The practice of mindfulness has a variety of benefits for your mental health, physical health, and recovery process. You may have heard of mindfulness and have a generalized idea of the practices but don’t know enough about it to fully implement the practice into your treatment. First, it is important to understand what mindfulness is and what possible impacts it can have on your recovery.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental state that frees your mind from all past and future distractions by fully focusing on the now. Being fully aware of your current presence and its impact on your surroundings helps to ground you and regulate your thoughts regarding outside factors.
Benefits of Mindfulness in Recovery
Reaching this state and allowing yourself to let go of outside distractions can be very beneficial in the process of recovery. Thoughts focusing on past mistakes or future success and failure commonly arise throughout recovery. Forcing your mind to let go of everything that is not affecting you in your current physical state can retain your focus on your well-being at that moment.
Focusing on yourself in the present moment, you can provide your body and mind with what they need. The repetition of this practice can make mindfulness a habitual and natural state for your mind to access whenever it needs. This allows you to always be in a state of taking care of your individual needs at the moment and letting go of distractions through your daily life. Mindfulness can increase your self-esteem and ease the stress of recovery by helping you see and understand the process one step at a time.
Establishing a Practice
You may see the importance of mindfulness and be interested in incorporating it into your recovery but not know where to even start. Reaching the state of mindfulness takes practice and patience. The following techniques can be implemented into your daily routine or practices during your free time to work towards comfort in this mental state.
Set aside two minutes of your time to lie down or sit in a comfortable position, relaxing all parts of the body. For the full two minutes, focus on deep breathing. Take deep breaths in and out at a comfortable pace. Focus your full attention on the breaths you are taking. Notice the sensations as they fill and vacate your stomach or your chest.
After the exercise, reflect on your current ability to focus your thoughts. If you noticed yourself getting distracted from your breathing, ask yourself: What thoughts came to mind? How difficult was it for you to stay focused on only one thing for a short time frame? Repeat the exercise after reflecting on your current progress. Next time you practice this exercise, work to improve the level of concentration on your breaths and try lengthening the time of your focus.
Mindfulness can be practiced at many points during your everyday routine. While going on a walk, driving to work, or having a free moment, try focusing on your senses. At a time when you would typically take out your phone and scroll through social media, mindfulness could be practiced. Focus on each one of your senses individually. Free yourself from other distractions and try to only focus on the sense you are feeling.
- Look around you and observe. Try focusing on one object and viewing all its characteristics in detail.
- Observe the smells around you. Experience the specific, distinct aromas and their combinations.
- Focus on the tactile and physical feelings of your body. If you are standing, notice the contact points of your feet on the floor. If sitting, focus on the skin touching the surface you are sitting on. Pay attention to how your weight is carried. Feel your clothes and the air around you touching your skin.
- Find out if you can taste anything. You can practice this while eating by paying attention to the combinations of flavors, but this also can be practiced at other times. See if you can taste anything specific in your mouth. Take a sip of water and focus on the taste of the particles.
- Listen closely to your surroundings. Close your eyes and allow your mind to only focus on sound. What do you hear? Pay attention to the sound of air moving, the structure of a building, moving footsteps in the distance, or the slight breeze outside.
Reflect upon your sensory experience and observe the distractions that may have occurred. Were any of your senses harder to focus on? If so, those individual senses may need more practice with future exercises.
The practice of body scanning involves focusing on each part of your body. Taking approximately ten minutes, let your mind move through each body part. Focus your mind fully on the feeling of that specific location. Try engaging a muscle and then relaxing it. Feel the difference with each movement on each body part.
Mindfulness is a mental state of full awareness of your current presence. This meditative state can have many benefits on your recovery and overall well-being. Learning to control your impulsive thoughts and ground yourself can be a very useful tool in recovery. There are a variety of exercises you can practice to reach the mental state of mindfulness and establish a habit of mindfulness in your recovery process. Deep breathing is a simple exercise to practice; to do so, focus your full attention on each breath. Focusing on each of your senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing) can also help you find the state of mindfulness. You can also observe the movement of your body through deep focus on one specific area at a time. These exercises focus your mind on one individual thing to help you reach the desired state of awareness. To learn more about establishing mindfulness into your recovery, contract Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960.