Mindfulness is a mental practice that involves being fully aware and present in a given moment. One becomes aware of thoughts, feelings, and other sensations that arise with complete acceptance and no judgment in this mental state. Mindfulness aims to bring about mental and physical relaxation and refocus the mind on what is happening in the present moment. There are endless benefits of mindfulness, including emotional regulation, job satisfaction in the workplace, and numerous cognitive benefits. Mindfulness plays a vital role in decreasing addictive behaviors in recovery by encouraging nonreactivity to stressors and temptations. This increase in self-awareness helps individuals cope more effectively when in emotional distress or responding to urges.
Becoming more mindful is a process, and there are many steps one can take to further progress with mindfulness in general. Bringing full awareness to what is happening in the present moment is an excellent start to practicing mindfulness in one’s daily life.
Meditation is a topic that comes up quite often when discussing mindfulness. There are many different kinds of meditation techniques that one can use in daily life. Two examples of meditation practices include open-monitoring meditation (OM) and focused-attention meditation (FM). Open-monitoring meditation is a practice that involves an individual focusing on internal thoughts and sensations that arise. The monitoring part is the individual bringing awareness to what is happening inside their head.
Focused-attention meditation is used when an individual focuses their attention on a specific object or event. This technique often evolves into an open-monitoring practice. It is helpful to become aware of different meditation techniques because every meditation practice increases mindfulness no matter which one is chosen.
Even with different practices discussed, there is no one way to meditate. Meditation can be practiced sitting, lying, standing, or walking. Quieter environments tend to show more significant results, but meditation can also be practiced anywhere. Meditation relaxes the mind and brings thoughts to a higher state of awareness, with no reactivity to thoughts. Be patient during the beginning, as finding that calming state of mind can take quite a bit of time at first. The easiest way to begin meditating is by using focused-attention meditation to focus on one’s natural breath. Set a timer for five to ten minutes at first, then build up on time as one becomes more in-tune with their meditation style.
This world holds more beauty than one could ever imagine. Society tends to shift focus away from Earth’s natural beauty and instead tunes individuals into social media or other technology advancements. Though social media encourages connection, it also covers up the present moment. No matter where one lives, there is natural beauty outside. Take some time to experience nature by taking a walk, driving, or simply sitting outside. Practice being mindful by bringing awareness to the sounds one hears, the smells one smells, or the vibrant colors seen. Take a walk with a friend and discuss what thoughts arise due to the surrounding environment. Nature is always happening. Be in the present moment by experiencing it all.
Gratitude is another beneficial mindfulness practice. For example, one can be grateful for nature. Gratitude can be practiced at any point in time, for anything or anyone. Many people may have grown up showing gratitude to their friends and family because it was taught to them. Similarly, many people may have grown up disregarding gratitude because it was not taught to them or prioritized in their life.
In recovery, many people deserve to feel appreciated. Caseworkers, therapists, family members, and peers help foster support in individuals to stick to their recovery route and encourage them to push forward. Sometimes individuals cross paths with other people who become their biggest cheerleader in recovery, which is something to be grateful for.
There are verbal and non-verbal ways to show gratitude. It can be as simple as saying “thank you” or as thoughtful as writing an appreciative letter. Gratitude can be shown through gifts, but it can also be shown through acts of kindness. Mindfulness plays a role with gratitude because it encourages awareness of the things or people that bring joyfulness and support to one’s life.
Practice Active Listening
Having conversations with others is a perfect opportunity to increase mindfulness skills. Active listening involves listening to understand instead of listening to respond. When someone is telling a story, others may get excited to connect and share similar experiences instead of taking in all that the person wants to say. Being a mindful listener is not only listening entirely but engaging in dialect when the time arises. Give the speaker undivided attention, and practice mindfulness by fully accepting the person’s feelings and thoughts. Try to defer judgment from the speaker and always attempt to respond with compassion. Mindful conversations deepen connections that are had with one another and build a great framework for support.
Becoming mindful is a process, and progress can be made through many different actions. With knowing the endless benefits of mindfulness, there is no question that it can make a huge difference in your recovery journey. By taking the necessary time to focus on the present moment, you can increase appreciation for the things and people that are part of your life. Tune in to your internal thoughts and sensations without judgment, and accept all that you are. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we believe in holistic treatment and the practice of mindfulness-based interventions. Our goal is to connect you with various traditional and non-traditional recovery methods to help you navigate your personal rehabilitation journey. You are your biggest advocate for your recovery journey, and mindfulness can help foster peace within your mind. For more information on mindfulness techniques and other holistic resources, call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509.