We’ve all heard about the concept of mindfulness meditation, a technique that develops a sense of awareness and an ability to relate to feelings and emotions in a different way – by observing and recognizing, not by judging.
While mindfulness can be helpful when incorporated into quality drug and alcohol treatment or rehab, some treatment professionals are concerned that the practice of mindfulness meditation may be overhyped. It isn’t a quick cure-all, a magic fix, or a substitute for quality drug and alcohol treatment or rehab.
Most treatment professionals believe that mindfulness is most useful when used in conjunction with lifestyle modification and effective relapse prevention strategies, as it helps people in recovery distance themselves from cravings, especially during the early days of recovery. The relaxation associated with meditation can also help with withdrawal symptoms during the detox period.
The practice of mindfulness is a simple technique that can help in many aspects of life – not solely addiction treatment. For example, one research study indicated that combat soldiers who practiced mindfulness for 12 minutes a day experienced increased mental resilience that helped them stay alert and confident. Another study indicated that regular mindfulness meditation, which improves concentration and attention, raised standardized testing scores in American schools.
It’s important to note, however, that although mindfulness meditation is beneficial for many people, it works best for people who are open to change and who are already accepting of their thoughts and emotions. It can be incorporated into everyday life and can empower people to be fully in the present moment, to be aware of what is going on and to "let go" of any emotional charges triggered by stressful events. Some people find mindfulness the "ultimate experience of freedom" in everyday life.