By Cindy Coloma
Anna sits in her car, mind racing, but the traffic isn’t moving. Another cycle of the traffic light makes the driver behind her honk in frustration. It seems everyone is on the road today, and the downtown is a tangled mess of cars, bicycles and construction workers.
As Anna watches the light go from green to yellow and back to red, she takes a deep breath and tries not to think about being late. Her phone is flashing with missed calls and texts, and her radio plays a news update that reminds her of everything scary and broken in the world. As the stop light turns green again and the traffic doesn’t move, Anna feels lightheaded. A deep sense of panic grips her chest, and she is suddenly desperate to make it stop any way she can. She reaches for her purse for a fix that, in the long run, won’t make her better.
Let’s face it: It can be a stressful world out there. And many of us have developed our own unique ways of coping. Families who are in the process of overcoming a substance abuse disorder or other similar challenge understand the importance of minimizing the effects stress can have on the body and mind. While many of us are all too familiar with unhealthy ways of coping, we also understand that methods supporting healthy lifestyles are crucial to recovery.
Beyond therapy and an integrative treatment program, those seeking relief from stress and anxiety like Anna may find that nutrition and exercise are important factors in maintaining a healthy outcome. Or they may incorporate alternative care, such as massage or acupuncture.
However, a growing number of people are finding that meditation, mindfulness and sacred spaces can reduce stress and improve overall health. New studies have found that, when these therapies are implemented with addiction treatment, they have great potential to impact health in a positive way.
Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness
A quick Google search of meditation and mindfulness brings a wealth of information and techniques. While the term “meditation” alone is a general term for the many ways to achieve relaxation, mindfulness is the process of being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present.
Combining the essence of both concepts, many people find stress relief by focusing on what they experience during meditation, such as the flow of breath. They observe their own thoughts but let them pass without judgment. Narrowed down to its most basic process, mindfulness meditation involves sitting in a comfortable position, focusing on breathing in and out, and then bringing your attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or the future.1
Benefits may include improved concentration and focus, a healthier immune system, better sleep and lower blood pressure, among others.
The Use of Meditation and Mindfulness in Recovery
As professionals seek new ways to holistically treat patients with co-occurring disorders, they’re finding that meditation and mindfulness are beneficial for recovery. Meditation isn’t a replacement for traditional treatment, but it may be a useful supplement to a comprehensive treatment plan.
A recent study from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that mindful meditation helps ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression and pain.2 Another study found that patients with mindfulness-based relapse prevention treatment had significantly less drug use and a lower probability of relapse at a 12-month follow-up than those undergoing other treatments.3
Meditation and Sacred Spaces
There is an important connection between implementing cutting-edge care and providing a space where the body, mind and spirit can heal. While meditation can be done anywhere, many find it helpful to have a committed space to practice. Sites such as The Canyon’s Meditation Dome provide a unique and sacred space to explore the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Incorporating a dedicated space to meditate is one way to strengthen the success of recovery after residential treatment.
The concept behind The Canyon’s treatment program has always been to provide the best clinical practices for the integrative treatment of co-occurring disorders and to blend those treatments with the best of holistic mind-body-spirit practices. Meditation and mindfulness integrate perfectly into this approach. We recognize the benefits of mindful meditation as part of an overall plan to support the treatment and recovery process. While moving forward in recovery after treatment, meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools to help maintain sobriety and good mental health.
To find out more about how The Canyon at Peace Park can support you or your loved one on their personal and unique recovery journey, please contact us today. Our admissions coordinators are ready to help you understand your treatment options.
1 Corliss, Julie. “Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress.” Harvard Health Publishing, October 3, 2017.
2 Goyal, Medhav, et al. “Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being.” JAMA Internal Medicine, January 6, 2014.
3 “Mindfulness Practices May Help Treat Many Mental Health Conditions.” American Psychiatric Association, June 1, 2016.