Paul Garrigan is our mindfulness coach at Hope Rehab. Mindfulness has been a key component of his own recovery from addiction, so he can offer practical advice from the perspective of an advanced peer. Most of our clients will have no real problem appreciating the benefit of mindfulness, but they can struggle when it comes to applying this knowledge to their daily life. This is why mindfulness coaching can be a huge help. We also encourage clients to maintain a mindfulness journal during their stay. This only has to involve a few sentences each day, but it encourages them to think about the practice and how it can be used when dealing with real-life issues.
What a mindfulness coach can provide:
Advice on using mindfulness in recovery
Guidance on developing a mindfulness practice
Advice on how mindfulness may help with specific personal problems
Warnings about the potential pitfalls on the mindfulness path
Encouragement and support
Mentoring – the sharing of knowledge and experience
What a mindfulness coach can’t provide:
A path to safe alcohol or drug use (you will not be taught how to drink or use drugs mindfully as this is not possible)
A quick fix
Mindfulness as Part of a Wider Approach to Recovery
Mindfulness is one of the four pillars of the Hope Rehab approach to recovery. We encourage clients to use it alongside CBT, 12-Step work, and fitness therapy. Mindfulness can be viewed as just one of the tools of recovery, and the more effective tools our clients have when they leave us, the higher their chances of success.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Coaching
Our mindfulness coaching sessions work in a similar way as the private interviews you would get with a teacher if you were on a meditation retreat. It means you have an opportunity to receive guidance specific to your exact needs. There will not always be time to answer your questions in detail in our regular classes, or there may be some things you would prefer to discuss in private, so these sessions can play a key part in your development along the mindfulness path.
It is technically possible to make good progress with mindfulness without the aid of a teacher/coach, but it is not something we would recommend for beginners. There are just too many pitfalls and wrong turns that can hamper your development or cause you to become discouraged. An advanced practitioner will be able to keep you on track by monitoring your progress and offering advice on the next step for you to take.
The degree to which mindfulness plays a part in your recovery is entirely up to you. For some people, all they will need is a few tools to help them deal a bit better with their thoughts and emotions – for others, mindfulness will play a far more significant part in their new life. A mindfulness coach will be able to guide you towards the tools and approaches that fit your specific aspirations.
Mindfulness is far more of a ‘doing thing’ than a ‘learning thing’. It is only through experiencing the well-being achieved through changing your relationship with thoughts and feelings that you will be motivated to continue. A mindfulness coach is there to motivate you to engage in daily practices such as meditation, so you then have the evidence for this being a good use of your time. It is due to seeing for yourself that mindfulness can help you deal better with life that you will be willing to continue with the practices once you return home.
Format of the Mindfulness Personal Coaching Sessions
We provide mindfulness one-to-one coaching once per week as part of our overall mindfulness program. Each of these sessions lasts approximately 20 minutes. Clients are encouraged to bring along their journal where they will have recorded their meditation experiences during the previous week and any questions they may have about mindfulness in general.
These sessions are relatively short in duration, so it is a good idea to have your questions ready before you arrive. If there is something specific you wish to work on (e.g. mindfulness for anxiety), we can devote most of the session to this topic.
What is the Difference Between a Mindfulness Coach and a Teacher?
Teaching is traditionally associated with the exchange of knowledge between a teacher who knows a topic and a student who doesn’t, but this is not really how mindfulness works. This path is not about accumulating new facts and ideas, but about being guided in an investigation of your own inner experience. The job of a coach is to point you in the right direction and encourage you to look.
The only reliable teacher of mindfulness is the one already inside of you. You are the expert on your own experiences, and you gain insight by observing this content objectively. Reality teaches us when we see it unfiltered without the judgements and stories in our head. Some guidance is often necessary at this stage because the ego-identity likes to masquerade as the expert on everything. A coach can teach you how to silently observe your experience so you can distinguish between the ego and your inner teacher.
A mindfulness coach is not there to tell you what to do, or how to think, but to help you achieve your goals with the practice. It is a relationship between equals on a journey towards a shared goal.
Will You Need Mindfulness Coaching Once You Return Home?
It is a good idea to have some type of guidance as you continue your mindfulness journey back home. You will have no trouble finding mindfulness resources online (e.g. YouTube videos, podcasts, and web articles), but it is better to have contact with a real teacher. Most towns will have meditation classes and courses, and you may get the support you need by joining one of these. We can also provide mindfulness coaching via Skype if you can’t find the guidance you need at home.