Mindfulness is the New Yoga
At this point in time, when you hear the word “mindfulness,” you probably have a general sense of what it means. The practice of mindfulness is becoming an increasingly popular addiction treatment modality, self-help therapy form, and buzzword practice that professionals may use to describe de-stress tactics.
Mindfulness is basically the secular form of a more spiritually grounded meditation that traces all the way back to 5th century BCE in India and China. Here in the U.S., mindfulness and meditation started to gain traction in the 1970s. It was a time when this practice was reserved for a small population sometimes stereotyped as hippies or eccentrics. We didn’t have the scientific studies to know about neuroplasticity and how meditation can actually change the structure of the brain. But like all good things, friends tell friends about it, and word started to spread, attracting new students to the study of mindfulness and meditation. And that is just how Dave Smith got involved.
Dave Smith has been practicing buddhist meditation for 19 years and teaches both Buddhist and American secular meditation all over the country through his personal brand: Rebel Saint Dharma. He was well ahead of the curve, learning the practice before many had even heard of its existence. A childhood friend from Boston introduced Dave to the art of meditation and mindfulness through his parents who could tell Dave was struggling in adolescence and thought he might benefit from the practice.
“When I got into it, no one was doing it,” Smith said. “Now it’s like Yoga. People see how great it is. It’s popping up everywhere.”
Bringing Mindfulness and Meditation to People around the Globe
Dave has spent time in Boston, Nashville, Los Angeles, and is calling a tiny Colorado town home now. Practicing since his teen years, Dave says the Buddhist meditation community “never saw this coming” in terms of how popular and mainstream the practice is now.
But with all the attention and scientific support mindfulness is getting, one thing we aren’t hearing much about is the pairing of technology with mindfulness to make a difference. Sure, there exist countless blog posts on how we should “unplug,” or how tech might be ruining our sleep, but Dave is finding ways to use the technology space for good rather than “evil,” bringing his mindfulness teachings to those all over the globe!
Through recording and publishing his own mindfulness podcasts, he’s getting international downloads to the tune of 2,000 per week. He has regular Skype sessions with remote clients to meet people where they are. While our fast-paced society makes it hard for people to schedule time, find sitters, or commute to meet with educators like Dave, he is able to find them in the privacy of their own home. He is also working on a project that involves guided meditation via an iOS/Android based smartphone app.
While he hasn’t gone public with that one yet, there is more to come in the near future. He works with therapists, non-profits, and addiction specialists. He also mentors and councils students. A few times throughout the year, he will host mindfulness retreats where 20-30 clients ditch the very smart phones that they use to connect with Dave elsewhere and get some face-to-face time where they come together in one location. They don’t speak with Dave, because the retreats are silent(!), but they are in close proximity to Dave’s great energy as he speaks, guiding them through meditation.
Mental Fitness + You
Because different forms of mindfulness and meditation have been shown to actually change the structure of your brain, Dave equates it to mental exercise: “Mental Fitness is probably a better term to encompass the different types of mindfulness.” He goes on to explain that what you are doing in mindfulness or meditation practice is actually “training you attention.” Some people are able to achieve this through riding a bike, taking a walk, chanting, focusing on breath or a variety of other ways. But what you are ultimately doing is training your attention and tapping into the pre-frontal cortex of your brain that, on average, sits largely underutilized by most.
“If you workout, your body is going to change,” Dave said. “Your brain is the same way. But you’ve got to actually do it. Practice meditation.”
When Dave speaks about how you could implement a meditation practice into your own routine, he suggests a “dosage” of 30 minutes a day, five times per week. If you are willing to do that, you will experience measurable benefits in as little as 90 to 100 days.
What can you expect to experience for yourself?
Daves 3 Favorite Meditation Benefits
+Better able to pay attention
+More access to emotions
+Less scattered mind wandering
You can get your mindfulness practice started and learn more by downloading Dave’s podcasts free here.
Mindfulness & Addiction Treatment at JourneyPure Emerald Coast
JourneyPure Emerald Coast works to cultivate mindfulness and meditation into our individualized treatment plans, to help patients reap the benefits it brings. The practice is being studied for efficacy in addiction treatment, and so far, the results are very positive. Read more about how mindfulness and meditation is being used to treat addiction.
*This blog post is part of a series where JourneyPure is interviewing trusted, well-respected industry peers to help provide families and patients realize all options when it comes to drug and alcohol treatment. We do not accept any fees for referrals and we are not officially endorsed or employed by anyone we interview.