As recent research pours in regarding the health benefits of meditation, the old image of the cross-leg guru begins to disappear. In its place, we see working people, children, elderly and those in recovery; all walks of life are taking up meditation, for many reasons. Meditation is no cure-all: but, as part of well-rounded recovery routine, recent research is suggesting that meditation may be one of the keys to sustained change. Why? It’s all in our minds.
In the 2015 article called Circuitry of self-control and its role in reducing addiction, a team of researchers determined that “Behavioral training such as mindfulness meditation can increase the function of control networks and may be a promising approach for the treatment of addiction, even among those without intention to quit.” Read the last quote carefully: the research suggests that meditation offers opportunity to strengthen one’s self-control even when a person is not motivated to quit using.
The article goes on to suggest that adding mindful meditation to the recovery routine can strengthen the wiring in one’s brain, bolstering the mind’s mechanism that controls cravings. Again, the article doesn’t claim meditation as the magic bullet: nevertheless, it’s good news for those willing to add meditation to their recovery toolbox. In the fight to make healthier choices, arming oneself with as many sharp tools as possible is essential to combating addiction.
The researchers took time to “discuss the idea that addictions can be treated by changing the mechanisms involved in self-control with or without regard to intention.” The idea here is that the brain needs exercise to build up the strength necessary to make lasting change. Meditation can strengthen the areas in the brain that power self-control: many are making meditation part of paving new paths toward recovery.
Think of it this way: is it easier to walk a block or a mile? I’ll take a block, thank you. But if you work daily toward your goal of a mile, eventually you can do it. Same thing with meditation: a daily workout for your brain can pay dividends. Meditation isn’t for everybody: however, adding meditation to your routine could be the workout your brain needs to overcome the next hurdle on your path to recovery.
Links to Learn More about Meditation
Tang, Y. Y., Posner, M. I., Rothbart, M. K., & Volkow, N. D. (2015). Circuitry of self-control and its role in reducing addiction. Trends in cognitive sciences, 19(8), 439-444.