Mindful meditation is an important, but often overlooked addiction recovery tool. It can greatly aid addicts in all stages of their recovery. It has proven very useful in the early months of recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Many addicts and alcoholics experience mental cloudiness and fuzziness, and an inability to control their emotions. They are struggling to just get and stay off drugs and alcohol, but it has been shown that those who fail to cope and manage this in early recovery have a greater chance of relapse. Early substance abuse recovery is much like an emotional and mental rollercoaster. It is so important for addicts to learn how to live in the present moment, rather than the past, which comes with depression, or the future, which comes with anxiety.
Mindfulness is being aware of your surroundings, feelings, and emotions as they occur, with the ability to control getting carried away in them. It is a non-judgmental state of observation; it involves three key elements: awareness, attention, and remembering. In this process, the addict needs to become aware of the object or thought they wish to focus on, then direct their attention to this thought or object, while they remember to keep it there. Mindfulness helps increase a person’s ability to manage stress, challenges them to focus only on the present moment, so they can learn awareness of the mind’s tendency to create future problems that don’t yet exist. Mindfulness meditation has proved to decrease anxiety, depression, and fear in addicts suffering from these feelings in early, and even later recovery.
One of the largest benefits to practicing mindfulness is that it helps people become in tune and more aware of what’s going on in their bodies and minds. This is so beneficial for addicts/ alcoholics in noticing the physical and mental warning signs, which gone unnoticed, could lead to a slip and or relapse. This process in which to remedy a possible situation, before it is too late, is a positive and effective behavior pattern for addicts/ alcoholics to adapt in recovery. People who practice mindfulness meditation become far more aware of their thought, which directly leads to making more positive and beneficial decisions.
How does one start to practice mindfulness, and mindfulness meditation? Much like traditional meditation focusing completely on your breath is one of the most effective techniques for developing mindfulness, and always a great place to start. Yoga and Tai Chi are moving meditations designed to develop one's mindfulness. Mindful eating is also great; by enjoying the textures, smells, tastes, and gratitude you have for that meal, you bring yourself to the present moment, and a place of appreciation. Putting down your phone, and other electronics while in a 12-step meeting, really connecting to what is being shared is a great mindfulness practice. There are many books, videos, and audio materials available to aid in achieving mindfulness meditation practices. These will help to introduce the practice to you, and steer you in the right direction to begin practicing.