07 Jan The Practice of Mindful Meditation in Addiction Treatment
What can we learn from mindful meditation?
Mindful meditation in addiction treatment is the practice of being “in the moment,” and it is much more than just simple relaxation. Practicing mindfulness is about increasing your self-awareness by observing your thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and environment without attaching judgment to those mental activities as “good” or “bad.” Mindfulness allows you to get in touch with your mind and body as you learn to manage stress and emotional self-regulation. By paying purposeful attention to your thoughts and emotions on a moment-to-moment basis without thinking about the past or future, you are tuning in to this moment, right now, and training yourself to accept the present with self-compassion.
We are our own worst critics
Attaching judgment to our thoughts happens so naturally that we may not be aware that we are judging our own attitudes that result in self-deprecation. The most obvious example is the use of social media as a standard of measure for the quality of our lives. Our innate instinct to compare ourselves with others is played out in social media behaviors when we scroll through our feeds on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other media applications. Although research has shown positive experiences resulting in lower levels of depression and anxiety for some users, findings for individuals with depression and social anxiety were different. The prolonged use of social media has been strongly correlated to significantly increased odds of depression.
How we attach judgment to our thoughts
Emotions play a powerful role in influencing our thought life, especially in the value that we attach to relationships, possessions, and success. The judgment we attach to our thoughts is based on how we emotionally evaluate a person, thing or activity that can either promote positive feelings or depressive responses. Research shows that by changing the source that generates particular information associated with a certain emotion, we can make the emotional influences disappear. In other words, if you are staring at someone’s Facebook wall replete with pictures of something or someone you desire, you can shift your attention to something entirely different and find something else to focus on in order to change the negative emotions you are feeling.
Why they call it “practice of mindfulness”
For individuals with substance use disorders, simply switching their mind from one thing to another is not as easy as 1-2-3. That’s why they call it “practice of mindfulness.” Mental and emotional disorders associated with substance use would require some type of dialectical behavioral therapy to help them practice meditation exercises on a daily basis. After perhaps years of spending excessive time pursuing one’s drug of choice and escaping the consequences of withdrawal symptoms, individuals who are recovering from substance use have to retrain themselves to be in the moment and focus on the present. They have to “de-program” themselves from their old ways of thinking and learn how to accept the here and now.
Accept, Observe, Release
We are not in control of what pops into our mind, but we can exercise control over what we dwell on. Practicing mindfulness means being aware of the thoughts you have, accepting them, and moving on by releasing those thoughts. Did something trigger you to feel jealous or envious? When we are in auto-pilot, our minds can wander to a string of other negative thoughts and we start to beat ourselves up. This could last for hours and produce a grouchy, angry mood if we let the trigger live on in our mind. Instead of being in auto-pilot mode, we can accept the emotion of envy, observe what types of thoughts enter our minds, observe how those thoughts enter and exit our minds, and let those thoughts pass without wasting another moment on negative thinking that brings us down.
Evidence-based research for mindful meditation in Addiction Treatment
Mindful meditation in addiction treatment is an evidence-based approach recognized by SAMHSA and is one of the numerous holistic approaches utilized by New Method Wellness, a premier dual diagnosis treatment center based in San Juan Capistrano, CA. Mindfulness and meditation have gained more recognition in healthcare and addiction treatment, and there’s a myriad of benefits associated with meditation therapy:
• Reduced anxiety
• Stress relief
• Neural rewiring
• Improved physical and mental health
• Improved emotional regulation
• Better job performance
• Reduced loneliness
• Increased compassion for self and others
• Strengthened immune system
• Better sleep
Meditation Therapy in Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Mindful meditation in addiction treatment has been scientifically proven to promote healing and wellness for individuals with substance use disorders. Meditation and yoga are often integrated in dual diagnosis treatment programs, and in Southern California where the weather is gorgeous all year round, clients at New Method Wellness get to enjoy yoga and meditation exercises by the beach. Our mind-body-spirit therapies are part of our comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs, which are often recommended by Dr. Phil and featured on national platforms such as A & E Intervention, National Geographic, and US News & World Report.