There are many things in this world that yoga and meditation can be solutions for, and alternatives to – including many different coping mechanisms, addictions, and behaviors that are neither legal, helpful, or healthy.
One such example is drug use – a common coping mechanism for many people, and one that can often spiral into addiction, legal troubles, and health issues.
But this begs the question: can yoga and meditation be viable substitutes, and if so, how?
What Do We Get From Drug Use?
Before we look at the benefits of yoga and meditation, it is first important to ascertain what it is we actually ‘get’ from relying on drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms.
The first thing that drugs and alcohol do is to distract us from the stresses and pain that we feel as human beings in our everyday lives.
This might be as a remedy for anxiety and depression, or it might be a way to hide trauma from the forefront of our minds. Either way, it is seldom a cure all, and often leads to further hurt and upset down the line.
Of course, another reason people take drugs and consume alcohol is because they derive some form of pleasure from it. And indeed, there are many drugs that can create a sense of euphoria in our bodies – after all, that is why many of them were created in the first place.
However, this sense of euphoria is often marred with shame, addiction, self loathing, and other negative emotions – meaning that any ‘freedom’ we obtain from their use is only ever temporary.
Can Yoga/Meditation Be A Substitute?
From the point of view of the addict – or indeed someone who has what could be deemed an unhealthy reliance on various substances – yoga and meditation can indeed be viable alternatives and substitutes for drug use.
This doesn’t matter whether the drug in question is coffee, alcohol, or something narcotic, the benefits are proven, and are spoken for by the sheer popularity that the practices have around the world.
How Can Yoga/Meditation Be Substitutes?
For someone who experiences depression, physical ailments, or addictions to substances, it might seem ridiculous to suggest that yoga and meditation can be substitutes to drug use – however, there are several proven benefits of the practices that suggest otherwise.
What both practices offer us is a sense of stillness – especially meditation, which allows us to acknowledge the negative and often overwhelming emotions within us, and let them pass like ships in the night.
This is often a better way to not only clear the mind, but also to gain perspective about painful issues, and maybe even find some clarity and freedom from them.
This differs from drug use, which can often muddy the truth, stop us from getting perspective, and often make things spiral and seem worse.
Both practices also teach discipline – both of the physical, the mental, and the emotional.
In this sense, this discipline could be seen as a potent tool against the thoughts, feelings, and pains that might seek to hurt us.
By finding a sense of discipline within ourselves, and an autonomy over our own bodily health, we can all find an inner strength that might have otherwise seemed out of reach.
There is also a discipline of time when it comes to yoga and meditation – namely improving your routine and making time for the practices.
This not only gives us responsibility, but teaches us the importance of adding beneficial tasks to our daily routines – something that gives us feelings of purpose, as well as a reason to battle on past negative emotions.
Both practices have also been widely proven to provide varying forms of relief to practitioners.
Those who meditate frequently have found it vastly improves their mental and emotional states, and likewise those who engage in regular yoga have found that the physical benefits more than speak for themselves.
This relief might not feel the same as the euphoria that substances can bring, but it is certainly a more tangible, long lasting, and beneficial relief that is grounded in strength, being present, and hard work – instead of the fleeting kind brought on by substances.
Both practices are also great for conditioning the mind and body for the rigors of life. Yoga is obviously a beneficial exercise, and they can release endorphins that make us feel healthier, happier, and poised for life.
Likewise, meditation could be seen as a mental exercise – strengthening the core of our waking minds, so that it will in turn reinforce our subconscious minds.
And just like regular exercise, both of these things are proven to provide us with the strength we need to not only reclaim our lives from depression, anxiety, illness, and substance dependency, but it can also give us the strength to open ourselves to life, and to allow the prospect of happiness and health into our lives.
What To Remember
Of course, addiction to any form of substance is not something to be taken lightly, and it is paramount that people seek help whenever they might need it.
Then and only then can these practices be implemented to have the best impact on the life and well being of the practitioner.
It’s certainly true that yoga and meditation can be useful for all kinds of people – not to mention those with different coping mechanisms and internal problems that they have to deal with.
Luckily though, there have never been so many resources and sources of information – allowing us to properly figure out what methods might be best for us.
So if you want to introduce yoga and meditation into your life, then be sure to check out this handy guide. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!
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