M(3), 11/9/15: Prayer is Talking, Meditation is Listening
Today was a slooowwww meeting…. the type of meeting that has you staring at the clock, and wondering if the battery has died.
Strange, really, because today we read a relatively long chapter from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve traditions, so there was less sharing time, rather than more. Plus the step we covered,
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, asking only for His will for us and the power to carry it out
is one that typically has people lined up to share their experiences with both prayer and meditation. Not so today, which makes for a slightly uncomfortable meeting. Well, uncomfortable for the chairperson, at least… nothing makes me squirm more than protracted silence in a meeting!
So I possibly talked longer than necessary about my experience with prayer and meditation, as it relates to both recovery and, well, just life itself. Coming into recovery I has no fundamental issue with the concept of a Higher Power, or praying to a Higher Power, but I suppose I had significant skepticism that my Higher Power would listen or respond. To my way of thinking at the time, I had prayed about a gazillion times for Him to help me stop drinking. What makes my current prayers easier to hear than those in active addiction?
And while I’ll never know the official answer, my best guess is the quality of the prayers, rather than the quantity. When I hit my alcoholic bottom the prayer wasn’t urgent, with a time stamp on it… “God, help me out of this crisis and I’ll never drink again!” There was no bargaining; I had no chips left to use. There was nothing left but a hopeless sincerity: I need help, I’m out of answers.
For whatever reason, it worked. And continues to do so, in matters both large and small.
So prayer has been a regular part of my life for as long as I’ve been sober. Meditation, not so much. I’ve had small periods of maintaining a daily practice. Regular readers probably remember I took a course on meditation, and got a heck of a lot out of it. In fact, my longest stretch of daily meditation came right after completing that course.
Then summer came, and there went the practice.
I am now a few weeks into a short, but daily, meditation practice. And while I’m not going to say I’ve been transformed, I can say I notice some distinct benefits. Probably the main difference I notice is my ability to detach from the fun house that can be my thought process. It doesn’t stop the craziness, but it most definitely slows it down. More importantly, I am aware that the thoughts and feelings are not facts, and I can disengage from them, rather than allowing them to swallow me whole.
When that happens, my friends, it is a freaking miracle!
Other than my rambling about prayer and meditation, I was able to eke out a few pearls of wisdom from the various attendees:
One regular attendee also claims religious ministry as his profession. He says there are a multitude of ways in which to practice both prayer and meditation; whatever works is a great way to go. For him, prayer is talking to God, whereas meditation is listening for God’s answer.
Another regular had a very difficult time with the concept of prayer in early sobriety, but after trying it with a simple, “God, please keep me sober today,” he found himself a believer because of its effectiveness. Thirty six sober years later, and he still prays that simple prayer daily!
A woman shared how difficult the practice of meditation continues to be for her. She finds she has to concentrate so hard, the meditative quality seems to vanish! She knows, though, when she even makes the effort, she is better able to slow her thoughts down for the rest of the day.
Finally, a gentleman raised his hand and shared he had relapsed a few weeks back, and is currently fighting his way back to comfortable sobriety. He said the first things to go when he picked up a drink were prayer, meditation, and 12-step meetings. His lapse lasted about 2 months, but the picture he painted of his emotional state during those two months was grim, the kind of wake-up call every recovering alcoholic needs to hear before they decide to pick a drink again. Despite the hardship he enjoyed, his faith has not wavered: he feels profound gratitude to be sitting back in the seat of a 12-step meeting again. He believe he has been given a gift, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober.
As always, I am humbled and grateful when a person has the courage to share with all of us his story of relapse, for it gives the rest of us a reason to stay sober today.
After an excellent weekend of kids’ athletic triumphs (my son qualified for a NATIONAL cross-country meet!), I am reminded this morning how blessed I am to be sober, today and every day.
Posted on November 9, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Calm, Meditation, Meeting, miracles, Prayer, Recovery, Sobriety, step 11, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.