3 Ways I Practice Mindfulness In My Addiction Recovery
Life gets overwhelming at times. Throughout my time on Earth, I have found a number of ways of coping with stress and dealing with the ups and downs of life. Some healthy and some not so much. The same was true for my depression. For many years, I was among the 18% of people who turned to drug abuse to numb my depression.
I thought this was a good way of coping with life for some time because I felt so many negative things. Dealing with depression, anxiety, self-doubt, and so on caused me to believe life would never be anything other than a struggle. So the temporary relief that drugs and alcohol gave me was a great way to drown out the noise caused by all of those things. Until they stopped working. Eventually, substances began to add problems to my life and I was in a much worse place than I was before I started using.
I was not able to get sober until I went through a lot of pain. I had many attempts at sobriety but one of the main issues was a lack of acceptance. I couldn’t accept the fact that I was an addict, that I could never use again, that I was different from my friends, the list goes on and on. I was constantly bargaining with myself on how I could use drugs and alcohol without it making my life much worse. It never worked. It wasn’t until I went to a rehab that I took a more holistic approach to treatment that I found results. I had a very basic understanding of mindfulness but at this treatment center, they really helped me expand on a lot of concepts similar to mindfulness and find a way to implement them in my recovery. In doing that I was able to build a groundwork for lasting recovery.
As I stated earlier lack of acceptance was one of my biggest issues. Mainly my inability to accept life on life’s terms. I wanted complete control over everything, even if that included other people, places or things that I could never control. But by taking a step back and trying to let life happen and fall into my role in it I have become much happier. The start of accepting life on life’s terms for me began with accepting myself. That is no easy task, especially when you have deep-rooted insecurities that go back all the way into your childhood. But by being nicer to myself and building healthier habits I have been able to develop a healthy relationship with myself. I also try to not set any expectations. I basic formula I was taught was: expectation + event = emotion. This simply means if I put my own expectations around something that hasn’t happened yet I am surely to be disappointed. Letting life happen and adjusting how I react to it is a new practice for me that helps me find satisfaction in the little things.
Live in the present
One day at a time. That’s what the 12 steps and plenty of other treatment programs will tell you. It’s simple yet not always easy. The principle behind it is if I can be sober and a good person today, that’s all that matters. I don’t have to worry about a year down the line, it hasn’t happened and I could never know what it will bring. I also have no business worrying about the past, it’s come and gone, and while I can learn from it and grow all that matters is today. I also try to pay attention to the best of my ability. It’s easy to get caught up in life that I miss the little joys of life like making someone smile, sharing a joke with friends, spending time with family, helping someone in need, and so on. If I pay attention to those around me I can better be of service to them, and if I pay attention to myself I will better know in what area I am struggling or doing well in.
Getting in touch with nature
There is almost no place I’d rather be than at the top of a mountain these days. When I was younger I was sent to a wilderness treatment program where I spent 62 days backpacking and camping in the Appalachian Trail. The first few weeks I was there I hated it and thought my parents were awfully cruel for subjecting me to such a thing, but over time I learned to love it and it sparked an appreciation for nature that I’m incredibly thankful for. On days my head seems bigger than the world, I can retreat into nature and be reminded just how small I am. The world is so vast and I have the opportunity to explore it, it’s a beautiful thing. While I am spending time in nature I can also focus on my breathing and really feel like I am in sync with the wind, and get a feeling of peace.
There are more ways to practice mindfulness but these three are the most helpful to me and my recovery. If I am implementing these things in my day to day life I am a much happier person, and I don’t have to worry about the temptation of drugs. There is no need to change the way I feel when I am content with who I am and life. If it wasn’t for trial and error I wouldn’t have learned these things so I am thankful for the struggles of my past that have brought me to where I am now.
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