What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is used as an umbrella term to reference a wide range of practices, ideals, and characteristics. For instance, many people associate meditation with mindfulness. While mindfulness and meditation can be interrelated, some forms of meditation have no relationship to mindfulness.
According to an article from the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, mindfulness is a sense of self-awareness that arises when you pay attention to the present with no judgment. Mindfulness is born out of being consciously present in every moment of your life and manifests when we acknowledge our experiences and feelings without judgment. Through mindfulness, clients can shift the way they think about themselves, the way they interact with others, and how they navigate through the world.
What Are the 7 Principles of Mindfulness?
It can be difficult to pin down elements of mindfulness, as its meaning and use have shifted and expanded over time. However, leading figures in the work of mindfulness have found seven principles that can help us understand how to incorporate these practices into our daily lives.
The 7 Principles:
- Learn to be an impartial witness to your experiences
- Recognize and allow things to unfold in their own time
- Beginner’s mind
- Learn to remain open and curious
- Learn to trust in yourself and your feelings
- Recognize it is okay to make mistakes
- Find peace in being yourself in the here and now
- Recognize and take things as they are
- Letting go
- Recognize that there are certain experiences, thoughts, feelings, and situations our mind tries to hold onto
- Learn to live in the present moment instead of so much in the past
There are many different ways to engage in mindfulness to help ground us and be present in our daily lives. Mindful practices are simple to put into action, but it takes practice to integrate them into daily life for long-term wellness.
Some Examples of Mindful Practices Include:
- Breathing exercises
- Going for a walk
- Mindful eating
- Listen to your body when you are hungry and full
- Notice the taste, texture, and flavors of your food
- Body scan
- Start your day by setting intentions
- Practice being intentional in your actions, willpower, and decisions
- Mindful workout
- Make a gratitude list
To learn more about the mindful practices and exercises we use to support our clients, visit our Trauma-Informed Yoga page.
How Can Mindfulness Help in Recovery?
According to a 2011 article from the Clinical Psychological Review, awareness and non-judgmental acceptance of our life experiences has a direct relationship to psychological well-being. In particular, there is evidence that suggests non-judgmental acceptance of the self can relieve symptoms of anxiety, fear, anger, worry, and rumination. Substance use disorder (SUD) typically includes co-occurring mental health disorders that have contributed to, or developed from, the substance use. Mindfulness is one way to build healthier thought patterns about the self and the SUD itself, that will support healthier long-term behavior.
At Emerge Recovery TX, our clinical framework of care is rooted in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which is a model of healing that allows us to help clients reconnect to their body, mind, and spirit in recovery. As noted in the 2011 article, ACT was born from the realization that psychological distress has its roots in our attempts to try to control or avoid negative thoughts altogether.
These attempts to control and avoid only serve to increase the frequency and intensity of personal distress. Furthermore, these habits impair our ability to engage in behavior that can support setting and achieving healthy long-term goals. Therefore, ACT was developed to increase psychological flexibility by teaching clients how to rethink their habits and behaviors as they acknowledge their experiences and the value those experiences hold.
The relationship between ACT and mindfulness can clearly be seen in their core treatment processes. ACT is built on six core treatment processes, while mindfulness is taught in connection to the first four processes of ACT.
6 Core Treatment Processes of ACT
- Contact with the present moment
- Self as context
- Committed action
Through these steps, clients can participate in mindful practices that enhance self-awareness and support building coping strategies to process negative thoughts and feelings.
To learn more about ACT and our trauma work in recovery, visit our Trauma Recovery page.
The Importance of Mindfulness for Women
Research has shown that mindfulness can support women in learning healthier coping strategies for dealing with negative thoughts and feelings. According to an article in Frontiers in Psychology, evidence suggests that mindfulness-based treatment has increased benefits for women with SUD compared to men. The use of mindful practices shows decreasing levels of negative emotions and low self-concept for women as they gain more self-compassion skills.
Researchers suggest the benefits of mindfulness for women with SUD can be found in the different ways women and men regulate their emotions. The emotional response to negative situations and emotions typically leads to internalization in women as they engage in self-criticism. On the other hand, men tend to externalize their emotions with distractions. Therefore, the practice of mindfulness can support women by decreasing negative ruminative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to internalized distress.
Our use of mindfulness-based treatment can help you process your negative thoughts and emotions to build healthier thinking patterns. At Emerge Recovery TX, we believe mindful practices like ACT can support you in long-term recovery as you heal yourself in body, mind, and spirit. Call us today at (737) 237-9663 to learn how mindfulness can support you on your journey to recovery.