Mindfulness is a term we come to hear often when our adolescent or teenage male is in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. In the last few years, mindfulness has become a sweeping trend in the United States and around the world. Popular smartphone apps like Headspace have made the practice of mindfulness and mindful meditation accessible. Mindfulness is a form of meditation but it is also a practice in and of itself. Stemming from ancient eastern spiritual and religious practices, mindfulness is a simple practice. Though the practice is simple, the effects of mindfulness on the mind and the body are complex. Mindfulness is taught to boys in treatment because it is proven to effectively reduce stress. Stress causes inflammation in the brain as well as in the body. In the body, stress causes inflammation on a molecular level, which leads to the development of disease. For boys who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, stress can lead to the difficult feelings of obsession and cravings. Learning to manage stress is learning to manage the effects of addiction. Mindfulness helps boys notice, pay attention, and become aware. Living in a way that is dictated every thought and feeling, is full of impulsivity due to addiction. Boys who practice mindfulness create separation between their thoughts, feelings, and their actions. They take time to identify, observe, and make a decision about how they feel. Mindfulness creates a state of calm from which our boys learn to operate. We can learn to operate from this state of mindfulness as well.
Focus more on your breathing
Breath is the foundation of mindfulness. By bringing the focus to the breath, we automatically reset our nervous system and calm down our minds. We don’t often think about our breathing, which is exactly why mindfulness asks us to focus on it. Bring your breath into your day more often. Set reminders on your phone or leave notes around the house to remind you to close your eyes and take a deep breath.
Allow yourself to have moments alone
When we are constantly engaged by our responsibilities, our children, our families, our jobs, and other parts of our life, we forget to take time for ourselves. Like our children, we need moments for self-care to process how we feel and give our body a rest. Take time to be bored, be alone, and be with just yourself.
Find a way to feel your feelings
Being constantly engaged by others also doesn’t give us a chance to feel our own feelings and process our own experiences. Feelings are something that we feel we have to experience in quiet sparing moments as parents. Mindfulness helps us realize our feelings and feel them in a regulated way instead of ignoring our feelings, suppressing our feelings, and then letting our feelings get out of control.
Give yourself a break
We can often feel like we have to do it all as parents. Our boys in recovery are learning an important philosophy: progress not perfection. As it is written in “The Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “We are not saints.” Remember that there is not a single parent out there who hasn’t made at least one mistake.
Recovery is a family journey. Start your journey to recovery today by calling Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center. Our programs for adolescent and teenage boys build a positive foundation of recovery for a lifetime. Call us today: 662-598-4214