What was it like before I began meditating?
It always seemed like I was looking for something and also I did not really feel connected to anything. I had this separate feeling that was always nagging in the back of my mind. The spiritual feelings I had about my self and my life were mainly on a mental level - more like what I had learned and thought about God and spirit.
What happened? How did I get started meditating?
I first started - or tried - to meditate with my second sponser, after being sober about 2 years. We would sit down and I would watch him close his eyes and sit very quiet and look very peaceful. While I closed my eyes and felt my brain switch on - full power - and I would start thinking and thinking, all these thoughts would come rushing into my awareness. The last thing I felt was peaceful!
So I would open up my eyes and move on, thinking it didn't work - at least for me it didn't.
At seven years, I decided that I really needed to give it another try. I heard of a meditation temple in town and went there one Saturday morning to give it another try. I managed to sit quietly for about 30-45 minutes. I had read somewhere that if you just sit through the initial mind chatter, it would eventually become more quiet. I found this to be true. So I started going there and meditating every Saturday morning.
A few years later I heard something from my new, and present, spiritual teacher - "When you meditate, everything you hear is what God is saying to you." So I started listening to all the mind chatter in the beginning of my meditation sessions, instead of ignoring it while waiting for my mind to get quiet. What I heard were things I was incomplete with, out of balance with, upset with, and anything that was making me feel un-peaceful. I think we call that "discontent" in AA. So I came to the decision that God was giving me a to-do list. It was being brought to my attention all of the things in my life at that time that were creating discomfort for me. So I started to pick one of the things that came up in my meditation and took care of it so it was complete. What I discovered was that next time I meditated...that thing did not come up again - it was gone. My meditation that time was just that much more quiet and peaceful. I continued to do this, making my meditation an exercise in learning what new actions I needed to take in my life, and a time to just sit quietly.
As I continued on, my meditations and my life both became more quiet and peaceful - imagine that! I would like to share some of the hurdles I had to overcome to make meditation work for me:
1. I had to get rid of the notion that when I meditate my mind would go blank and I would be completely peaceful and serene. When I believed this I thought of meditation as a time of doing nothing; made it really hard to set aside time in my active life to do "nothing" for any period of time. I now think of meditation as a very active and productive time in my life.
2. I had to get rid of the belief that God wouldn't really talk to me (I wasn't worthy). He only talked to people like Jesus, and Buddha, and people like that - not to ordinary people like me. So I developed a belief that has worked for me: I have a soul, and when I am meditating I am connecting and listening to my soul, not to this idea of God that I have a hard time understanding. It makes it more believable and more personal for me. Step 11 states that we can improve our conscious contact with God. I found it easier to believe I have a direct connection with my own soul and that I could improve that connection. I look at my soul as the part of me that knows everything and guides me through this lifetime. It is where my intuition comes from, and the ideas that pop into my head that I have never thought of before. I sometimes think of it as my big-brother, always watching over me. Maybe all of the souls combined is what God really is.
What is it like now? How has meditation affected my program and my life.
Like night and day (like coming out of the dark and into the light). I meditate every day now, at least 30-60 minutes. My spiritual teacher taught me that meditation is the most important and productive thing I can do to become more aware of my spirituality. I am already a complete spiritual/physical being, I can't become more spiritual, but I can become more connected to and aware of my own spirit.
How it's affected my program: it's like the battery that runs the program. I believe that meditation is one of the most important parts of the program. And believe me that it takes a lot of work. Just try meditating for 30 minutes a day for 30 days in a row. I try to always remember that I will never be given more than I can handle. If meditation is really the answer, than it is possible for me to do it on a regular basis, everyday. Ever hear that expression "Happy, joyous, and free"? That's what I get from meditation. I also get a feeling of connection with all things. Maybe as I connect more with my own soul, which is connected to all the other souls; that's what causes my feeling of unity to grow. I don't feel alone any more like I used to.