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The Neuroscience of Meditation

Many men and women in recovery use meditation as a major tool in maintaining sobriety. 12-Step Recovery programs suggest prayer and meditation, and other recovery programs, such as Refuge Recovery, use meditation as one of the central means of maintaining happiness, joyousness, and freedom in sobriety. Scientific research into the benefits of meditation have proven that the practice can effect certain changes in the brain that are incredibly helpful in repairing damage done by drugs and alcohol, as well as improve mental and emotional health.

Addiction causes major physical changes to the structure of the brain. The brain can often return to its previous structure overtime in sobriety. The concept is known as “neuroplasticity,” and suggest that the brain responds and changes based on experiences and external stimuli. Meditation can aid in brain healing and improve brain health. Zoe Schlanger, in a 2015 Newsweek article entitled The Neuroscience of Meditation, and the Virtues of Shutting Up, explains, “One study, from 2012, found that long-term meditators may develop more gyrification, or ‘folding,’ of the cortex, which is associated with faster mental processing—and the more years a person meditates, the higher the degree of folding. Another study found evidence of increased thickness in the prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula, areas of the brain associated with attention and awareness of sensations and emotions in oneself and others.”

Meditation can also increase the brain’s grey matter, which includes regions of the brain associated with memory, speech, decision making, emotional regulation, seeing, and hearing. Marissa Fessenden, in a 2015 Smithsonian article entitled What Does Neuroscience Know About Meditation, explains, “Brain imaging studies have shown that practiced meditators may have an increase in tissue in a brain region that appears to involve attention and impulse control, for example. However, brain imaging experiments in general are notoriously hard to interpret. Other researchers have published findings that people who meditate might be kinder than those who don’t and that meditation might effect metabolism and the immune response.” Certain forms of meditation, such as Vipassana meditation, can teach the brain how to avoid impulsive, knee-jerk reactions, allowing one to develop a greater ability to regulate their emotions and be less likely to fall victim to anger, resentment, and bad decisions from immediate reactions.

Your life can become one of serenity and peace of mind in sobriety. You can make the decision to seek help now and embark upon the rewarding journey of recovery. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, is staffed with knowledgeable and compassionate professionals who understand that addiction is an affliction that affects the mind, body, and spirit, and are dedicated to providing clients all the tools needed to achieve and maintain sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431