Recovering addicts tend to struggle to stay grounded and present. We obsess over the mistakes of the past and the potential catastrophes in the future. During recovery, one of the most important lessons is to live “just for today.”
Living in the present is so important because it is impossible to recover in anything but the present. All too often, we try to find a way to recover with the assurance that we will never relapse. It is as if a future relapse would negate whatever we do in the present.
But knowing the future is impossible, and so is erasing the past, which is why it is so important to learn to ground yourself in the present when recovering.
The good news is that, at any time, you can use your five main senses to ground yourself in the present.
Circumventing your mind’s brilliance
The human mind is truly brilliant. It provides us with the power of abstract thought, complex reasoning, and language. But its brilliance is not only cognitive. It also does the job of organizing all of the sensory input.
At every moment, your senses are receiving a huge amount of data. Your mind needs to take this data and make sense of it, using shortcuts that help you differentiate the sound of a bird from the sound of the wind it floats upon, the image of a person from the image of the room they stand in.
We could not function without this. Unfortunately, this also makes it difficult for us to experience the moment without preconceived judgements.
This is why we need to tune into the senses as they are in order to ground ourselves in the present moment.
Using the senses
Using the senses is really very simple. All you have to do is focus on any one of the five main senses. Take a moment to feel the air on your skin or to listen to the sounds around you. But while it is simple, it is far from easy. We are so used to interpreting the input of the senses that we don’t take the time to appreciate it for what it is.
Using the senses to ground yourself can be done at any time, but it requires practice. Set aside some time to simply experience the input of one of your senses. Put some music on and listen to a song in its entirety, simply hearing rather than thinking about it. Eat a snack and focus on the taste rather than thinking about the next bite.
With some practice, using the senses to ground yourself can become one of the most effective tools in living “just for today.”