Walking Yourself Through Mindful Meditation

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Walking Yourself Through Mindful Meditation

There is a lot of press surrounding Mindfulness Meditation these days. This is nothing “new,” and is actually a form of meditation that has been around for 2,600 years (Shapiro). Mindfulness meditation is a concept that is very simple in theory but can be difficult to practice. Mindfulness is simply being aware of the present moment and filtering out any thoughts or distractions. One way to begin Mindfulness Meditation is to focus on the breath. Noting the “in-breath” and the “out-breath”; concentrating on the rhythm of breathing in and out; noting the feel of the air coming in and going out. Is the air warm or cool? Is there any scent? Focus on the sounds around you. Can you hear the birds singing? Can you hear or feel the gentle breeze?

In beginning this practice, almost everyone experiences distractions (thoughts, ideas and worries) when the mind does what it is created to do—think. The essential key to mindfulness is to focus on the present. The present is where we notice our thoughts or distractions and simply let them go and return to our focus on the now. Be kind to yourself here. I personally haven’t heard of anyone who started the practice of mindfulness and perfected it from the start. The message is clear—be patient and kind to yourself and keep at it. The more you practice, the better it gets.

While I was in treatment I decided to start practicing mindfulness meditation. In the early summer morning before most people were up, I took my coffee outside and set about a “mindfulness walk” down the driveway. It was a typical asphalt driveway—greyish-black in color and, as I first thought, pretty boring. However I decided to focus on the sounds of the birds, breeze and my footsteps. As I concentrated on the surface of the driveway, I made a wonderful discovery: the driveway was actually made up of countless tiny pebbles of every imaginable color! There were reds, blues, greens, yellows, you name it. I was completely blown away. Returning from my walk, I approached a group of my peers who were enjoying the beautiful morning and excitedly told them of my discovery. Not everyone is interested in mindfulness and the consensus was that I should probably be drug tested for being so excited about a driveway. Perhaps they were right, but it was a powerful insight into the benefits of mindfulness.

There are countless books written about mindfulness. If you are interested, browse through them to see if it makes sense to you. A book that I have found helpful is “The Art and Science of Mindfulness: Integrating Mindfulness Into Psychology and the Helping Professions” by Shauna L. Shapiro and Linda E. Carlson (2009). Keep searching until you find something that resonates with you personally. If you’re a “self-starter,” then simply start mindfully meditating and see where it leads you.

In my experience and that of many others, mindfulness calms and refocuses the mind on the present and overrides the cravings for drugs and alcohol. Sounds simple right? It is. And it works. Whenever you notice a craving for drugs or alcohol, give this a try—it just might save your life.

Patrick has been a Catholic priest for over 10 years and holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and graduate degrees in Divinity, Moral Theology and Psychology. He is in recovery from addiction to alcohol and narcotic pain medications. He has worked extensively with many people struggling with every aspect of addiction. He enjoys reading, going hiking with his dog Lady and giving “puppy belly rubs.” 

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