What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is more complex that its simple name would lead you to believe. It’s defined as the ability to be fully present in the moment, aware of what we’re doing and where we are, without being overwhelmed by the things happening around us.
While this state is natural, some people struggle more than others with maintaining it in their day-to-day lives. Luckily, it’s fully possible to cultivate mindfulness through dedicated practice.
Mindfulness can be practiced through a variety of proven techniques. Perhaps the most well-known of these is meditation. What you may not have heard is that meditation doesn’t have to be a stationary process; while many people enjoy seated reflection, it’s also advised to stand or move as needed. You can also combine meditation with intentional movements, particularly yoga or sports, for added benefits.
The Role of Mindfulness in Recovery
Mindfulness can be an extremely useful tool for those in addiction recovery. By acknowledging your feelings without letting them dictate your actions, you’re in a much better position to resist cravings and temptations. You’ll also be able to respond to stress: one of the biggest factors in relapse.
By getting in touch with yourself, you gain a complete understanding of your body and mind. This enables you to choose your reactions objectively. Consider one of the hallmarks of the recovery room: HALT. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. This phrase encourages you to stop and consider whether any of these things are impacting your mood. This self-check is emblematic of the type of reflection you’ll do when practicing mindfulness.
Many people begin to feel that their recovery is getting stale. Sometimes it can seem that you’re just going through the motions, or that you’re not getting as much out of working the program as you used to. This is exactly when incorporating mindfulness into your routine can re-energize your journey.
Why Does Mindfulness Work for Addiction Treatment?
To put it simply, the brain is the only organ uniquely designed to be shaped by practice and experience. Typically, this is reserved for your muscles, which strengthen with exercise. During your addiction and even extending back to childhood, you created habits, patterns, and thoughts that trained your brain to work against the very concept of sobriety.
By practicing mindfulness, you take control of that process and begin reshaping your brain yourself. These techniques empower you to prioritize control and awareness in your life.
5 Mindfulness Techniques to Try
Many people are intimidated by the idea of practicing mindfulness – don’t be! It’s easier than you think. One of the core tenants is that mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, at any time. This is one type of exercise that doesn’t require special equipment or a gym membership.
- Be Present in the Moment – The purpose of mindfulness isn’t to completely zone out or achieve a state of everlasting calm. You just need to notice. Observe little things, like how your chair feels or how the air is moving past you. Concentrate on feeling completely aware of where you are and how it feels to be there. Turn that awareness inward and try to identify any pulled muscles or nagging concerns.
- Focus on Your Breathing – This is the easiest way to begin to clear your mind, especially when things have become overwhelming. Try breathing in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then breathe all the way out until you’ve counted to eight. Repeat until you feel more relaxed and centered.
- Let Your Judgments Roll By – In our everyday lives, it’s easy to get caught up in small injustices like getting cut off in traffic or being skipped in line. Even small slights or peeves can affect us while we try to meditate. These feelings can elicit explosive responses if you don’t have your emotions in check. Next time try running them through a filter of mindfulness instead. This enables you to process your feelings without actually acting out. Over time, you’ll become more tolerant of others’ behavior.
- Acknowledge Your Thoughts – As you meditate, let your thoughts float by without grabbing onto them. If a craving or fond memory from your using days comes up, objectively acknowledge it: “I had a moment where I missed my old friend.” Confronting that thought allows you to process it without giving it power over you. This way, you won’t just try to avoid the thought, but you also don’t allow yourself to obsess over it over and over again.
- Be Kind to Your Mind – As with all new practices, meditation takes time and effort. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it immediately. Be gentle with yourself if you find your mind wandering; just acknowledge this and bring your thoughts back to where you’d like to focus.
Holistic Addiction Recovery with BRC
The BRC Family of Programs offers recovery options throughout the entire continuum of care – from detox to life post-treatment. Our well-appointed Austin rehab facilities equip you with the tools necessary for lasting sobriety. Mindfulness and meditation are just small pieces of the holistic addiction treatment programming available from BRC Recovery. If you’re interested in learning to manage your thoughts and feelings post-treatment, we encourage you to reach out to BRC Recovery today at 866-461-1759. We look forward to speaking with you.