Meditation is a technique that many people incorporate into their daily lives to help them cope with stress. Its increasing popularity is likely not only a result of its effectiveness, but also that it is a drug-free therapy anyone can perform without any special equipment. Today, we examine whether meditation and mindfulness practices can be helpful for individuals struggling with problem gambling.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness is being aware of the present, and paying attention to the moment without judgment. This means that you are focused on all of the things you are thinking and feeling, even if those sensations are unpleasant — like the urge to gamble. Paying attention sounds like a simple thing to do, but in reality, we are often distracted by excessive “noise” in our head. Thinking about tasks that you need to complete, memories, and other worries can easily take your attention away from the moment. This is why meditation is helpful as a means of practicing mindfulness.
Aside from paying attention, the second component is not passing judgment on your current experience. That means that if you feel the need to gamble, you don’t consider it a “bad” thing or a thought to feel guilty about — it’s just what you feel at that moment. It takes practice to do this effectively, especially when you are used to thinking about something like problem gambling in a negative way.
How Can Mindfulness Meditation Help Problem Gamblers?
The practice of mindfulness meditation has shown a lot of promise in helping people overcome their gambling problems. In particular, it may help to improve:
- Awareness – Many problem gamblers may operate on “autopilot.” This means that they may just give in to the feeling of needing to gamble without fully realizing it.
- Self-regulation – By becoming more aware of their thoughts and feelings, it becomes easier to accept them and let go of them, rather than trying to fight them.
- Co-occurring disorders – Many people who struggle with a gambling problem also have other mental disorders or health concerns, such as anxiety or depression.
How to Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness through meditation is not something that comes easily. You also shouldn’t expect a sudden change in your perspective after just a day or two. It may take several months to develop a good habit.
Here are some tips to get started if you’d like to give mindfulness meditation a try:
Find Problem Gambling Resources Through 800-GAMBLER
Mindfulness can be an impactful way to help someone to work through their problem gambling. However, every individual is different, so it’s crucial to find a method that works for you. CCGNJ offers resources for problem gamblers and their loved ones across the state of New Jersey to get the support, treatment, and hope they need to find a solution.