The Meadows Blog

By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

Have you ever driven someplace in your car and then couldn't remember the entire drive or what you passed along the way? That's an example of not being mindful that many people can experience daily. It's the same routine and you place yourself on auto-pilot, not noticing what you are doing or what is going on around you. In this article, we will explore the art of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to what you are doing and what is going on around you.  Mindfulness is about living with openness and experiencing possibilities by paying attention to the present moment. When we practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and function in a more balanced way. Practicing mindfulness helps us to gain insight into ourselves and the environment around us. Practicing mindfulness helps us treat our relationships with patience, respect, and kindness.

How do we start to develop mindfulness? There are many qualities to incorporate in our lives to live in mindfulness. We will consider 4 of the most important qualities of mindfulness. These are

  • Non-conceptual - Mindfulness is awareness without being tied into the thought process - just being aware and noticing. You might be aware of your own body and how you are feeling.  You might be aware of the environment around you. Is the sun shining? Is there a breeze in the air? What noises do you hear in the present moment?
  • Present-Centered - Mindfulness is always about being in the present moment. Ask yourself: Am I in the present right this moment? Am I present when I am eating, talking, listening, driving...?
  • Non-judgmental - Mindfulness means being aware and observing without judging. Can I accept things as they are in the present moment?
  • Intentional - Intention is one of the most important elements of mindfulness. Mindfulness always includes an intention. What is my intention in the present moment?

There are many benefits of Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness has been found to decrease medical conditions and psychological issues. Much research has been done to show that being mindful and using mindfulness decreases psoriasis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure and asthma. Psychological benefits of practicing mindfulness include:

  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Decreased panic
  • Increased self-awareness and acceptance

One of the most important benefits of practicing mindfulness is decreasing stress. When we decrease stress, we can decrease medical and psychological issues and increase our general well-being. There are five steps to a mindful approach to life which can be applied to every aspect of life.   These steps are:

  1. STOP - Take a step back.

  2. BREATHE - Take a deep breath in and out and reconnect with the present moment.

  3. PAY ATTENTION - Be aware of what is going on with you and your environment, so you can see clearly.

  4. Consciously RESPOND - Use an intention for how you want to respond in a way that shows respect for yourself and for others.

  5. OBSERVE consequences - The consequences may be positive or negative. The consequences will be a benefit in choosing how you want to approach similar situations as they arise.

One way to practice mindfulness is through mindfulness meditation. A quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk and a renowned Zen master, sums up how meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand: "Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness, we know what to do and what not to do."

John Kabat-Zinn states that mindfulness is about attention and awareness in anything we are doing. The practice of mindfulness includes not only mindfulness meditation, yet the actions we take in every day life. Kabat Zinn warns us that mindfulness is not a cure-all or magical solution to life's problems. It is up to us to choose our path and chart our course.  Mindfulness provides a simple, yet powerful path for getting us in touch with our wisdom and vitality. When we follow this path, we can improve our lives and our relationships.

Like the title of this article states, mindfulness can be a part of everyday life; eating, talking, driving, spending and living. Let's consider each of these areas of everyday life.

  • Eating - How many times have you eaten your lunch quickly to get back to work? Have you ever just eaten and then minutes later not even realized what you ate? Mindfulness reminds you to pay attention to what you put in our mouth - the texture, the smell, the taste of the tiny morsels as they hit your tongue. Ask yourself: "Am I eating nutritious food?"
  • Talking - Can you think of a time that you said something and then regretted it seconds later? Have you ever spoken to someone and seen a look of confusion on the listener's face? When you are talking, are you paying attention to the words you are using and to who your audience is? What does your tone of voice and body language say? Mindfulness reminds us to speak in a respectful way, sharing to be known in a way that the listener can respond in a respectful way.
  • Driving - The example at the beginning of this article speaks to mindful driving. I know that I have often driven on auto-pilot and been surprised when I arrived at my destination, wondering how I got there! When you are driving have you removed distractions in order to be present-centered and enjoy the drive? These distractions can be the cell phone, the radio, conversations with other people in the car... For different people, different radio stations will lead to distractions. For me, it is a sports radio station. If the sportscasters are speaking about something I strongly disagree with or strongly agree with, I can get excited and forget to pay attention to my driving. What radio station is it for you?

  • Shopping - Think about a shopping trip you have gone on; a time you decided to treat yourself to a shopping spree. After the shopping spree, did you have buyer's guilt? This happens when we are not mindful in our spending. When you go on shopping trip, are you mindful of your budget? An idea is to leave your credit cards at home and just take the cash you are allowing yourself to spend. This is tough for most people, yet the benefits are that you will be able to treat yourself and not have "buyer's guilt" later!

  • Living mindfully - All this leads to mindful living. When we pay attention patiently and with the concept of acceptance, we can lead a more peaceful, stress-free life. Mindfulness helps us to live our lives more fully, moment by moment. How will you be mindful today?

Let's explore how mindfulness relates to recovery. Mindfulness is an integral part of recovery. Addiction, depression, and anxiety can all be looked at as dis-eases; they all are a suffering. Incorporating the Four Insights, by Terese Jacobs-Stewart into our recovery process can be a source of comfort and relief.

The First Insight - Suffering: Suffering is an intrinsic part of life. Life serves up one form or another. It is not anyone's fault; it just is. We face the truth of the First Step of the Twelve Steps by admitting we are powerless and that by continuing to deny and try to manage our addictions, depression, anxiety... makes our lives unmanageable. For addicts, addiction and codependency are the First Insight. For others, the First Insight may have to do with change, depression, anxiety, illness, loss or death.

The Second Insight - Our response to suffering: The second reality that we have in internal response to the suffering we encounter. For every external event, we have an internal reaction. Our responses may compound the suffering that already exists when we numb with drugs or alcohol, when we blame, when we try to manage and control our addiction or depression. We may choose to become rigorously honest and use mindfulness to develop greater self-awareness and self-control.

The Third Insight - Transforming our response: We are not doomed to be stuck! We do not have to keep suffering. We can change our internal responses to the things we cannot control. An ongoing practice of mindfulness and meditation can change our brain chemistry. We must be willing to deeply engage in mindfulness, spirituality and to welcome change.

The Fourth Insight - A Path to Transformation: The fourth insight is that there truly is a path out of suffering. This path is about continuing practices of mindfulness, meditation and ethical living. The Twelve Steps give us steps to follow that are similar to mindfulness practice.

So, honor yourself by practicing mindfulness. This will help you open a new foundation for building the life you want. With mindfulness, you can face day to day situations with a new vision of who you are. Be gentle with yourself. Cultivating mindfulness takes time and patience. Mindfulness can lead to a realization of your basic nature, your true greatness and your potential.

For further information about Mindfulness, you might consider these books:

Wherever You Go, There You Are -; John Kabat-Zinn

Full Catastrophe Living -; John Kabat Zinn

Cultivating Lasting Happiness: A 7 Step Guide to Mindfulness - Terry Fralich

Peace in Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life; - Thich Nhat Hanh

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Mindfulness -; Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness and the Twelve Steps - Terese Jacobs-Stewart

Joyce Willis is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is currently a therapist at The Meadows. She earned her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Akron. After teaching for several years, Joyce earned a Master's degree in counseling from the University of Phoenix. She has been in the counseling profession since 1996 and in that time has worked extensively in the addictions field. Her specialties include treatment for addictions, bereavement, trauma, depression and anxiety. Joyce has a special interest in mindfulness and helping people connect their emotional, spiritual, mindful and physiological selves with compassion and respect.

Published in Blog

The Meadows announced the addition of Patrick Carnes’ Gentle Path Program. Through this definitive and exclusive license agreement with New Freedom Corporation, Gentle Path will be relocating from Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Miss. to The Meadows’ newest property, Vista, located two miles from the main campus. Vista will open on October 15, 2013, offering a 26-bed facility and an exclusive and confidential setting for males 18 years and older.

The Gentle Path program is based on the ground breaking work of Dr. Carnes’ Thirty-Task model which has been empirically validated to be an effective form of treatment for sexually compulsive behavior.  Patients of the Gentle Path program undergo a comprehensive diagnostic assessment prior to participation in the residential treatment program. Patients focus on trauma therapy in addition to treatment for mood disturbance, anxiety, or addictions such as chemical dependency and process addictions.

"The Meadows is pleased that Gentle Path will join our organization and provide us the opportunity to expand our services to men who suffer from a sexual disorder," said Jim Dredge, CEO for The Meadows. "We are thrilled that Dr. Patrick Carnes has returned to The Meadows as a new Senior Fellow, as well as directing the Gentle Path program."

Gentle Path offers a comprehensive level of holistic treatment and services which includes 12-Step groups and an intensive one-week Family Care Program. Family week brings together patients'; loved ones to assist in dealing with difficult issues, identify the problems they face and set goals for recovery. In addition, The Meadows' signature Survivors Workshop will be added to the program, along with Equine Therapy and Somatic Experiencing®.

"Walking onto The Meadows campus was like returning home," said Dr. Patrick Carnes. "I look forward to a collaborative, exciting, and innovative new version of the Gentle Path Program."

Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., C.A.S., is a nationally known speaker on sex addiction and recovery issues.  He is the founder of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) and Gentle Path Press. From 1996 until 2004, Dr. Carnes was Clinical Director for Sexual Disorder Services at The Meadows. His achievements include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), where they present an annual "Carnes Award" to researchers and clinicians who have made exceptional contributions to the field of sexual health.

Dr. Carnes is the author of Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (1992), Contrary to Love: Helping the Sexual Addict (1989), The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships (1997), Open Hearts (1999), Facing the Shadow (2001), In the Shadows of the Net (2001), and The Clinical Management of Sex Addiction (2002), Recovery Zone (2009), and A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles (2012). Dr. Carnes' article, "18.4 Sexual Addiction," appears in Kaplan & Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry (2005).

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows Gentle Path Program, contact an intake coordinator at (866)856-1279 or visit

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 Sub-Acute Agency that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 20:00

Practicing Gratitude Enhances Well-Being

By: Dr. Jan Anderson, Psy.D., LPCC

Studies show that the regular practice of gratitude can increase not just your well-being and happiness, but also improve your physical health and your relationships.

I was in the audience as Business First publisher Tom Monahan went one-on-one with Yum! Brands Inc. President and CEO David Novak to learn how a boy who lived in 32 trailer parks in 23 states by the time he reached seventh grade became the head of the world's largest restaurant company at age 47. As they discussed Novak's unique leadership style, his commitment to fighting hunger and his new book, "Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen," I noted in particular two things that Mr. Novak said.

"It's the soft stuff that drives the hard results."

In a similar vein, he offered two observations about why people leave a job: 1) They don't get along with their boss 2) They don't feel appreciated

Marriage researcher and relationship expert John Gottman says that what makes many marriages unhappy or end in divorce is not fighting or infidelity, but simply not feeling appreciated - being taken for granted. Gottman says that what really keeps real-life romance alive is each time you let your spouse know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life.


Gratitude – expressing thankfulness, gratefulness or appreciation - has become a mainstream focus of psychological research. Not surprisingly, studies show that the regular practice of gratitude can increase not just your well-being and happiness, but also improve your physical health and your relationships.

My favorite gratitude study involved three groups, each with a very different assignment. One group was instructed to focus each week on things they perceived as irritating, annoying or frustrating. The second group focused each week on things for which they were grateful. The control group focused on ordinary life events during the week.

The results found that the people who focused on gratitude were unmistakably happier - in just about all aspects of their lives. They reported fewer negative physical symptoms such as headaches or colds, and they spent almost an hour and a half more per week exercising than those who focused on negatives. Simply put, those who were grateful had a higher quality of life.

Most interesting is that others noticed that these people had more joy and more energy. As the study progressed, participants in the other two experimental groups could see that the grateful group was becoming more optimistic.

In a follow-up study, those who found something to appreciate every day were observed to be less materialistic, less depressive, envious and anxious, and much more likely to help others, a fact not lost on those around them. When others were asked their impressions of the daily-gratitude group, they generally judged them as empathic and helpful to others. This effect was not observed in either of the other two groups.

As research author Robert Emmons put it, "This is not just something that makes people happy, like a positive-thinking/optimism kind of thing. A feeling of gratitude really gets people to do something, to become more pro-social, more compassionate."

The bottom line: The study found that the participants who were consciously grateful felt better about their lives, were more optimistic, more enthusiastic, more determined, more interested, more joyful and more likely to have helped someone else.
Other studies show that these psycho-emotional benefits are accompanied by health benefits as well: more energy, more restful sleep, clearer thinking, better resilience during tough times, fewer illnesses and fewer stress-related conditions. Those that are grateful exercise more and live longer - and evidently happier - lives.


It sounds so simple and easy, but don't be surprised if you encounter some common blocks to cultivating gratitude. Paraphrased here are some of author Kathy Freston's insights for how to fix faulty thinking about gratitude.

MYTH #1: If I am grateful for my present situation, it means I'm satisfied with what I have and cannot hope for something more. REALITY: When we are grateful for what we have now, we are actually programming ourselves for more; it becomes natural to gravitate toward more satisfying situations.

MYTH #2: Gratitude makes me a sucker. It makes me happy to have the booby prize. REALITY: Being thankful doesn't force us to be happy with what we're stuck with, but simply indicates that we are appreciative of all the good we already have. It's entirely possible to be both grateful for some (now), as well as grateful for more (to come).

MYTH #3: If I am grateful, I'll feel small and diminished by a "meek" stance in a tough world. REALITY: It takes confidence and strength to express gratitude. Being appreciative tends to makes people want to do more for us, not less.

MYTH #4: If I get too grateful, I won't be motivated or ambitious to move forward. REALITY: Gratitude doesn't make us lazy - it inspires and energizes us to get more of that feeling of well-being.


To begin cultivating gratitude, be open and receptive (and if necessary, look diligently) for something to be thankful for in each of the following areas of your life on a daily basis. Good times to do this are as you are waking up in the morning or going to sleep at night.

  • Body/Physical Health
  • Home/Environment
  • Money/Resources
  • Work/School
  • Relationships
  • Contribution (random acts of kindness).
  • Appreciation of Beauty

It is particularly helpful to do this practice when things are going well - when you've had a good day or something good happened. In other words, "dig the well before the house is on fire." Do this practice often enough and regularly enough to let it take root in your psyche and become part of your lifestyle, a part of the way you think and live. When you notice you've lost touch with this practice or forgotten about it, just begin again.

Don't be surprised to find that you begin to structure your whole day around the practice of gratitude. Whenever you have a few moments to yourself, this is where you can let your mind center - looking for something to be grateful about.

Dr. Jan Anderson, Psy.D., LPCC, has a unique ability to focus on the well-being of the whole person. In addition to a doctorate in clinical psychology and a private counseling practice, she also has real-world corporate business experience and expertise in the mind-body connection. Dr. Jan enjoys speaking and writing about a range of topics she is passionate about - relationships, wellness, work and spirituality. You can read her blogs at or contact her at

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 09 July 2013 20:00

The Recovery World Loses a Pioneer

David Briick, instrumental in opening five substance abuse and behavioral health treatment centers including The Meadows, Cottonwood Hill, Cottonwood de Tucson, Cottonwood de Albuquerque, and Cottonwood de Austin, died a few days short of his 81st birthday on Friday, June 7, 2013, at his daughter's home in Nunnelly, Tennessee.

With over 41 years of long-term recovery, David helped thousands to change their lives and heal from addiction. He remained active in the recovery community and spoke openly about his triumph over alcoholism until his death. He served as the Executive Director of the Councils' on Alcoholism in both Pinal and Pima Counties in Arizona.

In 1992, David began his battle with cancer and his public campaign through Arizona's Tobacco Free Ways, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association to educate school children and adults about the consequences of nicotine and substance abuse. Through numerous speaking engagements in and around the state of Arizona, he shared his story until the summer of 2012.

"David Briick was a pioneer in the development of alcoholism treatment centers back in the 70’s. He was originally the person who hired me to work at The Meadows and had a very positive influence in my life. He will be missed," said Pia Mellody, Senior Fellow and Senior Clinical Advisor at The Meadows.

A celebration of life will be held at the Arizona Inn, Tucson, Arizona, September 8, 2013, at 11:00 a.m. For more information, contact Cheryl Brown at or 931-996-3747.

Published in Blog

Nancy Bailey, PhD, Clinical Director for The Meadows trauma and addiction treatment center will present at the South Florida Society for Trauma-Based Disorders Healing the Healers Annual Luncheon on Friday, July 12, 2013, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Boca Raton, Fla. at the Maggiano's located at 21090 St. Andrews Boulevard.

Dr. Bailey's presentation titled "The Six Questions: Simple to Complex and Back," will focus on recovery and relapse concerns of mothers in various stages of recovery from trauma and addictions. The workshop will identify barriers to recovery focusing on guilt and shame and safely moving through solutions to self-realization of worthiness as a recovering woman.

Dr. Bailey holds certifications as an addictions counselor, co-occurring disorders diplomat and experiential therapist. She is also a certified EAGALA (equine) therapist. Having worked in the field of behavioral health since 1994, Dr. Bailey's research and professional interests have focused on women's recovery issues with special attention to eating disorders and trauma using experiential treatment modalities including psychodrama. Dr. Bailey completed her PhD at Capella University in 2012 and her Masters and undergraduate degrees at Eastern University, St. David's, Pa.

For more information and to register for this workshop, contact Alison Johnston, LCSW, at or 954.830.3090.

The Meadows Wickenburg is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 Sub-Acute Agency that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Published in Blog

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