The practice of mindfulness is an amazing tool for anyone looking for greater mental clarity and self-awareness. Particularly for those in early recovery, a mindfulness practice can help you navigate through the emotional highs and lows that are bound to come. In the initial stages of recovery, mental fuzziness is not uncommon – both your body and mind are healing and learning how to adjust.
Mindfulness is a conscious awareness of the here and now - a checking in with the self whereas, active addiction is the very opposite - it’s abusing drugs or alcohol to escape reality. By developing a practice of mindfulness, the practitioner learns how to gain control over their emotions rather than being ruled by them. This means, having the tools to deal with the stresses of life in a healthy way.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves purposely paying attention to the present moment. It requires being aware of thoughts, feelings and emotions as they occur and simply acknowledging them without judgement. By intentionally observing one’s own feelings in the present moment and remaining neutral, we come to see that emotions and thoughts are transitory in nature. They pass.
Mindfulness isn’t about not thinking or stopping thoughts altogether. Rather it’s about learning how to sit with our thoughts, feelings and emotions and realize we do not have to act on them. That we can simply acknowledge them, let them be and let them pass.
Benefits of Mindfulness
For those in recovery, mindfulness can help you feel more in control of your emotions. This lends itself to dealing with cravings in a healthy way because you can observe these thoughts without acting on them or feeling carried away by them. Instead of being a victim to your thoughts, you can acknowledge them and let them be. Mindful people have a greater sense of self-awareness which means they can spot warning signs and get the relevant help or take the necessary self-care steps needed to avoid relapse.
Mindfulness meditation benefits the body and not just the mind, with studies finding that meditation lowers blood pressure, improves anxiety and depression, boosts energy levels and increases the body’s serotonin levels to improve our mood.
Ways to Practice Mindfulness
You can create a mindfulness practice through various methods including yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, conscious eating and spending time in nature. Really it isn’t so much about how one becomes mindful but that one is mindful and that time and effort are devoted to mindful activities.
Numerous resources exist that can help you learn how to meditate and be mindful. Great apps and websites that allow you to learn the basics of mindfulness free of charge include:
And we’re sure there are many more. Your recovery is unique to you – just as your mindfulness journey will be entirely your own also. Mindfulness is a tool that is absolutely free to anyone willing to take the time to sit with their thoughts but as mentioned, it all begins with practice.