Mindfulness can be a confusing idea for someone who is new to the practice. Most people spend most of their mental capacity thinking about the future or dwelling on the past. Focusing on the present moment can be the most difficult but is also the most rewarding. Present moment awareness is a valuable skill to learn and it can reduce stress, increase gratitude, and open one’s eyes to new perspectives. Practicing mindfulness in sobriety is even more crucial because it is a great tool to reduce triggers and boredom and greatly increase appreciation for life and one’s surroundings.
Essentially, mindfulness is the practice or focusing on and observing the present moment. It can start out very simple, like being mindful the breath. The ultimate goal is to reach a level where one can be mindful at every moment – while eating, walking, conversing with friends, and even while experiencing intense emotions. It can be especially difficult to practice mindfulness in sobriety because those newly sober often have racing thoughts and find it hard to sit still. Learning simple techniques and ideas can help slow one’s mind and learn to appreciate life “right now.” Life is never experienced in the future or in the past, which is why it so important to appreciate the present in order to become content with life. Here are some tips to start being mindful of the present moment:
Meditation is the first step to begin practicing mindfulness in sobriety. Sitting still and simply focusing on the breath is all it takes. It can seem difficult at first but this is normal. Your brain is made to think so that is what it will try to do. Try to focus on the feelings of the breath, the sound, the subtle feeling of air passing through your nostrils. Really try to “experience” breathing. Breathing is such a simple thing that only happens in the present moment and we often take it for granted, so really experiencing it is a great stepping stone to mindfulness. If your mind drifts into thought – it’s ok. Acknowledge that you zoned out and, without judging yourself, simply bring your attention back to the breath. Meditation isn’t about how long you can focus on your breath but, rather, how many times you can redirect your attention back to it.
Sit and Relax
If you feel restless try to combat it. Sitting often, relaxing in silence, or reading a book can slow racing thoughts. Slowing things down can also slow your mind down. Learn to appreciate alone time and don’t judge yourself for taking it easy. Life doesn’t always have to be on-the-go. Even if it brief, just ten minutes a day of just doing absolutely nothing is healthy for a racing mind.
Gratitude lists are a great tool for practicing mindfulness in sobriety. We often take simple things in life for granted and lose sight of the big picture. From time to time, sitting down and writing down every single thing you are grateful for can really open one’s eyes to how well things are going. Sometimes, life may seem to be going the wrong direction. Acknowledging everything that is going in the right direction can really flip one’s perspective.
Increase awareness of senses
Triggering the senses is another great way to learn mindfulness in sobriety. When constantly on drugs or alcohol, the mind is dulled to the senses. Food doesn’t taste as good, human interaction isn’t as meaningful, intimacy isn’t as intense, sense of smell is weakened, and even the feeling of swimming in the ocean isn’t the same. Experiencing feelings like these while sober can seem like a completely new experience and is often very rewarding. Get out and experience as many things as possible.
Focus on the taste of meals
Taste is another intense and complex sense only experienced in the present moment. Eating is often taken for granted too. When eating, try to really experience the meal. Focus on the texture of the food, the taste and subtle flavors of each spice. Focus on the smell of the meal. This will greatly promote present moment awareness while also increasing the quality of the meal!
People-watching is not only relaxing but also promotes mindfulness in sobriety. Sitting in a cafe or on a park bench and just watching the world go by can take ease stressful thoughts and take attention away from the past or future. Watching life and other people go by focuses on the exact moment of “right now.”
Self-forgiveness is crucial for learning mindfulness in sobriety. It can be easy to be angry at yourself or stress about things you didn’t do or are supposed to it. Instead of focusing on what didn’t happen, focus on what has happened and all of the progress you have made. Celebrate accomplishments and milestones. Learning to be happy for yourself will greatly increase contentedness.
Resentment and anger are dangerous in sobriety. Try to be mindful of what others may be going through or what may cause their actions. No one is perfect and it is likely someone has been angry at you at one point! Instead of wasting mental strength on anger, try to flip your perspective or talk with a close friend about it.
Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction
If you or a loved one has a problem with alcoholism or addiction and want to experience recovery in a thriving community with lots of people just like you, then call the professionals at Stout Street today at 866-722-7040. Our trained staff is standing by to take your call and help you in any way we can. We know how difficult of a decision this can be and we know what it takes to ensure you find your own personal path in recovery. You no longer have to do it alone, so give us a call today and find the happy and sober life you’ve always dreamed of.