In honor of Recovery Month, we asked you to send us your stories about the impact community, nutrition or environment has had on your life since you put down substances and picked up life. Winners are not only receiving copies of our book, The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery, but are also being published here on the site.

This week we have Jamey K.

“Breathe!” says the voice from my head and heart. “And again, more deeply this time. Let the air expand your belly. Relax your jaw.”

I have to talk to myself sometimes to remember to do what I know helps me, yet which so often I simply forget to do in a mindful way. Positive impact for my recovery comes from the breath.

My inner dialogue continues, “Slow it down and take your time, especially as you exhale. Let the belly button move in towards your spine as the air slowly goes out. Pause a moment before the next deep, full inhalation. Then allow the breath to flow in almost by itself.”

This environment of focused breathing is one place where my higher power lives. Or intuition, universal guidance, spiritual connection, inner knowing, resources beyond my awareness, and whatever other words I choose to put on this feeling that is beyond words.

I remind myself, “Stay right here for a while. Instead of in the mistakes and regrets of the past. Or in fear, uncertainty and doubt about the future. Breathe. Now. Here in the gift of the present.”

There’s a lot of physiology behind the benefits of this breathing process involving stress hormones, brain chemistry, and carbon dioxide levels in the blood. And there are healing traditions thousands of years old, like yoga and qigong, which use the breath as a powerful tool for health on all levels—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

And yet, all of this subjective connection and objective knowledge is worthless if I don’t take the action to use the power of breath in my everyday life. And I’ve learned the hard way that recovery is a program of action. So, I do my best in remembering to breathe well.

Moments of acceptance and serenity don’t simply fall from the sky for me. I’ve found that I have to work towards creating them. Especially when I’m anxious, stressed, or depressed…when the darkness is knocking on my door.

The environment of my ongoing recovery involves staying engaged with community and making healthy choices in many ways. Sometimes it’s about choosing to do the next right thing, and other times it’s simply about not doing the next wrong thing (like picking up a drink or a drug). And every one of these decisions is an opportunity to use deep and slow breathing, so that the outcome is for my highest good in recovery.

I’m so grateful for the power of breath in my life! Without it, my story would have ended back in the hell of active addiction.