“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” – Maya Angelou
I am starting to find peace in the present moment. It is a constant struggle to be here now. When I get it, even for a short period of time, it helps me relieve tension. It lessens anger and sadness from things I cannot change, that happened so long ago or yesterday. It keeps me from traveling down those well-worn paths in my mind…thought patterns that don’t go anywhere good. That keep me stuck.
Reminding myself to be here now helps me remember that I am safe, and that I create my safety in this world by staying sober and taking care of myself and those around me. I was not safe when I was drinking. I was vulnerable to things happening to me…an accident, drinking too much and poisoning myself, being hurt by someone because I couldn’t take care of myself, falling down. I also wasn’t safe on the inside because I was letting fear rule my life. Fear of feeling. Fear of failure. Fear of being hurt. Fear of doing something I couldn’t take back or apologize for. So much fear it was causing me to have massive amounts of anxiety, which led to the desire to drink it all away. I was hurting myself from the inside. How can you feel safe when you are hurting yourself? Who will protect you from YOU?
I feel safe here in the present moment. I don’t have to travel down those well-worn paths anymore. I can choose new places to take my mind. So…I remind myself to be here now. I also like stay here, though I am not brave enough for a tattoo just yet. Maybe a bracelet. They are simple, but very powerful, mantras that help me feel more balanced and centered, even if just for a few moments.
This is usually how it goes: Remind myself to be here now. Breathe…take a deep breath…take another…pay attention to my breathing…look at my hands…touch something nearby…stop and look around me…really look…is everything okay in my immediate vicinity? Yes? Then I am safe. I am okay. And it is okay to relax. I can think about these other things tomorrow if I need to. Really, though, I probably don’t need to.
If I really can’t let it go I can write about it or talk about it or pray about it. Letting my mind spin in circles just makes me feel helpless and hopeless….more likely to seek comfort in my favorite mind-numbing substance. Why make life harder than it has to be?
Living in the moment takes practice. It is funny/sad that I used to think I was practicing when I was drinking, but really I was taking myself completely out of the moment. I read all sorts of meditation and mindfulness books, but didn’t realize that my alcohol use made it virtually impossible to be in the mental space I was seeking. I think I am finally starting to learn how to do this for the first time ever.