Meditation is an extremely effective tool at our disposal to help us stay spiritually connected and maintain our sobriety. Not only does it help us spiritually, but it also can create very beneficial changes to our brains. Research into meditation has show that the practice can help improve our brains in ways that may be particularly useful to the recovery process of healing. Mindfulness is a form of mediation that focuses on attention and awareness. According to Mindful: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life, “Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. And there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain.” These physical brain changes can help us maintain a greater sense of wellbeing and control our reactions to external stressors that can be particularly difficult to handle in early sobriety. One of the major problems in our lives during active addiction is our inability to have healthy reactions to any stressful events we may face. Tom Ireland, in a 2014 article for Scientific American entitled What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?, explains, “MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.” In a sense, we are gaining greater control over the parts of our brain responsible for our stress responses. Rather than allowing ourselves to be at the whims of external events that inspire “fight or flight” reactions, we are able to develop an internal sense of peace that allows us to navigate stressful events in a healthy way. Meditation can also help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression that are common in early sobriety. Alice G. Walton, in a 2015 Forbes article entitled 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change the Brain, explains, “A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good.” The longer we are able to stick to a meditation practice, the more pronounced the benefits will be.
Your story can become one of peace and serenity in sobriety. You can make the courageous decision to seek help now and embark upon the rewarding journey of recovery. Oceanfront Recovery, a treatment center in the heart of beautiful Laguna Beach, is staffed with caring and compassionate professionals dedicated to supporting clients to discover personal solutions that align with their morals, values, and source of meaning in recovery. For information about individualized treatment options, please call today: (877) 279-1777