A symptom of alcoholism and addiction is an almost complete inability to be present and in the moment. There is a constant stream of thoughts seeking to bring you to the past or future and so often times the present is left neglected. Yet it is in the present where life occurs and so not being able to be in the moment results in missing out on all that is happening around you.
When a person finally gets sober they are informed of all of this and then they are given the daunting task of attempting to stay in the present. They are given a number of valuable instructions on how to go about doing this, but sifting through all of these suggestions and finding what works for you can take time and effort.
As someone who has found it difficult to be in the moment, I have compiled some actions that I have taken in the past in order to accomplish this arduous task. Hopefully, they will help you on your path.
How To Be In The Moment
When I first got sober I found that I really couldn’t meditate well. I would go to meditation meetings and sit there in the silence of the dark room and sometimes I’d be able to quiet my mind enough, but mostly I sat there thinking about what everyone else was doing. Because of this I personally had to find other ways to quiet my mind and in my exploration, I found a few that really seemed to work.
The first time that I did yoga I couldn’t believe how present I was after and how quiet my mind was. I almost had trouble driving home because I was so relaxed and all of the worries and cares seemed to melt away. I found that in the act of focusing on my breath and the poses that I had to perform I didn’t have time to be anywhere but present and so a lot of the mental chatter just went away.
When I was in college I would spend a lot of time inside doing homework. After hours of staring at my computer screen, my mind would become a tangled mess of anxieties and thoughts. What I would do in this case was to go for a walk outside. I’d try to be conscious of the sky and how blue it was and also I’d focus on my breathing. This gave me the ability to come back to the present and in doing so I would feel more relaxed and not so uptight and nervous
- Playing or listening to music
This is probably one of the best ways to bring yourself back to the present. If you play an instrument then picking it up and playing for a while can really envelop you at the moment. The same thing goes for listening to music. Sometimes just putting on a song you love can be a great way to bring yourself back to the present.
One of the main reasons why it is suggested that you write and not type out your inventory is because the act of writing slows the brain down. We cannot write as quickly as we can think and so we have to consciously focus on the letters that are being written. Doing this does not allow the mind to wander that far so we can be in the moment and not elsewhere. This same thing applies to painting or any of the other visual arts. There has to be a focus on what you are doing so all other thoughts are shut out.
I know that I said I had trouble meditating, but meditation is used by millions of people throughout the world in order to be present. What I have found is that meditation is not necessarily sitting in a quiet dark room with incense burning, cross-legged on the floor. Meditation can look like anything. It is basically just allowing your mind to attempt to quiet itself. If doing this in silence works for you then that is great, if you need to walk in order to meditate then that is fine as well. The important thing with meditation is that you just try.
This is really the precursor to being present. Without the Steps, I am not sure that alcoholics or addicts could really do this. In active addiction many people are prey to intrusive thoughts and fears that keep them anywhere but the present. After working the Steps these thoughts and fears are diminished, giving the sober individual the ability to correctly see their lives and thought patterns, and doing so allows them to be present.
If you find that you have difficulty being in the present, don’t worry many other people find it difficult as well. The world seeks to keep us constantly striving, looking towards the future for things to come. In reality, things of the past and future will never bring us fulfillment because they do not exist, only in the present can we find peace. Find the services that can help you get the support you need.