It’s good to be back in the blogosphere. I went MIA for a good chunk of 2013 because I was traveling with clients who had crazy demanding schedules. I was too wrung out at the end of the day to focus attention on any writing. I’m sure this year will be just as insane but I’ve committed to bringing mindfulness and better time management into all areas of my life so I don’t sacrifice things that bring me pleasure – including this blog. Although I plan to post something new every week, it won’t always be possible. If you sign up for my newsletter you can have my blog posts sent directly to your inbox the minute they’re posted. This also lets me share info and events that don’t make it to my blog.
Until now, most posts have been geared toward people in early sobriety while sticking to topics that remain relevant regardless of of how long you’ve been clean. I’m not abandoning this approach but during my New Year’s Eve meditation I had a revelation– to start writing not just about how to stay clean through difficult times but about ways to celebrate the positives. I want 2014 to be about seeking and celebrating the fabulousness of living a life free of active addiction. Let’s start taking stock of the positives that are in front of us at every moment in abundance – and learn how to bring in MORE. Addicts love MORE so let’s start inviting more health & wellness, serenity, energy, laughter, happiness and fun into our recovery. True, we have to do a ton of work to get to know ourselves and to heal from past trauma, drama, and self-inflicted injury – but let’s try in 2014 to not lose sight of what is so worthwhile about being clean and sober. Recovery is not simply the absence of being enslaved by obsession and self-destructive compulsion – it’s about being conscious, free and present for all the good stuff.
Let’s start off 2014 with an open mind and open heart. I’ve been in recovery long enough to know that well-laid plans have a way of becoming a trap for expectation and disappointment. Let’s start this year together by leaving the reigns loose and letting the universe surprise us as each day unfolds.
I hear some of you grumbling “But Patty how do I let go of plans, expectations and the illusion of being the master of my own universe? And what if I am uncertain, godless and cynical – can I still let go?”
My advice for myself and anyone who just heard the above comments whispering to them is this: While it’s important to have goals, try not to get married to the results you want from them. This is easier than it sounds. First you must get into the habit of catching yourself living in fearful thoughts and start using a variety of techniques to yank yourself back into the present moment. Obviously meditation is ideal but let’s start with this exercise.
When you feel your fear creeping up do you feel it in your throat, chest, or stomach? Does it feel like a tightness and shortness of breath or does it feel like the dull ache of hunger pains? What does fear feel like for you?
Close your eyes and locate the fear. Does it accompany thoughts about the future? Make a note to yourself (in your mind or on your cell phone) what the common source of future fear is so that you can train yourself to notice when your mind starts directing you back to this specific subject. When this happens – throughout the day I want you to step away from what you are doing, close your eyes and take ten long slow and very deep inhalations (mouth closed). Do this mindfully – meaning pay attention to the temperature of the air and to the movement of your nostril hairs. Try to fill your chest and belly with new air until it feels like there’s no space left inside of you. Now blow that air out through your mouth until you are an empty balloon. You can use this breathing time to either invoke creative visualization techniques (such as imagining your fear as black carbon poison that you are releasing from your body) or you can pray if you are so inclined, or you can use this time to repeat positive affirmations or you can think of absolutely nothing.
For the next week I want you to repeat this exercise to create the habit of becoming aware of fear-based future tripping and taking a conscious action to redirect your thoughts away from fear. Remember, every action is practice toward a goal – which is freedom from the fear-based hamster-wheel. Start experiencing your life in the moment. This is the place where we will always find peace.
I’d love to hear how this goes- your difficulties and successes – so please share your experience by posting a comment.