Mindfulness

Isn’t that just meditation?
Yes that’s exactly what it is .

So what does that have to do with getting off drugs?
It can be really helpful in terms of understanding and accepting uncomfortable feelings you might be avoiding,or feelings that may surface when you stop using drugs or alcohol.

It’s also a great way to cope with cravings and to increase general wellbeing.

But isn’t it just about being calm?
Not really, Mindfulness is about sitting in the present moment and letting it be exactly as it is, noticing your experience, moment to moment, and acknowledging what that experience is , so if that experience is sitting on a chair feeling sad , what is that experience really made up of ? Thoughts, emotions, sensations? and what else?

Intriguing, explain that in plain English please!
Ok ,you could say “it’s paying attention on purpose”, so to use the example of feeling sad,  we might start by paying  gentle attention to the breathing, feeling the breath in the body, being curios about that process, feeling the air entering at the tip of the nose or feeling the breath in the belly as it fills up and then  deflates, so we pay attention to that sensation and maybe even count the breaths in and out up to ten and start again.

But  why?
When we do this we’re giving the busy mind; that is normally bouncing from thought to thought, something to focus on and in doing so you start to have more clarity and peace around your experience, you start to realise you are not just your thoughts or emotions; as you can watch them like passing traffic and notice when you get caught up in them. So as you sit watching the breath, from time to time you drift off in thoughts, and that’s normal, it’s what minds do, but we just keep coming back to the breathing.

Wow, my head feels quieter already!
So now we might let the focus on breathing move into the background, and let the focus move to the general feeling in the body, and in our example that general feeling is sadness. So we start to investigate what is the feeling of sadness without everything we know about sadness? Where in the body is it felt as a sensation, what thoughts are coming in around it etc, so we start to see what it’s made up of. But the focus could be anything, we start with the breathing because its constantly there in an obvious way and has a rhythm we can easily focus on, but the focus can be sensations, even areas of pain in the body or sounds.

So why do they always talk about meditation making you  calm?
Because that calm is what’s underneath all the thoughts and emotions etc and when you acknowledge your experience and allow it to be as it is, that calm starts to seep into your awareness and creates  a space around your experience, and so sitting with difficult emotional feelings or cravings becomes a hell of a lot easier.

So where can I go to do it?
There are plenty of free or cheap classes around in London and many of the  peer support groups like “BOB” etc. offer free sessions. There’s also a free “APP” called “Headspace” if you have an ”IPhone“, which is really good and easy to follow. So give it a go, even ten minutes a day makes a massive difference.