When it comes to words people associate with sobriety and recovery, “mindfulness” might not be one of them. Using mindfulness sobriety and recovery can provide a powerful impact on someone’s ability to change their lives and leave addiction behind.
What Is Mindfulness All About?
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist traditions and Tibetan and other types of meditation techniques. The concept of using mindfulness as part of treatment reached the U.S. in the late 1970s when Jon Kabat-Zinn developed mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for use in reducing stress. Zabat-Kinn found that the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program he created at the University of Massachusetts helped with stress reduction in people who were chronically ill. The program spread and now enjoys widespread usage in such diverse places as schools, veteran centers, addiction treatment programs, and prisons.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves the practice of focusing one’s attention on the present without judgment. A person practicing mindfulness learns to concentrate on the events of the current moments in their lives. Changing their attitudes to acknowledgment and acceptance of a current situation or feeling, rather than jumping to a judgmental mindset, can change how people process what’s happening in their lives. When their attitudes become more positive, this has a domino effect in other areas of their lives.
Users incorporate guided imagery, specific breathing methods, and other practices that aid in relaxing the mind and body. Once those who practice mindfulness become comfortable and familiar with the process, they find they can alter their responses to their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
How Mindfulness Sobriety and Recovery Works
Once mindfulness began to become well-known, the clinical psychology and psychiatry world began to develop applications for it in order to help patients. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression levels.
Practicing mindfulness sobriety and recovery helps many people who are working at leaving their addiction to drugs and alcohol behind. For example, a person might previously immediately attach negative associations to everything related to their addiction. Learning to accept thoughts and actions they experience without automatically hating themselves allows them to begin to heal.
In looking at past actions and patterns, mindfulness has a relationship to the famous Maya Angelou quote about how at one point people did something because that was all they knew how to do. When they knew better, they did better. Mindfulness sobriety and recovery allow a person to detach from harsh self-judgment, acknowledge their experiences and feelings, and move forward in a positive way.
Mindfulness Recovery in Action
Mindfulness-based addiction treatment typically utilizes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as part of a program to help reduce the risk of relapse. Some basic guidelines incorporated into mindfulness sobriety and recovery involve these steps:
- Be present: The Buddha himself warned people that if they were not present in the moment that is happening, they would miss out on life. Addiction makes people experts at checking out of their lives. Mindfulness brings them back into them with full awareness. They learn to differentiate between knee-jerk perceptions and a more realistic view of how things are.
- Breathing: Becoming aware of how breathing can impact a person’s stress levels and ability to cope helps make life easier in many areas. Breathing techniques often help ease the symptoms of an anxiety attack and other difficult emotional responses. In times of stress, engaging in helpful breathing techniques centers a person. The calmer a person is, the more likely they are to approach challenges related to recovery with a clear head.
- Being Still: Americans, in particular, find themselves pressured to constantly be busy. They jam their schedules full of appointments, errands, and other engagements when sometimes the best thing to do is just sit still. Meditation helps train a person to become comfortable in sitting still and not succumbing to the pressure to always be busy, which contributes to an overall ability to relax.
- The Art of Compassion: Mindfulness helps people lose their judgmental feelings toward themselves, which results in having more compassion for who they are and what they’ve been through. This extends to viewing and treating others with compassion.
How Mindfulness Works in Tandem With 12-Step Programs
Mindfulness can help individuals who participate in 12-step programs. Step 4 requires making a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of one’s self. Mindfulness teaches a person not to go with knee-jerk, often negative, reactions that can discolor their opinions of themselves. This practice allows them to see things from an unattached point of view initially, which provides the opportunity to see things more clearly.
Step 5 involves “admitting to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”. Similar to step four, mindfulness allows a person to have a more accurate perception of themselves. This makes working this step more easily accomplished.
Step 12 states “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Because mindfulness helps people develop responsibility and accountability in themselves, this lends itself to fulfilling this step in terms of how one communicates and views things.
Addiction Recovery Programs in Texas
If you are ready to put your addiction behind you, Purpose Driven Recovery can help you reach your goals. We offer comfortable gender-specific sober living houses in Houston with 24/7 management. We provide access to therapy, sober coaching, and transportation to work, church, recovery groups, and social outings.
Contact Purpose Driven Recovery today by calling us at (713) 266-1507 or email us here. We are happy to answer any questions you have about our program.