The Benefit of Developing Mindfulness at Rehab
Addiction and denial go hand in hand. This lack of insight into our situation can continue even after we have accepted we have a problem with alcohol or drugs. Denial is a lack of awareness, and the main benefit of mindfulness is it increases our awareness.
Mindfulness versus Powerlessness
When we commit ourselves to paying attention in an open way, without falling prey to our own likes and dislikes, opinions and prejudices, projections and expectations, new possibilities open up and we have a chance to free ourselves from the straitjacket of unconsciousness. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn (Wherever You Go – There You Are)
The first step in overcoming an addiction is to recognize our powerlessness – this is vital because so long as we keep believing we have things under control, we will keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. From the mindfulness therapy perspective, this powerlessness exists because of powerful patterns in our brain that drive our behavior – these unconscious patterns are referred to as ‘auto-pilot’.
Doing things on auto-pilot isn’t always a bad thing. If you had to consciously focus on every action you needed to take while driving a car, it would make you a less confident driver. It is beneficial that you do certain things without having to think too much about them. The problem is that it isn’t only the good stuff that we do automatically.
When we are caught up in addiction, it does definitely feel as if we are making choices, but too many of our decisions will in fact be made in auto-pilot mode. This explains how we can solemnly promise to only have a couple of drinks, yet wake up the next day full of remorse and self-hatred. We are powerless over the first drink or drug because it reduces our awareness and switches our brain to auto-pilot.
Important – we can only change our behavior when we have sufficient awareness but alcohol and drugs greatly reduce our awareness thus creating denial
Mindfulness practice increases our awareness so we escape the powerlessness caused by addiction. It is like shining a bright light on the dark corners of our mind that get us into trouble.
Mindfulness in Recovery
Through mindfulness we begin to see and experience the nature of our suffering and how we cause ourselves more suffering, especially through addiction. We also start to see the possibility of letting go of some of our suffering. ~ Valerie Mason-John and Dr Paramabandhu Groves (Eight Step Recovery)
Getting physically clean and sober is an important first step, but in order to enjoy a good life away from addiction, you need to develop emotional sobriety. This is the ability to deal with your feelings and live comfortably in the present moment – i.e. not wasting your time feeling guilty about the past, and worrying about the future. Mindfulness is all about learning to be here now in a more open and accepting way, and this is what makes it such a beneficial practice.
Most of us are going to associate mindfulness with meditation, but this is just one of the practices that can help us develop this mental quality. You can also become more mindful by doing yoga, tai chi, or even going for long walks. In fact, any activity where you are focused on the present moment in a non-resistant way is a mindfulness practice.
Finding the Right Rehab
If you are looking for an alcohol and other drug rehab that is aligned with Buddhist Principles of mindfulness, and the 12 Steps of Recovery, that is located in an amazingly beautiful paradise, called Panama, check out Serenity Vista Addiction Recovery Retreat. It may be exactly the combination of traditional and holistic therapies including various forms of meditation that you are looking for to start your recovery.