You might be hearing a lot about mindfulness these days, from silent meditation retreats to mindful eating. Sobriety is no different, and mindfulness has entered the recovery space in former addicts and now meditation teachers George Mumford (author, recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, and mindfulness coach for professional athletes); and, Kevin Griffin, a recovering alcoholic whose book Recovering Joy merges Secular Buddhism with the 12 Steps in a way that respects the traumatic experiences often felt by addicts.
However, before talking about mindfulness and holistic complementary therapy, let’s discuss the basics of each. Additionally, it’s crucially important to remind those reading this blog: Mindfulness and holistic treatment DO NOT require you to be of any faith. You might be worried as a lifelong Christian that these practices somehow don’t jibe with your deepest core beliefs.
Keep in mind that mindfulness meditation (although brought to prominence in our country by secular Buddhists) does not demand you meditate on anything other than this present moment. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and many other orthodox religions have their own forms of meditation. Human beings have meditated in some form or fashion before the concept of organized religion was even conceived of. So in short, stay open to what awaits you…even if it doesn’t necessarily correspond with your current worldview.
Mindfulness is a state of being popularized first by Buddhist dharma teachings, and then by figures such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., in modern times. Kabat-Zinn, who first developed his now-famous Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (or, MBSR) technique while at the University of Massachusetts, defines mindfulness succinctly this way in his book Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life:
“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”
These techniques have been used as holistic complementary tools to any number of rehabilitative establishments, including physical and occupational therapy, PTSD rehabilitation as well as in prison communities. But how does “being mindful” really change anything in us?
What it means for recovery
When we are mindful and conscious of our decisions and intentions, we are more likely to see the consequences of our actions at a slight remove. Put another way, being mindful doesn’t make you an egoless automaton; rather, being mindful of a craving and turning into the feeling of that craving instead of suppressing it or denying the craving helps develop equanimity. This doesn’t mean giving in to a craving—it means acknowledging the craving is there, meditating on the impermanence of that craving and then working to see it subside.
When paired with Western medicine and safe detox methods, Eastern modalities and holistic interventions are meant to coexist and help manage cravings and install other activities in place of the source of the addiction. Along with meditation (mentioned above), art therapy and physical practices such as tai chi and yoga, holistic methods get those in recovery to truly find themselves and the root causes of their addiction.
What it means for you
Although practices like mindfulness meditation, yoga, music, and art therapy have been gaining in popularity for all sorts of issues, many people are still skeptical about their value. Whether that skepticism comes from prior beliefs about religion or mistrust of Eastern medicine, just remember that these are ways to stay sober. They may not be right for you, or…they could change your life. The exciting part is that YOU get to choose and open yourself up to a new way to recover. If it means keeping you happy, healthy, strong and free from addiction, why not try everything?
Just as there is no one right way to keep sober, there’s no one right way to get there in the first place. Nevertheless, with holistic intervention and mindfulness, there are ways to work through the cravings and the mental and physical trauma of quitting—for good.
True Recovery offers a wide spectrum of holistic and alternative therapies designed to help you live your best life. With one phone call, you can help design the program that will work best with your goals and life. From daily meditative exercise to acupuncture for addiction can be helpful for both short- and long-term recovery.
At True Recovery, we believe that freedom from addiction takes a village of support, both onsite and in the personal lives of our clients. We can open up to who we really are. Find true recovery for yourself and those you love. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.