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Mindfulness Strategies

Q. What are Mindfulness-Based Strategies?

A. Mindfulness is frequently defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. By learning to simply observe, describe, and participate in one's experiences, as well as practicing non-judgment, we are able to better to experience any given moment with greater equanimity.

Mindfulness-Based Strategies include any form of mindful awareness or meditation that allows one to be more fully present in the moment. These can include:

  • Sitting Meditation

  • Walking Meditation

  • Counting the breaths

  • Mindfulness with daily activities

  • Body scan meditation

  • Mind-body practices such as yoga, qigong, tai chi, and others

Q. Who can benefit from Mindfulness strategies?

A. Mindfulness practice allows a person to develop the capacity to interrupt automatic thought patterns and learn to be more accepting and curious of their experience.

Substance use is often an attempt to flee the present moment, generally in the form of uncomfortable (or painful) thoughts, feelings, sensation, or memories, etc. Mindfulness as a practice, encourages clients to accept what is happening (as it's happening) and develop a new relationships to suffering, rather than seeking endless ways to resist the moment (such as substance use). Rather than trying to change what you are thinking or feeling, you learn to accept and tolerate it without using substances in response. In this regard, mindfulness can be one of the most powerful skills you can practice in substance use disorder recovery.

Q. What are the benefits of Mindfulness strategies?

A. Some of the benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Manage stress

  • Retrain the brain to take a thoughtful approach (substance use creates compulsive/impulsive tendencies)

  • Relieve anxiety and depression

  • Reduce cravings

  • Reduce auto pilot tendencies (i.e. habits, reflexes) and become more mindful in the present moment.

  • Learn to observe sensations and experiences in the body

  • Living mindfully during daily activities, such as driving, showering, eating, walking mindfully

  • Breathing mindfully

  • Reacting vs. responding by first observing and then choosing with awareness the best way to respond.

  • Practice Sober Breathing (Sober: Stop, Observe, Breath, Expand, and Respond). Stop whatever it is you are doing and whatever it is you are about to do. Allow yourself to just simply be right here in the present moment.

  • Practicing acceptance, which is the opposite of the perpetual "Go" mode of addictions or substance use disorders. 'Go' mode tells the brain to get rid of thoughts, feelings, craving as quickly as possible, OR by not letting a feeling end (i.e. pleasurable experiences related to substance use).

  • Developing kindness and compassion for self and ohers

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