Did you ever make up your mind that you were going to buy a new car? One of the most amazing things happens when that occurs. After painstaking contemplation and consideration, you finally decide on the make and model you are going to get, maybe even the color.
It is always right after this decision that you become amazingly aware of just how many makes and models in the same color you have chosen are actually on the road. It is almost as if a magic car fairy has transplanted all these ‘imitation’ vehicles on the roads you travel, just for you to be able to see just how your new car is going to look on the road once you get it.
Not really, but it sure does seem that way!
Well, it’s sort of like that when it comes to me and the term mindfulness. I first ran across the word term when a colleague of mine who is very up on these types of things began using it in conjunction with regard to her working with her clients who were overly anxious. She didn’t define it, but I pretty much understood what the concept meant through the content of her description.
To be mindful means to be able to tune in without distraction – not only the type of outer distractions we are all so familiar with, but also anything going on within us as we are dealing with a given situation.
Time for a bit of honesty here – because we all do it. I know you know what I’m talking about – I am as guilty of it in my role as anyone – we are called upon by someone who has something to say to us, be it professionally or in our private lives – maybe our spouse or our son or daughter – and we start out attending to them and listening intently. But out of nowhere, we get walloped with the thought that we have to be at the field to pick up little Jimmy and there is bound to be traffic and dinner is going to be late enough as it is and yadda yadda….
Before we know it, our insides are shaking, our brainwaves are frazzled and we haven’t really heard the last 50 words the person speaking to us has said.
We are human. Our feelings are impacted due to all the thoughts that float in and out of our heads. I have heard most people averages about 60,000 thoughts per day. That’s an awful lot of opportunity for internal distraction, don’t you think?
It is clear that achieving a successful mindful practice is no simple feat. But before you throw in the towel, lets look at what’s in it for us if we truly give it the ‘ole’ college try.’
Some benefits of linking mindfulness practice to recovery are:
• More control - and better equipped to deal with the ups and downs that are a natural part of everyday sobriety in life. Early recovery can be one of the most challenging emotional rides a person will ever be on. If you can carry mindfulness along on the rollercoaster ride with you, you’re one step ahead of the game.
• Easier management of interpersonal relationships – since no man, or woman, is an island, we all have to play well with others in order to avoid unbelievable press and possible triggers that can send us back toward the very path we’ve sworn to stay off of.
• More pleasure and joy in life – by learning to stop and notice some of the smaller, simpler things in life, we also get to notice some of the more glorious and beautiful things in life.
• More tuned in with cravings - and if we recognize it for what it is when it arrives (and believe me, it will arrive) we can avoid being swept up by it. We learn to accept them for what they are, not attempt to butt heads with them or overpower them.
• Relapse avoidance – similarly, by learning to recognize the warning signs of relapse and face them for what they are, we give ourselves the best possible odds of being able to live ‘this too shall pass’ and miraculously, it does.
There are even more benefits to living a more mindful life that will make themselves known to you the more you are able to focus in on them. You will be astounded and more at peace, happier and less fearful of tomorrow…something every one of us deserves and most definitely can achieve.