help. Consider trying meditation — it’s free and it works. But no matter what, just get help.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m in the middle of Sharon Salzberg‘s Real Happiness Meditation Challenge. Today’s meditation was “sensation meditation.” As is often the case, it ended up being apropos to the conversation I had earlier in the morning, because much of the session dealt with not only pleasant and neutral physical sensations, but also awareness of pain sensations and my loved one also has chronic pain, which is what lead him to an addiction to prescription pain pills. (Note: Meditation also helps with chronic pain.) A quote provided below the meditation audio said, “Mindfulness helps us get better at seeing the difference between what’s happening and the stories we tell ourselves.” I hope he begins to see that the story he has been telling himself — that he’s undeserving of happiness, love, peace and sobriety — is not what’s really happening. He’s deserving of all of it and so much more. We all are. I dedicated my meditation today to him and all addicts. May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.

 

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2 thoughts on “Meditation and Addiction

  1. carolineturriff says:

    Thank you for this post. I listen to a meditation tape every night before I go to sleep and it was on my New Year’s Resolution list to learn how to do mindfulness this year and Transformational Breathing also a very powerful technique. I was 11 years clean at the weekend and in addition to my recovery groups and therapy and medication I want to add this new element of meditation and breathing. My mind is so busy with my blog and promoting the blog at the moment and it’s difficult to switch off as the promotion has been very successful and I’ve had almost 8,000 hits since December 29th on WordPress and another website. But I need to be able to switch off from the blog and social media and just exist in the moment which mindfulness would help. Meditation also makes you live a longer and healthier life, I definitely want to learn to do it.

    • Melanie Warner Spencer says:

      Hello, carolineturriff. You are welcome and thank you for this lovely comment. First, congrats to you on your sobriety. That’s really what matters. Second, congrats on the success with your blog (truly secondary, but very cool). Keep your sobriety first and atick with thw meditation. It releases oxytocin and seretonin in your brain and helps with the switching off. It’s a great gift to self. I’m humbled that you read and were affected by my post. Again, thank you.

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