In early recovery, both Bob and I turned towards the outdoors. Everything was better than staying inside, feeling trapped in old patterns. Bob soon found himself walking the rugged mountains of Andalusia, while I walked the Dutch polder landscape.
What we noticed, is that the cells in our body and our thoughts change when we are in nature. Our breathing changes and thus our heartrate. We release stress and our attention shifts; we become more aware of our senses and surroundings.
We can smell crushed thyme where we walk and hear the cries of birds between the trees. We feel the wind in our hair and see little insects flying and crawling along the path we walk. We enter the present moment, which is a place that we often want to turn away from, in addiction as well as in depression.
Walking is a good activity that we can use in our practice of mindfulness. Learning to stay in the present moment will help us greatly by surfing the waves of cravings, depression or anxiety. One step at a time, we turn the gaze on the direct experience and watch how our thoughts make a story around it. When we do that often enough, it becomes a new habit and by then we are able to distinguish the story from the experience.
The reality is always more friendly than our stories about it. A craving feels intense and almost impossible to resist, because we fear that it will take forever. However, in reality it only lasts a few minutes before it subsides. When we can stay fully present with the feelings or fears that torture us, we come home in ourselves. We come to a place of healing where we can be our own loving parent, take our hand and walk ourselves home.