M(3), 2/15/16: It Works If You Work It
A meeting chock full of great thoughts and ideas, at least there was for this participant! This morning we read from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and focused on Step Eleven:
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.
The chapter that covers this step talks in depth about the many benefits of prayer and meditation. In addition, it discusses methods to overcome agnostic/atheistic mindsets, as well as easy pointers on how to get started praying and meditating.
The first person to share talked about how he almost walked out of his first meeting because it talked about prayer and meditation. Agnostic by nature, he was sure that the end of the meeting would be asking for money and/or a signed contract. When neither happened, and he realized that he was in charge of his conception of a Higher Power, he stuck around and followed the suggestions given to him. Thirty-six years later, and he considers prayer to be an essential component of his daily life. He knows prayer and meditation works because he’s experienced the positive effects. He realized early on that he did not have to know how something works for it to work; therefore, he stopped questioning the mechanics behind the power of prayer.
His last point, and the one that stuck with me the most: he has learned through his years in recovery that it is not enough to ask for something through prayer, then sit back and wait for it to arrive. He must be a participant in the process, and do his part to make things happen.
Another gentleman with long-term sobriety shared his prayer life journey. I was trying to calculate his years of sobriety by following the story; I got up to 34 years before I got confused. Regardless of the actual number, suffice it to say he’s been sober a long time! He considers his prayer life an unfolding story, one that has developed slowly over time, and one he imagines will continue to evolve as long as he’s alive. He said he started the way most of us do… a daily prayer book that asks you to read something small each day. He said for years that is what his prayer life involved… reading, with not a whole lot of engagement on his part. Over time he noticed that quite often the reading for the day would correlate precisely to something that was troubling him. From there he learned to participate more in the process, rather than by simply reading a daily paragraph. Finally, through a series of chaotic events, he lost track of his prayer routine, and found himself out of sorts with no real reason as to why. He went to a retreat where the leader posed the following question:
If you find yourself in a state of discontent with no discernible cause, think back… was there something you were habitually doing that you stopped?
Bingo! He realized he was missing his time spent in prayer and meditation. He went home, fished out his “little black book,” and now makes sure he stays in practice.
A few attendees shared of their struggles with making prayer and meditation part of their daily routine. All recognize the benefits of such a practice, but, like any new habit, it can be a bumpy road getting started.
Finally, a friend of mine shared her thoughts on the subject of prayer and meditation. She is sober about 2 1/2 years, but I know from spending time with her that acceptance of a Higher Power has been her biggest struggle. Turns out she is actively working on this aspect of her recovery; she remarked that the shine is off the penny, so to speak, in terms of meeting attendance, step work, and the various readings. She knows she needs a deeper connection in order to sustain her sobriety, and she is seeking spirituality to fill that need.
She said she is learning, through her research and reflection, that attachment is the origin of suffering. In other words, if she is suffering, then she has an expectation of an outcome. Either she is trying to control what happens, or she is trying prevent something from happening.
As she was speaking, I recalled a conversation I had with my husband not an hour before. I was explaining to him the root cause of some internal angst I have been experiencing, and seeking his advice on how to proceed. His suggestions were, at first blush, unimaginable, and I told him so, and my defense of my opinion. His face has that look that tells me I need to stop and rewind, but I was unable to fully decipher what specifically I had said to cause his expression.
So I ask him to please just tell me what is causing the pained look, since I have tried to decipher with no success. He considers for a moment, then says, “Everything you’ve said since we’ve started this discussion, from you thoughts about what is causing your discontent to your reaction to my advice… that’s all Old Josie talking.”
And it was a light bulb moment… every single moment of disquiet I have experienced with regard to this issue, every quick fix action I’ve taken, and every subsequent action to correct the quick fix… all seen through the lens of pre-recovery thinking. It stopped me in my tracks.
Whenever I have found myself in the past heading down the path of old thinking, my correction has always been to deepen my efforts at prayer and meditation. So it was crazy enough that this step was the one we were discussing. A coincidence that is never a coincidence.
But then to hear my friend describe in layman’s terms a basic tenet of Buddhist thinking in a way I could understand, a concept that applied so directly to the discussion I was having with my husband, was the breakthrough I needed.
Attachment to an outcome = suffering
Yep, that pretty much sums up in a nutshell the source of my suffering.
So I got the wake-up call I needed this morning. Of course, like my friend above said, the wake-up call is not enough. I need to be a participant in the process. The good news is that you can start just where you are when it comes to prayer and meditation!
Coincidences-that-are-never coincidences will always be a miracle to me!
Posted on February 15, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Conscious Contact, God, Higher Power, Meditation, Meeting, Miracle, Prayer, Recovery, Sobriety, step 11, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
Let go and let God. Followed by do the next right thing.
Funny how universal and applicable that advice really is.
LikeLiked by 2 people
So true, and we joked about that exact thing in the meeting. A friend was recounting his foxhole prayers not to lose power during a hurricane, followed by his forgetfulness in going out and buying a generator. So we said, sure pray, turn it over, but then go out and do the next right thing… go buy the generator 🙂
Great post Josie. Lots to mine there.
People still go on about the HP thing when it’s clear that one can be atheist / agnostic and still work the program. God is a placeholder word and can be anything one desires it to be. Lots of atheists and agnostics work a great program and there are many resources out there like websites, books, 12 step groups, etc. that are agnostic / atheist based.
As for meditation, I just re-committed to a 30 day “challenge” to get back into a meditation habit. I know it serves me very well when I connect that way regularly. When I don’t do it habitually, I do feel it in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
And yeah, the Old Me can crop up at any time and I can feel it grate against the Higher Self when I am in that state. Time to stop, drop and roll then 😉
LikeLiked by 1 person
There are several in my group (agnostics, that is), some of them with long-term sobriety. It really is true, and I love the idea of God as a placeholder word… sums it up perfectly.
I too had re-committed to a 30 day meditation, then fell out 10 days in. That’s okay, though, just get up and do the next right thing. Yelling at myself for not meditating is pretty much adding insult to injury, methinks.
And my husband was exactly right, Old Josie was (and still is, if I’m being honest) present and accounted for in that discussion. The progress, I suppose, is that I’m open to hearing it, and that I can see it myself.
I’ll get there.
So incredibly great to read a comment from you, it has absolutely made my day 🙂
I am having fun leading my meeting!
It helps me get there, and now I am feeling closer to the cool people.
LikeLiked by 1 person
So glad to read that its going well, Wendy!