Mindfulness Addiction & Recovery
Mindfulness Addiction & Recovery
By Elizabeth Hearn
Mindfulness addresses the most pressing characteristic of addiction disconnection at the deepest level of the human mind and heart.
“The sound of silence is so accurate” -Mark Rothko
Mindfulness as a way of life, means paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the mind/ body/soul and in our external environment. Basically it is a repertoire of meditation practices. The aim is to build awareness and inspire change. The intention is to develop our capacity to learn how to live life with greater resilience, compassion and happiness. i.e. to feel whole and complete.
Mindfulness cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day living. This ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of the 21st century mind and covers all aspects central to our essential being, from total health to self-actualization.
The term ‘mindful’ is to be intentional in what we think and feel and in our actions. Spontaneously open. Creative to unfolding opportunities and possibilities.
In life we are either pilgrims or tourists. Many of us were taught to believe that God is all omnipotent, watching us, ready to punish or reward us. Based upon nearly 30 years of years of mindfulness teachings and training I offer a different perspective of this relationship. It is not outside of us deciding what to give or take. This presence is within and is limitless. Mindfulness is living our truth. Conditioned mind tells us untruths.
Peeling away the layers of illusion is mindfully to engage in life with authenticity and autonomy.
Insights gained through the practice of Mindfulness are affirming and autonomous.
Engaging the Mind, Body and Soul
A typical introduction to the art of mindfulness meditation practice begins with awareness of the breath/breathing. This can be done standing, sitting, or lying down. The intention is to train the mind to slow down thoughts while easing into stillness and focusing solely upon the breath. As thoughts continue to come and go the intention is to raise awareness of the physical sensations taking place during the process and not attaching any meaning to passing thoughts. Mindfulness practice evolves over time into including a body-scan, mantra, a mudra and restorative yoga postures.
Mindfulness Holistic Therapy for Practitioners
Mindfulness therapies offer practitioners who are interested in incorporating psychology, mythology, and spirituality approaches to phenomenology. These can create powerful pathways; making the unconscious conscious within an experiential therapeutic framework. Meditation and mindfulness increase the practitioner’s capacity to “hold what is” unfolding for their client in the present moment.
Mindfulness and Addiction Healthcare
At the heart of addiction are suppressed painful emotional states. Mindfulness practices help develop greater acceptance of how life has shaped us and enables the ability to cultivate forgiveness of self and others. Addiction influences the brain’s complex reward circuitry systems. Mindfulness holistic therapies have a unique role to play in addressing addiction and mental health challenges when there is a greater focus on early interventions and relapse prevention. Mindfulness addresses the most pressing characteristic of addiction-disconnection at the deepest level of the human mind and heart.
No single holistic therapy is a stand-alone treatment protocol for addiction recovery.
On-going availability/ accessibility of a wide range of evidence-based treatments ought to include mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions for the efficacy of total health holistic therapies to be sustainable for recovering addicts in the long term. Mindfulness stress-management is proving to be one of the most promising relapse prevention strategies in addiction treatment. Unlike some other mental health interventions, mindfulness is non-stigmatizing.
Awareness of self is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment. Cultivating a mindfulness meditation practice provides a ‘safe place’ and a personal sense of fulfilment when challenges arise. Managing time is a benefit of mindfulness training. Learning the value in being able to “switch-off” and “press pause” slows down the brains autopilot set point. Just as we are hard-wired to connect, our conditioned mind is perma-set to react.
The most invaluable mindfulness discipline in addiction recovery is insights into the pathos of self-fulfilling prophecies:
we create our thoughts, reality and outcomes.
Loss of control is huge. Fear has us feeling overly responsible for ourselves and in particular, the lives of others. Negative control zaps relational energy and all but destroys intimacy in marriages. The good news is that with mindfulness we learn how to detach from our story. Learn how to be mature, be responsible and happy, liberated from pain and suffering.
Cravings cause suffering.
Obsessive thinking needs certainty when we are stuck in the past or projecting into the future, there is not enough of “us” in the present. No wonder we feel disconnected from our inner essential wisdom. As simple as it sounds restorative mindfulness disciplines bring our focus back to the breath. Most people are surprised by their habit of shallow breathing. Learning how to breathe, deeply, longer and stronger immediately energises the body.
“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” -says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology.
This study and many others from H.M.S. demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing. There are many ways to cultivate the efficacy of mindfulness through repetition and regular practice until it becomes a natural everyday occurrence.
Mindfulness meditation invites the process of individuation – the Self is revealed as an actualised human being. Basically, mindfulness recognizes the Self, and empowers individuals to act as a purposeful agent in their own lives and in the lives of others. In its purest form Mindful Awareness has the potential to add value and freedom to everyday living. To experience being here now in the present moment is recognising a powerful shift in energy and intention.
Learning how to manage mental stress reduces our “inner critic’s” relentless “only-negative” selftalk.
Teaching clients to retrain their brain is both empowering and esteem building for them and to observe the changes created by successfully incorporating mindfulness techniques is also rewarding for the practitioner.
Stress negatively impacts optimal wellbeing: adrenal fatigue is caused by too much cortisol (major stress hormone) and not enough exercise, poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, and the absence of stress management The issues is in the tissues. Mind body soul total health is mindfulness in action. Mindfulness helps us all thrive in our addiction recovery and in life.