There’s a good chance that you’ve heard of the word mindfulness. In fact, today many people have heard of mindfulness, but not exactly sure what it is or how to do it. Yet, many recovering addicts have been introduced to mindfulness in their recovery and have stayed committed to the practice because of its many benefits. Mindfulness is the practice of staying present and being aware of what’s going on inside of you and outside of you.
Getting sober is the greatest gift I ever gave myself. It’s my key to being able to enjoy all of the other many gifts of my life – those I have created, those I have attracted, those I have lucked into – and all combos of this interrelated energy. Being sober for me goes so far beyond The Rooms of AA – which I do consider sacred space. I have noticed though that many people seem to operate solely within the AA community . . . But it’s been very enriching and so much fun experimenting with other tribes for myself.
A common trait among alcoholics and addicts is an uncontrollable racing mind that travels from the past to the future to imagined scenarios in the blink of an eye. The mind of an alcoholic or addict can read like a stream of consciousness novel heading nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Often times, when a person finally gets sober, the noise of the mind is turned down to a tolerable level as the constant guilt and shame of the past is replaced with acceptance and spiritual principles, but that being said, the mind of someone with an addiction can still be a loud and confusing place.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experiences can benefit others. The feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
In the inventory process of our 12-Step recovery program, one of the things we do is to identify our personal resentments, also called grudges. Resentments can be thought of as re-lived anger, even though the external instigating cause is no longer present. Resentments create unpleasant feelings in us when the thoughts about the situation are brought into our consciousness. Many a relapse has happened because resentments surfaced with their pain and we reverted to fixing the unpleasant feelings with mind altering chemicals. For the recovering alcoholic, it means to drink. Other than the short term euphoric feeling, this fixes nothing. Usually it brings further difficulties, and our resentments simply lie in wait for another day.
What a week – I was reminded that waiting for something “bad” to happen is more stressful than dealing with it after it actually happens. And while the sense of impending fiasco felt intangible and ominous, the outcome was measurable, manageable, and malleable to my perception. Then I could go back to knowing something good is going to happen…
Getting and staying sober can seem like a lot to the newcomer, and sometimes we forget about all the joys that come with it. For example, being surrounded by a group of loving and compassionate people who have been through the same feelings and experiences that we have. We are told from the very beginning of our journey to “stick with the winners” and this is what that means and why you should do it.
It’s a new month, and as is now our custom, we have a list post for you! Of course, there are dozens of benefits not listed, so please share some you have noticed from your practice.