Imagine waiting in a long line at the movie theater. You are feeling bored, and a bit stressed from having to be patient around a bunch of strangers. You reach for your phone to play an internet game, or nosh on some Cheetos you have stored in your purse.
Pleasure-seeking behaviors are known as escape mechanisms, and they are often employed in addictions. People are naturally wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. While research has largely been focused on helping addicts identify triggers, new studies are showing that mindfulness can help people to overcome cravings and compulsions.
Mindfulness can play a big part in addiction recovery. A group setting is another positive reinforcement because it provides peer support and collective wisdom.
Here are 7 mindful group activities that can help you get through the recovery process.
1. Balloon Play
One of the core facets of mindfulness practices is concentration. To work up to a regular meditative practice, it is helpful to play games that build concentration. A fun activity that can be done in a group is balloon play.
Group members sit in a circle and then take turns keeping the balloons in the air. You can use multiple balloons at a time, and after the event, they can be kept for decoration or a special occasion. The objective is not to win or lose, but simply to have fun and build concentration.
2. Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness is a concept in Buddhism that involves extending compassion to oneself and to others. In a group setting, the leader guides the participants through the following steps:
Sit comfortably upright, with feet placed flat on the floor, and focus on breathing in and out.
Picture love and warmth coming from friends and loved ones from your left side, right side, and finally from all around you.
Send the love you have received to the person on either side of you, wishing them happiness, freedom from pain, and overall wellbeing.
Continue to send affirmations to people in your life, from neighbors to coworkers, all while focusing on your breathing and staying in a meditative state.
3. Nature Walks
A group can practice walking meditation by going on a nature walk or hike. Find a wooded, serene setting such as a park, trail, or garden. Walk at a slow pace, taking in your surroundings, and breathing deeply.
Focus on any natural element that brings you peace, whether it is a stream, a bird, a tree, or an animal. Using the loving-kindness meditation mentioned above, you can extend feelings of warmth and compassion outward, or gather the energy and vibes you experience inward.
4. Mindful Coloring
The sand mandalas created by Tibetan Buddhists is one example of how art can be a mindful practice. Using an adult coloring book or printed images, a group can sit in silence and color. This is a tension-relieving mindfulness practice where you become more aware of the present moment.
Participants should be encouraged to mindfully select their colors, note how they feel while coloring, and take stock of their progress.
5. 30-Minute Body Scan
This activity helps members feel more aware of their present surroundings and teaches them to accept both pleasant and unpleasant sensations.
First, participants get comfortable in a seated or supine position and practice deep breathing. The leader then guides the group members in bringing awareness to different body parts, starting at the head and ending at the toes.
They ask the participant to become aware of their sensations, experiencing them without attempting to change or judge them. When attention wanders, it is gently guided back to the present moment.
At the end of the exploration, group members bring their full attention to their entire body, take some cleansing breaths, and move mindfully back into the room.
6. Balancing Exercises
Balancing exercises are a good meditation for addiction, as they can be very grounding. As a group, members are led through breathing exercises and asked to focus their attention on the present moment. Then, everyone tries to balance on one foot, while noting their muscle responses in their ankles, legs, and bodies. Encourage the group members to be aware of how they naturally want to bring their other foot down to steady themselves. Overcoming this natural desire can teach them a lot about delaying the compulsion to use a substance. After the activity, members can share what helped them maintain their balance.
7. A Group Jenga Game
Jenga is an excellent board game, both for its concentration-building and because it can be used to prompt discussions. In small groups, members sit around a Jenga tower and take turns pulling out a wooden block without toppling the structure. The group leader prepares the game by writing discussion questions on each block, which are intended to get the participants to open up to one another.
Some discussion questions include:
- How do you connect with the present moment?
- What would make meditation enjoyable for you?
- How can you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routines?
Each group member reads their response out loud, and everyone is given a chance to discuss the responses.
Mindful Group Activities
Addiction recovery flourishes in a mindful atmosphere. Just as you would prepare a quiet space for meditating in your home, you want to use care in selecting a treatment center that will support your recovery.
Oasis Recovery Center uses mindfulness-based practices to lead struggling people into holistic healing. Some of the meditative practices that clients use include dance, art, yoga, breathwork, adventure outings, and music therapy.
Mindful group activities are designed to treat the whole person and not just substance abuse. The health benefits of mindfulness-training include relief from depression, anxiety, stress reactivity, and distraction. Bringing awareness to negative thoughts, feelings, and triggers equips recovering people with the tools they need to maintain sobriety,
For more information about our unique model of care, or the many programs we offer, be sure to check us out today.