A constant theme for people who attend the group is how they how they suffer from constant negative thoughts and worry. Having these can leave people feeling so tired and emotionally drained. In light of this, group members thought it would be a good idea to look at relaxation techniques. Below is some of the theory behind mindfulness and also an example of techniques used in the group exercise.
Mindfulness is a way of training yourself to be more accepting of your own thoughts and emotions. When you stop trying to control your emotions you will find that they become less extreme and difficult to manage. It also helps you to be calmer, able to reflect on situations and make decisions with a clearer head. The technique is based on an ancient meditation practice but has been shown by research to reduce stress, depression and improve wellbeing. Mindfulness courses are being run by the NHS and you might come across this in other services you use. It is a simple tool, but to get the full benefit you need to practice this regularly.
Sit in a comfortable upright posture, with a straight but not rigid back. You might be sitting on the floor or on a chair, but try not to slouch as this affects your breathing, and breathing is an important part of meditation.
Breathe slowly through your nose. Fill your lungs. Notice how your diaphragm expands and your tummy sticks out when you breathe in. Put your hands on your stomach just below the belly button to feel this sensation.
Close your eyes. Take three deep, long breaths, noticing how it feels.
Now, let your breath settle to a normal rhythm. On the out-breath, silently count “one.” On the next out-breath, count “two,” and so on up to 10. When you get to 10, go back to one. If you lose count, just start again at one.
Feel the physical sensation of your breathing. Thoughts will enter your mind. Don’t try to push them away or pretend they don’t exist. Simply recognise their presence but don’t engage them. If you find your mind wandering, gently turn your attention back to your breathing and counting. Don’t judge yourself or your meditation “abilities.” Do this for the time you decided in advance and try not to give up early. Set a timer so you don’t have to check a clock.
Meditation takes practice. At first, you may only be able to meditate for a few minutes, but the more you do it, the longer you’ll be able to do it. You’ll meditate better some days than others. That’s normal. It helps if you do it the same time and same place every day. You also can practice being mindful wherever you are, noticing what you feel and think, the taste of your food, the presence of other people; just being aware of the world around and within you. Pay attention to the present and those excessive emotions and troublesome thoughts will begin to trouble you less.
(Taken from SMART recovery tool box 2014)