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Meditation

Meditation

Steps Recovery Center recognizes how vital the mind, body, and spirit are in their connection to the whole person. We take a holistic approach to treating those with mental health disorders, which includes treating the whole person, and find that it tends to be more successful, especially since addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life. With a customized and individualized program that includes meditation, a holistic approach just makes sense. It affords an opportunity to meet the patient’s physical and psychological needs and allows them to engage physically, emotionally, and mentally.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice of training the mind, such as how you would train your body through fitness techniques. Many meditation techniques exist, so what may not work for one person may work for another. Different meditation practices require different mental skills to master. For beginners, to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an empty mind will be extremely difficult, as meditation takes concentration and patience. Meditation focuses on your breath and being mindful or aware of your surroundings but not doing anything. Some common approaches to meditation include:
  • Concentration Meditation – Involves focusing on a single point, such as breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a gong repeatedly, or counting beads on a mala. (a string of prayer beads commonly used in Hinduism or Buddhism.) With this form of meditation, when your mind wanders, you refocus your awareness on an object of your choosing to turn back your attention. Your ability to concentrate will eventually improve the more you practice this type of meditation.
  • Mindfulness Meditation – This practice intends to not involve yourself with thoughts or judge them, but to be aware of each thought as it arises. You can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in certain patterns, as you practice mindfulness meditation. When done consistently, you become aware of your thoughts and how the human tendency is to quickly judge them as good or bad, or positive or negative; this creates an inner balance.
  • Other Meditation Techniques – Other techniques for using meditation include focusing on cultivating compassion, so you can envision adverse events and recast them in a more positive light via developing compassion towards them. Moving meditation techniques involve the practice of qigong, tai chi, and walking meditation (otherwise known as kinhin), a practice within several forms of Buddhism. It requires movement and periods of walking between long periods of sitting meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
Other than learning how to relax better and more efficiently, there are many benefits to meditation. They include:
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower heart rate
  • Lower blood cortisol levels
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Better well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation
Research shows that consistent meditation may have long-lasting effects on the brain and immune system, but the goal is not necessarily those benefits, it’s learning to be present. One of the ultimate benefits of Buddhist philosophy, however, is the liberation of the mind from the perception that it can control external circumstances or strong internal emotions.  
Meditation for Beginners
An excellent introduction to meditation is following four steps: sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor, and close your eyes, make no effort to control your breath; just breathe naturally, and focus your attention on the breath and how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. You notice the movement of your body as you breathe, while also observing your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. If your mind wanders, return your focus to your breath. Doing regular meditation can help those who are struggling with detoxing from substances, including the symptoms that may arise from it. It can also help those with mental health disorders to better cope with their circumstances and productively manage their behaviors and emotions.