Mindfulness is a concept born in the Buddhist tradition but useful to anyone, regardless of belief or adherence to a particular tradition. However, in recent years it has been more vigorously studied and researched to the point that it can actually be considered a psychological concept which can be particularly useful for recovering addicts and alcoholics.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something or a mental state achieved by focusing on one’s awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Used as a therapeutic technique.
The central idea is to maintain a watchful attitude toward one’s own body, mind, and emotions. This directly corresponds to techniques taught in addiction treatment and in 12-step recovery.
The Benefits of a Mindfulness Practice in Addiction Recovery
There are many benefits of taking up a mindful practice for every single person walking on this earth. From implementing it in corporate offices for increased productivity to teaching kids to meditate in order to cultivate focus it seems that everyone is becoming just a little more mindful. And you guessed it, it’s awesome for people in recovery, too. There are many ways you can practice it whether it’s through meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, tai chi or qigong.
Here are just a few examples of the many benefits:
More connected to yourself and the world around you
More balanced, less emotional volatility
Gives you the ability to be reflective and observant of your thoughts and feelings
More optimistic, curious, and creative
Allows you to think rationally and critically which can aid in better decision-making skills
Here are 4 Mindfulness Techniques to Practice:
Ask yourself, what is my body telling me at any given moment? Awareness of my body is important—it’s probably trying to tell me something.
Am I hungry, tired, overly energetic, or experiencing any other condition that I should notice?
What emotion is it I am currently experiencing? (Addicts and alcoholics tend to have a history of treating uncomfortable emotions with substances. Identifying, fully feeling, and processing these emotions is new; it begins with awareness.)
What is my mind doing? (It is possible to develop an awareness of what the mind is doing: this requires a “mind behind the mind,” or a “watcher.” The “watcher” can monitor the mind’s wanderings, tricks, evasions, and self-justifications, and it can say “I know what this is” and disempower destructive lines of thinking.)
Notice that “awareness” is listed in each of these points.
Mindfulness is perhaps synonymous with awareness, or at least it means to strive for a deliberate sense of awareness throughout the day. Most people’s habits of mind tend toward a complacent autopilot mode. It is merely is an attempt to live more deliberately and to experience life more fully.
Consider that the logical opposite of mindfulness would be mindlessness and the attractiveness of mindfulness should be immediately apparent.