Living in the moment after alcohol addiction is something much talked about, and though intellectually I understand, it’s not something that I find very easy to apply in my life consistently. But the longer I’m sober, the more important I’ve come to realize it is, especially for recovering alcoholics and addicts.
“To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now.” -Donald Altman
It’s way too easy for us with alcoholic and addict minds to slip into guilt over the past and fear over the future. This is nothing but a waste of time, and our human lives are short enough as it is. Not to mention guilt and fear are dangerous emotions to have too much and too long as a recovering person. In my personal experience those emotions make me want to drink and use.
So the question remains, how do we stay present? I’ve compiled a list of things that I do when I find myself slipping into negative thought patterns. Some of them I learned from being in the 12 Step program, and some I learned from the practice of Yoga.
Repeat a mantra/prayer
This is one that I find especially helpful. I have a mantra that my Yoga teacher gave me that works really well. When I’m feeling upset, or even when I feel good, I repeat it to myself over and over and over again. But not mechanically? it’s important to say it aloud or think it with feeling and intention. The intention is to pull yourself back into the present and connect with your Higher Power. I also like to repeat the Lord’s Prayer. Pick something that touches you; pick something that reminds you of who you truly are.
Be of service
This is a given and something I have to remind myself of often. I forget how good being of service feels until I actually go out and do it! I volunteer at my local animal shelter and I also have service commitments at AA meetings. But there’s more to being of service than just those two. My Sponsor told me to look for ways to help in every moment. It can be something small, like giving a genuine compliment, listening fully when someone else is talking, or even just a hug. Look for ways, even if they?re very small and no one will notice them, that leave a positive impact on the world around you.
Talking to your Sponsor is always something that I highly recommend, but calling another person who’s in recovery is great too. I’m consistently shocked at how wonderful it feels to just hash things out with someone else who is on a spiritual path. I always learn something new.
Go to a meeting and LISTEN
Too often I find myself at meetings, and instead of truly listening I’m thinking of what I want to say, or I’m going over my to do list. If you’re feeling negative or guilty, go to a meeting and REALLY LISTEN. Remind yourself that most of what’s said there is a message from your Higher Power.
I can’t say enough for the 12 Step literature! I’m yet to find a book or pamphlet that hasn’t helped me in some way. I recommend the Big Book and the 12×12, but there are lots more out there! There are also several spiritual books I like to read, like the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.
Step work! So important! I’m a writer so maybe I’m biased, but it’s easier for me to lie when I talk than when I have nothing but a piece of paper and a pen.
This is something that I find helps almost immediately. It feels playful, lighthearted, and gets me straight into the moment.
Ultimately, staying present is an art. An art of choice. It is as much of a spiritual practice as praying, meditating, or service work. It is perhaps one of the most difficult things we?ll do on a daily basis. But it is also the greatest and most daring adventure we’ll ever take.
One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change, and come home to your Self in the only true home we have – the present moment.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.