During recovery, patients’ commitment to treatment may wane, says former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb: Apps help keep people engaged—an important aspect on the road to recovery.
Looking to supplement prescribing pain pills, some doctors are suggesting mindfulness and meditation apps to prevent misuse before it begins. Rex Marco, an orthopedic surgeon in Houston, recommends meditation apps such as Stop, Breathe, & Think to his patients suffering from chronic pain. And for good reason—in clinical trials mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce it by 57 percent.
Meditation apps may help curb addiction, too. In a recent study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, researchers at the University of Southern California found that eight weeks of mindfulness training led to decreases in cravings and relapses among adults in rehab—even six months later. Apps are an easy, accessible way to practice at home, and several new ones targeting addiction are going beyond simple meditations with features such as trigger tracking, motivational messages, medication and mindfulness reminders, and on-demand group therapy.
Meditation teacher Shivani Hawkins shares tips for how to approach the practice in a way that invites self-awareness and authentic transformation.
Be a Gardener
Human development is a slow, organic process. There are times when everything blooms quickly, and there are seasons of hibernation when it seems like nothing is changing, but in fact a lot is happening underneath the surface. Inner transformation can seem as slow as a tree branch growing. However, we need to consistently nurture ourselves, be patient, and let things unfold in their own way.
Track the Discomfort
If you are caught in a loop of critical, anxious thoughts, such as Wow, I really messed up or I’m such a loser for reacting like that or I have to urgently fix this or else no one will like me, often underneath those thoughts is a deeply held self-shaming belief like I’m not good enough. Every one of these thoughts and beliefs will be localized in particular places or patterns in your body or breath. The next time you are caught in a seemingly endless loop of thoughts, instead of just watching your thoughts, also pay attention to your breath and track sensations in your body. Is your stomach in knots? Is your throat aching? Are you breathing hard? Gently identify where the pain or discomfort is in your body. Your mind may be all over the place, but your body tends to be much simpler. By placing your attention to the physical expression of your thoughts, you can more quickly identify what core beliefs are actually driving the wave of thoughts.