What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses on your current presence. It is a form of cognitive awareness of your being and your surroundings. Focusing on the “now” and not allowing past or future stressors to alter your state of awareness is the overall goal of achieving mindfulness. This practice can be compared to physical activity, a form of protection for our bodies. In contrast, mindfulness is a form of protection for the well-being of our minds.
We often catch ourselves living our lives on “autopilot.” We get used to our daily routines to the extent that we do everything without even thinking about it. The practice of mindfulness encourages disengaging from that distracted state and finding appreciation and enjoyment through each of our thoughts and actions.
How Can I Practice Mindfulness?
One way to practice incorporating mindfulness into recovery is by channeling awareness toward a specific object or action. Some examples include focusing on something as simple as a coffee mug or your own breathing or heartbeat. Centering your focus on one particular thing, such as a taste, touch, or smell, and letting outside distractions out of your thoughts can help you experience mindfulness.
Accept when your mind has wandered. When first incorporating this practice into your treatment, you should notice moments where your mind loses focus and thinks about something else. Acknowledging these moments and regaining your focus is part of the learning process. The action of regaining focus after your mind has wandered reinforces your ability to revert to the state of mindfulness and helps you learn to maintain it longer.
Allowing yourself time for practice is the key to success. Setting aside five to ten minutes a day to fully focus on your state of awareness turns this practice into a habit and ensures you are working toward daily achievements. Practice these suggestions from Dr. Steve Hickman to help adopt the practice of mindfulness into your everyday recovery:
- Notice your surroundings
- Focus on only one thing at a time
- Observe your surrounding with each of your senses
- Allow yourself to participate without worry
- Notice where your mind goes
- Retain yourself from judgment
- Describe your experiences
With repeated practice, reaching the state of mindfulness becomes much easier. Once you feel comfortable channeling into this mindset, you can do so when you feel an overwhelming level of emotions to help you ground yourself and think clearly about the situation. It is not uncommon to find yourself straying from the state of mindfulness at first. Acknowledge when it occurs and try to refocus. To fully understand your presence and attention, notice where your mind wanders.
Focus on Your Senses
One way to adopt mindfulness into your recovery and everyday life is to bring your attention to each of your senses. Remember to only focus on one sense at a time. Doing so will allow you to truly engage your focus on one thing. For example, focus on the smells around you, then on the feeling of your body sitting in a chair, on the fibers against your flesh, the colors your mind sees vividly, the sensation on your tongue when you eat your favorite snack. Focusing on any one of these sense perceptions will help you engage in your current presence through simple observations about the world around you.
Positive Impacts on Recovery
Mindfulness can help you accept your thoughts. Having negative thoughts run through your mind and letting them distract you can negatively affect your treatment. However, sustaining a point of awareness can help you interpret those negative thoughts and channel them into a positive outcome. For example, you may think about something you did that you regret. Rather than dwelling on that mistake and allowing it to consume your energy, you can choose to practice mindfulness, which will help you learn from that mistake and move forward from it.
This practice can also improve your sleep habits. When dealing with a mental health disorder, many find it hard to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. You may find yourself experiencing intense emotions at night or feeling restless. When we go to sleep, the mind wanders, causing restlessness. Practicing a state of mindfulness before going to bed can help you fall asleep at your desired time.
Many individuals who regularly practice mindfulness find their appreciation for life grows exponentially. Being aware of your presence and surroundings can help you find a deeper appreciation of yourself and the world around you. Having this sense of appreciation is beneficial during recovery, as it can be easy to lose sight of yourself through this emotional process and cause you to lose your sense of self-worth. Practicing mindfulness can help channel that sensation and develop a larger sense of appreciation.
Adopting mindfulness into your recovery takes practice, but it can produce beneficial results. Mindfulness is a state of altering your mind to total acceptance and awareness. There are multiple things you can do to practice this mental state and turn it into a healthy habit. Mindfulness can help you accept your true standpoint in your recovery process and create a clear, less chaotic mind moving forward. A clear mind will lead you to discover your needs throughout treatment and focus on the positive outcomes of your recovery. There are many other benefits of incorporating mindfulness into your treatment, including the acceptance of thoughts, reduced anxiety, improved sleep habits, and regulation of emotions. All of these can drastically improve your mental health during your treatment practice and will continue to benefit you throughout your life afterward. For help incorporating mindfulness into your recovery journey, call Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960 today.