Addiction is a complex disease that takes a toll on the entire body, mind, and soul. When it comes to addiction recovery, the most effective way to heal is to take a holistic approach to treatment. Mindfulness activities are a valuable tool that can help to reshape the brain in positive ways, improving both physical and mental health and aiding in overall well-being.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness originated in Buddhist meditation practices. It involves maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our body, feelings, thoughts, and the surrounding environment. Mindfulness takes a non-judgmental approach, meaning that we pay attention to our feelings believing that there is no right or wrong way to think or feel. When an individual practices mindfulness, they are in tune with the present moment as opposed to dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
When you are mindful, you are aware of both your internal feelings and external surroundings. You are paying attention to what is happening around you, including your own personal responses. The goal of mindfulness is to become fully aware of the present moment without dwelling on anything in a judgmental manner. Mindfulness requires a significant amount of self-discipline and self-awareness. It involves paying attention to our entire body and feeling the different sensations throughout.
Mindfulness and Recovery
The idea of “living in the moment” is derived from mindfulness. Mindfulness requires a conscious effort to understand what one is feeling, accepting these feelings, and allowing ourselves to feel without judgment. For people in addiction recovery, mindfulness allows them to develop a better way to regulate their emotions and thoughts. By practicing mindfulness in recovery, they are able to better identify potentially triggering situations and are aware of they may cause a relapse.
One of the most basic ways that mindfulness can aid in addiction treatment is by slowing things down. The early stages of recovery can be extremely difficult for an individual. The rushing thoughts and physical toll on the body can be overwhelming. By taking the time to practice mindfulness throughout daily life, the person is able to quiet down their thoughts and achieve a sense of calm. This reduces the chance of relapsing and using drugs or alcohol to quiet their mind.
Another way that mindfulness is beneficial in addiction recovery is that it allows us to start t notice the positive around us in everyday life. Taking a step back and focusing on the natural beauty around us helps us realize that the world isn’t such a bad place. Pay attention to the smell of the flowers, the sight of a butterfly fluttering by, and the sound of our loved one’s laughter. By acknowledging these positive sensory experiences in everyday life, individuals are less likely to seek out pleasure through harmful addictive behaviors.
Mindfulness is extremely beneficial no matter which stage of recovery an individual is in. Practicing mindfulness offers a variety of health benefits, including:
- Self-awareness. A person actively practicing mindfulness is more in tune with their bodies. They are able to easily recognize when something feels off, or when something has changed. By being fully aware of their bodies, they are able to address potential health concerns early on.
- Stress management. By centering on the present without dwelling on the past or future, a person is able to better regulate their stress. Stress is easily managed and reduced because the person isn’t spending time anticipating what could happen in the future. Instead, they are focusing on controlling only what they can in the present moment. Stress is known as a major factor in our mental and physical health, so it is beneficial when we know how to control it.
- A better understanding of our thoughts. The biggest advantage of mindfulness practices is the ability to better understand our thoughts and feelings. Instead of allowing our thoughts to consume our entire being, mindfulness allows us to better understand them and not let them influence our actions. It also helps us to let go of negative thoughts or feelings more easily.
Mindfulness as a Tool
Mindfulness practices are a beneficial tool for anyone, but it can be especially helpful for those in recovery. Mindfulness meditation helps patients in recovery recognize their negative thoughts that can lead them to relapse. It also allows patients dealing with guilt and shame to recognize their feelings without self-judgment. Mindfulness techniques also help a person manage their cravings and navigate through bad days. Mindfulness is all about being in tune with our bodies and feelings in a positive way. Even after addiction treatment is completed, mindfulness can be used as a valuable tool in everyday life in recovery.