Today, Rebecca Williams joins us. Rebecca is a licensed psychologist, who lived and worked in beautiful San Diego, California for twenty-five years. She recently relocated to Savannah, Georgia to be close to the wildlife and the natural beauty of the area.
Rebecca’s path into addiction opened up through her family’s struggles with addiction. Especially those of her late mother.
Growing up in this way, Rebecca wanted to learn as much as she could about addiction so she got her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, followed by her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
One of Rebecca’s specialties is mindfulness. She has been working on it for the last twenty years and she has found it paramount to her self-healing and also to her capabilities as a psychologist. She discovered mindfulness through yoga when she started teaching it in the eighties before mindfulness became cool.
Mindfulness helped Rebecca to quieten her anxious mind. It’s also a tool that has been very helpful to her, in her profession, to help a lot of other people with anxiety, depression, and other issues relating to mental health.
Mindfulness, as a practice, is a way through anxiety. Jon Kabat-Zinn described mindfulness as being in the present moment, on purpose, and without judgment. Being in the present moment is a challenge, and doing it on purpose takes work. Letting go of judgment can be difficult, but like everything, with practice, it gets easier.
Although it can take a lot to rid yourself of judgment, Rebecca explains that when you get used to not judging anymore, your brain starts to re-calibrate itself. And new, smoother neural pathways start opening up.
Rebecca believes that it all starts with the simple step of finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for a while. Then close your eyes for five minutes, and focus something like a sound or your breathing. If you do this every single day, you will become calmer and more focused over time.
There’s no right way to meditate. It’s just about permitting yourself to take the time to do it. Rebecca tends to struggle with her mind jumping around, so she concentrates on her breathing to help still her mind. She advises people to keep it uncomplicated, and as simple and as possible.
Rebecca also suggests doing a walking meditation. To do that, you can simply count the colors of green that you see while you’re out walking. Or, if you’re in the city, you can count all the different shades of grey you come across. The main thing is to permit yourself to be okay with any anxious thoughts that may arise because they are normal. And remember that the mind is designed to think so you can simply be grateful for that and keep going.
Permitting yourself to take the time to meditate is the number one thing that Rebecca recommends for everyone. This year is intense, so developing the ability to practice breathing, and sitting is critical for healing.
Rebecca has seen that resilience and self-compassion are the secret ingredients to recovery from addictions. With resilience, you can calm the nerve-endings enough to function well and be healthier. Mindfulness is one way to develop resilience.
Rebecca’s book, Gift of Recovery, has 365 affirmations in it. Affirmations, good nutrition, exercising, and getting enough sleep all help to build up resilience.
Surviving is important for recovery, however, it’s also necessary to thrive because when you thrive, you’re able to make good choices, quality decisions, tell the truth to yourself and others, and reconnect with people. And you also need to practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. Self-compassion is about treating yourself like a best friend would treat you.
When you’re mindful, you’re treating yourself kindly. The moments when you treat yourself kindly add up, and help you become a gentler person. Remember though, this doesn’t happen the first time you practice mindfulness because mindfulness is something that you need to cultivate over time. It’s the same with recovery.
Links and resources:
Rebecca’s website: www.mindfulnessworkbook.com
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Gift of Recovery: 52 Mindful Ways To Live Joyfully Beyond Addiction by Rebecca Williams and Julie S. Kraft
The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction: A Guide to Coping with the Grief, Stress and Anger that Trigger Addictive Behaviors by Rebecca Williams and Julie S. Kraft
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