No matter what the circumstances, a moment for mindfulness has a host of benefits. Prior to my own sobriety journey I was unaware meditation was an obtainable act I could engage in during my day-to-day routine. I assumed meditation was something for Jedi’s or Yoga Gurus. Thankfully, my misconceptions were proven false. Mindfulness and meditation are simple acts; it can be as effortless as taking a moment to check in with your surroundings, or sitting for a minute and noticing your breath. In the beginning of my sobriety journey, it felt as if every nerve ending in my body was exposed, emotions constantly seemed to be running high or swinging low. Finding a way to be centered, and more importantly not judge myself for the way I was feeling was, and still is, a huge part of my recovery journey. The learned ability to be fully present in each moment is an incredible gift, and one you can learn too.
Ways to Practice Mindfulness in Your Own Life
An excellent way to start your mindfulness journey does not have to be the stereotypical meditation many of us associate with the word “mindfulness.” If you are having a stressful day and find you are unable to be in the present moment, try finding things to connect you to the space you are in. Take notice of one sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. Let each of your senses remind you where you are presently, and that you are okay in this moment.
Another informal form of meditation is observing your breathing. I can get overwhelmed from time to time. When I am stuck in an anxious headspace it feels inescapable, as if I am controlled by my negative thoughts. Taking a minute to notice my breathing, I do not have to change how I’m breathing, I just need to take a few moments and observe. If I can remember to pause to sit with myself, I can usually recenter my thoughts.
For those of you who want to try out meditation there are three common ways to meditate. My personal go to meditation is a body scan. Begin by either sitting or lying down. Take a moment to find your breath. I generally start with my right foot, taking inventory of each joint, all the way up to the crown of my head. The goal is to notice how you feel in your body. No judgements, we are not trying to change anything, we are solely on a mission to observe.
A more traditional meditation is sitting meditation. I am a firm believer in doing this and sometimes practice this lying down. This is more breath and thought orientated. In the beginning of my mindfulness journey I over complicated this type of meditation; hopefully, I can help save you the trouble! For any set amount of time, be that five minutes or a full half hour, the only goal is to come back to the present moment. During your meditation, the idea is to focus on your breathing. You will more than likely have thoughts that form. Take notice of each thought and move past it. I am a visual person, so I like to imagine a thought drifting away. After I bring awareness to the thought, I let it float away and come back to my breath and the present moment. I repeat this process as many times as necessary in my meditation session. You may find some days are easier than others, and that is okay!
Finally, walking meditation is an option. To be fully transparent with you all, I am not a huge fan of the traditional way this is done. I will share with you what we call “formal” walking meditation, and my own version. The formal way is to set out a path of ten feet or so and slowly walk that path, taking notice of how your body moves and the sounds around you. Upon reaching the end of the path you set out, you would then turn around and continue the process. My informal version is one I do from time to time walking my own dog, it’s the same process of noticing the sights and sounds around me, as well as my own movement… just a little faster.
The moral of my story is, mindfulness is attainable. As you can see from how I tweaked the walking meditation to fit my needs, the same can be done for you. Any way you find to connect to the present moment is a form of mindfulness meditation. Be creative and most importantly, be kind to yourself. You deserve it.