Meditation, which once was a religious practice, has gone mainstream. Meditative apps make people believe that they can relieve stress with the guidance of their smartphones.
But is meditation more than a trendy way to get a better night’s rest? Is meditation for healing for those with an addiction or mental illness possible?
Meditation is a type of holistic therapy that helps people relax. It helps you quiet your mind. Inner peace is difficult when hustle culture glorifies overworking. It’s difficult to turn off your brain when social media makes sport of meddling in others’ business. People focus on so many other things that they forget the important, healing work of looking internally.
The Purpose of Meditation
The first evidence of meditation dates back from 5,000 to 3,500 BCE. Archaeologists discovered wall images depicting people sitting in meditative postures. There also are meditative techniques found in Indian scriptures dating back about 3,000 years ago. Eventually, religions adopted the basic concepts of meditation. People across the globe believe meditation is a cornerstone of spiritual development.
But you don’t have to follow any particular religious tradition to reap the benefits of meditation for healing. Meditation has joined yoga as a secular and chic fitness trend. Successful CEOs like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Arianna Huffington meditate at work.
When you think of a meditative pose, you may think of someone with their legs crossed and hands on their knees. Meditation typically is done sitting like this or lying still, but that isn’t a requirement. Ideally, you can practice meditation in nearly any situation.
During meditation, the prefrontal cortex of your brain becomes active. This brain space is where feel-food chemicals originate. Instead of reacting to difficult situations, meditation helps your mind observe your emotions. You notice thoughts and feelings as they enter your mind. Rather than judging them as good or bad, you learn to accept that they are. When you remove judgment and attachment to these thoughts or feelings, they have less power over you. Then, you can replace these potential stressors with other, more helpful thoughts or feelings.
Meditation and Healing
Meditation can result in many forms of healing — emotional, spiritual, and even physical. The word healing comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “haelen,” which means to make whole. You heal in an environment grounded in respect and empowerment. In this environment, you believe in yourself as whole, versus “damaged” or “defective.”
As you heal, you think more clearly. You can recognize cravings or tendencies for what they are — thoughts and feelings that don’t require action. You become fully present and can let them go.
Meditation can be a powerful tool in your recovery toolbox. It lends itself well to being part of many therapies, such as:
- Mindfulness therapy
- Breathwork therapy
- Meditation therapy
- Trauma-informed therapy
- Self-reflection therapy
Meditation has many benefits. And these benefits apply to daily life and recovery.
Meditation can give you a sense of deep calm, peace, and balance. By focusing your attention and eliminating the jumbled thoughts crowding your mind, you can breathe easier and regulate your heart rate. Meditation lowers levels of your body’s stress hormone.
It’s difficult to sleep when you’re stressed. Experts still study the interplay between meditation and sleep. But it appears that meditation provokes changes in the brain that positively impact sleep. People who meditate get more restful sleep and experience fewer nighttime awakenings.
Promotes Emotional Health
Meditation can help you to gain a new perspective in stressful situations. It also aids in building new skills to manage your stress. When you practice focusing on the present and reducing negativity, you start to see the world through new lenses. You become more patient and less judgmental — not only with others but with yourself.
Improves Your Immune System
Over the long term, the relaxation response that results from meditation reduces stress-related inflammation and improves insulin resistance. Meditation also causes the body to produce more of the immune system’s helper cells, which assist in fighting infections.
Relieves Anxiety, Depression, and Pain
Meditation helps ease psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety, and physical pain related to stress.
Trait mindfulness — the tendency to exhibit mindful qualities in daily life — can become a habit from meditation. You become non-reactive to distressing thoughts and emotions. You observe your momentary thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and sensations. Meditation can help you cope with triggering experiences.
Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself. It’s about how your actions, thoughts, or emotions align with your standards. If you’re highly self-aware, you can evaluate yourself objectively. This objectivity helps you manage your feelings, align your behaviors and values, and understand how others perceive you. Meditation can help you increase self-awareness, which is a fundamental tool for self-control.
Lengthens Your Attention Span
People’s attention spans are declining rapidly. Experts say that people’s attention spans today are less than that of a goldfish. Meditation can help boost your attention span — even without a long-term commitment to the practice. Even brief meditation sessions can have a demonstrable effect on improving attention spans.
Helps Fight Addictions
By becoming better connected to your thoughts and feelings, meditation for healing from your addiction is possible. It helps you better understand your cravings and changes how you see addiction. It also increases your self-confidence, which assists in treatment. Meditation improves relapse rates and helps with cravings.
Helps You Feel Better in Body and Spirit
The mind-body connection isn’t a myth. Stress can cause tension headaches. It can lead to depression and anxiety. When we clear the judgmental cobwebs surrounding our thoughts and emotions, our bodies become freer of tension.
Meditation and Recovery at ILC
Integrative Life Center is committed to supporting you throughout your treatment. We provide an environment where healing and recovery are paramount. With the highest quality of care and respectful space, you can reclaim your well-being. Contact ILC to learn more about meditation and healing or any of our treatment programs.