SESSION 1: AUTOMATIC PILOT AND RELAPSE
In this first session, we discuss “automatic pilot,” or the tendency to behave mechanically or unconsciously without full awareness of what we’re doing. We discuss this specifically in relation to alcohol or drug use (acting upon cravings and urges “automatically” without awareness). We begin this exploration with an exercise called the body scan to practice purposely bringing attention to the body.
SESSION 2: AWARNESS OF TRIGGERS AND CRAVING
This session focuses on learning to experience triggers, cravings, and thoughts of using without automatically reacting. We focus on recognizing triggers and what the reaction feels like in the body, specifically the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that often accompany craving. We begin to use mindfulness to bring greater awareness to this typically automatic process, learning to experience craving and urges in a way that increases our choices in how we respond.
SESSION 3: MINDFULNESS IN DAILY LIFE
We learn the “SOBER space” as a way to expand the quality of mindfulness from formal sitting or lying down practice to the daily situations we encounter. This may help us learn to “be with” various physical sensations and emotions that arise, including those associated with cravings and urges without reacting in harmful ways. In this session, we also begin the practice of formal sitting meditation.
SESSION 4: MIINDFULNESS IN HIGH-RISH SITUATIONS
We focus on being present in situations or with people that have previously been associated with substance use, using mindfulness to learn to experience pressures or urges to use without automatically reaching for a substance. We identify individual relapse risks and explore ways to cope with the intensity of feelings that come up in high-risk situations.
SESSION 5: ACCEPTANCE AND SKILLFUL ACTION
It can often feel like a paradox to accept unwanted thoughts, feelings, and sensations. However, this may be the first step in moving toward change. Acceptance of present experience is an important foundation for truly taking care of oneself and seeing more clearly the best action to take. We practice techniques such as the breathing space and focus on sing these in challenging situations. This session moves from noticing warning signs and learning to pause to taking skillful action in both high-risk situations and in daily life.
SESSION 6: SEEING THOUGHTS AS THOUGHTS
We further explore awareness of and relationship to thinking, with a focus on experiencing thoughts as merely thoughts (even when they feel like the truth). We look at what role thoughts play in the addiction cycle, specific thoughts that seem especially problematic, and ways to work more skillfully with these.
SESSION 7: SELF-CARE AND LIFESTYLE BALANCE
This session focuses on personal warning signs for addictive behaviors and how to best respond when these warning signs arise. This includes discussion of broader lifestyle choices, balance, self-compassion, and the importance of including nourishing activities as part of a full, healthy life.
SESSION 8: SOCIAL SUPPORT AND CONTINUING PRACTICE
In this final session, we review skills and practices learned in this course and discuss the importance of building a support system. We reflect on what we learned from the course and share our individual plans for incorporating mindfulness practice into daily life.