M(3), 11/17: See God in the Response, Not the Disaster
My Monday morning meeting had a wonderfully large turnout (15) on a day that almost demands one to stay inside due to cold, dreary, pouring rain. I hope the weather is better wherever you may be in the world!
This week’s literature selection came from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and covered the topic of Step Eleven in our 12-step program:
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
In essence, the chapter’s purpose is to describe to a newcomer what prayer and meditation are, why they are important to cultivate in our lives, and the benefits that are derived from the implementation of these practices. This is one of those chapters that applies to the whole of the human race, not just those of us who identify as alcoholics.
I am fortunate to have held a belief in the existence of God prior to joining my 12-step program; therefore, when it was suggested that I start each day, on my knees, in prayer, I did not balk, and have continued the practice to present day. The ease with which I was able to incorporate prayer into my life is not universally true, as many who join our Fellowship consider themselves atheists and agnostics. For them, step eleven is another hurdle to jump, but the good news is that many who came before them have successfully cleared the hurdle, and provide practical ideas to make it easier.
Meditation, on the other hand, is a practice with which I struggle mightily. I have written, on numerous occasion, about my battle to control the monkey mind that slips into high gear at the mere mention of the word “meditation.” And although I firmly believe in the benefits, and although I have had some limited success with practicing it, for some reason I have failed to make this part of my daily routine.
But the bottom line, for me, with regard to step eleven: no matter what form my conscious contact with God takes, be it morning prayer, mid-day “pulse checks,” meditation attempts or evening inventories, the results are invariably the same: the answer to the questions I am seeking lies in looking outward, rather than inward. In other words, what can I do to help another? The possibilities are endless: I can reach out to the still suffering alcoholic, I can help a friend or family member in need, I can assist the person in front of me in the supermarket line, I can drive with patience, rather than with road rage. The point is my focus is on helping others, rather than myself, and it is in this shift from self-centered thinking to a more benevolent thought process that I find my peace and serenity.
From my share a regular attendee, one with decades of sobriety, remarked that he remembers well my struggle with meditation (hmmm… perhaps I am a bit repetitive?!?). He said he learned very early in sobriety the simplest definition of prayer and meditation is the one he carries with him to this day:
Prayer is talking to God
Meditation is listening to God
So, to him, when he is saying a formal prayer like the Prayer to St. Francis (Make me a channel of thy peace prayer), he is praying. When he studies the prayer, and breaks it down line by line and figures out what that would look like in his life, he is meditating. This particular attendee happens to be a priest, so I take his suggestions on prayer and meditation very seriously!
I absolutely love this idea, because it is something I put into practice pretty regularly: I see something profound, or wise, and I try to see how I can apply it to my life. If this is a way of meditating, I’ll take it!
Other people focused on the idea of meditation as being present in whatever you are doing; consciously appreciating your present situation. You can meditate doing just about anything: walking, cleaning, washing the dishes. I informed that friend that I had a sinkful of meditation waiting for me at home!
A gentleman new to my meeting but sober since 1981 said that throughout his sobriety, every time he got into a funk, it was because he failed to work on his conscious contact with God. Each time, he said, his ego got in the way and he became complacent in his prayer and meditation practices, and each time he wound up feeling down and out for no discernible reason.
Finally, a woman who considers herself agnostic is able to practice prayer and meditation by virtue of science: there have been many studies which prove measurable benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and incorporating spirituality into one’s life. She is unable to refute the results, so why not try to improve her own life? When she struggles with the concept of God, she remembers the expression I used in the title of this post: see God in the response, not the disaster. Rather than focus on the question, “Why would a God allow bad things to happen to good people,” my friend instead focuses on the caring and compassionate response to the tragedies, or disasters, or hard times.
The blessing of being allowed to absorb the collective wisdom of these Monday meetings, plus the added blessing of being allowed to share them with you!
Posted on November 17, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Clean and Sober, fellowship, God, Higher Power, Meditation, Meeting, Mental Health, Miracle, Monday, Philosophy, Prayer, Recovery, Religion & Spirituality, self-development, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.