VA IOP Program and Meditation

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Meditation is a practice that goes back thousands of years. Essentially meditation involves quieting the mind and concentrating on a specific thought or idea. It is usually done in a quiet place but can also be done in group settings. Meditation can be done for just a few minutes or an hour or more. Meditation can also be done any time of day. However, it is most effective if incorporated into a daily routine at the same time and same place each day. It can be used regardless of spiritual beliefs, and people who mediate do so to relieve stress and feel more centered.

Research supports meditation as an effective addiction recovery technique. Several studies have found that addicted individuals who used meditation had lower levels of relapse and had more positive outcomes after a relapse. Meditation is effective because it rewires critical pathways in the brain. In one study, people who meditated for approximately 30 minutes daily for 8 weeks showed an increase in gray matter in the parts of the brain associated with learning, memory, self-awareness, and introspection. By changing how the brain processes self-awareness, introspection, anxiety, and stress, addicts can reasonably evaluate everyday situations, and react to them more appropriately. Meditation’s positive effect on stress and anxiety is especially important because both are frequent triggers for relapse. In essence, addicts may use it to slow down their breathing and calm their nerves then they’re feeling anxious or stressed.

Meditation is easy to learn and can be done almost anywhere!

Meditation can take a variety of forms. One can sit quietly and focus on their breathing, a spiritual connection, or a specific thing or thought. Another form is mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation involves examining one’s feelings, thoughts and experiences in a nonjudgmental way. Addiction usually involves acting on impulses.  So,  mindfulness meditation can help an addict examine their thoughts and urges and carefully consider how to react to them. Finally, meditative exercise combines meditation with physical motion, which promotes a connection between mind, body and spirit. An example is yoga or Tai Chi.

A great advantage of adding mediation as part of your daily routine is that it is easy to learn and can be done almost everywhere. Meditative techniques can be used to lower the body’s automatic response to stress and greatly enhance recovery efforts!

addiction, meditation, treatment, iop
Relax and Cherish the Moment!

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