Addictions and meditation - pleasure without the pain

pleasure without painRead on for an important article comparing the effects of addictive behaviors to those of meditation.

Meditation Induced Bliss By Richard Miller, Integrative Restoration (irest®) http://www.irest.us.com

I recently read a fascinating research article published by Patricia Sharp on meditation-induced bliss, which differs significantly from addiction-induced bliss. It’s well known that brain-based opiates and neurotransmitters play a vital role in the establishment of addictive behaviors, (i.e., gambling, sex, drugs, nicotine, alcohol, et cetera) through the activation of reward and pleasure centers in the brain. However, it’s also well known that the pleasure derived from these addictive behaviors diminishes over time. Repeated addiction behaviors cause diminished release of brain-based opiates and neurotransmitters, which, over time, leads to anhedonia—the inability to experience pleasure from addiction activities that beforehand offered a felt-sense of reward and pleasure.

While addictive behaviors appear gratifying at first, they ultimately lead to diminished pleasure, and increases in dissatisfaction, pain, and suffering. “Interestingly, meditation also gives rise to the felt-sense of bliss, pleasure, and joy through the activation of the very same brain centers implicated in addictive behaviors. For instance, a study of accomplished Yoga Nidra practitioners demonstrated a 65% increase in brain dopamine release during their practice (Kjaer et al. 2002). However, contrary to addictive behaviors, meditation does not lead to decreases of brain-based opiates and dopamine, nor does it give rise to anhedonia. In fact, just the opposite appears to be the case. Over time, with meditation, we continue to experience increases in pleasure, bliss, and joy. In other words, meditation is a wonderfully power positive addiction that increases joy with continued practice. So meditate and yoga nidra on! You’re doing yourself, and everyone around you a great service!.”