Meditation is a powerful tool that anyone can practice. Whether you’re working to prioritize self-care or you’re recovering from an illness, injury or drug and alcohol addiction, practicing meditation daily is a great way to maintain a sense of balance in life. Understanding its history, purpose, and benefits can help you learn to appreciate the practice as an art and effectively integrate it into your everyday life.
Meditation is a practice adopted by many cultures across the globe. Evidence of the first meditation practices was found in the Indus Valley dating all the way back to 5,000 to 3,500 BCE.
Meditation is an art that encourages the development of concentration, self-awareness, and clarity. It is defined by achieving a state of inner stillness while remaining awake. When practiced regularly, meditation promotes a deeper sense of peace and understanding of yourself and the world around you. These experiences transform your state of being with powerful insight and a renewed understanding of life.
Most of the world’s religions have adopted the basic concepts of meditation in one way or another, although you don’t have to associate with any sort of religion to practice meditation or enjoy its benefits. Many therapists within medical care centers or alcohol and drug rehab centers use meditation as a therapeutic tool to help their clients recover from traumatic experiences and addictive behaviors as they begin to reorient their thoughts and experience life in a different way.
• Benefits and Purpose of Meditation
The main purpose of meditation is to look inward and achieve a sense of self-understanding and calm. Naturally, it comes with many other benefits that will ultimately transform your life in a simple yet powerful way.
• Manage the stresses of everyday life – Scientific studies have shown that meditation changes the brain. Some of these changes take place in the amygdala (the part of the brain associated with anxiety, fear, and stress) are correlated to a reduction in stress levels.
• Gain clarity – Taking the time to meditate each day allows you to examine what is inside of you instead of focusing the things going on around you. As a result, you’ll discover things you may not have known about yourself and can use this knowledge to modify negative thoughts and behaviors to improve your life. This is especially helpful for individuals in recovery at drug and alcohol rehab centers because they must learn how to modify their behaviors while learning how to live life in a healthier way.
• Improve mood – Meditation not only helps clear the clutter from your mind, but it can also improve negative emotions associated with mood disorders like depression. In fact, a study from Johns Hopkins University found that the effects of meditation rivaled antidepressants when treating depression and anxiety. Meditation may be a healthier alternative to dealing with depression, anxiety, and similar mood disorders.
• Practice discipline – The practice of meditation is frequently used within a rehab center setting because it serves as an opportunity to practice self-discipline. Even those who are not in rehab or another type of clinical setting can benefit from developing a healthy daily routine based on discipline.
• Improve concentration – Maintaining concentration is very difficult, especially in a day and age when constant cell phone alerts and emails are continual sources of harassment. Practicing meditation can help you learn how to block out constant interruptions and focus on the task at hand.
• Practice a healthier lifestyle – Meditation helps you relax, which in turn, opens your blood vessels and drops your blood pressure. Not only does it encourage cardiovascular health, but it also promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle as you prioritize the health of your mind, body, and soul and treat yourself with kindness.
• How to Practice Meditation: 4 Simple Steps
If you would like to learn how to meditate at home or while living in an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center, here’s a quick step-by-step guide to help get you started. Your counselor, yoga instructor, or doctor may have additional tips to help you improve your practice.
1-Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and assume a posture of meditation. This posture should be whatever is most comfortable for you. Keep your back, neck, and behind aligned as you sit in a chair or on the floor with a cushion beneath your behind.
2-Close your eyes, relax your muscles, and let go of all the tension you’re holding in your body. Visualize the tension leaving your body and slowly let it progress up your body, from your toes, legs, stomach, upper body, and finally to your head. Let go of any worries, concerns, or painful thoughts.
3-Focus on your breath. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm (not your chest) and listen to the breath coming into your body and slowly leaving it. Try to keep your mind clear of any thoughts and just focus on breathing.
4-Free yourself from your mind and simply be. Be present and engaged. Try to avoid following the meandering thoughts of your mind, clear your head, and simply enjoy the moment.
The practice of meditation takes time and it will not come naturally. You’ll probably find yourself battling thoughts about things you need to do and judgments on whether you’re doing this whole meditation thing right or not, but that’s no reason to quit. Keep at it and you may soon find yourself looking forward to your daily meditation routine and experiencing life in a much more fulfilling way.
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