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I believe that recovery for the traumatized and the addict is completely impossible without mindfulness. We can’t heal things that we do not understand.
Last night we were watching an episode of Once Upon a Time that is set in Neverland. Emma, the story’s main heroine, is presented with a map by Peter Pan. She is told the map will lead her to her son, who has been kidnapped, but when she opens it the parchment is blank.
Pan tells Emma the map will appear when she embraces who she truly is. Emma tries all sorts of statements, including accepting that she IS the prophesied savior for her family, but the map does not appear. Finally she admits that she still struggles with her 28 years spent as an orphan/abandoned child before she found her family.
That is what mindfulness can do. Mindfulness allows us to dig beyond the surface and heal the deeper parts of ourselves. Neither the addiction nor the trauma can ever get better without draining out the infection in these deep wounds.
Incorporating Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life
Pause before you start your day
When you wake up allow yourself to lay in stillness for a few moments. Notice all the physical sensations of your body. Do you have any aches or pains? What part of your body feels the most pressure on your bed? Are you hungry?
See how long you can lie still before your thoughts drift to something other than your body or your immediate surroundings.
Next look inward to your thoughts and feelings. Did your dreams leave any lingering sensations in your body or emotions in your heart? Is anything on your mind?
Keep a journal by your bed to jot down any important thoughts that come to you before you get distracted by the daily to-do list.
Keep aware of your physical state
Continue to be mindful of your body throughout the remainder of the day. This is a great way to anchor your attention to the present.
When you find your attention wandering, put your focus on your breath. Or notice the parts of your body that are touching the floor. Are you hot or cold?
Use routine activities to hone your mindfulness skills
One of the best ways to create a mindfulness habit is to be mindful during your daily tasks. This includes things like brushing your teeth, using the restroom, showering, driving, mowing the grass, and so on. Think about how you do things and why you do them that way. Count strokes or observe physical and emotional sensations as you move throughout routine tasks that you usually don’t think about
Be especially mindful during eating. Chew your food slowly and be fully aware of how your food tastes and smells. Give yourself permission to slow down and listen to your body tell you when to stop.
Give your full attention to your conversations and the other people involved. Are you listening with your full awareness, or are you impatiently waiting to speak again?
Focus your energy on hearing to understand rather than speaking to be understood. Ask yourself what the other person is thinking and feeling. Ask clarifying questions and even repeat back what they say to ensure full understanding.
Be aware of your own feelings as you react to what they say. Do you feel safe in this conversation? Do you feel seen and heard? Are you reacting or responding?
Use music as mindfulness practice
Listening to music is another great opportunity to practice mindfulness with your sense of hearing. Try to identify each instrument in the song. See how well you can keep your focus on the music instead of allowing other thoughts to intrude.
Can you count the beats? What about the lyrics? Do they hold any special meaning for you? What feelings does this song bring up? Do you have any memories attached to this song?
Ride out cravings
When you suddenly have an urge to do or eat something unplanned or that you know is wrong for you, resist that urge. Notice your thoughts and body sensations. Is this craving an indication of a need, or simply an emotional response that can be filled in a healthier way?
HALT and ask yourself what emotions am I feeling? Are you hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Will giving into this craving bring me joy, or will it exacerbate my problems?
Be willing to sit in your emotions and understand them rather than self-medicate them. Then do something that will address the true need in a healthy way.
Put your phone away
Your smartphone can be a huge distraction and obstacle to mindfulness. Avoid checking your email or social media accounts until a suitable time. Schedule these tasks into your day and set time limits for activities like scrolling social media or playing games.
Everyone needs time to relax and let their mind wander, but doing it mindfully keeps you mentally healthy.
Do a little experiment and see how long you can go without checking your phone. See how long you can go without thinking about your phone. You might even consider a 10 or 30 day fast from an especially distracting social media account or video game.
Set a reminder
A timer can be an effective way of cueing you to be mindful. When the timer alerts you, remind yourself to look inward and asses your spiritual, mental, and emotional state. Do you feel focused and grounded? Are you spending your time mindfully?
You can also set alarms for specific tasks such as meditating or connecting intentionally with a friend or partner.
Mindfulness is all about taking control of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It can relieve stress, increase enjoyment, increase productivity, reduce anxiety, and help you to build a more accurate view of the world. Mindfulness is the simplest form of Self-Care.
Take the 20/30 Mindfulness Challenge
Would you like to go even deeper with your mindfulness? Meditation may be exactly what you need! I challenge you to make mindful mediation a part of your life for 20 minutes each day for 30 days.
To sign up for the challenge fill out the form below. I will send you a getting started workbook and tracking chart for the challenge.
Once you take the challenge come back here and let me know how it’s going!