How to Become More Mindfully Aware in Recovery

Being mindfully aware in recoveryMindfulness is a practice of mental awareness and has been previously used in meditation practices, as a person focuses on their breath and the present moment. All too often, we’re wrapped up in our thoughts or emotions, or we’re distracted – substances take us away from the present moment completely, as they alter our brain chemicals and bring about symptoms that leave us craving more. Mindfulness in and of itself is not particularly difficult, but it can be challenging to implement; it requires self-discipline, even when challenging thoughts or emotions arise. There are many benefits to mindfulness, such as:

  • It slows your day down so that you’re not feeling rushed from one activity to another
  • It provides you with a sense of calmness from all of the “mental chaos” that can occur
  • It brings you closer to your senses, which are key entryways to our moment-to-moment experiences
  • It provides an opportunity to learn more about yourself
  • And so much more

Despite the many benefits that derive from mindfulness, the question begs to be asked, “How does this aid those in addiction recovery?”

A 2016 study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy sought to explore how mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement (MORE) could improve outcomes for those with substance abuse histories, mental health disorders, and trauma histories. For 10 weeks, 64 participants became actively involved in MORE, while 64 other participants carried out 10 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), another highly effective treatment approach. Researchers found the mindfulness helped reduce cravings and post-traumatic stress – and overall, mindfulness proved to be a very effective treatment for co-occurring disorders as well.

To practice mindfulness, you can “zero-in” on the present moment – whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re at, experience it fully. Look around you and embrace the colors, the sounds, the textures – engage all of your senses to recognize just how beautiful this present moment truly is.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.