One of the tasks of recovery is to become more and more aware of the choices we make in our lives. For instance, perhaps in the past you might have not taken good care of yourself. Along with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you might have also eaten poorly, always put yourself last, and never exercised. However, part of recovery is changing those patterns of self-harm and instead learning to take good care of yourself.

Part of this process is becoming more and more aware of yourself and providing yourself with more opportunities of self-care. Awareness is a significant part of recovery because as you stay sober you learn about your triggers, cravings, and setbacks. As you learn about certain triggers you can prevent them from causing havoc in your life, including preventing a relapse. Awareness also allows you to know when you need more self-care, when you might need to take a break, or when you need more support around you in order to avoid giving in to triggers. Awareness of oneself facilitates making better choices.

One essential practice that can facilitate developing self-awareness is meditation. Meditation is a practice of putting your attention on one point of focus for a certain period of time. For instance, you might focus on your breath for 25 minutes or you might focus on a phrase that you slowly repeat in your mind again and again. Although the sound of this task might sound boring, keeping your attention on one point of focus creates an experience of watching your own mind. Plus, because the task is to return to the point of focus when you stray, you begin to develop an observing distance between your thoughts and yourself.

With this sort of distance, you begin to develop the ability of not giving into your thoughts so easily. You start to become more and more mindful in your day. Mindfulness is another way of developing awareness. It is the practice of becoming conscious of your internal and external environment. It is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting the existing feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding activity. It can be used as a therapeutic tool among therapists and psychologist, and it has been used as a spiritual practice for decades. Of course, the practice of meditation facilitates becoming more and more mindful.

With a practice of mindfulness, someone who is addicted to alcohol, for example, can become aware of the triggers that lead him to drink, destructive habitual patterns, and the unconscious and automatic reaction that lead to making poor choices.  Because mindfulness and meditation has been so useful in recovery from addiction, more and more experts are using the tool in their recovery programs. For instance, the Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) program includes both mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a form of therapy that invites recovering addicts to examine and change their negative thinking patterns. As you can imagine, MBRP is a powerful practice for changing old patterns, unraveling negative connections about oneself, and facilitating long-term sobriety.

Because of recent research on the effects of mindfulness on the brain, more and more psychologists and therapists are incorporating the MBRP into their practice. Another useful therapeutic tool is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression which includes the practice of becoming aware of your inner and outer experiences (mindfulness) while also investigating and replacing the specific thoughts that might lead to a depressed mood.

In recovery, paying close attention to present circumstances is incredibly important, and it’s where mindfulness comes in as a useful tool to use to prevent relapse. By staying present, each moment becomes opportunity to make a choice, different than one made in the past. Mindfulness can help a recovering addict stay keenly aware of what he or she is doing in order to create new, healthier habits. Carrying out different choices that are positive and healthy may be challenging at the start, but with practice, they too can become habitual.

If you’re considering adding meditation or mindfulness into your recovery, many local yoga studios offer meditation. You might also look for online classes or even purchasing a book on meditation to get started at your own pace. Meditation is a tool that can deepen your ability to say no to triggers and avoid cravings for long-term sobriety.

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