Mindfulness meditation is derived from Buddhist traditions. Mindfulness is about staying in the present moment and learning to accept one thoughts with a curious nature and non-judgemental attitude.
Mindfulness meditation has become increasingly used in the treatment of addictions. When people are addicted their minds are usually focused on their drug of choice. Mindfulness helps the individual to slow down and focus on feelings.
This helps to interrupt the cycle of additive behaviour and stop the suppression of feelings allowing the person to experience the full range of human emotions. Subsequently this assists in disarming difficult feelings by accepting them and not running away from them.
Mindfulness meditation also helps the addict to become aware of their triggers and cravings. The addict might be caught up in the urge to use their drug of choice and itching for their next fix.
Mindfulness can help the addict to become aware of the process of their urges and recognise them instead of automatically reaching for their drug of choice.
Some mindfulness skills include:
Staying in the moment:
Allowing yourself to focus, without worrying about the past or what the future will bring. This allows the addict to experience what is going on right now and cope with their feelings in the moment.
Focusing on one thing at a time, allowing yourself to be aware of what you are doing. This is particularly helpful with breaking the cycle of addiction and coping with urges. Awareness includes being in contact with all the senses including not only what you are feeling but seeing, smelling and touching.
Observing feelings without judging them
This means not becoming too caught up in feelings but just noticing them and allowing them to be.
For example observing an anxious feeling but not trying to push it away or suppress it by using the drug of choice. Just allowing yourself to experience the feeling without labelling it as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
Observing feelings without judging them also is helpful with urges in relation to difficult emotions.
In mindfulness meditation a sense of inner stillness is encouraged. This means not reacting to emotions but allowing them and waiting for the storm to pass.
How can I learn more about mindfulness?
For information on mindfulness theory and research there are some good resources on-line:
I would also recommend the following books to learn for learning more about mindfulness and interventions:
The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction by Williams & Kraft (2012)
Mindfulness and the 12 Steps Jacobs- Stewart (2010)
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