By Lynn Young
Meditation is becoming a popular tool
in helping those who suffer with addictions. It is no longer limited to Eastern spiritual practices and is even mentioned
as the 11th step in common 12-Step recovery programs. Meditation is appealing to many because some types of meditation can
be practiced with ease, anywhere or anytime.
Treating addiction has often involved traditional
recovery techniques employed by such groups as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, entering a rehabilitation facility or outpatient
treatment. Talk therapy (psychotherapy) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), as well as, dialectical behavioral therapy
(DBT) are often used in treatment programs due to their effectiveness. Some programs may even emphasize a humanistic approach
to treatment in order to build self-esteem and self-awareness. Dialectical behavioral therapy involves mindfulness living
and the use of deduction to track down non-working cognitive programs, changing them to a healthier outlook. Gaining more
self respect is part of this approach: "In order for an individual to succeed in their recovery, they must first learn
to love and respect themselves. Dialectical behavior therapy teaches self-reliance and the proper way to rebuild self-image."
(Michael's House, 2009)
One method currently being used for addictions are medications such
as methadone or buproprion which may help some individuals reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms; but, may also cause unpleasant
side effects or may not be effective for certain individuals. Other methods such as long-term psychotherapy may not be supported
by many health plans. The spiritual or religious aspects of some programs may conflict with personal beliefs, ruling them
out. Meditation offers many individuals suffering with addiction another tool for their recovery.
A recent trend is to combine meditation with more traditional therapies for addiction recovery. For instance, Australian addiction
counselors Radha Nicholson and Brendan Healy have created the "Bay Approach", that combines meditation techniques
with psychotherapy. "You observe your thoughts and feelings, without becoming attached to them. From this perspective,
you can begin to see the subtle patterns and habits around your addictive behaviour. When you are aware of how they influence
you, they have less hold over you," states Nicholson. (Stephens, 2009).
In addition, meditation
and its effect on addiction recovery is being seriously observed by academics at such institutions as the University of Washington
where Professor Alan Marlatt, director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center, is researching the effectiveness of meditation
techniques in relapse prevention. Along those lines, the Buddhist Recovery Network was formed in 2008 as a response to the
increased use of mindfulness-based therapy in treating addictions. Their spokesman, Paul Santilan, states that the Network's
goal is to encourage relevant academic research and promote the benefits of meditation methods for addiction recovery. "Over
500 studies show that meditation raises levels of serotonin, the ‘feel good' chemical deficient in addicts,"
explains Santilan. (Stephens, 2009)
A recent Psychology Today article by Ronald Alexander, Ph.D.,
director of the Open Mind Training Institute and teacher at UCLA, Pepperdine, and Pacifica Graduate Institute, reinforces
the physiological basis for meditation's effectiveness in helping those with addictions in that it "lowers the levels
of the stress hormone cortisol in your bloodstream ...which can affect neurotransmitter receptors and alter your mood."
(Alexander 2010). Alexander also recommends meditation as an excellent way to help mood regulation because scientists have
observed that meditation stimulates activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating emotions.
The most effective meditation methods focus on quieting the mind and clearing its "chatter". One cannot stop mind
chatter unless they achieve a deep trance state that bypasses the chatter. Some techniques use music, specific postures while
chanting, breathing techniques, visualization and guided imagery. I have used many of these techniques unsuccessfully. A local
practitioner, Swami Ramaraaja (a/k/a S.R. Stone, DD, VHT, RMT), author of Going Clear, Doorway to the Divine has had success
with helping individuals fighting addictions by employing her own brand of methods that are called "tracking".
She combines this with deep trance meditation in order to uncover root causes of addiction so that they may be eliminated
in a similar way as the Bay Approach, DBT and CBT where the attachment to behavioural patterns are released uncovering the
deep-seated issues behind their addictions.
Stone invented a type of deep trance meditation called "Samadhi Nirvana
Yoga (SNY) Meditation". What makes SNY meditation so effective for many people is that one can finally lower their brain
waves into deep delta and beyond within a few seconds. All I have to do is to use a trigger that was given to me by Swami
Ramaraaja (Stone) during my "meditation initiation" so that I can return to that state anytime that I desire, especially
if I get stressed out during the day. Others who have used this particular type of meditation technique taught at the Mystic
Tiger Ashram have remarked that they have greatly reduced or even eliminated medications (with their doctor's knowledge
and approval) that they had been taking for a variety of psychological and addiction issues.
(S.R. Stone DD, VHT, RMT) at www.mystictigerashram.com,
and www.thesharonstoneinstitute.com school-under construction), Ashram and Healing center.
Contact Lynn Young
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