Because of the rush around the holiday season, we often forget that Thanksgiving is not just about turkey and all the fixings. It is meant to be a time when we gather with those we love and are thankful for all the blessings in our lives. And if you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, you have many, many things to be thankful for.
There are family and friends who stuck with you and were there when you needed them most. And there are your treatment professionals or members of your support group, who cared for you when you were at your worst. If you are in recovery, these individuals are still cheering you on, celebrating your successes, and supporting you when you may stray from your recovery journey.
Mindfulness is the state of being present in the here and now, owning each moment, and can lead to a richer, fuller life because you are noticing all the things around you. Being mindful contributes to greater contentment in the moment because, if you can clear all concerns and regrets out of your mind, it’s easier to focus on the things you are thankful for in the present.
So, on Thanksgiving when you gather around the table, take a moment to count all of the blessings in your life and you may soon realize that some of the greatest ones are the people who surround you every day.
It is so easy to hope for to type of magical Thanksgiving experience that you might have seen in the movies, but the truth is that these expectations can be the root of disappointment. Families are composed of people, all with faults, all with sins, all with regrets for things that they said and did to those who love them the most. After all, we are all human.
But if you can find a way to change your approach, to begin to live a life in recovery without expectations from others, then no one can disappoint you! Living "mindfully" during the holiday season, which is living in the moment that you are in, as well as accepting every person for who they are, will bring you greater happiness than if you are dwelling on events of the past.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founding Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, says that although you can reach a mindful state during meditation, mindfulness can also be practiced in everyday life. “It’s not really about sitting in the full lotus, like pretending you’re a statue in a British museum,” Kabat-Zinn said, "it’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”
Practicing mindfulness during recovery and during the holiday season will bring you peace. It can begin to free you from past trauma, as well as from your fears of the future. Mindfulness can help us appreciate where we are, who we are, and who we are with - at any given moment. And that's what counting our blessings at Thanksgiving is all about.
The best part about mindfulness is that, it’s easy to do anywhere and at any time. If you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, mindfulness meditation can also be great way to supplement your treatment program. Talk to your therapist about your treatment options and don’t forget to ask them about how mindfulness and meditation can assist you.