I’ve noticed that we are all recovering in our lives from one thing or another. This is a joy of being human – imperfection. But some of us choose a path to improve our selves and our lives. I’ve been sober for 17 years and have learned to frame my choices within the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. They are the guiding signposts in my life and and the primary framework to innovate my life. A definition of “to innovate” is to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.
Personal innovation and change brings improved lives and in business it brings career growth and evolution. Recovery from alcoholism and addiction is imperative for those of us with this disease. It is life and death. Many choose death rather than changing their lives. We are all addicted to something. For non-alcoholics these addictions can be work, social media, food, relationships, anything that we obsess about that gets in the way of living our lives productively in love and service.
In our personal lives and in our work lives we need to constantly be willing to change and innovate how we perceive and interact with the people in our lives and our rapidly evolving society. Change is happening so fast, technology, science, politics,society and our family institutions, that we if we are coasting and not evolving our selves we are going down hill, so to speak.
As I began trying to meditate early in sobriety, I discovered, that in addition to being powerless over alcohol and other outside things, I am also powerless over my mind and the constant thoughts that demand my attention. I am powerless over my emotions and I let the outward circumstances of the past, present and future affect how I feel. And, I am powerless over my body, the cravings, injuries, disease and other funny tricks that it uses to capture my attention. I am powerless over the world I live in, my family, my work and the outside world.
The 1st Step of Alcoholics Anonymous states that “we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.
”The 1st Step in learning meditation is “we are powerless over our thoughts and emotions and that they are unmanageable.” Powerless in this context does not imply that I cannot make changes but that these things happen automatically. I am human and my brain is designed to generate thoughts and emotions based on previous emotional programming from my past. Today, I am unable to stop these thoughts, but I can change my perspective and relationship to them. I can relax and let go of these thoughts and emotions.
When I finally stayed sober, I was doing the outward actions of the Steps and the program, but something was missing, something – a connectedness, a feeling of belonging. I felt an inner pull toward something within myself. After a time, I realized that I needed to re-connect to a practice of meditation to discover the sources of this connectedness that I had sporadically pursued and read about over the years.
I began an inner journey of learning about meditation, while, at the same time, I became active in my AA spiritual program, attended meetings, worked the steps with my sponsor, and found ways to be of service to others. The beginning meditation techniques I discovered helped me to relax, slow down, quiet the thoughts, sooth the emotions…surrender and to detach from our old ways of living and our old self.
Here is a guided beginning meditation. Listen, and meditate now with this beginning 11th Step Meditation from the SpiritStep One CD
Tips on taking your daily spiritual vitamin – Meditation
Here are some tips to help you develop your practice of meditation. Remember, as with any exercise or new activity it is not always easy getting started. Please, be patient with yourself and the process, use tools such as, 11th Step Meditation meetings, guided meditation CDs, or any other tools to help as you get started.
When to meditate? Mornings are best, but anytime you can find 15 to 20 minutes in a relatively quiet location will be ok.
- Where to meditate? Find a comfortable place to sit that is relatively quiet. Where you will not be disturbed. You may hear outside noises or experience distractions, but that is ok.
- How to sit? There are meditation practices that suggest specific postures for sitting. You will have a better chance of staying awake while meditating if you sit up straight with both feet on the floor and your hands in your lap.
- A few words about thoughts during meditation. It seems easier to teach beginning meditators to use a guided meditation that is active that uses affirmations and imagery to concentrate on to start with. This gives you something to concentrate upon and help detach from the constant stream of thoughts
- Our minds are designed to think and they usually keep us very busy reminding us of our past mistakes, replaying emotional scenes in our mind or worrying about what will happen in the future. We cannot stop our mind from thinking as we meditate. The trick is to learn to not grab onto any particular thought or to let it dominate our attention, or even try to ignore them.
- As thoughts arise in your meditation just watch them float by, as if on a cloud or in a stream. It is OK to notice these thoughts. Become the observer of your thoughts. This is the practice of meditation and know that this will be a skill that becomes easier the more that you meditate.
- I suggest that you use the guided meditations a number of times before you practice it by yourself so you are familiar with the each step.
- We are what we think and the affirmations are a spiritual exercise towards this realigning of our thoughts and of our lives.
Please do not get discouraged and give up. Meditation takes practice. You will think that you are not being very productive, that you are distracted and not doing it right. Persist through this. Be consistent. You will discover the fruits of your meditation over time. The first goal achieved will be emotional balance, a calm within the storm of our thoughts and emotions. This is Serenity! Discover it and Stick with it.