8 Mindfulness Practices For Addiction Recovery
Mindfulness is an effective tool for those in addiction recovery. By putting yourself in the moment and bringing a sense of calm and peace to your life, you can make less reactive decisions and stick to your long-term recovery plan.
Mindfulness started as an offshoot of Buddhist meditation and involves maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, body, and environment. It often helps people focus on their thoughts and feelings in a nonjudgmental way.
Mindfulness practices can give you more control over your emotions, decrease stress, and improve clarity.
It can help bring awareness to the present moment and slow down the automatic response that often leads to substance abuse, and can be an incredibly helpful form of mindfulness-based relapse prevention.
Here are eight ways to practice mindfulness for addiction recovery.
1. Be Present
Being present is one of the main mindfulness techniques. It sounds easy but we rarely focus on the moment we’re in. By living in the moment and not avoiding what’s happening in the present, you may be less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Substance use is often used to mask the stress in your daily life. By living in the present, you sit with your feelings. And with enough practice, you learn to cope with reality without substances.
2. Focus On Your Breath
Another important part of mindfulness exercises is breathing. Instead of focusing on things you can’t control, focus on one thing you can: your breathing. By focusing on your breath, you can manage stress and that can keep you away from other less healthy outlets.
It’s especially helpful when you’re stressed and on the verge of a relapse. Breathing can bring on a sense of calm and get your recovery process back on track.
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3. Do A Body Scan
A body scan is an exercise that can help you focus on your body and what it’s feeling instead of your negative emotions, intrusive thoughts, and external stressors. It’s a pretty simple part of mindfulness-based meditation but does take practice.
While you breathe, focus on different parts of your body. Start at the bottom of your feet and then move your awareness up to different body parts.
4. Try Guided Meditation
If you don’t feel like you can practice mindfulness on your own, try a guided meditation practice. During this, someone guides you through a visualization. This is done with your eyes closed, in a seated position or lying down, and starts with a few deep breaths.
The visualization can be anything but it’s usually a calming scene that helps you look at your inner thoughts.
While you can do a guided meditation with a therapist in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), there are also many guided meditation apps as well.
5. Practice Stillness
Stillness is another important part of mindfulness. The world is so hectic all around us and that comes with plenty of stress. Stress can bring on moments where you’re more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
By practicing stillness, you free yourself up to discover truths about yourself. It can also open you up to seeing all the potential you have and that can be an incredibly positive feeling when going through addiction treatment and your recovery journey.
6. Try Walking Meditation
While sitting still is often a part of mindfulness meditation when you first start, once you get the hang of it, you can take your practice anywhere, including on a walk outside.
Nature can also have a significant effect on your mental health and help relieve tension. Practicing mindfulness in nature only amplifies those effects.
When you take your meditation and mindfulness practice with you, you’re also able to come back to the moment no matter where you are.
7. Be Aware Of Your Thoughts
Our thoughts live behind a lot of our emotions and actions. What we think about can determine how we act and how we manage our lives.
We can also easily look at our thoughts, especially negative thoughts, and think they are reality. That isn’t always the case because of false assumptions and misconceptions.
Mindfulness can teach you to be more aware of your thoughts and challenge them. And when you challenge your negative thoughts, you allow yourself to see the world and yourself in a more positive light.
8. Try SOBER Meditation
SOBER meditation is a type of mindfulness practice that is perfect for anyone going through addiction treatment. It not only reminds you of your goal, it helps you remember the meditation steps as well.
Each letter of the word SOBER is a different step of the practice:
- S: Stop whatever action you’re about to do in a triggering moment.
- O: Observe your breath and body sensations.
- B: Breathe and pay attention as you inhale and exhale.
- E: Expand your awareness, and recognize you’re a body in the room.
- R: Respond mindfully into the present moment and respond.
By performing this meditation, you stop yourself from simply reacting with addictive behaviors and you respond thoughtfully instead.
If you or a loved one live with drug addiction or substance use disorder, you don’t have to do it alone. Our experienced staff of clinicians is here to help you start your recovery journey. We offer a variety of recovery programs, including detox, inpatient drug rehab, and aftercare.
For more information, please call our helpline today.
- Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice — Mindfulness-based treatment of addiction: current state of the field and envisioning the next wave of research https://ascpjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13722-018-0115-3
- National Library of Medicine: PubMed — Mindfulness-Based Therapies for Substance Use Disorders: Part 1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818765/
- University of Southern California — Addiction and Recovery: How Mindfulness May Help https://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/addiction-recovery-mindfulness-exercises/