Life is constantly flowing. For many of us, one of the only times that we take the opportunity to slow down is when we lay down to sleep at the end of the day. Even then, sleep is viewed more as a habitual process than a conscious opportunity to slow down. Ask yourself this question: If you didn’t need sleep, would you take the time to consciously slow down in your life?
If you have never considered what it means to slow down and embrace the quiet moments in life, you may be new to the topic of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment, both everything going on inside of you as well as what’s happening around you. Rather than living your life on “autopilot,” mindfulness teaches you how to engage with the present moment as fully as you can.
An increasing number of substance use treatment centers around the country have recognized the value that mindfulness has in daily life but especially during one’s recovery process. While the main goal of addiction treatment is to help an individual secure long-term sobriety, treatment programs must also help patients become aware of the preciousness of the present moment. By helping clients increase mindfulness skills, including elements such as objectivity and gratitude, they can recognize the significant value that long-term recovery can have on the rest of their life.
In general, mindfulness helps to remind us that our time here is limited. It helps to ground us in our emotions and experiences, especially during the moments when we feel overwhelmed. Mindfulness does this by allowing us to break out of the unhealthy narratives that we’ve created for ourselves over time and improves our mental peace and clarity.
The Components of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an umbrella term that is made up of several components. During mindfulness practices, these components act as a guide to challenge any unhealthy or harmful thought and behavior patterns that may be present in our lives. Such components also help us to see our interconnectedness to the world around us. These components include, but are not limited to:
- Letting go
The Benefits of Mindfulness
There is an ample amount of research that emphasizes the benefits mindfulness can have on a person’s mental health. Scientifically, researchers theorize that mindfulness promotes metacognitive awareness, which is being aware of how you think. Even the slightest improvements in cognitive functioning can have profound effects on an individual’s mental health.
Other benefits of mindfulness include:
- Reduces rumination (obsessional, repetitive thoughts that often contribute to depression or anxiety)
- Modulates fear
- Enhances self-insight
- Reduces stress
- Strengthens working memory
- Increases an individual’s ability to focus and concentrate
- Reduces emotional reactivity
- Increases cognitive flexibility
- Increases relationship satisfaction
- Improves sleep habits
As there are many different ways that you can engage with mindfulness, it may be helpful to become familiar with different mindfulness practices. It is essential for you to recognize that mindfulness is a skill that takes time to strengthen. While you can engage with mindfulness on your own, guided practices (or mindfulness-based interventions) may be more beneficial if you are just getting started with mindfulness.
Examples of mindfulness practices that can take place at a treatment center or at home include:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Loving-kindness meditation
- Breathwork or breathing awareness
- Mindful eating
- Body scanning
- Nature walks
Mindfulness: Embracing Stillness During Treatment
It is normal for patients to experience a range of emotions as they navigate through their treatment journey. Therapy sessions will require them to be vulnerable and help them work through all of the obstacles that are keeping them from achieving lifelong recovery. While psychotherapy sessions encourage the identification of unhealthy thought and behavior patterns, a person cannot reverse unhealthy patterns overnight. They must utilize moments of stillness to let their brain reprogram and heal.
It is vital to understand that mindfulness is not just helpful during times of emotional overwhelm or distress. It is also essential to adopt healthier patterns of thought, which can act as a protective factor against relapse in the future. Only in stillness can healing truly take form.
Do you ever wonder why therapists often give patients a moment of silence or leave conscious time for prayer? It is because everyone needs to embrace stillness from time to time. Mindfulness allows you to fully embrace these moments of stillness without letting the time just pass you by. It encourages you to appreciate the moment for what it is and to recognize the true value of your own healing journey. The more time you spend being mindful of your thoughts and actions, the less time you will spend reminiscing on your mistakes or regrets. We are all constantly evolving. Allow mindfulness to show you how important your recovery is for your life.
Most people have learned to live their lives on autopilot, meaning there is no conscious awareness of how their environment or emotions are making them feel. Mindfulness challenges this by helping individuals recognize the beauty and preciousness of the present moment as fully as possible. During treatment it is important to learn how to take advantage of the quiet, still moments that lie between treatment sessions and other obligations. Spero Recovery is a residential treatment center that understands the value that mindfulness has on short-term and long-term recovery. We know that mindfulness can be challenging at first, which is why we want to guide you through mindfulness-based interventions and approaches during treatment. We believe that true healing lies in stillness. To learn more about the benefits of mindfulness, or for more information about our treatment program, give us a call today at (303) 351-7888.