| Mindfulness – Inner Personal Strength and Development |
Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
10th Step, Alcoholics Anonymous
| Mindfulness Training is incorporated into the core of the Arrowhead Lodge Recovery men’s rehab treatment model. Our addiction rehab for men treats men over the age of 30 who suffer from addiction and trauma.
Mindfulness is an ancient practice that has gained popularity in the United States in recent years. And while it is somewhat of a novelty concept for many in addiction recovery – the truth of the matter is that mindfulness has been in practice since before the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Mindfulness is the foundation of the 10th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous; and is one of the maintenance Steps. According to the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, recovery is based on the daily maintenance of inner spiritual condition and personal spiritual experience. This also includes Steps 10, 11 and 12.
Recent studies have proven the effectiveness of meditation in mind training,
see Harvard MRI Study Evidence of Meditation’s Cognitive Benefits.
Mindfulness is therefore a key component of sustaining long-term recovery. Why is it necessary?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the conscious awareness of what is occurring at this very moment. It is not only a cognitive awareness of the moment; but also an integrated awareness.
Mindfulness: Physical, Mental and Emotional Integration and Clarity
Mindfulness is integrated physically (through one’s physical sensory inputs), mentally (one’s cognitive presence), emotionally (being congruent with the moment) and spiritually (being consciously connected in one’s soul with the energy of the moment).
While this may initially sound overwhelming to the Western mind (which is really an untrained mind), the actual practice is simple.
Simple Awareness of ‘Now’
Mindfulness requires an awareness of one’s surroundings. Awareness of not only where one is in space, but also where one is as an integrated being. Mindfulness creates a moment in time during which discernment and wisdom is possible – rather than judgment and knee-jerk habitual reaction. Mindfulness is the concept of integrating current experience in harmony with bodily action, somatic sensation and soulful connection to the present.
In other words: Mindfulness is the full assimilation of “now” into our conscious mind.
Being in the NOW = Personal Inner Strength
We often fantasize about “what’s next?” Or, we project our thoughts on a destination, or future outcome of a situation – constantly anticipating the future while oblivious to the present.
Anxiety and the future are inexorably linked. It is a troubled mindset that obsesses on “what-if?” worst-case scenarios that usually do not materialize in actual experience. The slang term for this condition is “future tripping.”
By bringing the mind back to the present moment and being aware of this very moment at the level of body, mind and soul, we gain a sense of being “okay” at that point in time and space. And to the degree that we can accept the current situation for what it is – rather than an expectation of what it could be or should be – serenity is attained through that degree of acceptance.
The 10th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous
So what does the 10th Step have to do with mindfulness? The “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous reads: “We paused when agitated.” The common translation of ‘agitation’ is a negative emotion akin to frustration or anger; however, that’s only one aspect of agitation.
Almost any emotional state is a form of agitation. Agitation is about movement rather than stillness. Emotions that move us come in many forms, in addition to anxiety, tension and distress. Excitement, love, lust, greed, judging – even boredom – are all energies that cause a wandering mind to become agitated. This agitation can be positive or negative.
Power of Pausing to Gain Understanding
By simply pausing, it is possible to discern the current situation rather than react to it with habitual behavior (unless it is clearly a situation where one’s life is in immediate danger). By gaining an short moment of pause, it is possible to choose a response to situations – rather than being mindlessly driven to a habitual response.
The “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous goes on to tell us that we resolutely turn our thoughts directly to God. This means we need to experience a conscious awareness of the present moment in body, mind and soul. This is an inner awareness of our inner dimension of stillness, peace and quiet accessible through contemplation and gentle focus.
This is where wisdom resides. And through the application of wisdom, we receive the power to consciously choose a response to fully participate in the moment – or turn away from the situation. It sounds simple, yet the actual practice is contrary to the fire, ready, aim reaction common to most of us. That’s because our minds are not trained to be consciously aware and present in this moment we call “now.”
Mindfulness – How to Train the Mind?
3 Simple Daily Mindfulness Practices
Here are three easy-to-do entry-level mindfulness practices that will orient one’s mind toward mindfulness:
Observe your breath. This takes no time out from your daily routine.
1. Simply observe the breath from your belly through your lungs and out of your nostrils and vice versa.
2. Sort your thoughts and turn them into observations as opposed to judgments. Observe which thoughts are helpful for your spiritual growth and which ones are not. That’s it. Do nothing else with the thoughts. Simply sort them as you would sort fruit at the grocery store.
3. Practice compassion, toward yourself and those around you. While compassion has an element of kindness to it, the core of compassion is seeing things without judgment – while being empathetic and caring.
Benefits of Mindfulness and the 10th Step
We should not approach mindfulness with the idea of a benefit as the objective. An attitude of gain implies anticipation, which is a process of judgment.
The “benefit” of Mindfulness is the experience of this current moment. It is in the current moment where one experiences the presence of divine life, or eternal life as Jesus of Nazareth described it. The moment of this breath is where one’s life force exists. We do not exist in the future or the past – we are here, right now.
Mindfulness is where one finds serenity amid chaos – and safety in uncertainty. There is a paradox here: that we can experience a sense of inner well-being, despite an illusion of chaos and uncertainty in our outer circumstances.
The ancient practice of mindfulness is at the core of the 10th Step in Alcoholics Anonymous and all 12-Step programs. While it may appear as a popular and novel concept in our modern world, mindfulness has been proven to help reduce stress, improve mental clarity and promote emotional balance. This is proven not only through centuries of experience, but in mindfulness clinical studies in recent years.
Spiritually speaking, mindfulness is the gateway to inner peace and infinite wisdom.
This article, written by Kenneth Chance, originally appeared on https://www.arrowheadlodgerecovery.com/mindfulness-meditation-the-10th-step/. Kenneth Chance is the founder and CEO/President of Arrowhead Lodge Recovery.
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