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Holistic Practices for Addiction Treatment
Mindfulness & Meditation

Mindfulness and mediation are two highly valuable tools for individuals seeking sobriety.

Getting sober can be difficult. Practicing self awareness, and learning how to calm the mind and body, are essential skills needed by individuals new to recovery.

At Guardian Recovery we employ a range of evidence-based, holistic practices beneficial to addiction treatment, including mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness refers to a state of mental awareness. When someone engages in mindfulness, he or she becomes aware of his or her physical surroundings, physical sensations and current emotional/mental state. Practicing mindfulness brings an individual back to the present moment and puts them in tune with their true selves in that moment. The practice helps individuals to slow down, connect with their body and emotions, and control impulsive reactions.

Mindfulness and meditation are closely interlinked. Meditation refers to learning how to quiet the mind and sit with the self. There are several different types of meditation that we regularly utilize, including mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, focused meditation, mantra meditation and spiritual meditation. When you learn to quiet the mind through meditation, you become more able to achieve a state of mindfulness.

More on Mindfulness

How does mindfulness help with addiction recovery? Mindfulness helps with addiction recovery by helping quiet the racing thoughts that lead to emotional distress and erratic behavior patterns. In so many words, mindfulness helps people slow down and focus on the moment — and the task — at hand. As addicts and alcoholics, we tend to experience racing thoughts from time to time. We might dwell on past mistakes, or stress about all we have to accomplish that day. In other words, we live in the past, dread the future, or both. Mindfulness helps us take a breath and focus on where we presently are. Are we ok, right now, in this moment?

Benefits of Developing a Mindfulness Practice:

Observing yourself and the world around you without judgement – Most people who struggle with addiction are harshly self-critical. Because of this, we also have a tendency to be critical of the world around us. Mindfulness allows us the opportunity to observe what is happening without criticizing it. For example, rather than saying, “I shouldn’t be sad, I have no right to be sad,” we say, “I am sad right now, and that is okay. The sadness is going to pass, and it’s simply where I am right now.”

Actively participating in life – We tend to subconsciously weigh out everything that could potentially go wrong before we actually take action (if we take action at all). Mindfulness helps us participate in the world around us and enjoy what we are experiencing.

An improved ability to communicate thoughts and feelings in healthy, productive ways – Rather than reacting to a given situation, you become able to assess it rationally and describe the way the situation made you feel.

Learning how to focus one one thing at a time – If we have a lot to take care of in a short amount of time, we are likely to get overwhelmed and ignore all of our obligations completely. Mindfulness helps us focus on one thing at a time, focusing on what is directly ahead of us in the given moment.

Helps us spot relapse triggers — Mindfulness helps people build self-awareness, and self-awareness is essential to recognizing and working through relapse triggers. This technique helps us evaluate situations with a non-judgemental eye, but it also helps us recognize when we are thinking or behaving in a way that needs to change.

At Guardian Recovery we teach mindfulness techniques in group workshops and in one-on-one therapy.

More About Meditation

As previously mentioned, meditation is the practice of quieting the mind, getting centered and grounding yourself in the present moment. Whether it be in active addiction or in sobriety, many of us start to live life on auto-pilot. We go through the motions on a day-to-day basis, never stopping to check in and self-evaluate. We might be obsessively thinking about our substance of choice and compulsively using that substance, never stopping to consider how fruitful life could be should we give recovery a fighting chance.

The types of meditation employed by Guardian Recovery include:

Mindfulness meditation – Rather than dwelling on past events or stressing out about future events, mindfulness meditation helps people stay grounded in the present moment. People can engage in this type of meditation anywhere they are, making it an extremely useful relapse prevention tool. All one really has to do to participate in mindfulness meditation is scan his or her surroundings, noticing what they see, smell and feel; scanning the body for physical sensations; and feeling the emotions of the moment.

Breathwork meditation – Breath awareness is an extremely beneficial tool when it comes to quieting the mind and engaging in self-soothing. This type of meditation encourages the participant to focus on the breath, breathing in for a specific length of time and breathing out for a specific length of time. Mindful breathing has been proven to reduce anxiety, facilitate relaxation and help improve focus and concentration.

Guided meditation – During guided meditation, clients listen to a trained practitioner guide them through a meditation. This could include creative visualizations, scanning the body for sensations, focusing on the breath, opening or closing the eyes, etc. The practitioner leads an individual or group on the journey. At Guardian Recovery we work with several guided meditation specialists who teach our clients a range of effective, heavily studied techniques.

Mantra meditation – During this method of meditation, clients repeat a mantra over and over to themselves as they quiet their minds and relax their bodies. This mantra could be something they come up with themselves — something like, “I am worthy,” or “I am capable.” Mantra meditation is another beneficial relapse prevention technique that can be utilized at any place or time.

Mindfulness Meditation For Recovery

The main point of meditation is to gain self-awareness without engaging in self-judgement. Clients learn how to identify how they are feeling in the present moment without falling into patterns of negative self-talk. We tend to be exceptionally hard on ourselves in early recovery, and meditation helps us stop, acknowledge what it is we are going through, process it, and move on. It is important to note that there is no “right way” to meditate. We teach our clients a variety of useful skills and encourage them to continue building upon these skillsets outside the treatment setting.

Integrated, Holistic Care

At Guardian Recovery we believe in taking an integrated approach to addiction treatment, meaning that we simultaneously focus on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. We take a “whole person” approach to recovery, which allows for the development of vital relapse prevention and life skills. Clients learn how to work through uncomfortable feelings and emotions and engage in self-care as they navigate early recovery and transition back into independent living. To learn more about our integrated approach to recovery, or to learn more about the importance of mindfulness and meditation, contact us today.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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