How to Meditate in Recovery

Meditation Rewires Your Brain for Healthier Living

Meditation comes in many forms, but all benefit the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of addiction recovery.


How to Meditate in Recovery

Meditation Rewires Your Brain for Healthier Living

Meditation comes in many forms, but all benefit the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of addiction recovery.

The information presented on this page is a general overview and is offered here as a comprehensive resource. At Ampelis Recovery, our programs are customized and tailored to the individual’s needs. Specific details below that cover treatment protocols may not reflect the protocols used for our clients.

If you would like to learn more about Ampelis Recovery and our customized programs for professional men, please do not hesitate to reach out.


When you first attempt to quit using drugs or alcohol, many types of therapies can help support you in your recovery. Although most people know about recovery tools such as group meetings, counseling, and detox services, one of these approaches is less common. This approach is learning how to meditate and it is an asset that can be extremely helpful when in recovery from an alcohol or drug use disorder.

When using meditation in recovery, it can provide the opportunity to slow down. It also offers the chance to gain perspective and dig deep. Let’s look more into how meditation can be used in recovery, and how it can help you to detach from the impulses that can make or break sobriety.

How to Meditate

The goal of meditation is to relax and clear the mind of all thoughts. Meditation has been proven to aid in strong mental health, which leads to strength in recovery. Meditation is an incredible exercise that involves both a physical and mental state of being.

When you first sit down to meditate, you will need to attempt to be mindful. When you learn how to meditate, try to learn to accept all of your thoughts as they are. Do not judge yourself. Instead, try to be aware of your feelings and physical sensations. Although once thought of as a more alternative method, meditation has become much more mainstream and is seen as an effective addition to any recovery program.

How to Start Meditating?

Most meditation begins by settling in a quiet place. You should have no distractions, including from a smartphone or other electronic devices. You can either sit or lie down, but be sure to be comfortable.

Begin by focusing on your breathing. Some people choose to repeat a mantra, or a single idea over and over again. You might also choose to close your eyes and think of a single candle flame in your head. Be sure to keep an open mind and focus on keeping your thoughts in one single pane.

You can choose to meditate whenever you want, for as long as you want. Most people begin with a few minutes, but you can eventually work your way to up to 20, or 40 minutes.

Basic Meditation Techniques

Most meditation works to increase your self-awareness and promote a sense of calm. Basic meditation techniques that might be used in recovery often include breathing, using mantras, meditation through movement, or following a guided session.

Breathing techniques typically involve focusing on your natural breathing. You might also focus on relaxing each part of your body, which results in the ultimate relaxation of your mind. Alternatively, practicing mantras means you repeat one word or a phrase over and over. This can be in your head, or out loud, but it ultimately is about relaxing yourself physically.

Other forms of physical meditation can be done through a yoga class, or even walking on the beach. During these sessions, you should focus on being mindful.

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How Meditation Helps in Recovery

There are many meditation benefits in general, but there are a few specific benefits for those who are in recovery from drugs or alcohol.

Physical Benefits

Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure and decrease stress. It also helps to increase energy levels, but more importantly, it facilitates endorphins. This provides a release of dopamine and serotonin, which regulates mood and behavior, as well as improving emotional stability. Because mood and behavior are tied to controlling your urges, this aids dramatically in recovery.

Psychological Benefits

There are also many psychological meditation benefits. Meditation is wonderful at reducing stress by decreasing anxiety and promoting a calm sense of being. It facilitates a way for you to gain focus and understand the reasons behind your actions.

Spiritual Benefits

Meditation pushes you to be one with your mind and to get into better touch with your body. It facilitates a mind-body connection, that pushes you to complete a further personal transformation.

Types of Meditation

The types of meditation that you choose to practice will depend on your preferences and goals. The most common types of meditation for people in recovery include mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, zen meditation, spiritual meditation, focused meditation, transcendental meditation, and guided meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation comes from Buddhist teachings. It is one of the most popular meditation techniques in the United States and Europe. During this form of meditation, you must acknowledge your thoughts. Instead of judging your thoughts, in mindfulness meditation, you observe them. By observing your thoughts, you allow yourself to focus and become aware of what is causing your addiction.

During this form of meditation, you should observe all thoughts, sensations, or feelings that you have. If you do not have a teacher, mindfulness meditation is great because it is easily practiced alone.

Spiritual Meditation

Typically used in religions such as Hinduism or Christianity, spiritual meditation is similar to prayer. In spiritual meditation, you should reflect on the silence around you. You might also look for a connection to a higher power. This form of meditation is often used in 12-step programs. In some cases, essential oils such as cedar, sage, frankincense, or palo santo are used.

Focused Meditation

Focused meditation involves using all five senses. Typically, your focus will be on one aspect of your body at any given time. This might be focusing on your breath, listening to a sound, or staring into the flame of a candle.

Regardless, although it sounds like one of the simple types of meditation, it is not. As you begin, attempting to start focused meditation, you will see that it can be hard to hold your focus for longer than a minute or two. The main purpose of this form of meditation is to stay focused. If you are in recovery you most likely need additional focus in your life, and that is where focused mediation can help.

Zen Meditation

Also known as Mantra meditation, zen meditation is very well known in both the Hindu religion and Buddhist belief system. Zen meditation uses sounds as a method of vacating the mind. One well-known sound used in Zen meditation is “Om.”

Choosing your mantra is important because you need to feel comfortable and focused on it. After you begin chanting your mantra for enough time, you should begin to feel more alert. For some people, using a focus on words instead of on breath is a nice change from traditional types of meditation. Zen meditation should force you into a deeper state of awareness which is helpful when in recovery.

Transcendental Meditation

Similar to zen meditation, transcendental meditation has been the subject of many scientific studies. It is often more popular than zen meditation because it is more customizable. In transcendental meditation, each person chooses their transcendental meditation mantras to use. Transcendental meditation mantras also provide a more structured environment than zen mediation.

Guided Meditation

This form of meditation is always done through the facilitation of a teacher who guides you through the process. Guided meditation classes are common in recovery. It allows you to have someone to follow when you first begin. This can help take off the pressure of knowing exactly how to begin, and allow a more gradual introduction.

How Meditation Changes the Brain?

There are a few compelling scientific discoveries that might convince you to include meditation in your daily routine. The first involves proof that meditation rewires the brain.

In 2011, a team at Harvard discovered that mindfulness meditation specifically can change the structure of the brain.1 It was found that cortical thickness in the hippocampus increased after only eight weeks of participation. This is also known as gray matter or neutral density. The study concluded that this occurred because areas that are related to memory and self-regulation, changed over time.

Additionally, cell volume decreased in the amygdala, which is the center for fear and pain in the brain. This shows that meditation not only rewires the brain but also changes feelings overall.

How to Meditate in Recovery?

Start With Guided Meditation

Learning how to meditate does not need to be difficult, but it might have a bit of a learning curve. Guided meditation is one of the best forms of meditation to begin with. Guided meditation will allow you to follow along with someone else to teach the initial steps, and also keep you engaged at the beginning of recovery.2

Find a Mantra you Like

Zen meditation is similar to transcendental meditation, in that you use mantras. Learning how to meditate in recovery begins by understanding transcendental meditation mantras. You must choose a transcendental meditation mantra that you resonate with, and that you are comfortable repeating for up to an hour or more.

Be Mindful

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most common forms of meditation and offers many meditation benefits. Mindfulness for beginners involves learning how to avoid judging your thoughts. This is incredibly important in recovery because you will be feeling many feelings, and experiencing new sensations while sober.3

Learning how to meditate might feel like something that you have never done before, and there is nothing wrong with that. Despite this, learning how to meditate might just be exactly what you need when you are walking on the road to recovery.