Meditation & Mindfulness Practices in Recovery

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
By, Michael Skrodski, LMFT (North Bay Recovery Center Therapist)

After 2500 years, Western medicine and mainstream psychology have finally discovered and adopted the ancient practices of meditation and the value of mindfulness, which is often defined as the psychological process of bringing one's attention to present experience without judgement. These practices are centered around the Buddhist version known as Vipassana (insight into the true nature of reality) with its focus on observing sensations, emotions, and thoughts, and its overreaching value of developing compassion for self and others.

Luckily for many, meditation has found its way into psychological treatment approaches like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). Empirical studies point towards many physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits for the practitioner (e.g. coping with anxiety, depression, ADHD, lowering blood pressure, improving immunity etc.). Individuals who practice meditation, aren’t required to buy into notions of "Karma", reincarnation, or other Buddhist ideas to benefit from the practice. The central notion of achieving equanimity or serenity through true and radical acceptance of present experience, even of difficult or painful states, fits well into shifting one's stance from addiction towards recovery.

Similarly, this philosophy dovetails nicely with messages from outside 12-step and other recovery groups. At North Bay Recovery Center, we have a weekly dedicated Mindfulness group in which various meditative approaches are presented. In addition to Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, our clients get exposure to Refuge Recovery meetings, a self-help program based on Buddhist principles and practices. Beyond that, many of our process groups begin with a short-guided meditation focused on breath and body. By the time our clients have completed primary treatment, they have had the opportunity to experience at least some benefits of a regular meditation practice.

Take a moment to close your eyes, noticing your breath in the moment, noticing the rise and fall of your chest and belly with every breath......