Last updated: 04/30/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
While there are certain things you expect in recovery—AA meetings, outpatient, cravings, etc.—chances are mindfulness was not one of them. But it should have been. Mindfulness is becoming more and more prevalent in rehab and treatment settings and is helping people achieve and maintain sobriety better than ever expected.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the basic principle of being present in the here and now. When you’re being mindful, you don’t fret about things that happened in the past or worry about what the future will bring. You focus on the moment, the right here and right now, and own it. Mindfulness takes you out of the autopilot mode addiction put you in, and leads to a more content and meaningful life. It allows you to appreciate what you have, and let the rest go.
How Does Mindfulness Help?
Mindfulness, and especially mindful meditation, has a range of both physical and mental health benefits that aid on the journey to recovery. It boosts the immune system and creates a stronger physiological response to stress and negative emotions, helping you fight negative self-talk that can be detrimental to early recovery. Mindfulness also helps people lower their anxiety, reduce stress, improve coping skills, and has shown to improve the symptoms of depression.
How Mindfulness Aids Recovery
Mindfulness lets you let go of worries and regrets, and allows your mind to calm down. Once calm and in control, mindfulness gives you the ability to step back from your current situations and stressors to view circumstances objectively. For those who regularly practice mindfulness, there is a non-reactive, non-judgmental self observation that allows them to observe and manage the thought process. With mindfulness, you become in control of your emotions instead of your emotions controlling you.
For those addicted to drugs and alcohol, this combination of emotional control, stress reduction, and self-calming offer extreme benefits. Mindfulness lets them focus on themselves and their own wellbeing, without the constant pull in multiple directions. When in the throes of addiction, people are often on auto-drive, not at all aware of what’s around them, or what they’re doing. Mindfulness gives them the ability to slow down and recognize the moment and their part in it. It aids in accountability, forgiveness, and compassion to those around you, strengthening your wellbeing and happiness.
Mindful-Based Relapse Prevention
Because of the health benefits associated with mindfulness, some treatment facilities and addiction professionals are turning to mindful-based relapse prevention. Combining mindful meditation techniques with traditional relapse prevention methods has shown to help those in recovery stay sober. When compared to traditional relapse prevention and 12-step programming, mindful-based relapse prevention has shown to have more success with longer lasting and stronger recoveries.
If you want to include mindfulness into your recovery treatment, consider mindful meditation or yoga. Both practices bring you to a center of self, encourage you to let go of stress, and focus on the moment. While they take to time to master, the practice of meditation and yoga are beneficial from the first day.