Written by: Dale Conlon
Last Updated: January 24th, 2023
One of the most effective ways to release ourselves from stifled emotions is to practise mindfulness therapy. Many psychologists and mindfulness experts believe that a significant amount of psychological distress is associated with people trying to suppress their emotions.
It’s human nature to want to avoid uncomfortable or disturbing thoughts and feelings, but trying to escape our emotions only makes us suffer more in the long run. Often, mental illnesses like addiction result from unhealed trauma or stifled emotions.
Mindfulness is a state of mental awareness initially derived from ancient Buddhist practices. Its sole purpose is to bring the mind’s attention to the present moment with acceptance, kindness and empathy.
Mindfulness therapies help us accept and identify our subterranean thoughts and feelings, so we can liberate ourselves of unnecessary emotional weight and gain more peace of mind. Not only can mindfulness therapy help us to sustain better relationships with ourselves and others, but having a calm mind and being mentally secure can encourage the avoidance of self-harming behaviours like substance abuse.
How is mindfulness therapy applied in addiction recovery?
To recover from addiction, we must sit with our emotions, no matter how difficult that can be. We understand that addiction can bring about challenging and painful feelings but running away from them only aids in fuelling addiction further.
Therefore, mindfulness practices encourage you to accept and tolerate uncomfortable emotions. Once we have reached this pace, we can release any unhelpful thoughts and feelings that are holding us back from healing and begin to embark on recovery.
What mindfulness therapies does Primrose Lodge provide?
Psychologists and scientific studies understand the power of mindfulness and have integrated mindfulness into modern-day psychotherapies, which Primrose Lodge is proud to offer clients. Mindfulness practices are integrated into our comprehensive rehab therapies in numerous holistic ways.
Cognitive behavioural therapy…
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy explores the powerful connection between our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. When it comes to addiction, it’s easy to see how negative thoughts can lead to unpleasant feelings, which give way to unhealthy behaviours. Such behaviours can entrap you into the vicious cycle of addiction.
For example, let’s assume somebody at work didn’t say hello to you, and it’s out of character for them. You may assume that the person didn’t greet you because they are annoyed at you or they dislike you. This can trigger feelings of anxiety, shame and anger.
Such feelings may encase a person to the point where they reach for the source of their addiction and begin engaging in unhealthy behaviours as a coping mechanism.
Mindfulness psychotherapy aims to break this destructive cycle by incorporating mindfulness practices to intercept unhealthy thoughts and challenge their validity. For example, perhaps the person didn’t say hello because they were busy, tired, or unhappy for reasons not related to you.
When we use mindfulness to press the “pause” button in our mind, we can become aware of how our thoughts influence our behaviours and thus divert them to healthier places.
Dialectical behavioural therapy…
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is a psychotherapeutic method that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of addiction. Developed by Dr Marsha Linehan in the 1980s, it expands on CBT as it uses mindfulness techniques to help people regulate their emotions, manage triggers calmly and handle conflicts effectively.
For example, let’s say a close friend made a comment that upset you. Your knee jerk reaction may be to get defensive and get enveloped in an argument that may trigger a relapse.
Fortunately, mindfulness interventions allow us to stop for a moment and process our emotions by acknowledging the sensations (anger, shame, humiliation) running within our bodies. It then offers us a moment to take a breath and find the clear-headedness to react to the comment calmly yet constructively.
Mindfulness movement: yoga…
The practice of yoga refers to the union between the mind and the body. Ancient yoga philosophies believe that the mind and the body share a powerful connection, so when the mind is unwell, the body reflects and vice versa – hence the importance of physical movement during addiction recovery treatments.
At Primrose Lodge, our trained yoga instructor will be able to guide you through a gentle-paced yoga class bespoke to your body and its current capabilities. They will usually begin by introducing breathing exercises (known as Pranayama), where you will be encouraged to find a connection with your breath.
This will help you slow down your thoughts and connect with your innermost self. You’ll be encouraged to take this breathing cycle with you throughout the class as you move.
At the end of the class, the instructor will have you lying down or seated, where you will likely begin a mindfulness meditation.
Each meditation may cover a broad topic such as “finding inner peace”, or they could have a more particular intention like: “I forgive myself, I am kind to myself, I let go of the past”. Such mindfulness meditations have a powerful after-effect as clients leave the practice in a more reflective and calm state of mind; they can carry their intentions with them and draw strength from them throughout their recovery journey.
The more a person practises mindfulness yoga, the stronger their self-connection can grow, which propels them further toward recovery.
What are the benefits of mindfulness in addiction recovery?
Mindfulness offers numerous benefits for all people, but for those who are in addiction treatment, it can especially serve you well on the road to recovery.
Below are some of the advantages you can experience if you practise mindfulness:
- Allows us to connect to our external world (our relationships, work life, and home life) and our internal world (our thoughts and feelings) without casting negative judgements or making hasty reactions that could spiral into relapse.
- Increases self-compassion, allowing us to forgive ourselves for any mistakes we may have made while in the clutches of addiction.
- Increase our empathy for all living things and be more tolerant and forgiving towards others. This helps us to repair relationships they may have broken down as a result of addiction.
- Feel profound gratitude for what we can sometimes take for granted: our health, family, friends, safety and recovery.
- Awaken a strong sense of inner peace within us. It can allow us to accept and love ourselves despite our imperfections.
- Observe our thoughts objectively as though they are neither positive nor negative – they are just thoughts that come and go.
Mindfulness is the portal to peace
We understand the tormenting nature of addiction and how distressing it can be for not just our bodies, but our minds too. Therefore, our mindfulness therapies are woven into a broader, comprehensive programme to treat your addiction from physical, mental and emotional angles.
When embarking on a medical detox or addiction recovery therapy, you are bound to feel an array of emotions but through mindfulness practices, you can begin to acknowledge them and release them one by one, leaving you feeling emotionally lighter, mentally stronger and an all-around healthier human being.
Please contact us today for more information about mindfulness therapy at Primrose Lodge.