Making room for Newness: Mindfulness and Recovery
We are expected in recovery to engage in some degree of conversion. Conversion, meaning the shifts from one way of proceeding to another, is the foundation of any sustainable recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the common practices is the sharing of testimonies, which points to the way the addict was in their addiction in the past and where they are currently, conveying experience, strength hope.
A conversion is not usually a single episode. It often unfolds as a process, a series of personal commitments to see things differently, to act differently and to even think differently. This new way of requires both space and time. This needs to become a conscious process of self-reflection and a commitment to do things differently going forward. In this conversion process, we become more receptive, a listener, a sojourner.
Mindfulness, in all of its forms, has been a tool for creating space in the conversion process for millennia. We learn in mindfulness training the concept of “beginners mind.” Jon Kabat-Zinn speaks about “in the beginner’s mind there are endless possibilities but in the expert’s mind there are few.” Most of us come from the “expert mind,” which has not served us spiritually well in our lives. Our newness may be becoming the beginner and abandoning more of the expert identity.
Creating space through mindfulness practice allows us to begin the conversion process, transforming into a person who is a fully alive agent in our own lives, while taking direction and guidance from those who share your journey. Mindfulness encourages us to foster a sense of “awe” and “wonder” in the current moment. Resigning from the hyper-judgmental, egoic self, who seems to have it all together! Instead, mindfulness asks us to create the space needed for newness to take place, a more authentic, less egoic self.
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