One day early on in my vacation, my husband and I woke up and went out onto the balcony of the condo we were renting. Our balcony faced a canal and to our amazement we were greeted that morning by a pod off dolphins. We momentarily stood speechless as we watched these beautiful creatures jump and play in the water. After a few seconds I did what any other person would do, I went to look for my phone to record this beautiful moment. I sat there on the balcony waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the dolphins to breach the water until my husband suggested I put the phone down and just enjoy the moment. He was right! In my zeal to capture and hold onto the sight of the dolphins playing, I had completely disconnected from the moment itself. We all are guilty of this. How many times have we as parents run up to the stage to capture our children’s performance in an effort to preserve that fleeting moment so that we may look back upon them at a later date or perhaps show someone else? It has become policy in our school district to prohibit the video taping of these events in an effort to safeguard our children’s privacy and thus ultimately forcing parents to experience their performances and achievements in real time.
This task of remaining in the moment for most of us requires little more than a conscious decision on our part to remain connected and mindful; if however you are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction this is very difficult. Addiction is the result of a person trying to disconnect or escape from their present. The task of remaining in the moment can be overwhelming and yet, practising mindfulness is key to sustainable sobriety. There are three simple strategies anyone can implement in order to heighten their connection with the present moment;
- Stop to Smell the Roses – As cliché as this sounds it makes for very wise advice. Our lives are fast paced and hectic, and the first rule of mindfulness is to stop, breathe, think and then act.
- Choose to be mindful- Stop letting your mind wander away from the present moment! While this sounds easy! Not really, our lives are lived in quick sound bytes, and we as a society in general suffer from short attention spans. Stop and ask yourself these questions “What is going on around me?” “Is it good?, “Is it bad?” and “How do I feel right now in this moment?”. For those in recovery this would be a good time to remember that if this is a bad moment it will pass, and there is no need to seek a means to escape from it.
- Enjoy and Preserve – Enjoy the moment you are in fully, archive the feelings and emotions you are experiencing. Whenever the time comes (and it will) when the moment is no longer happy or pleasurable, remember how you felt in better times and remind yourself that you will soon experience such times again. This strategy helps a person in recovery exert more control over the moment thus, minimizing feelings of overwhelming chaos which may otherwise drive them to relapse.
When you implement these simple strategies you will slowly begin to realize that you are responding to life rather than reacting to it, and this is a life better lived.