Mindfulness & Recovery

Addiction creates a complex disconnection between the mind and body. It separates us from our emotions and inhibits destructive thought patterns such as dishonesty, self-deprecation, resentment and so on. We become addicted to substances that help us cope or escape our problems. The problem gets out of hand and then we find ourselves unable to stop. We may achieve a short period of sobriety. Whether intentional or not, sometimes we cannot stop the obsession over the next drunk or high. Relapses occur when we are vulnerable and do not have the appropriate tools to manage our emotions or thoughts.

Mindfulness is an intentional act of being present in this moment. It is allowing ourselves to feel our emotions as they arise in the body. It asks us to become aware of the thoughts that we create. It is a state of observation without judgment. When stressful or stimulating events occur, that at one point prompted us to drink or use. We ran on involuntary impulses please our thoughts and emotions. For the first time, we can experience and understand the nature of our addiction in its natural form. Awareness of our body, emotions, and thoughts allow us to regain control over them.

Early recovery is not easy. We may feel strangled by thoughts that demand attention, and with no tools to comfort us. Often times, we get bombarded by years of suffering that we tried to bury and neglect. The simple fact is that we never allowed ourselves to truly feel before. Mindfulness doesn’t mean we have to feel the pain at this moment. That’s the beauty of it! We become grounded, aware, and reminded that we are alive okay right now.

These are some tools we practice at New River. People all over the world use these tools, whether they are addicts or not.

Meditation

Mindfulness of breath can reduce stress, anxiety, and restlessness. Breathing is so natural that we live unaware of. We don’t need to control or change it. There are many forms of meditation, a simple mindfulness meditation will suffice:

Take a deep breath, and observe it. For many of us, this is the first conscious breath of the day. Sit in a relaxed position and become aware of your body. Find where you feel your breath the most. You might feel cool air enter through your nostrils. You might feel your chest rise and fall with each breath. You might feel your breath expand the belly. Observe the sensation of your breath. Focus on it for a few minutes.

Yoga and Exercise

Physical motion and intentional breathing work together to center and relax the body. During exercise, our breath regulates and guides our movement. This applies to yoga, boxing, running, martial arts and any other sport. Exercise is useful when we feel restless and constrained by our bodies. We can empty our minds, and put ourselves into our mechanical bodies. When we finish we often feel a sense of relief and lightness.

Eating Habits

Healthy eating habits can clear out toxins from our bodies. Especially when we are new in recovery. Substance abuse and alcohol affect the immune system by reducing our white blood cell count. We are prone to experience illness, fatigue, or physical discomfort. Healthy eating brings back physical clarity and eliminates waste and harmful toxins. When we eat to supplement our bodies with nutrients, we begin to feel and look healthy. The phrase “Healthy body, healthy mind” is real.

Spend time in Nature

Think about the last time you took a walk through the forest or sat by the sea. These natural exposures mirror our own ability to be still, to ravage, to grow, and to rest. There is a Japanese tradition known as Shinrin-yoku, or “Forest Bathing.” It is a therapeutic practice that reduces stress and blood pressure. Forest bathing inspires a positive mood, better sleep, a healthier immune system. It also connects us to the energy force of the Earth and our bodies.

Mindfulness doesn’t come overnight. Please be patient, and compassionate with yourself. The key mindfulness is commitment and practice. Set aside time every day to practice. Seek help from practices or teachers that can guide you through the journey.

 

Limiting Beliefs That We Must Let Go

 

The only real obstacle that stands in the way of our freedom and happiness is ourselves. Through active addiction we try to achieve satisfaction, considering our circumstances. We fabricate a reality and stay stuck on a negative perspective of our experience. We cannot see beyond the judgment which we have clothed our lives in until we decide to do something about it.

Think about your own past, how many times has a similar outcome occurred? Regardless of the people and places, it was Déjà vu.  We ask ourselves, “how could this happen again?”

We get stuck in revolving doors. We continuously make decisions that produced the same results. The scariest part is that we don’t even know it, and we need help to see the truth and break free from our own imprisonment.

Honesty is the first step! These are some of the lies we need to stop telling ourselves:


“If only my parents had done a better job”
Our parents cannot make decisions for us anymore. At one point or another, we must provide for ourselves whatever we needed as children. And what we need as adults to feel secure.

“You don’t understand what I’ve been through”

There are people who have gone through what you have gone through. Our stories may play out differently, but we are all humans living the human experience. Plus, if it has a name, it has occurred before! Look around, and you will find.

“It’s too late for me, I’ve messed everything up”

It is never too late, the fact that we are still alive and reading this page is enough proof. As long as we are breathing, we have a chance to make a difference.

“I don’t deserve to be happy, I am a bad person”
This ends with forgiveness. No one is perfect, and we have all done things that we regret. We have hurt people and ourselves, but we don’t have to do those things ever again. Millions of people have changed their emotions, attitudes, and actions. By the way, you deserve happiness. Who says you don’t? 

“This will never work out for me”

It will never work if you have already convinced yourself it will never work. An enemy to recovery is “contempt prior to investigation.” If you’ve never tried it, and given it all you’ve had, it won’t. But magic happens when we try.

“Just one more time”
We are addicts and alcoholics because one more drink is never enough. We need more, always. Think about how many times you’ve said this to yourself or someone else, only to find yourself on a run again.

Let go of the victim story
This is not meant to minimize your experiences. If you have gotten hurt, wronged, abused, or neglected, it is time to ask for help. The world and its people dominate the addict and alcoholic. It is time to take responsibility for our lives. This can look like taking the dive and seeking recovery. It means allowing others, who have been there, help us out of it. It requires we take our emotions, attitudes, and actions into our own hands and seek to heal from our traumas. We let go of the victim story when we show up for ourselves and heal the parts of us that hurt. We regain autonomy for our lives and take the control away from other people and our addictions. We have an active role in what happens to us next. You are not a victim, you are a survivor.

This is not something we ever have to do alone. As a matter of fact, we can do this with people who have experienced the same thing or understand where we have been. New River is a safe environment that has helped countless people find recovery. It is time to break through our self-imposed obstacles. It does need commitment and effort on our part, but we can recover from a hopeless state of mind and body.

What is Sobriety?

The word sobriety is heavy with expectations that many find difficult. Sobriety is first, and foremost, a choice people make. At one point or another, people choose sobriety to save themselves from the suffering caused by addiction. Many people get defensive when the idea is brought up. Those who suffer from alcohol and addiction cannot bear to imagine a life without the substance because there has been no way of living without it. Eventually, it becomes clear that we have been slowly killing ourselves over time. Our salvation becomes our damnation. Suddenly the one thing that once offered us emotional release only brings pain and consequence.

The literal meaning of the term sobriety is “to not be intoxicated.” In terms of recovery, it is much more than that. It is not a death sentence, it is survival. Sobriety means creating a new paradigm within oneself. It is creating a purpose for life and living in that purpose. It is a commitment to growing in happiness and usefulness to society. It is discovering ourselves and achieving our dreams. Soon enough, the use of drugs and alcohol no longer coincide with our life’s purpose. There are many things that we recover, and some within the first few weeks of sobriety.

Feelings

Early sobriety can be terrifying, especially going through it alone. Not only is every new person confused, craving, and angry, there is delirium and desperation. Stopping the use of drugs and alcohol can be physically dangerous, but it also comes with emotional side-effects. A lot of the time, we used these substances to numb ourselves from feeling and to cope with traumatic experiences. The pain was unbearable and the substance made it bearable. We became unable to cope with the events that aroused these emotions, and the feelings got stuck in our mind, body, and soul. All of a sudden, in abstinence, we are struck with this unbearable suffering where we begin to feel every emotion we have long since tried to bury. This is the most vulnerable place to be, and also very dangerous because here we are most prone to relapse. But if we stick to the commitment, we get to know anger in its true form. We get to experience love in all its glory. The confusion that comes with these new experiences can be uncomfortable. The professionals at New River are trained in supporting and guiding individuals through these confusing stages of early recovery.

To Thine Own Self Be True

Saying no to a drink or a drug can be extremely difficult in the beginning. Often times, we have to fight the will to stay sober because we are still understanding how to implement new solutions into our lives. We have said, “this is the last time, I swear.” But eventually end up back under the thumb of the substance. Sobriety gives us the chance to question ourselves and finally get an answer. We find out who we really are, and why we needed to drink and drug in order to be okay. We uncover our truths and gain the clarity we need in order to deal with life’s circumstances. The first thing sobriety requires of us is that we get honest with ourselves. When we know our truth, we learn to respond in a way that will defend and protect it. This becomes self-confidence, and most beautifully, self-love.

Progress

The scariest idea about sobriety is the one that we have to stay sober for the rest of our lives. “Forever” is a daunting concept for the person who can’t bear the short sober hours alone. Without a solution to our problems, we are left with is confusion and a desperation. Progress comes from our willingness to do what we can to abstain from using. Forever is only one day. The past is gone, and the future has not arrived. One goal of sobriety is to design a new life today, and in turn, ensure a brighter tomorrow. Making peace with our past is challenging, but one that does not have to be done alone. We have access to a supportive community that is willing and capable of helping us work through traumas. All in due time. The beauty of sobriety is that we grace ourselves with time and dedication. These gifts allow us to progress in our recovery and our lives without the pressure of perfection.

Sobriety is a result of consistent, and dedicated work. It can be physical, mental, and spiritual progress. It is part of finding out our truth, what hurts us and what helps us thrive. It is about accepting ourselves as humans with emotions. It is allowing ourselves to feel, and finally, understand why we feel. Sobriety is an effort to be our better selves, one day at a time. We receive the support from people who have been there too. Then, we get to give that support to the person who needs it next. We are never alone.  

Fate or Free-will

 

Most of us struggle with the idea of choice and destiny. These conversations can melt into a controversy about whether we have free-will to create our own lives, or that we are predestined to live a life that has already been decided. Whatever side you may find yourself on, there is something that both ideas do possess. In fact, they may even coincide with each other. Some would say that we are destined to live the life we create for ourselves.

If we have the free-will to become whoever we want, we make decisions and take action in order to commence that existence. In other words, a doctor did not wake up as a doctor. They decided to go to medical school, applied, got accepted and did the intensive work that was required of them. Then they worked a residency, gained on-call experience, and finally were able to reap the rewards of their hard work. That doctor may decide tomorrow to leave the hospital and open a bookstore.

There is an unwavering perspective many people have on fate. Often times we believe that fate demands a result. For this doctor, somehow, someway they will find themselves with a stethoscope around their neck…no matter how much they fight it.

The thing between fate and free-will is the perspective that choice is being taken away from us as humans, and that fate is a non-negotiable contract. The idea that someone or something else is controlling, or making our most intimate decisions, is utterly unbearable for a species that wants to be in control. A common result is that we begin to blot out our own realities in an attempt to defy fate.

Alcoholism and addiction can be a result of our environment, and preconditioned experiences and learned behaviors. They can occur to anyone…that doctor that spent years in medical school could find their experience difficult, and chose to turn to numbing their feelings as an attempt to cope with it.

All the actions people take are a result of free-will. Everyone is destined to choose their own life’s path. The single most important realization any person should have, is that they have the choice to continue suffering, or to crawl out of the recesses of despair woke up in.

Destiny does not have a totalitarian control over our lives. Fear likes to make monsters out of harmless ideas, and fear likes to make victims out of abusive behaviors. Whether you are more inclined to believe in free-will over fate, these two cannot exist without the other.

Alcoholism has become a destiny for a lot of people. It engulfs their lives and personalities to the point where there is little chance in escaping it. Alcohol and drug abuse can become the totalitarian ruler so many of us fear. The addiction is, in fact, scarier than fate or free-will, because it has enough power to take away a person’s sovereignty, leaving many people powerless.

Many people who suffer from alcoholism or addiction never take the necessary steps to free themselves from the bonds that were subconsciously placed around them. Alcoholism and addiction are not a conscious choice people make. No one wakes up and decides they want to become an addict (just like someone does not become a doctor overnight). It happens slowly, over time, through repeated behaviors and circumstances that were, at one point, an act of survival.

The miracle is that millions of people have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Millions of people have been given the chance, the support, and the tools necessary to move forward. Millions of people have been able to change their own lives through their own acts of free-will. They have been able to create a new destiny for themselves.

There is help available if you or a loved one wants it. New River Wellness Center is a professional institute that has been successful in helping people with various addictions, beliefs, and personalities. The staff at New River have been able to arm their participants with new coping tools to engage with life’s circumstances in a productive and healthy way. The professionals can provide both psychological and emotional support that many people need in order to let go of the demons that haunt them. This combination of support and attention will inspire participants to choose a new experience, and a new freedom. Please, reach out if you or a loved one may be suffering from an addiction that is taking away their freedom to choose.  

Senate passes the CARA Bill