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Path to Recovery: How Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness Can Aid in Addiction

yoga-exercises-at-home-picture-id1173855731-1 Techniques that can aid in addiction recovery.

Are you working toward overcoming an addiction? If so, congratulations on taking charge of your health and working toward improvement.

You probably know that you need every weapon in your arsenal to defeat the negative thoughts and beliefs that drive your negative behaviors. Have you tried yoga, meditation and mindfulness? All three techniques can aid in addiction recovery. Here’s how.

Use Guided Meditation to Combat "Stinking Thinking"

What makes you behave the way you do? What makes some people reach for the bottle at the first setback while others sail through life sober? While many factors play a role, in large part, your beliefs stem from self-defeating thought patterns — and guided meditation can help you defeat these and rewire your conditioned responses.

1. Halt All-or-Nothing Thinking

If you aren’t the best, you must be the worst. This statement is clearly untrue. However, all-or-nothing thinking makes you translate a few bites of ice cream into an excuse to eat the entire gallon — after all, you already blew your diet.

Meditation provides the tool to defeat black-and-white thought patterns. Intellectually, you realize that accidentally grabbing the wrong cup in a party need not result in falling off the wagon. If you mentally rehearse replacing the spiked version with a non-alcoholic one, you’re more likely to practice it in reality.

2. Rewire Emotional Reasoning

Think of your brain cells as playing an endless game of “Telephone.” When a neuron receives information from another, it passes it on to the next. Over time, an innate response develops.

Emotional reasoning can lead to unhealthy behavioral patterns. You think, “I feel bad; therefore, I must be an evil person. Why not shoot up, since I’m a failure anyway?” Over time, you associate any negative emotion with an urge to use. Meditation can help you recognize that feelings are fleeting.

3. Stop Jumping to Conclusions

You made a mistake on a work project. Your head must be next up on the chopping block, right? Why not get drunk? It’s not like you’ll have a job to report to hungover anyway, right?

Meditation can help you see that the likely outcome of ‘fessing up and offering to fix the mistake is continued employment. It also enables you to recognize that getting squiffy will only make matters worse.

Take a Mindfulness Pause Before Indulging

Mindfulness involves centering yourself in the present moment. As such, it is not wise to ruminate over an immutable past or fears of an unpredictable future. Use it to help in your addiction recovery in the following three ways.

4. Perform a Body Scan

Some people use alcohol to control pain. This has roots in antiquity, and well-meaning parents might have offered you a shot to ease a toothache. However, it isn’t beneficial medicine. Any positive effects wear off quickly and leave you in worse agony than before.

Instead, perform a mindfulness body scan when chronic pain prompts urges to drink or use drugs. Sit quietly and begin by focusing on your breath. Move your awareness from your toes up through each area of your body, pausing to breathe into any tight areas while mentally saying, “relax.” This practice can ease symptoms originating from muscle spasms or tension.

5. Eat a Snack Mindfully

Sometimes, you slip up in a moment of weakness. Then, all-or-nothing thinking whispers, “you already broke your sobriety — why not go whole-hog?”

When this occurs, grab chocolate instead of the alcohol or pill bottle. Nibble and sniff it before popping it in your mouth. Let it dissolve on your tongue and savor the sensation. This pause brings your awareness back to the present and helps you resist the automatic reflex to keep using.

6. Take a Mindful Walk

When uncomfortable emotions overwhelm you, the urge to reach for your substance of choice seems overpowering. Before you indulge, make yourself take a mindfulness walk.

As you stroll, pay attention to the lift and fall of your foot and how your body shifts. Become aware of your senses. What do you smell and hear? How does the air feel against your skin?

Practice Yoga to Combat Recurrent Urges

Sometimes, the only way to overcome an urge to indulge in substance abuse is to distract yourself. That’s where yoga comes into play in addiction recovery. Don't worry — there's a style for everybody and every body.

7. Try Ashtanga for Burning off Angry Energy

You might feel such a hot mess inside that the only way to ignore the pub’s siren song is by making yourself too tired to drive or walk there. If you are athletic, try Ashtanga yoga. This form has you mastering impossible asanas while you vinyasa it out between poses in a constant flurry of motion.

8. Use a Hatha-Vinyasa Flow for General Soul-Soothing

If Ashtanga leaves you thinking, “Thanks, but no thanks,” you can find millions of yoga videos in variations of the Hatha-Vinyasa style on YouTube for free. Some focus more on holding specific poses, while others keep you flowing like a dance. Most are gentle and accessible for beginners and advanced practitioners.

9. Try Yin Yoga for Chronic Pain That Triggers Urges

What if you are a chronic pain warrior and anything too athletic leads to flareups? Give Yin, or restorative, yoga a try. This style involves holding gentle, floor-based poses for anywhere from three to five minutes. It digs into your connective tissues and gets synovial fluid flowing around your joints. It’s a veritable godsend if you have arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Is getting on the floor problematic? Please don’t think you can’t practice. You can find ample chair-based classes and videos designed for folks with physical limitations.

Use Meditation, Mindfulness and Yoga on Your Addiction Recovery Path

Meditation, mindfulness and yoga are a trifecta of nuclear weapons in the war against addiction. Add these practices to your life to help you on your recovery path today!

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