Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine is a simple, but highly effective means of keeping focused and intentional, especially in recovery.
When I put down alcohol, I was still an emotional wreck.
Navigating life in recovery can be challenging if you are used to drowning your emotions in a bottle of booze. But simply eliminating drugs from an addictive lifestyle doesn’t equal peace and happiness. For me, it required work — lots of it.
I had to completely change my life by incorporating mindfulness as a coping mechanism into my day to day routine.
Mindfulness is the practice of non-judgmental awareness of what is happening around you and within you at the moment. This practice is characterized by introspection, openness, reflection, and acceptance. It allows humans to be fully aware of the present without becoming overwhelmed or anxious.
Practicing mindfulness can be challenging at first, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. It can be done while spending time in nature, taking in the beauty of your surroundings and breathing in fresh air, or it can be done sitting alone in a room focusing on deep breathing. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that has changed my quality of life in remarkable ways.
Dealing With Emotions
In the case of addicts and alcoholics in recovery, mindfulness can promote emotional balance. Many times, individuals with substance abuse disorder turn to substances to cope with their emotions. Mindfulness gives me the ability to pause as I am going through my day and be receptive and open to the emotions I am feeling in a non-judgmental way. I am able to channel my emotions and accept them as they come.
Early in my sobriety, I often struggled with anxiety. In the past, I would calm my anxiety with a drink, so I needed to find other ways to calm my mind to prevent a relapse.
I found that mindfulness was an extremely beneficial relapse prevention tool. As humans, we are apt to feel things and it is okay to feel sad, anxious, or angry. What matters is how these emotions are dealt with and how we react. For me to stay sober, I must use mindfulness to deal with my emotions and prevent a relapse.
Processing My Reactions
When processing emotions through mindful meditation, I can evaluate the response that should be given. Is it appropriate to react the way I want to react? Is it necessary to react in the way I want to react? Will my reaction harm somebody else?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then I should not react this way. Instead, I should pause, evaluate the situation, take a few deep breaths, and think about how to react appropriately and effectively.
This allows me to be a constructive observer to the situations in my life, rather than reacting impulsively with self will run riot.
This practice may be easy for some, but for me, I am an impulsive human being who is used to shoving my emotions and reactions deep inside of me through the use of alcohol. When I remove the alcohol, I must filter and assess my reactions in an appropriate way. Mindfulness allows me to look at my motives and determine the right way to respond to stressful situations.
I hurt a lot of people while I was drinking. Getting sober means I have to take responsibility for the things I have done in the past and do whatever I need to do to make these amends. The idea of facing my demons head-on was terrifying at first. I wanted to do what I was accustomed to doing, which was shoving these demons in the closet and locking the door.
In practicing mindfulness, I must accept my past for what it is.
The past cannot be changed, but most things can be repaired. When I went to make amends with my mother, my nerves began to take over. My skin turned blush red and my hands were shaking. I could feel the tears begin to pool up behind my eyes, but I knew that she deserved this.
Before approaching her, I took a few minutes to sit quietly with my eyes closed. I took a few deep breaths to calm my nerves and reminded myself that nothing was happening in this very moment. Right at that moment I was safe, I was sober, and I was still loved — regardless of the hurt I had put my mother through. By doing this, I was able to regulate my emotions and think clearly about the situation at hand. I was able to channel these feelings into a heartfelt conversation with my mother in an honest, genuine way. In doing so, I was able to effectively clear the wreckage of my past.
I was able to speak to my mom in a calm, compassionate manner. I took responsibility for the things I had done, showed my regret, and asked her how I could make the past right again. Her response was as simple as this: “Just stay sober. I will always love you no matter what.”
Practicing mindfulness is a way of life that has various benefits by enhancing one’s mood and cognitive function. It can also improve memory, promote creativity, relieve stress and anxiety, and enhance your mood.
Through my own experience, I have found that I am happier and less stressed if I spend time in nature being still and in silence. I react to situations more appropriately now and I cope with life situations as they come. Rather than constantly obsessing over the things I have done in the past or trying to control things in the future, I am able to be mindful and present of the moment. I have learned to accept the past for what it is and take the future as it comes which gives me a sense of peace. When I was drinking, I was constantly trying to change the past and control the outcomes of situations. Mindfulness allows me to cease fighting situations in my life by increasing my awareness of life happening around me.
To me, mindfulness means acceptance.
Through acceptance, I can find peace in the most hectic of times. I can find gratitude for the life I have been given.
You may also enjoy reading Practicing Patience — Where Has the Virtue Gone? by Annette Quarrier