Meditation used to be a very New-Age thing to do, but a growing body of research is finding that meditation is a powerful tool for everything from relieving chronic pain to effectively treating depression. The practice of morning meditation—quieting your mind and being in the present moment—is fast becoming a mainstream therapy for a range of conditions, including addiction.1

Meditation has been shown to help you reduce stress and even change the way your body responds to it. Morning meditation also helps to reduce negative emotions and increase your self-awareness, making it easier to identify the source of negative feelings and reinforce positive attitudes. These skills are essential for successful long-term recovery.

Your Brain Waves on Morning Meditation

Meditation acts on your brain waves, which represent the electrical activity of your brain. The most active brain waves are beta waves, which occur when your brain is alert and active. Alpha waves are slower and occur when you’re in a resting, reflective state. Theta waves are slower than alpha waves and occur when you’re engaged in a daydream or a repetitive activity like knitting or driving on the highway. Delta waves are the slowest waves and occur when you’re sleeping.

Morning meditation puts you in the alpha wave state, where you’re able to minimize distractions and your brain is open to creative ideas. In the alpha state, you’re relaxed, focused and in a positive state of mind. In 2011, researchers at MIT and Harvard conducted a study that found that people who meditated daily for eight weeks were better able to control their alpha waves, dramatically reducing their overall stress level and improving how external events affected them.2 This deep self-reflection can help you cope better with cravings, high-risk situations and other triggers that can lead to relapse.

How to Meditate

Meditation isn’t rocket science. It is simply the act of being without thought for a period of time. But effectively clearing your mind and shutting off the chatter takes a little time to master, so be patient and know that even if your mind is a flurry of activity at first, it’s okay. Your morning meditation is still highly beneficial.

To meditate, sit quietly and comfortably. Close your eyes. Breathe in slowly through your nose, and exhale slowly and gently through your mouth. Develop a slow, natural pace of breathing. Focusing on your breath is the basis of meditation, because it helps you keep thoughts at bay and brings you back to the now when your mind drifts. When thoughts come into your head—and they will—simply acknowledge them without judgment or frustration and gently let them go as you return your focus to your breath. Within a week or two of daily morning meditation, it will become easier to banish distracting thoughts and focus on your breath.

If you’re having trouble getting the hang of meditation, try a guided meditation app, which can help you stay focused on your breathing and produce a state of deep relaxation fairly quickly. Mantra meditation also helps you keep distracting thoughts at bay by repeating a word, sound or phrase as you breathe deeply.

Make Morning Meditation Part of Your Routine

Start with ten minutes of meditation each morning. As you begin to get the hang of it, increase your morning meditation time to 15 minutes. Keep increasing the length of your sessions until you’re meditating for a half hour at a stretch. Soon, you’ll notice a big difference in your stress levels, states of mind and level of self-awareness.