By now you’ve probably heard of the many benefits of mindfulness meditation. From reducing anxiety to helping improve sleep, researchers are finding that mindfulness practice may benefit us in a number of different ways. Many of these benefits, and some of the studies even, are directly related to people in recovery from addiction and mental health disorders.
There are even alternatives to AA like Refuge Recovery which offer a path to recovery based on mindfulness meditation. Therapists and counselors are beginning to incorporate mindfulness into their work, and many people are finding it to be a useful tool in their recovery.
There are many ways we can cultivate mindfulness, with the most common being formal meditation practice. Although this is a great practice to add to your day and self-care regimen, we don’t have time to meditate all day. We can investigate bringing mindfulness to our daily lives as well.
Whether you lead groups, are a therapist, or just want to practice mindfulness with friends, there are many ways you can bring mindfulness to life. One of my favorite ways is mindful walking. You can go for a hike or walk with friends, and set aside some time to be silent. It may be five minutes, ten minutes, or thirty minutes.
As you walk, just see what you notice. What comes into your experience? Maybe you can feel the body moving or the feet lifting with each step. Maybe you notice sounds around you like cars, birds, or the wind. Notice if something grabs your attention, whether it’s a thought, sound, feeling in the body, smell, or anything else that arises.
Another great mindfulness-related activity is a dyad practice. In dyads, two people work together to cultivate mindfulness of speech and listening. It’s an intimate exercise that builds vulnerability, trust, and awareness that we highly recommend checking out. You can check out some mindfulness exercises from One Mind Dharma for activities, exercises, and more ways to bring mindfulness to groups.
Of course, meditation is something we need to do if we’re serious about cultivating mindfulness. We don’t need to just sit in silence at the beginning or end of our day. We can also practice brief periods of meditation during the day. You can of course do this any time and any place, but here are a few suggestions.
First, try stopping and focusing on the breath in the body. Where can you feel the body breathing? Can you feel the expansion and contraction of the lungs and rib cage? What about the air coming in through the nostrils? Just tune into where you are. You can stop any time during your day and do this for just thirty seconds or a minute to arrive back where you are.
You can also try a body scan during your day as a mindfulness meditation practice. Below is a guided body scan meditation for beginners you can try, but you can also bring this practice to your daily life. Whether you’re working, driving, or just hanging out, you can return to the body to see what is present. You can move through the body slowly, just tuning into whatever arises in your experience. Notice the points of tension, the places you can feel the clothes on the body, and anything that pops up into your awareness.