“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Dwelling too much on the past? Yep, Mr. Buddha, that was me. But dreaming of the future? Back in the day, I figured I didn’t have one; just moved from one bottle to the next, one shabby place to another to stay, get drunk, get kicked out, then move onto the next one. And the present moment? That was a blur, including everything that was in it. That was pretty much my life in those days. Sorry, those years. But now? Well, Mr. Buddha, I’ve learned a thing or two, that’s for sure.
I got kidnapped one night, right out of the really shabby place I was getting drunk in. Yes, kidnapped. Taken by force. I don’t remember much about it, but one of the kidnappers was actually a friend of mine. That’s the truth. I vaguely remember thinking he must be Sherlock Holmes or something, to have tracked me down to the dump I was in. The thought made me laugh, apparently. I was told later, much later, that I was still laughing when the alcohol addiction intervention team put me in the back of their car.
That was 5 years ago. My first, and hopefully last time, ever in a rehab center. Don’t get me wrong, the staff and other addicts there were the nicest people, but I have no desire to see them again. I’m not going back. I’m happy, more than happy, with the present moment now. It’s clean and sober, just like me.
Please don’t ask how I got better. I’m not sure I could fully answer that. I do know that rehab gave me the safe haven to get clean, and then the resources to stay clean, if I was going to. It appears I’m doing ok on that score so far. I can tell you part of it, though – meditation. Mindful meditation.
Mindfulness is described as “the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal experiences occurring in the present moment.” Buddha’s present moment, again. This article will tell you about the 4 ways in which mindful meditation enhanced my addiction recovery, how it complemented the treatment I received in rehab as well as the ongoing treatment that I still receive to this day. Here goes…
1 – Anxiety
Molly, a physical therapist at rehab, taught me how to meditate. She thought it would be good for me, maybe calm me down. Someone else, I can’t remember who, gave me a book about mindfulness, which I read, cover to cover, in less than 2 days. Now clean and sober, I realize I was like a sponge for anything new to me. Fortunately, the centre staff only gave me stuff to make me better, like meditation and mindfulness.
Before long, I could feel myself relaxing, and calming down too. It wasn’t long before I honestly started to feel less anxious about things, and in time, even huge, previously incomprehensible things, such as my future beyond rehab. To this day, by using mindful meditation as part of my daily routine, I can deal with anxiety unlike before. In fact, I just don’t get as anxious in the first place. That’s half the battle.
2 – Distractions
Mindfulness has given me my concentration back. Yes, admittedly, drinking yourself into a stupor every day isn’t going to help, but I’m talking about being able to focus on one particular thing without your mind just wandering off on its own. Having that concentration back, that focus, in everyday life, is a blessing.
I now have a job. Nothing special, but it’s work, it pays, and I’m good at it. Mindful meditation has helped me not only keep it, but be praised for it too.
3 – Better Thinking
Further to what I’ve stated above, my cognitive abilities are pretty much back to where they were pre-addiction. My thought processes are clear and concise; I can focus on and retain new information like a college student. Problems come along, as they do for us all, but unlike my past self, I can rationalize, think, and then make decisions as to how to best deal with them. My past self would have me reaching for the nearest bottle, guaranteed.
4 – Less Chance of Recurring Depression
Upon being admitted to rehab, and in the ensuing weeks of therapy, the doctors were keen to ascertain if there was a history of depression behind my addiction. I spoke to them as frankly as I could, and it was determined that, alongside my clear alcohol addiction, I would also be treated for depression. You can’t treat one without treating the other at the same time. One will trigger the return of the other if not.
Alongside the cognitive therapy all recovering addicts are given, a group of us were also given mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Research has shown that MBCT can be just as effective in preventing a depressive relapse as prescription medicines.
I’m no doctor myself, but I can tell you that by continuing with this form of therapy after rehab, I have not – touch wood – had a depressive episode in the last 5 years. I can, and do, thank my meditation and ongoing MBCT for that.
“Boredom, anger, sadness or fear are not ‘yours,’ not personal.
They are conditions of the human mind.
They come and go. Nothing that comes and goes is you.”
– Eckhart Tolle
Those are the 4 ways that mindful meditation has enhanced (and complemented) my addiction recovery. Addiction has no cure, only treatment, and I bless the day Molly took me to one side in that quiet way of hers and said, “Ever meditated?” My 5 years-plus of being clean and sober is testament to its ability in stripping your mind down and showing you what each moment can hold.
Have you ever experienced mindful meditation? Would you like to see if it could help resolve certain issues in your life? As always, please share your thoughts with a comment below. Good luck on your journey, wherever that may take you!
Photos are public domain from Pixabay
Guest Author Bio
I’m Carl Towns, a 28-year-old wanna-be writer. I am also a recovering addict on the path of self-discovery. My goal is to learn as many things as possible and to seize every single moment I live, pretty much trying to make up for all that I missed on the years I was lost in drugs and alcohol (among other things). I’m in love with tech, cars and pretty much anything that can be found online.