When we talk about meditation and mindfulness in recovery, many times we confuse the two for meaning the same thing. It’s easy to think that being mindful means meditation, but they’re different concepts. Mindfulness often times comes from the act of meditating. The word mindfulness quite literally means paying mind to or becoming aware of the present moment. Meditation is a way of quieting the mind, often leading to a state of mindfulness.
Meditation is the practice of becoming aware of the present in an attempt to quiet the mind. Popularly, sitting cross legged with your eyes closed is the most common way to meditate— with the goal to become aware of the thoughts that come, and not to become attached to them. Rather than labeling with a story attached to these thoughts, noticing them come and pass while leaving your mind as blank as possible. Many times, guided meditations are especially helpful for reaching a point of peace and relaxation.
Mindfulness is the practice of being mindful or aware of the present. As we’ve talked about meditation, it’s easy to see how mindfulness often comes from the practice of meditation. Mindfulness though can be achieved without a meditation practice by becoming to be aware of the present moment.
How can we become mindful?
Taking mental notes of the senses while in any given situation is one of the first ways to becoming more mindful. When you’re eating, noticing and savoring the taste, being conscious of how we’re chewing and the textures of the food, or even noting the sounds that the food makes as we chew are some of the ways to achieve mindful eating.
By taking a little inventory of our senses in a situation, we begin the practice of awareness and insight into the ordinary moments of our lives, so we can do the same in some of the more extraordinary moments in our lives. Stressful situations are the perfect times to practice mindfulness, but can be the worst to begin the practice of mindfulness. Practicing in ordinary moments of ordinary days can help us harness the skills of awareness that are necessary to mindfulness in early recovery.
Walking meditation is another way in the middle ground between a formal meditation practice and cultivating mindfulness. Mindful meditation can be done with open eyes, and is a peaceful way of becoming aware of the present moment. The sensations of our feet, the coolness of a breeze or the warmth of the sunshine that touches our face— it’s often these sensations that we overlook when we’re trapped in the mindless tendencies we’ve learned in our lives. Much like stress and anxiety become a pattern of behavior, with a bit of practice, mindfulness can become a pattern of behavior as well.
Whether it’s through meditating, mindful eating, or noticing the sensations of our environment, the practice of mindfulness is a valuable tool in early healing recovery. Beginning our practice when things are going well with help us to overcome the moments of adversity and difficulties when life simply becomes life. If you or a beloved one are struggling with substance abuse, call Iris Healing Retreat at (818) 435-3936 or (818) 436 2646 for admissions. Your call is confidential and we will clarify any concern you may have. You can also verify your insurance online. We accept most PPO plans.