Practices that teach to be fully present in the present moment – here and now – are called mindfulness practices. They help to notice habitual states of consciousness, control attention, and behavior. People who practice mindfulness are less vulnerable to stress because they are less prone to obsessive thoughts. This, in turn, reduces retraumatization and helps you process stressful events and situations.
Mindfulness and its Practices
The term “mindfulness” was coined by American medical professor Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s. It refers to the invaluable awareness that arises from consciously focusing attention on the present moment of one’s experience. In practice, it can be one way to deal with emotional discomfort, and develop healthy relationships with other people.
Mindfulness is a practice on one hand and a state of special attitude towards thoughts and experiences on the other. This practice was adapted from Eastern meditations. A large number of studies show its effect on reducing anxiety, improving mood, and conscious control. At the level of the brain, this is represented in the development of the frontal lobes. As such, it helps to easily take control of the amygdala which is the source of strong basic emotions of fear, anger, and sadness.
Mindfulness practices are also very useful in addiction treatment. In holistic rehabilitation centers, it is useful to have yoga, meditation, acupuncture, stretching, breathing exercises, and nutritional intervention as part of their recovery programs. A lot of holistic drug rehabs are focused on different things. Some have organic meal plans to improve physical health while others offer different sports activities. Google holistic rehab near me and you’ll also probably find holistic recovery programs that offer various activities that you might like.
Mindfulness as a tool for coping with stress
By regularly practicing mindfulness meditation, a person becomes aware of his thoughts and changes his attitude towards them. Many people think that the goal of meditation is to get rid of thoughts, but this is impossible: our brain is used to thinking, this is its function. It is also our trouble that the brain has evolved to think about anxiety in order to prevent possible threats.
To experience mindfulness, do the following exercise:
Close your eyes, and imagine yourself on the bank of a river. Leaves float down the river. You are watching these leaves. Different thoughts inevitably come to you. Your task is to notice what these thoughts are, plant them on leaves and watch how the water carries them away. Usually we start to think our thoughts, argue with them or, on the contrary, try not to think them or drive them away. But this only leads to rumination – chewing thoughts in circles, and this increases stress. Try to “stay” on the shore and simply note: “Here’s a thought that came to me…” Some thoughts will equally captivate you, that’s normal. At the same time as you notice it, you practice. Just mark it for yourself and head back to shore. You are an observer, you don’t have to think all your thoughts, you choose what to do.
This is mindfulness as a state in which you can be all the time, perceiving thoughts as events.
Another exercise: You are sailing in an ocean or sea, you have direction and the weather is changing around you — in a good or in a bad way. Your thoughts and emotions are the weather, you can not argue with it and ignore it as you continue on your way.
Achieving a Mindfulness State
In order to achieve this state, so that it becomes habitual, it is necessary to practice mindfulness for at least 10-15 minutes a day. You sit and watch your breath, your anxious brain will constantly throw up some thoughts. Your task is to record this and return to observing the breath. You can also make everyday things “aware”, for example: while brushing your teeth, taking a shower or going for a walk, you pay attention to this particular thing, and not to your own thoughts. And every time thoughts “pull the blanket over you”, notice it, note it for yourself and return to detached observation of them.
There is another technique to stabilize your emotions and return from the world of thoughts to reality. Name five things around you, five sounds you hear, and five sensations in your body (if you don’t have enough sound and sensation, you can create one yourself). In the process of this exercise, you somehow switch to observing not your thoughts but observing the real world.
Tapping, or the butterfly technique, is another approach. Mark your emotional state on a ten-point scale, where one is bad and ten is very good. Now, cross your arms over your chest and place your palms on your shoulders. Alternately, clap your hands on your shoulders for 45 seconds as quickly as possible. It is important to clap gently and alternately. After that, note the emotional state again. You can repeat this exercise in a few minutes if the score has not changed or has become higher. Tapping helps to change the emotional state. If it works for you then you can use this exercise.
Mindfulness practices are not a panacea. From a medical and psychological point of view, they help not to get stuck in traumatic thoughts and learn to live in different states. If your depression is a result of a more serious problem related to addiction, it is better to combine mindfulness techniques with holistic drug addiction treatment.