Mindfulness has become incredibly popular over the last few years, and there is growing evidence that it is an effective treatment approach for many conditions including addiction, anxiety, and depression. It may be tempting to dismiss the current popularity of mindfulness as a bit of a fad until we remember that people have been using these practices successfully for thousands of years. If you are already using a recovery approach like the 12 steps, you may benefit from adding to some of these practices to your life and drug rehab program.
How Does Mindfulness Work
Mindfulness can refer to a state of being or practices to achieve this state of being. If you have ever looked up at the stars and been completely caught up in the moment, this would be the state of being mindful. A common definition of mindfulness is that it involves deliberately focusing on the present moment without judgement (i.e. stories in your head about what is happening).
Shinzen Young is a US meditation teacher, and he suggests that mindfulness is comprised of three specific skills which are – concentration, mental clarity, and equanimity. Concentration is the ability to stay focused on a desired object (the present moment). Mental clarity is the ability to see what is going on in your mind – this is important because it means you can begin to eliminate unhealthy habits and tendencies. Equanimity is all about living life in a more balanced way – it is similar to the idea of emotional sobriety.
Mindfulness and the 12 Steps
Mindfulness practices originate from Buddhism, but you do not need to become a Buddhist in order to benefit from these techniques. In fact, they fit in snugly with the 12 Steps, and there is no real contradiction between the two.
From a mindfulness perspective, the powerless mentioned in step one of the 12 Steps can be viewed as being due to lack of mental clarity. The fact that we are unable to see how our mind keeps pushing us towards dangerous behaviours means we are unable to prevent it from happening. By practicing mindfulness, we begin to see what the mind is doing and so we feel less powerless.
Mindfulness also fits in well with step 11 where ‘we sought through prayer and meditation…’ Mindfulness will allow you to better understand yourself and those around you. This understanding means it becomes easier to do the right things. Ultimately – mindfulness is a path towards serenity just like the 12 Steps.