Mind Habits

I know I’ve posted a lot about addiction being about ingrained habits/coping skills that make it difficult to break free from.

Daily habits are how we build a life we want. I am always noticing how habitual my every move is in my house, especially my night and morning routine.

We don’t realize the safety this routine provides us.

Those who don’t have the comfort of those rituals miss out on the benefits that they provide us in life.

As my son has been mostly unhoused and couch surfing the last 2 years, I have felt guilty at times in having the luxury of my safety rituals and habits.

Well-meaning people would say, he chose his life- you choose yours.
But that doesn’t mean I can just turn off my feelings.

It must be a mom thing.
We are nurturers.
Each time I leave a stressful workday and I’m in the comfort and safety of my car where I can completely relax from my day; I feel relieved- then sad, that my son doesn’t have that.

Yes, I know it’s the consequences of his actions- but that doesn’t stop a mom from feeling guilt, or sadness. We always want our row of ducklings doing ok and “in a row” and safe.

That’s why it’s such a mix of emotions when they are in jail. Yes, technically they are getting fed and have a bed; but the other traumatizing parts of jail are not conducive to healing.

The best part of the jail, in my opinion, is the daily routine and habits that they can start again. I think it helps get the brain back to sleeping at night and eating on time.

As recovery advocate-Michael Lasday states:

We cannot arrest our way out of this. We have to go way to the front end of why and how it starts, ( prevention of people WANTING) harm reduction in the middle and better & quicker treatment on the end. 

"Every increase in criminalization creates more scarcity, more demand, more reward and incentivized increasingly potent substances.

This is how we got here in the first place, not how we get out" -Mchael Lasday

I’m so grateful my son is out of there. But it’s still hard to not think (& worry) of the past and future. Each day is a gift.

The last 90 days have been an entire mountain of weight lifted off my shoulders. I have actually dared breathe. I have laughed at work and started looking at other people as real people again. I’m coming out of my Tunnel vision of turmoil. It felt good. Really good.

Then, just as my son is now experiencing, the realities of this life hit me.

He was so discouraged last night when he realized that others were still the same people as when he went into addiction.

He realized that he was the one expected to make all the changes and just get it right this time.

He realized that the bed he made for himself was still blaring bright white and being shoved down his throat. He was told by his old boss that he CAN’T even think of screwing up if he gives him another chance. My son said he feared he may never get to see his kids again just for gatekeeper reasons.

Do you know what pressure that puts on people? To start again with nothing. And not make any mistakes with a still-healing brain.

He will have to deal with it, I know. But my joy and gratefulness are being overshadowed by the realities of the world.

Depression and pain are real.

Having the stability and normalcy of the world was something I took for granted while I was fighting knee-deep in the arena of addiction.

Now that I have the garden hose out and washing off the muck, I see the world for what it has become.

I forge ahead not knowing if it’s really worth the effort only to be slammed down again.

The World seems so harsh.

Was I so buried in a different pain the last few years, that I didn’t see how harsh it was?

After my son’s first detox (at home). I remember showing him Chanda’s video about taking the drugs away leaving this raw core that doesn’t know how to deal with life without substances.
I think that’s where my son is at today.
And I feel oddly the same.

Even though I’ve never so much as smoked pot.

I still feel raw, afraid. Sad.

A grown woman.
Who am I to even complain?
🥀

As I posted my worries on my Facebook page, I received a great response from one of the Moms.

Truth is hard, change is hard, depression, addiction and we can go on & on about life's challenges.  Gratefulness &  mindfulness is what we need to practice because if we don't focus on here &now we are wasting time  on thinking past & future. If we  focus on what we do today - love others, do our best, and fuck the rest maybe life won't be so hard. Love you and thx for sharing your heart. Sending all of us parents who have to live without our beautiful children light love strength and healing hugs. 💕✨🙏✨💕 Forever Matthew's Mom😇- Debra Schmidt

It made me snap back into the present.

My son is A.L.I.V.E !

I have spent 2 years writing a book of my fears of him dying and he’s STILL ALIVE, yet I’m complaining! I

I must focus on now. I can’t worry about when he gets out of rehab. Or that he’s not humble enough. Or that he still thinks he has all the answers.

Maybe he does.

Who am I?

Gratefulness and mindfulness.

How can I do what that smart Mama suggested? Of course- meditation. Yoga. Affirmations. Any others?

This morning I sit in my living room and try to focus on NOW, just letting gratefulness enter my soul- without being forced with such thoughts of

I SHOULD be grateful.

I SHOULD be positive.

There ARE NO SHOULDS!

It is what it is in this moment. And in this moment I choose peace. Joy. Gratefulness. I looked around my tiny condo and just exhaled.

I relished in my things that make me happy to look at.

Even though they are material things -they are what’s in front of me right now and that’s really all we have.

This is how I start my mindfulness journey. I hope you enjoy.

Stay in the moment

"Almost all sadness comes from thinking about the past, and all worry from thinking about the future - present mindedness is your only safe haven. Only in the present is your mind free to do what it does best - solve problems. The easiest way to leave the past behind is to remember that love does not live in the past, only memories - love lives in the present." Bryant McGill

How to Stay Present in Recovery: Mindfulness Techniques

Authored by Amelia Sharp

american addiction centers photo

December 8, 2020

“Being present” is a term you’ve likely heard thrown around in conversations or on the internet, whether you’re in recovery or not. But what does it mean to stay present, and how do you go about doing it, anyway? Perhaps, most importantly, why would one want to practice staying present in recovery?

woman looking up after staying present in recovery

Staying present in your life, also sometimes referred to as remaining “mindful”, through every distressing emotion, tumultuous situation, or overwhelming joy, is perhaps the easiest and hardest thing you’ll ever do (we know, it’s a total oxymoron). It is also arguably one of the best natural acts you can practice to improve your focus, decrease your stress levels, and manage overwhelming emotions.

Those in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, especially, might be able to benefit from mindfulness practices, grounding techniques, and other holistic practices – all of which tie into the concept of staying present. When you’re in recovery from substance abuse issues, it’s extremely common to have cravings for your drug of choice, overwhelming emotions, and sometimes reckless urges. Many mindfulness practices exist to manage these phenomena. Luckily, we’re here to give you some information on how to stay present while you’re in recovery from drugs or alcohol.

What Does it Mean to “Stay Present”?

Mindfulness is the practice of cultivating a state of awareness. It is rooted in eastern traditions and has been continually adapted to western medicine and psychology. Staying present, or remaining mindful in your daily life, is not one singular act. Instead, mindfulness involves various techniques and practices that exist for those looking to cultivate the act of remaining present in their daily life. It may be easiest to think of staying present as a practice, or a consistent chain of actions that revolve around mindfulness, rather than a single action.

There are two major concepts of mindfulness:

  • Awareness (of one’s self and surroundings)
  • Nonjudgmental acceptance of what someone is experiencing

Many people consider mindfulness to be a powerful and simple remedy for rumination, anxiety, chronic pain, anger issues, habitual multitasking, or simply living as a prisoner of your emotions. By using certain mental and physical tools, such as mindful breathing, meditation, and body scans (we’ll get into these later), you can devote your attention to the present moment. In turn, you may come to harvest inner stillness, compassion, patience, focus, self-control, discipline, and more.

When you’re present in your life, you are not thinking about the past, the future, or contemplating anything other than what is right in front of you. When you’re present, you face challenges head-on, you weather uncomfortable emotions, and you cope using healthy coping skills. Staying present in your life and making sure you’re grounded in this moment may sound simple but it’s often harder than you might think, especially when you’re in recovery from a mental health condition whose symptoms innately pull you out of the current moment, like anxiety or addiction.

Tips for Staying Present in Recovery

There are various ways that someone can practice mindfulness in their daily life – whether from the comfort of their own home, or through the guidance of a professional.

Meditation 

Mediation is a broad term that lends itself to hundreds, if not thousands of meanings. When we’re talking about meditation, we’re talking about grounding meditations, breathing meditation, visualization, and even yoga. Various mediation practices (such as guided meditations) focus on grounding yourself in the moment and dismissing thoughts about the past or future.

During meditation, one may practice sustaining their attention on their current experience, and gently guiding the mind back towards their present experience if it wanders. Although many people think of yoga as purely a physical exercise, many types of yoga actually place more emphasis on the mind than the body.

Someone may practice mindfulness through meditation, for example. In various studies, mindfulness and meditation, in particular, have shown a positive correlation with higher levels of self-compassion and wellbeing, as well as significantly lower levels of rumination, fear of emotions, and difficulty regulating emotions.

Ways to Stay Present in Recovery:

  • Reverse the order of your daily routine. Usually brush your hair, and then your teeth? Try to take care of your dental hygiene first. It may seem like a small act, but the accumulation of small and intentional acts tends to add up to pretty significant changes in thinking, acting, and being.
  • Turn your focus to your breathing; either by counting to a certain number as you breath in, or visualizing breathing in light, etc. Or, simply remind yourself to take a deep breath in moments of calm, moments of stress, and everything in between.
  • Perform a body scan, or a practice of paying attention to certain areas of your body and identifying any sensations that these areas may feel. Usually, people begin by focusing their attention to their head and working their way down to their toes.
  • Download apps that provide guided meditations such as Calm, Headspace, Aura, and more.
  • Work out – mindfully. Instead of heading to the gym and jumping into your typical leg day routine, try mixing it up and starting with a new exercise. Not only will it shock your body into its next gear, but it’ll also keep you mentally fresh. Be sure to also pay great attention

Why Work on Staying Present in Recovery? 

three rocks and a flower

Mindfulness is thought to alter the brain’s functioning in astonishingly positive ways. Studies suggest that, in people who suffer from depression, those that learn to meditate experience changes in the brain that last long after they stop meditating.

The effects of staying mindful on our psychological health are staggering and have proven highly beneficial. When you use drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or even gambling to feel something – anything – other than what you’re feeling in the moment, that is the opposite of staying grounded in the present moment. It’s acting on autopilot.

Recovery from substance abuse issues and other mental health conditions tends to involve the implementation of new, healthy coping skills to manage uncomfortable emotions and cravings. Mindfulness techniques and daily intentions to remain grounded in the present moment may be one of the best natural coping skills someone can employ.

One true irony in mindfulness practices and the art of staying present is that, by grounding yourself and lending yourself to only what is happening in the here and now, you can also experience healthy detachment from negative stimuli.

What are you waiting for? Start living mindfully today – one breath at a time.—-from American Addiction Centers

Self Care & Our Own Habits

Hypocrisy is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another or the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. In moral psychology, it is the failure to follow one’s own expressed moral rules and principles.[1] According to British political philosopher David Runciman– according to Wikipedia,

This is the first quote in my book I’m writing.

Why am I saying this? Because we are SO good at telling our addicted loved ones to take care of their selves and do things to get their bodies healthy again, yet what are we going? Possibly getting more stressed, more sick & more depressed.

We become so focused on the “goal” or our particular destination happiness, that we fail to live in the present.

Matt Kahn stated:

“I think one of the hang-ups is that we reserve gratitude for when life becomes the way we want it to be. We’re not grateful for the chance to experience the things that ensure we confront our limiting ideas and painful feelings. We are often caught in a standoff with life that says: I’ll be the most grateful when everything changes to my desired specifications”. 

Matt Kahn

We rush around (maybe only in our scattered & frazzled mind) trying to make things happen so that WE can finally relax.

We might even enjoy and feel justified with a glass of wine to calm down.

Yes, although WE may not be the alcoholic and be immune to the allergy & obsession of addiction; it still may not be the best choice for our overall vibration.

How to facilitate a better vibrational state, so we are not ruminating on our problems, seems like a reasonable goal.

All of us must find our Place Of Peace. It’s a continual process, I believe. One that requires consistent daily habits, which I am quite inept at.

Today, its a rainy spring day, and after an emotional weekend of worry and indecisiveness, my goal for today was self care to find my place of peace. As I’m setting new goals, I find this live concert on You Tube on my apple TV.

What perfect background music to relax by than Jackson Browne? Why don’t I know this guy? Hope you enjoy this concert as I did. ( I guess I do know him- he’s the “Take it Easy” writer from the Eagles.

One of my challenges is setting goals with specifics such as time management & allocation. I’m working on it. Rituals such as described in Shelly Young’s article below will help.

I recently quoted her in my post the other day and she has some great self-care advice here, also.

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A Loving Kindness Ritual

Every morning. Every single morning for the past six years, I light a candle, settle onto a cushion, close my eyes and say the loving kindness meditation/prayer, Metta. I say it several times. 

Once for myself, in the spirit of giving a gift to myself, the gift of happiness, peace, kindness. In the spirit of generosity and love I say it outward, once for my children., once for my friends and family, once for anyone in particular in need of support, healing, blessing, my attention or affection or someone who has been a benevolent force in my life, shared time, energy, space, kindness support with me. Then once for all of us, the collective us, all of humanity, all beings in nature.

It is how I touch into that which is greater than myself, my place in the family of things, the collective of humanity, my role in the perpetuation of love and kindness. It grounds me in the now and sets the tone for the day. It is my work to be a force of love and extend that outward as well as inward. To be in service to the greater good. 

I offer this meditation, this ritual to you as a way of priming your body, your heart, your nervous system, your brain for peace, a way of connecting into a greater force of love and wellbeing, a wish for all to be well, happy and peaceful. A chant if you will, for healing.

Try it for a week, a month, a season. See what it feels like in your body to say the words out loud, to extend the blessing outward and inward, to lean into the ritual as a resource for wellbeing and connecting to the family of things. See how it feels. 

Start with yourself, be kind, generous and loving to yourself first then extend that love and kindness outward. Lay love over all that is. 

May I be well happy and peaceful. 

May no harm come to me. 

May no difficulties come to me. 

May I always meet with miraculous success. 

May I also have the courage, patience and understanding to meet and overcome inevitable problems and failures.

May I always remember you are connected to a Presence that is never absent.

May I be held, may you be healed, may you be transformed.

I’m saying it with you. We can say it together.

If you want to join others who say Metta every Thursday 12:00-12:30 in community with my friends Rose + Jen go here. 

Everyone is welcome. 

Image Credit: Jen Lemen. You can find her on Instagram!

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Made with love in Flodesk.

We are the artists of our world
We are the authors of our story
Paint colours and magic
Write peace and happiness
See love
Feel joy
Create miracles

~ Karen Star <3