The summer is an excellent time to get outdoors and enjoy the weather. It’s also a perfect time to practice mindfulness skills that can help on your recovery journey from substance use disorders. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Take Yoga Outside for Summer
Yoga is undoubtedly one of the most beneficial physical activities we can bring into our daily lives when we seek to fully recover from addiction, trauma, or other mental health issues. However, yoga does more for us than provide physical exercise. Yoga is a holistic experience that benefits our minds and connects us to the spirit. Research has found that yoga reduces stress and inflammation, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, increases circulation, and so much more.
Thankfully, yoga is the kind of mindful practice that can be participated in all year long.
From fall to winter, spring to summer, practicing mindfulness through yoga can be a year-round activity. During the summer, we are given a bonus of long daylight hours, warm weather, and the opportunity to practice outside in beautiful spaces.
Numerous studies have found the benefits of spending time in outdoor spaces.
Even minimal interaction with fresh air, greenery, or blue spaces like large bodies of water, can increase the well-being of the mind and body. Taking yoga outside into a green space, a natural area, or practicing mindfulness near a body of water is both adventurous and advantageous. You get all the benefits of yoga plus nature’s gifts in one peaceful, strengthening, calming, and inspiring setting. So take your mat outside, and do your sun salutation in the sunshine!
The Power of The Breath
Your brain uses about twenty percent of your oxygen intake. Largely, our breathing process is automatic, happening a bit beyond our present-minded awareness. Mindfulness and meditation exercises often focus on the breath for this reason- we don’t notice that we are breathing throughout the day. Practicing mindfulness by focusing on the breath and intentionally taking a series of deep breaths does our brain and our body a world of good.
Yoga Journal explains that we breathe shallowly at a somewhat quick pace most of the time at “anywhere from 14 to 20 breaths per minute, which is about three times faster than the 5 or 6 breaths per minute proven to help you feel your best.”
Breathing triggers millions of sensory receptors that live in our respiratory system.
Once activated by the inhale and exhale of breath, these receptors send a signal to the brainstem through the vagus nerve. The pace and the depth of our breathing send different signals and cause different reactions, which is why our emotions are linked to our breath.
For example, fast, shallow breathing activates the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates our fight or flight response and contributes to the experience of emotions like anxiety and fear. Slow breathing, in contrast, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps create feelings of being relaxed, calm, and secure.
The real science of breathing is in the “cleaning out” of carbon dioxide. Yoga Journal writes, “…your body’s drive to boot what it doesn’t need is greater than its drive to acquire what it does.”
Speaking in terms of recovery, part of the reason breathing makes us feel so much better is because our body is asking us to let go of what we don’t need. So focusing on the breath is not about acquiring what the body needs but the benefit of ridding the body and mind of what it doesn’t need.
How to Start Practicing Mindful meditation?
To start practicing the process is simple! It doesn’t require any special equipment or knowledge. Simply follow these steps:
- Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Slowly inhale air through your nose while counting to four; hold your breath for another count of four before exhaling air through pursed lips (like blowing air into a balloon). Repeat five times.
- Consider focusing on a mantra or a certain phrase that you repeat to yourself if you have trouble focusing on your breath. You can also visualize a specific image in your mind, such as a relaxing place or a loved one. Practice makes perfect with anything new. The more you practice meditation, the easier it will become.
The summer is the perfect time to practice mindfulness skills to help your recovery journey.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, know you are not alone. Many resources are available to help you get started on the path to healing. We hope this blog post has provided some helpful tips and advice for enjoying the summer while working towards sobriety.
Origins Counseling is a program in Dallas, Texas, made available by a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We provide a comprehensive diagnostic assessment and evaluation, as well as renowned clinical care for addiction. We have the compassion and professional expertise needed to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561.841.1264.