The Scientific Benefit Of Prayer And Meditation

“The spiritual life is not a theory,” the authors of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous boldly state. When Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in the 1930’s there was no answer for the disease of alcoholism. The insanity which drove a man or woman to continuously drink to excess despite the impending and well known negative consequences lying ahead was bewildering. No doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, wife, husband, or man himself could explain it. Moreover, no one could seem to make it stop. Until, that is, founder Bill Wilson had what he would come to famously described as a spiritual experience. Once he discovered the healing of a power greater than himself his phenomenal obsession of craving for more alcohol ceased to exist. Of course, it took some work to maintain his sobriety. However, the foundation of his life became a spiritual one. The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and all reflective twelve step programs, are a program of living for a spiritual life. They are a guide for discovering and building a relationship with a spiritual power of being that one gets to define for themselves.

Step 11 calls upon a recovering addict or alcoholic to engage in prayer and meditation for the purpose of improving a conscious contact with a Higher Power. Regarding step 11, The Big Book text reads, “We shouldn’t be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly.” Later, they write, “it works- it really does” For years, the 12-Step philosophy has fallen under ridicule as a model of treatment for addiction and alcoholism. Spirituality and science have long been at war, struggling to find a common ground. Ironically, most spiritual people fully embrace scientific evidence. What occurs through spiritual experience feels like a scientific revelation to many. Changing one’s thoughts, behaviors, and ways of thinking is in fact a neuroscientific process but feels remarkably spiritual. That is precisely what happens when one chooses to leave their destructive relationship with drugs and alcohol behind and seek a closer connection to spiritual sources greater than themselves.

Fifty five percent of Americans say that they participate in prayer every day, according to a 2015 poll. Seventy five percent of Americans believe prayer is an important part of life. Some doctors are bridging the crossroads between spirituality and science and looking at just how important prayer might be. Prayer and meditation have great physical and psychological benefit that help deal with a deadly factor: stress. Addiction and alcoholism are stressful. Recovery can be stressful. Life itself is often stressful. How one deals with that stress has a direct impact on their health and wellbeing. Prayer and meditation have been found to create a sense of calm, lower blood pressure, support regulation of challenging emotions like anger, and generally reduce symptoms of stress.

Reduction of stress due to prayer and meditation, the constant conscious contact with God or a Higher Power of one’s own understanding might relieve so much stress for another reason. “We alcoholics are undisciplined,” The Big Book authors explain, “So we let God discipline us…” Spiritual practices like prayer and meditation are a form of discipline which help guide a recovering addict or alcoholic into a new way of living.

 

Enlightened Solutions brings together the spirituality of 12 step philosophy with natural healing modalities for holistic health. Our program is designed to help you break the harmful bonds of drug and alcohol addiction and support your transformation from co-occurring disorders. For more information, call 833-801-5483.


Common Questions About Meditation and Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice of noticing. Many of us just go with the motions of our days without really noticing what is going on. Bringing awareness to our surroundings assists us in becoming present and enjoying life fully in each moment. Mindfulness is proven to help relax, sharpen focus, and regulate mood.

Is mindfulness different from meditation?

Yes and no. Mindfulness is a form of meditation but not all meditation is necessarily mindful. However, practicing meditation does tend to increase one’s sense of mindfulness. Meditation, like mindfulness, is a practice that helps develop a sense of awareness. Though mindfulness is a thought process, meditation can be practiced in different ways.

What if your mind is too busy?

Most meditation and mindfulness practitioners would argue that there is no such thing as a mind too busy to practice. They might even emphasize that the mind which thinks itself too busy for mindfulness and meditation is in the most need! Practicing mindfulness and meditation is a way to quiet the mind and calm the chaos internally. It may take time and meditation sessions of no more than five minutes at a time to start.

Is the goal to stop all thoughts?

Some disciplines of religion like Zen Buddhism include meditation in which the goal is to empty the mind completely. Not all meditation is about nothingness. Mindfulness, arguably, is about everythingness by noticing the world around you. Practicing meditation and mindfulness is about coming to terms with your thoughts.

Do I have to be spiritual to practice mindfulness and meditation?

No. Though mindfulness and meditation are spiritually founded practices, religion or spirituality does not have to be part of your life. It is important to note, however, that many people will have spiritual experiences or spiritual shifts. Meditation and mindfulness are proven to enhance feelings of connectedness and universality.

How do I practice mindfulness and meditation?

The simplest way to practice is to just breath and notice your thoughts. Meditation can be sitting, quiet, music, guided, etc. Choose what works best for you.

Enlightened Solutions combines holistic health and spiritual practices with both evidence-based treatment as well as 12 step philosophy. Our integrated approach to recovery creates a unique program of treatment for men and women overcoming addiction. For more information on our programs of treatment, call 833-801-5483.


This is Your Daily Reminder: You Have a Purpose

Close your eyes. Notice your thoughts. See that? You have thoughts. You are thinking. Despite their painfulness, the horrible things they are saying to you, the dreadful memories of the past they are replaying or the stressful worries of the future they are burdening you with- these are your thoughts. That means, today you woke up with the ability to think. We all have days when we wish that would just turn off. Thinking and being able to notice your thoughts means your brain is making connections. It might feel like today your brain is working against you. By simply noticing your brain’s ability to notice, you’ve found a secret loophole. Today, your brain is capable of learning. That means today you are capable of changing your thoughts. Changing your thoughts can mean changing your entire day, even your entire life. It might be working already.

Now, notice your breath. Are you breathing? Be very concerned if you notice you are unable to breath at all. Breath is a sign that we are alive. Move your awareness from your breath to your heart. Place your hand on your chest and feel it beating. Notice how your diaphragm continues to rise and fall, breath naturally flowing in and out, as the heart continues to beat. Perhaps your heart is beating very fast, full of anxiety. Still, it beats. See that? Your heart is beating. That means today you are alive. Your heart is beating, pumping blood into your body and your brain.

You Have a Purpose

Your brain is working, noticing it’s own thoughts and learning to choose them mindfully. All of this has one simple, conclusive meaning: you have purpose. What is it, you might be eager to know. Vague and frustrating, one recovery mantra holds vast trauth to this inquiry: more will be revealed. The fact that here you are, heart beating, brain thinking, life still being lived, means that you have a purpose. How that purpose looks is yet to be revealed. Years could pass before today’s purpose is revealed. Stay in the mystery, the wild perplexing mystery of being alive.

You’re here for a reason. Believe it.

 

Enlightened Solutions honors the dark suffering which stems from drug addiction, alcoholism, and co-occurring disorders such as depression. WE believe in the pervasive power of hope. We see your purpose and potential for this lifetime. It starts with hope. Start your recovery journey with us.

For more information, call 833-801-5483.


7 Lessons from Practicing Mindfulness

Being mindful...isn’t that hard.

Building a mindfulness practice requires just a few minutes today. Thanks to technology, developing a mindfulness practice is easier than ever. Long gone are the days of having to travel to ashrams or pay exorbitant amounts of money to guru teachers. These are still options, but a smart phone is just as handy. Mindfulness is nonjudgmental and noncompetitive. Simply learning to notice takes little actions.

Being mindful....isn’t the same as zen.

Zen meditation is a discipline in emptying the mind. Mindfulness is about filling the mind with focus, rather than noise. Mindfulness creates a holistic concentration that may feel like emptiness but is quite the opposite.

Being mindful...shows you how busy your mind really is.

Starting a mindfulness practice is going to reveal the chaos your mind experiences everyday. As you learn to breathe and focus on the breath, you’ll realize how many thoughts you have every second. Mindfulness is about acknowledging those thoughts without criticism and just letting them pass.

Being mindful...guides you in your own thoughts.

As you learn to notice your thoughts, accept them, and let them go, you notice what it is you are thinking about. You might notice you really think about one thing in particular a lot. Practicing loving kindness and compassion toward the self unearths the deeper meaning beneath these thoughts.

Being mindful...puts everything in it’s right place.

Examining your thoughts one thought at a time is like sorting laundry. Organizing without giving too much energy, you recognize what thoughts take priority. You recognize where your energy really gets spent. Without judgment, you can choose to put that energy elsewhere.

Being mindful...helps you stay calm.

Mindfulness based stress reduction is a proven technique for treating depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD. Taking just thirty seconds to breath can slow your heart rate which quiets your mind. Scientific research reveals that mindfulness practices change your neurochemistry.

Being mindful...can be a trip.

When we quiet the mind we open ourselves up to experiencing our other senses more fully. Some people witness beautiful visualizations when they practice mindfulness. Others hear sounds they’ve never noticed before. Many people who practice mindfulness regularly exclaim, “who needs drugs!”

 

Enlightened Solutions encourages the development of mindfulness practices as part of a recovery program. We utilize MBSR in treatment along with meditation and yoga. Our program is based in holistic healing modalities to treat the mind, body, and spirit as one.

For more information on our treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction please call 833-801-5483.