There is a beneficial connection between mindfulness and addiction recovery. It takes practice, but mindfulness is a powerful tool to keep ready during difficult challenges throughout the addiction recovery journey.
In this article, you will discover the connection between mindfulness and addiction recovery.
Mindfulness and Addiction Recovery
As our culture expands, the long-enduring, Eastern, practice of mindfulness is growing increasingly popular here in the West. You may hear the concept referenced in multiple ways, and the term can be found attached to any manner of treatment intended to provide better mental health. The practice of mindfulness is regularly cited as a benefit in helping to relieve stress, improving self-esteem, getting better sleep, and performing better at work.
When it comes to substance use and addiction recovery, two forms of mindfulness approaches, in particular, are gaining traction. These trending therapies are known as Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) and Mindfulness-oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE.) The following concepts are some of those that you are likely to encounter when seeking relief from addiction through participation in one of these treatment programs.
Learn to Live In the Present
Modern cultures tend to be very future-focused. The emphasis on productivity and progress is what drives our economy and inspires our innovations. Continually thinking about the future has its downsides, as well. When we are always looking ahead, we tend to miss the details of each day. These small factors which make up our every day are the same which eventually adds up to create our experience of tomorrow. Without taking the time to experience the present, as it occurs, we are in danger of creating a personal future which is only viewable as undesirable in retrospect.
Spending too much time thinking about the past is similarly counterproductive to our wellbeing. Short of the invention of the time machine, the past is something that is utterly outside of our control. Unlike the future, the past has already been set in stone, and there is no amount of thinking about it that will change things. Learning to operate in the present clears the way for a new chapter in life to begin, and reduces the temptation to hold ourselves back with the types of regrets that are associated with fuel for substance abuse.
A foundational belief of mindfulness is the concept that our mental and emotional attachments to concerns of this world are a primary source of our psychological suffering. Clinging to thoughts of past events that we cannot change – and to future events that we cannot control – lead to negative experiences such as depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, and fear. These negative states of being are often at the core of what motivates a person to continue to use drugs and alcohol as an escape. Mindfulness allows the space and opportunity to explore what it is that keeps us in bondage to these negative feelings and frees us to enjoy the unique experiences of each, new, day.
Gain Deeper Insight
Mindfulness operates on the concept of metacognition. In simple terms, metacognition is the practice of thinking about thinking. It is the ability to consider our own thoughts, almost as though were are an outside observer to them, and make informed calculations toward crafting appropriate judgments. When we are able to monitor and assess our thinking, on the fly, we are better able to intervene in the instances where our thoughts are found to not be aligned with our overall goals for mental and emotional wellness.
The practice of metacognition that occurs at the time that we are focusing on bringing our thoughts into the present is known as state mindfulness. Trait mindfulness refers to the ability of a person to remain mindful over varying circumstances and under varying conditions. A person who is high in trait mindfulness will be able to monitor thoughts and experiences while encountering novel situations and can develop the ability to filter, alter, and discard unhealthy perceptions as they occur during daily life. With practice, it is possible to develop the initial stages of state mindfulness into possessing the more robust capabilities of trait mindfulness.
Both state and trait mindfulness provides us with a window into what makes us tick. When we are aware of the mechanisms which drive our addictive behaviors, we are in a position to learn how to tweak the machinery. With our brains as the circuitry, our mindfulness becomes the tool by which desired changes are made to our daily functioning.
Create Lasting Changes
It was once believed that our brains grew to adulthood in a linear fashion, peaked, and then started on the downward slope of deteriorating brain cells. As the field of neuroscience progresses, it has been discovered that our brains are much more malleable and resilient than previously thought. Rather than being destined to walk the predetermined path of a brain programmed by trauma and substance influences, it is possible to reprogram our neural pathways to result in thinking patterns that are more well adjusted, hopeful, and joyful.
While traditional substance abuse treatment programs tend to center on the behaviors associated with the addiction, mindfulness focuses on the core of what motivates a person to engage in substance use, in the first place. Many addictions are fueled by psychological factors, such as lack of self-knowledge, inability to recognize triggers, difficulty controlling impulses, and absence of personal goals. These types of challenges are overcome through increasing awareness and obtaining developmental skills. Mindfulness practices provide the framework for this type of lasting growth to occur.
Increase Self Acceptance
One of the most beautiful aspects of mindfulness as a treatment for substance abuse and addiction is the quality of self-acceptance that it generates. With mindfulness, there are no judgments involved. All human beings have experiences in common, and the experiencing of something – whether it be a thought, emotion, or behavior – does not define who we are as an individual. Mindfulness encourages us to accept ourselves, as we are, and then to make conscious decisions as to how we will proceed. Learning that our thoughts and feelings are transitory, temporal, experiences frees us from staying trapped in the mire of self-doubt and fears of failure. In the realm of mindfulness, each moment is another opportunity to make adjustments toward a better, sober, tomorrow.
Mindfulness is one of the most powerful tools available to those on the path to addiction recovery. Mindfulness takes practice and may take time to feel confident of its benefits, but it’s well worth it.
Contact The Heights Treatment for information about mindfulness and addiction recovery today.