Mindfulness is a popularly practiced form of meditation that has been found to be beneficial to those in addiction recovery. The practice of being more mindful may sound straightforward enough, but it does require focus and repetition to be beneficial. While it is effective as a component of an addiction treatment program, it can also be helpful throughout life and provides numerous benefits to physical, mental, and emotional health.
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming more present in the moment. It requires a person to focus on what they are feeling and thinking in the moment without passing judgement upon themselves. Many people have a tendency to be overly preoccupied with countless thoughts and feelings that can induce feelings of stress and anxiety. Mindfulness encourages a person to stop spending so much time planning, daydreaming, and ruminating over negative thoughts and feelings. It is a practice that uses numerous techniques to help relax the mind and body while reducing stress levels.
How Mindfulness Helps Recovery
Mindfulness can have therapeutic benefits throughout the journey in recovery. In the beginning stages when a person is going through initial withdrawal, mindfulness can help a person focus on the present rather than getting swept up by the cravings and mood swings that often accompany early recovery. Over the course of their journey, mindfulness can help a person keep perspective, improve mental clarity, and have greater control over their emotions. These skills not only make recovery more manageable but are skills that can be applied to everyday life experiences following the completion of treatment.
Mindfulness in addiction treatment has a number of benefits. Some of the skills learned through the practice include:
- How to avoid “autopilot” mode
- Awareness surrounding triggers and cravings
- Learning how to focus on one thing at a time
- Acceptance of the present
- How to not pass judgement on yourself
- How to take care of yourself physically and mentally
Tips on How to Become More Mindful
Mindfulness is a skill everyone can tap into, but it may require practice to access it. The practice does not need to be especially time-consuming to be effective. Take some time to explore different approaches to mindfulness to find what works best for you. The following tips can help you tap into mindfulness and experience the benefits of it:
- Create a routine: Practicing mindfulness is more effective when you set aside time on a regular basis. Pick a time of day and a location that you want to practice in. Making mindfulness part of your schedule allows you to prioritize your own needs and set time aside to decompress. Yoga can also serve as a mindfulness practice for beginners and it has a lot of health benefits.
- Get comfortable: Make sure that you are comfortable before starting. For most people, a seated position is best. Try not to sit in a way that allows your legs to dangle and hang freely. Keeping your feet on the ground and making sure your body is stable will allow you to keep your position and stay focused for a while.
- Set a time limit: Mindfulness meditation does not need to be long to be effective. When you first start, you may find that it takes longer for you to get into a mindful state of being. As you practice more, you may find ways to achieve a meditative state more quickly. You can give yourself a time limit initially as you work your way through the practice.
- Adjust your body position: In addition to making sure you are sitting in a comfortable, stable position, make sure you are not slouching. Straighten your body without stiffening it. You may find that you let your chin drop and your eyes close. You can place your arms straight out in front of you and rest them on your legs. Let your hands move where they are comfortable. Finding the right position is a process of fine-tuning your body.
- Minimize distractions: It’s best to practice mindfulness in a calm, quiet location. Minimizing distractions around you can help you focus more on the present moment. While it is impossible to keep your mind from wandering, the less distractions around you, the better able you will be to bring your mind back to the present moment.
- Your mind may wander: Inevitably, your mind will wander. You may start thinking about your responsibilities, past experiences, or other random thoughts. It is impossible to avoid this. Rather than becoming frustrated by this, acknowledge that your mind has wandered and guide it back to the present moment.
- Do not pass judgement: You may feel frustrated by your thoughts and your wandering mind, but it is normal. Do not pass judgement on yourself or treat yourself harshly. Treat yourself with kindness. Mindfulness takes time and practice. Even those who have practiced it for long periods of time will experience a wandering mind. It is part of the process.
- Focus on your breathing: An effective way to keep your mind focused on the present moment is to concentrate on your breathing. Follow your breath as you inhale and exhale. This can help you relax and fall into a more meditative state.
- Start again: If you find you have lost your focus, do not get discouraged. Guide your mind back and start over. Adjust your posture, breathe deeply, and focus on the present moment again. You can use focusing on your breath to guide yourself back into mindfulness.
- Keep practicing: While everyone has the ability to practice mindfulness, it is not inherently easy. Mindfulness takes practice and different approaches may be more effective. Take some time to experiment and try new approaches to find what works best for you. The more you practice, the easier it will be to enter into that state of mind.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 310.403.1032 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.