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Meditation has been around for thousands of years. Some of the earliest written records of meditation date to 1500 BC in Hindu Vedantism. Circa 500-600 BC, Taoists in China and Buddhists in India began to develop meditative practices. Meditation has recently become more popular in western civilization because it restores a sense of inner peace and calmness. Doctors have started to realize its therapeutic benefits, including reducing negative emotions, increased self-awareness, and a better perspective on stressful experiences. Meditation can also help those with medical issues and some research suggests that meditation can reduce anxiety, asthma, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure.

Meditation and Addiction Recovery

Meditation promotes self-awareness and allows the person to completely empty his/her mind of memories and emotions. When a blank state of mind has been reached, the meditater can examine certain memories and behaviors objectively. This practice can be especially helpful for those in recovery because meditation allows them to reflect on the reasons why they may have started to abuse drugs and/or alcohol.

The practice of meditation also helps the person to feel a sense of calmness or inner peace which can expand beyond the period of meditation. For those who are new to addiction recovery, meditation can help them to analyze their emotions (like anger) to find the true reasons behind those emotions and to cope with them accordingly. Meditation also relieves stress, which can be a huge trigger for substance abuse.

Types of Meditation

Guided meditation: During guided meditation, the meditater tries to form a mental picture of a place that he or she finds relaxing. This image could be a sandy beach or snow covered mountain. Just choose an image that speaks to you. Think about your five senses and how those relate to your mental image. For example, if your “happy place” is the beach, try to visualize the sound of the waves and the feel of the sand in between your toes.

Mantra meditation: A mantra is a sound or word that is repeated by someone who is meditating. During mantra meditation, think of a calming word or phrase. This will help you to learn how to tune out any other thoughts during your meditation period.

Qi gong. (CHEE-gung) This type of meditation is part of traditional Chinese medicine. During Qi gong, the meditater combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement, and breathing to restore inner peace and maintain balance.

Tai chi. This type of meditation combines deep breathing along with slow, graceful postures or movements. Tai Chi is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts.