By Crystal Hampton
According to Sober College mindfulness is the process of being actively aware of one’s own feelings in the present time, remaining neutral, and considering them without judgment. The idea of “living in the moment” is derived from being mindful and often requires several things: an intentional, conscious effort to consider what one is going through, accepting those feelings as they are, and allowing themselves to emote without being hypercritical or judgmental towards their thoughts or feelings. For those in recovery, this means developing a better way to regulate emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness asks patients to be aware of stressful situations and triggers, and how those may snowball into relapse or harmful actions.
Recovery from drugs, alcohol, and any mind altering substances requires many coping skills to live a happy, healthy and sober life. It also lowers the chance of relapse when engaging in healthy habits such as mindful meditation. It is important for us to take care of our mind, body, and spirit even for those individuals who are not in recovery. These practices over the course of time create new neurological pathways in the brain, or retraining your brain from the unhealthy habits in addiction to healthy ones through mindfulness.
Meditation is when individuals seek to achieve a mode of consciousness that relaxes their minds and instills a sense of contentedness. But mediation can do more than just reduce stress and pain: The practice can also play an important role in helping an individual overcome a substance abuse problem.
The Practice of Mindfulness
Mindfulness involves a purposeful and nonjudgmental focus on one’s feelings, experiences, and internal and external processes in the present moment. Rather than escape from painful feelings, mindfulness meditation encourages addicts to sit quietly with themselves and pay close attention to their thoughts and feelings without taking action to judge or “fix” them.
Depending on a person’s needs, different practices in mindfulness may be more beneficial than others. Some of these options include:
Engaging in Mindful Activities
- Traditional meditation or guided meditation
- Yoga and physical activity
- Change eating habits, healthy diet
- Being in nature
Benefits of Mindful Meditation
- Better stress management
- Better self-awareness
- Improved immune system function
- Better understanding of thoughts and feelings
Therapies for Mindfulness
Treatment for mindfulness may require the use of professional therapy which includes:
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR)
- Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)
My Personal Experience with Mindful Meditation
I was one of those people who thought that mindful meditation would never work for me, and was a waste of my time. I could not have been more wrong! I have always suffered from anxiety, depression, racing thoughts, and insomnia. I always had feelings of impending doom even when nothing was wrong, and could never slow my mind down. I was constantly stressed out and exhausted. When I did try to meditate I would give up after only a couple of minutes because I could not quiet my mind.
It was not until I started doing guided meditations that everything changed! Once I pushed through the first couple of minutes, and actually gave it a chance my thoughts began to slow and my body began to relax. It took some time but guided meditation is now a habit I engage in once or twice a day. I have found that it helps to keep me centered and has helped me with my anxiety, depression, racing thoughts, insomnia, and all aspects in my recovery.
Guided meditation is one of the mindful tools that I utilized and works for me, everyone is different so it is important to identify which practices will work best for you and can engage in regularly.
A major key of healthy living in recovery is engaging in the mindful practices that best suit you. Consistency is quintessential and vital to maintaining a new way of living. This will provide a sense of purpose, and wellbeing. Engaging in these activities will then make the negative habits we have engaged in for so many years less appealing, and help you achieve the happy, beautiful life in recovery you deserve!
About the author:
Crystal Hampton, 37 years old, with 3 years sober.I work for Recovery Local, a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Our company was founded by and staffed with recovering addicts cultivating recovery resources through sharing our own experience, strength, and hope.