What is Guided Meditation?
Guided meditation is an exercise where a person meditates under the guidance of a trained practitioner. The meditation can be guided in person, by sound recording, by video recording or a combination of all three. Guided meditation can be an excellent supplemental therapy for any professional addiction treatment plan.
Many guided meditations use visual imagery to describe specific images that are designed to invoke certain moods, thoughts or experiences. The objective is to help participants focus on sensory features that represent positive experiences and emotions, which has the effect of controlling and subduing negative thoughts.
How Does Guided Meditation Work?
Meditation is one of the easiest ways to enter into a state of relaxation. Research conducted by Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, reveals that practicing mindfulness meditation can cause significantly positive changes within the brain.
As a person meditates, the brain triggers the body to relax. The result is that breathing gets deeper and the heart rate slows down. The brain also stops releasing cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream, which are the body’s natural stress hormones. The person experiences reduced stress levels, which also reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Guided meditation helps a recovering person’s ability to focus on the present, rather than worrying about the future. Participants also become far more aware of their own thoughts, which can lead them to making better decisions and making positive changes without reverting back to previous addictive behaviors and patterns.
Benefits for Addiction Treatment
Guided meditation can be highly beneficial as a supplement for any addiction treatment plan. It’s common for many people in recovery to struggle to focus their thoughts as their minds adjust to living a productive, healthy life without drugs.
After all, a person struggling with addiction has spent a period of time trying to deal with life’s stresses and challenges by abusing drugs, so it becomes important to find healthier ways to cope. Meditation allows a recovering person to learn effective relaxation techniques that make it easier to focus on positive changes required to achieve recovery.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, guided mindfulness meditation can increase brain reactivity to natural reward processing. After abusing drugs for a period of time, the brain’s neurotransmitters are artificially altered into thinking they can no longer produce dopamine or serotonin naturally. However, a crucial part of the recovery process is using such therapies as meditation to re-learn natural ways to stimulate the brain into producing these “feel-good” hormones again.
Studies also show that meditation can be helpful for controlling cravings during the recovery process. Guided meditation sessions focusing on sensory features of a pleasant experience, place or object work well to generate positive emotions that reduce cravings and encourage the brain to produce natural reward-giving hormones again.
When used in conjunction with traditional evidence-based therapies, guided meditation techniques can improve a person’s recovery success rate. Even after the recovering person leaves treatment, ongoing participation in meditation sessions make it easier to learn to live a happy, productive, sober life over the long term.