What is the most important skill to have in recovery? People list dozens of coping mechanisms for overcoming substance abuse, but one method is unique in providing comfort and peace during recovery. It is called mindfulness. Mindfulness in recovery is at the core of what makes the entire recovery process come together.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has become a buzzword in recent years, especially in wellness circles on social media. Both mindfulness and its practice have existed for thousands of years, dating back to ancient China and India. But today anyone can also learn mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the process of existing with awareness – the ability to be fully present, conscious of where we are and what we are doing1. But being present in the moment can be a difficult and painful challenge for someone in recovery. Many people will feel that living in the present was what drove them to substance abuse in the first place.
If self-awareness often causes pain, how can being fully present bring about peace for someone trying to beat addiction? A shift in mindset is required to experience the freedom that mindfulness provides fully.
Starting Mindfulness in Recovery
The most important thing to note about mindfulness in recovery is that no therapist will prescribe it to you. Furthermore, no one can simply give it to you. Rather than inventing or creating mindfulness, you must “tune” into mindfulness. You will discover it by learning how to shift your attention inward and remove your attachments to thoughts or feelings.
Mindfulness-based therapies are popular in rehab because they focus on finding freedom in the present moment instead of focusing on the future or dwelling on the past. For someone who is actively wrestling with substance abuse, the hope of the future may feel too far away. Mindfulness teaches them to see their whole selves as they are today and bring calm and perspective of where they are in their recovery journey.
The Breath as an Anchor
In addition to finding greater freedom in the moment, mindfulness also includes several benefits for individuals working toward sobriety.
Less Stress and Anxiety
Because mindfulness brings you to the present, you can gain a greater sense of control no matter what you’re feeling. Being genuinely mindful removes your attachment to emotions and feelings such as anger, stress, and fear. Rather than being ruled by them, you step back and become an observer. You aren’t good or bad for feeling anything; you’re just feeling and waiting for them to pass.
Becoming less reactive to your emotions will help you better manage triggers linked to substance use. This process can also help you develop a greater tolerance for discomfort, and resilience is essential to rebounding after recovery and overcoming challenges in the future.
Mindfulness can give you the minute you need to pause, reflect, and decide your response rather than impulsively reacting to something. Many people who go through addiction struggles with impulse control. These individuals often feel helpless against their thoughts and cravings. Whether it’s the urge to self-harm or a desire to drink or use drugs again, mindfulness is one way to get distance and perspective immediately.
Stay Present and Focused
The future is inevitable, but it can also feel inescapable and even terrifying to someone in recovery. You may struggle to imagine yourself before your addiction, and it can be even harder to see yourself living life afterward. Rather than getting caught up in what-ifs and hypothetical situations, mindfulness helps you stay grounded in the present moment.
You’ll often be reminded to take things one day at a time during your journey; mindfulness in recovery goes a step further and reminds you to take things one minute, or even just one breath, at a time. Even without all the answers, you have enough to make it through this moment, and that alone is often enough.
Get Help For Addiction with Holistic Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, our trained specialists at Silver Sands Recovery can help.
About the author:
Lisa Waknin is the Founder and Director of Silver Sands Recovery, located in Prescott, Arizona. Lisa started Silver Sands Recovery after immersing herself in the addiction treatment world for several years to figure out what could be done differently to help her daughter and others like her to overcome addiction and stay sober. She believes in a hands-on treatment approach, which includes taking someone out of their environment, providing a 90-day program in a structured environment. During treatment, clients not only recover physically but also learn to live their life again. Lisa is a sought-after expert speaker for recovery support groups, charities, schools, communities, and companies wanting to educate themselves on the explosion of opiate and heroin abuse in our country and the best way to understand, treat, and beat it.