The true meaning of mindfulness can get lost due to the increase of popularity surrounding this practice. A quick search on popular social media sites, such as Instagram, brings up over 20 million posts that include #mindfulness. Some of these posts are short quotes, while others are selfies with scenic backdrops. If you’re looking for examples of applying mindfulness techniques to your recovery, you might be left confused about what mindfulness really is. Casa Palmera is here to help you figure out the true meaning of mindfulness and how you can apply it to your path to sobriety.
First, Figure Out What Mindfulness Really Is
The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley defines mindfulness as a practice that helps you “[maintain] a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.” They also explain that mindfulness uses the practice of acceptance when it comes to our thoughts and feelings, meaning that we withhold judgement because there is no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel. “When we practice mindfulness,” UC Berkeley explains, “our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”
Next, See Why Mindfulness Can Help Your Recovery
The benefits of mindfulness are practically endless, impacting many areas of physical, psychological and social health in positive ways. Depending on your needs and the nature of your recovery from substance use, there are different ways you can apply mindfulness techniques. There are many examples of how mindfulness can benefit all aspects of life:
- Mindfulness can help boost our immune system’s ability to fight off illness as well as help improve the quality of our sleep, a study from the National Institute of Health reports.
- Mindfulness helps to increase positive emotions, reduce negative emotions and stress, and prevent relapse, according to studies done by UC Berkeley.
- Mindfulness is shown to change regions in the brain that are linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation and empathy, reports UC Berkeley.
- Mindfulness improves cognition by helping boosting memory, attention skills and decision-making, reports a study done by the National Institute of Health.
- Mindfulness improves the relationship we have with ourselves by strengthening our sense of self, helping us act according to our values, giving us a healthy body image, increasing self-esteem and making us resilient to negative feedback, says UC Berkeley.
Finally, Apply Mindfulness Techniques to Your Recovery
Not every technique will work perfectly depending on your recovery, so keep an open mind and use the ones that feel right for you. Feel free to adapt and adjust if needed.
- Embrace the moment that you’re in and enjoy those who surround you. Let things play out without trying to control what happens. Celebrate the small joys that you may have once overlooked. Each moment matters—treat it as such.
- Try to check in with yourself and take note of your breathing. Strong emotions can feel overwhelming which can lead us to unconsciously alter our breathing. Tune in to your breathing and allow yourself to fall into a comfortable breathing pace. The more you check in with yourself in the absence of intense emotions, the more likely you’ll check in when those intense emotions appear.
- Notice the signs you’re getting from your senses. Instead of tuning out the smells and sounds of a situation you are familiar with, allow yourself to notice the things you usually take for granted. If you can, remove the things that stand in the way of you naturally getting in touch with your senses. Lessening distractions helps clear space for these things to naturally occur.
- Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts. You may feel weighed down by thoughts, feelings or emotions that are intense. Withhold judgement and remind yourself that these things are not permanent. Treat yourself with the compassion you deserve in an intense moment while you wait for the feelings to pass.
- Begin to let go of the expectations that you have for the moment. Allow things to unfold naturally and learn to appreciate the good in every situation. Understand that there cannot be perfection, especially in recovery. It can be overwhelming to look at the big picture of recovery, so break it down day by day. Take your recovery one day at a time, focusing on the things you can control and letting go of the rest.
Figuring out which areas of your life you want to improve using mindfulness techniques can give you a good starting point if you’re new to mindfulness. To get the full benefits of mindfulness, try to incorporate it little by little until you practice it as a way of life. The moment you’re living in right now will never come again, so cherish it every step of your recovery journey. Casa Palmera is here to help you use mindfulness and other techniques to help you enter recovery from substance abuse. Our team is ready to give you more information and answer any questions you may have about our programs. Call us today at (855) 508-0473. We can’t wait to hear from you!