It is easy to start moving through life on auto-pilot when we are engrossed in our daily routines. Technology offers a world of distraction at our fingertips, so there’s a tendency to miss out on the richness of day-to-day experiences, even in our quiet moments.
There’s a reason why substance abuse started as a coping mechanism for dealing with life’s stressors for many of us. Addiction consistently obscures the present moment.
Mindfulness refers to a set of meditation practices that focus on being present in the moment. In addition to its spiritual and mental health benefits, mindfulness provides an effective alternative to more toxic, addictive coping strategies.
Mindfulness: A Perfect Complement to Recovery
Mindfulness trains our brains to focus on the moment in ways that are complementary to the recovery mindset. People sometimes stumble in their recovery journeys when their minds wander and begin to obsess with the future or past, bringing on cravings and cyclical addictive thinking. The practice of mindfulness combats this thinking in a variety of ways:
- The Moment – A lot of addictive thinking occurs when the mind strays and obsesses over the past or the future. Mindfulness is a practice of paying attention to the present moment – which is exactly where recovery happens best.
- Reflection – Reflection is a huge part of addiction recovery each day. Mindfulness meditation provides a gentle avenue for checking in with yourself and your healing journey on a day-to-day basis. Self-awareness also helps people in recovery be honest with themselves about where and why challenges to sobriety are happening. With this knowledge, it becomes easier to stay in safe situations and avoid difficult ones.
- Recognition – Mindfulness practice doesn’t forbid thinking during meditation, but it does encourage you to recognize that your thoughts are just thoughts. It is easier to avoid cycles of thoughts about relapse, self-doubt, or negative labeling when you internalize the practice of acknowledging the thought then letting it go.
How to Start
Getting started with mindfulness is simple. A few small lifestyle changes can help you start down the path to a very rewarding lifelong practice. Here are our tips to help you begin:
1. Get Present
For many of us, mindfulness means putting in a bit of effort to pull our awareness back into the present. When you feel yourself reaching for a phone or a distraction in moments of lower stimulation, refocus. Even during routine tasks like chores around the home, try to notice the physical sensations, textures, scents, and natural melodies that are easy to tune out when we’re going through the motions. You can also look inwards to check in with your feelings and stressors at that moment and take stock. This practice helps us perceive reality with more clarity and helps us to cope with its challenges more readily.
2. Breathe with Intention
Just breathe may seem like a tired adage; however, focusing on our breath truly helps restore a sense of reality and control when feeling overwhelmed. It’s a good idea to look into some simple breathing exercises to implement throughout the day. For example, when you get a quiet moment, take a few seconds to inhale at a normal rate through the nose before exhaling at a measured slow pace through your mouth. Do this with intention a few times a day, noting how it feels, and you’ve already stepped into mindful practice.
Don’t be afraid to slow down and be still. It is too simple to get caught up in day to day activity and forget that our to-do list is not the best measure of our worth. We matter just as much when we are taking the time to be still, listen, and feel, as we do when we’re checking off our responsibilities and appointments in professional and personal spheres. Get comfortable with a sense of inner stillness, and let your support come from within.
Get Help with Enlightened Solutions
At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of alternative modalities to complement our mainstream therapy offerings, including meditation, yoga, art and music therapy, and reiki. Our focus is on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. If you are struggling with addiction and want to enroll in an addiction treatment program with a holistic approach, please reach out at (833) 801-5483.