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12 Reasons Why Mindfulness is an Excellent Tool for People in Recovery

mindfulnessThe attention that mindfulness is receiving at the moment might make it feel as if it is a bit of a fad, but people have been successfully using these techniques for at least 2,600 years. In fact, mindfulness is something that humans have always been able to experience, but it is often associated with Buddhism because this philosophy/religion created some effective techniques to help individuals enjoy being more mindful. It is important to understand that mindfulness is not Buddhist though; it is something that is open to, and belongs to, all people.

There is now plenty of evidence to support the claim that mindfulness is an effective tool for those trying to break free of addiction. Here are just 12 reasons why you should make it a part of your new life:

1. Mindfulness Can Help You Combat Cravings

A craving always starts as a thought but gains power if you resist it or start to obsess it. Your mind and body has been conditioned to respond in a certain way to cravings, and habit energy is usually enough to get you moving towards a bar, off-licence, or drug dealer. Mindfulness gives you the ability to break free of this conditioned behaviour. You get to see that a craving is just a thought that will soon disappear so long as you do not resist or cling on to it – you understand that a craving is similar to a cloud passing through your mind that cannot harm you.

2. Mindfulness is an Excellent Stress Buster

Up until now, you have been using alcohol or drugs as your main coping mechanism for dealing with stress. Now that you no longer have this outlet, you may start to feel overwhelmed by stress. Mindfulness will help you relax, giving you the ability to keep things in perspective. If you engage in some mindfulness practice for at least 30 minutes per day, you should find you are much better able to handle the stressors in your life.

3. Mindfulness is Effective for Managing Anxiety

Anxiety refers to a number of negative symptoms you can develop in response to troubling thoughts. When you feel anxious, your body goes into a heightened state of alertness, known as the fight or flight mechanism. This heightened state can save your life in an emergency, but it can also be damaging to your body and mind if you are chronically anxious. When you become mindful, it moves your body out of the fight and flight response. It also allows you to manage the thoughts that are triggering the symptoms in your body.

4. Mindfulness Can Help People Manage Depression

The first time people experience depression, some type of psychological trauma usually triggers it. This trigger leads to low mood, which then causes negative thinking and physical symptoms. The person then becomes caught up in a cycle whereby the negative thinking and physical symptoms further lowers their mood. Once a person has experience depression once in his or her life, these episodes can be triggered by just low mood (i.e. they no longer require a trigger) because it has become a conditioned response. Mindfulness can break this cycle so that the person is just able to experience low mood without being swept away by the negative thinking and physical discomfort. There is now a good deal of evidence to show the effectiveness of mindfulness for preventing and treating mild depression – although it is not so effective for treating severe depression because the person will be too low to benefit from the technique.

5. Mindfulness Improves Your Ability to Concentrate

It is a common for individuals in early recovery to experience a type of fuzzy thinking due to the detox process. This reduced ability to concentrate can occasionally last for months or even years into recovery. Mindfulness increases your ability to concentrate, meaning that you preform much better in your life as well as your career.

6. Mindfulness Boosts Your Memory

There is also evidence to suggest that mindfulness can be an effective tool for boosting your memory. An improved memory is likely to be advantageous in daily life, and it means you are going to be better able to absorb useful information as well.

7. Mindfulness gives Your Life Meaning and Purpose

One of the most important benefits of mindfulness is that it can give your new life meaning and purpose. Once you begin to experience the beauty of the present moment, you regain the wonder of a child. Life can start to feel as an amazing adventure again, and even the simplest things (for example, looking at the stars) can trigger moments of great inner peace. If you are unable to find meaning and purpose in your new life, it may not feel as if there is much point in staying sober. Mindfulness can give you the reasons you need to commit fully to this new way of living.

8. Mindfulness Means You Are Not Living Your Life on Autopilot

Most people would be shocked if they realised how much of their life they experience on autopilot. When individuals are governed so much by conditioned behaviour and habit energy, it is as if they are walking through life asleep. By practicing mindfulness, you will begin to do less out of habit and more out of choice. You will also get to really experience the present moment and all the glories that it contains.

9. Mindfulness Can Help You Deal with Your Fears

Fears are a type of thought that are able to trigger a physical response in your body. Once you become more objective about these thoughts, you can escape the cycle that produces fear and anxiety. You will see that these fear thoughts just arise and pass away, and they have no power to harm you unless you give them power.

10. You Gain Important Insights about Yourself

As long as you are a slave to thought, your attention will be constantly pulled towards thinking patterns that are negative or just a waste of time. The fact that there is so much noise in your brain means that all of the insights that could change your life are drowned out by the din. Mindfulness quietens everything down, making it possible for these insights to grow in your mind and leading to radical transformations in your life.

11. It Improves Your Ability to Manage Pain

It is sometimes said that pain is a part of life but the suffering is optional. By being mindful, you learn to just experience the pain in a way that makes it bearable. Resisting pain causes your body to tense up, which just increases the physical discomfort. The thought ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this way’ also intensifies the experience of pain.

12. It Boosts Your Ability to Make Good Decisions

Your future success in life will depend on your ability to make good decisions. If you just react to things in a habitual way, you are likely to keep on ending up with the same results in life. By becoming mindful, you gain the ability to choose your path in life rather than just responding as a ball in a pinball machine.

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