Mindfulness; a seemingly catch-all word to sum up intentional attitudes and practices to just about any activity we resolve to engage in—everything from fitness, diets, sports, and addiction recovery. Like most words or phrases that suddenly find themselves plucked from the fringes into everyday conversation, it is not long before the word gets used out of context or plain watered down. Hence, it loses its original intent or power.
What does it mean to be mindful? More than a word describing a particular state of mind, it implies we are doing something. So, what is that? How does it feel, and how can it help addiction recovery?
State of Being
Grounded in Buddhism, mindfulness encourages us to channel all our attention to experiences taking place within any given moment. Attention is paid to our thoughts and emotional responses from moment to moment, without judgment.
This technique is often developed through meditative practices. In addiction recovery, the ability to be completely present at the moment can help us focus on the thoughts and distractions leading to relapse. It also increases awareness of our environment or surroundings. Focusing on positives within a given moment may remove the need to lean on a particular drug or addictive habit, reducing the risk of relapse.
The additional benefits of mindfulness therapy lie in its portability. While we may learn this technique during intensive follow-up treatment post detox, it is a skill that moves with us. It requires no special equipment, facility, or membership. Mindfulness and its cousin, meditation, can be practiced at home, at the office, and even during stressful moments stuck in traffic.
This To-Go portability of mindfulness is part of its popularity. Regardless of our current mental or physical situation, the ability to focus on breathing, our thought origins, and emotional responses are open to anyone, making this a genuinely democratic aspect of recovery.
How Can Mindfulness Help?
Mindfulness takes time to develop; we are used to distraction and the background noises of life. We are also used to the psychological noise of our addictive urges and other mental distractions. These other distractions often reflect underlying conditions, including depression and associated mood disorders.
Think about mindfulness as part of a process. Like fitness, diet, or other wellness programs, the real benefits are gained over time. It may also help understand that practicing healthy habits such as mindfulness will always net positive gains even when they may not be immediately apparent. Instead, benefits are compounded over time, making small, beneficial changes in our life.
Mindfulness can also:
- Help us understand our reactions. Our triggers are often a reaction to a stressor. Mindfulness helps us learn to react without a deep attachment to feelings, allowing us to initiate different responses to trigger moments.
- Slow thoughts and activities helping us process them. Alcohol and opioids are often used to help slow down racing thoughts. Mindfulness teaches us control over those thoughts, their presence, and the speed at which they run through. Again, developing skills in this area may reduce the frequency of triggers and risk of relapse.
- Increase awareness of our surroundings. Many negative messages may be competing for our attention, that it can be challenging to find the positive! Good is all around us, though, including the pleasure of being alive. When we look for and take a moment to stare at the positives, it can overwhelm the need for dependency to escape reality.
We also gain vital skills for daily living, including:
- Acceptance of self
- Understanding what works for us and being okay with asserting that.
- The parring down of activity, teaching us to focus only on one thing at a time
- Removing the fear of what others think of us
- The ability to better describe thoughts and feelings, making it possible to communicate our needs.
These critical skills are essential in negotiating daily living, including our interactions with others. Moving from not knowing how to effectively communicate our thoughts to describing them without fear of what others think of us has the potential to remove a substantial social stressor.
Learning how to focus on one thought or activity at a time helps lift the pressure of never having enough time or the pressure of perfectionism. This is especially helpful in someone with underlying workaholic tendencies who might be self-medicating to handle work-related stress and anxiety.
Everyone is different. When it comes to addiction, underlying causes, and possible trauma, we may all require different approaches to popular techniques. However, if you are only just hearing about mindfulness, it might be worth speaking with your support counselor or medical team and ask about incorporating it into your therapy.
Mindfulness; a catch-all word to sum up intentional attitudes and practices in everything from fitness, diets, sports, and addiction recovery. But what does it mean? Mindfulness takes time to develop. Think about mindfulness as part of a process; the real benefits gained over time include increased self-awareness, less self-judgment, and better communication of our needs. Hired Power’s discretion and confidentiality assure anonymity through all stages of returning to wellness. Whether moving to your detox program safely and with discretion, to recovery and sober living partners that can help you through the holidays, Hired Power is there for you or your loved one, standing as that bridge between you and traditional recovery plans. You don’t have to struggle alone; our personal recovery assistants are here to help you walk through this process, believing in you, empowering you to change, and helping you or a loved one’s journey to a drug-free life—step by step. Call Hired Power today at (800) 910-9299. We look forward to hearing from you.