Mindfulness is the state of being grounded in the present moment, aware of your immediate thoughts, feelings, sensations and emotional states.
Mindfulness is key during early recovery, when you’re learning to evaluate your thoughts and behaviors and practice healthier ways of thinking and behaving. Mindfulness helps people in recovery maintain a higher level of self-awareness, combat cravings and reduce the body’s response to stress.1
Even though we live in it, connecting to the present moment isn’t always easy. Our thoughts are so often rooted in the past or concerned with the future that we miss the moment we’re in. As a result, it’s easy to get swept away from a focus on recovery. But coming back to the “now” brings clarity, calmness and positive feelings, which can go a long way toward staying more mindful and positive in recovery.
These tips will help you connect to the present moment and stay aware of your thoughts and attitudes as you navigate the early weeks and months of recovery.
Meditation is the number-one way to connect to the present moment, and according to research by MIT and Harvard Medical School, it can even increase your ability to control how outside events affect you.2 Meditation is simply the act of clearing and quieting your mind and connecting to your breath, which roots you in the “now.”
Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit still. Breathe deeply and slowly, and follow your breath with your mind. When thoughts intrude, simply acknowledge them, let them float away and return your focus to your breath. At first, it may seem difficult to keep thoughts at bay. With time, you’ll find it easier to banish all thought and exist purely in the present moment.
2. Notice your body
Connecting with your physical existence can help root you in the present moment. Take a moment to focus on your body. What sensations do you feel? Are you warm, cold, tingly, itchy? Is there a breeze blowing on your skin, a sensation of pain somewhere, a twitching muscle? Take note of every bodily sensation you feel and how these change with each moment.
3. Take a sensory walk
Head out for a walk, and instead of letting your thoughts flow freely, focus your thoughts and attention on your senses. What do you smell in this moment? What do you hear? What do you see? Notice the changing sights and sounds as you move down the street. Feel the weight of your feet on the pavement, the swinging of your arms by your sides. Stay connected to your senses as they tell you exactly what the present moment is comprised of.
4. Cuddle your pet
Animals live in the present moment, and connecting with your pet can bring you there, too. Sit with your furry friend and stroke his back, neck and ears. Notice his breath slow as he relaxes against you. Feel the texture of his fur, the beating of his heart, the way he sighs or purrs. Wonder what he’s thinking about or feeling right now. What are you thinking about and feeling right now?
5. Make art
You don’t have to be an artist to make art. Grab some supplies and create something from scratch. Focus on each stroke of the paintbrush, the scratching of the pencil or the way the lump of clay feels between your fingers. Watch your creation come into being from nothing, each moment of being different from the last. Feel the sensations the materials elicit, and notice how your breathing slows and mind flows as you create.
The Present Moment is Always Here
Find and bask in the present moment whenever you’re feeling stressed or worried or when you’re experiencing cravings or negative emotions. Being in the “now” helps you evaluate your current condition so that you can take steps to return to a calm, peaceful state of mind where you’re cool, confident and in control.