A few days ago my work day went as normal. I spoke to clients about how to be mindful in recovery, laughed with coworkers, and sipped my water as I snacked on a bag of chips. When the day came to an end, I grabbed my keys, shoved my cell phone in my purse, and walked out to my car. The engine started smoothly, and I backed out of my parking space. And suddenly I was home. My car was parked neatly in my spot, and one hand held the steering wheel while the other was reaching for the keys. I sat staring out the window in wonder, “How did I get home with nothing but a blurred memory of it?”
It is something that happens to us all, but we can control it. Mindfulness is when we are alert and in tune to our present thoughts, feelings, and environment. It is a tool that can be used during recovery to heal, train, and strengthen the mind. Here are some of the benefits that come from being mindful in recovery.
A Tool for Recovery
We experience emotions throughout the day, and mindfulness requires embracing these emotions without judgment. Instead of pushing away the pain from recovery, let the moment wash over you. Feel it. Breathe it. Accept it. Drugs and alcohol are often used to escape certain fears, failures, or sufferings, but to be mindful in recovery is to face your demons as they come. Many addicts spend their time lying, deceiving, and avoiding, but mindfulness requires your entire attention, and this is an essential tool to have during recovery. You must be honest with those around you, but more importantly you have to be honest with yourself.
Retrains the Brain
Addictions teach us to run from our fears. In the height of my addiction, whenever I felt anxiety, sadness, loss, or heartache, my body began craving drugs. My mind had been trained to need drugs whenever I felt any overwhelming feeling. When we become mindful of the world around us, we rewire the brain’s reactions. Instead of running or reaching for our addiction, we pay attention, process that moment, and think through it.
Helps Prevent Relapse
Meditation and mindfulness work hand-in-hand. It has been known for years that meditation is a great way to calm the nerves and prepare the body for the day. Adding mindfulness and meditation to your recovery plan can help prevent a future relapse by protecting and arming the mind for future feelings. Urges, cravings, and triggers are unpredictable and can hit at any moment. As you let positive or negative emotions wash over you like a wave whenever they come, then you will be more prepared for the stronger ones that can knock you off your feet. When that giant wave comes, and it will, your mind and body will already know how to breathe and stand through it.