Meditation and 12 Steps to Innovate for Recovering Humans

Step 4 in Meditation

Deep Reflection to Uncover our Spiritual Wounds

By Randy F.

In the first three Steps we have laid a spiritual process that will support us as we begin the traditional "action steps." We learned that we are powerless over alcohol and drugs and that many aspects of our lives are unmanageable. Our Step One meditation techniques have taught us the spiritual actions to overcome our unmanageable thought and emotions that often overwhelm us.

We developed in our Step Two meditation inner concepts of our higher power and how to connect with this all-encompassing power through our hearts in meditation, to relax into the presence of our Higher power. In SpiritStep Three, we practiced aligning with the 3rd step prayer as instruments to the Will of God, as we understand him.

The first three SpiritSteps may be used with every meditation, as a familiar opening exceris to begin your daily meditation. It is a good practice to begin your daily meditations in the same manner. This is similar to warm up exercises playing a sport. The beginning format that we have developed will help you slow down, detach from the day, as well as practice the first three steps at the beginning of your meditation. At this point we should be getting a sense of how to meditate, to be able to practice overcoming our distractions as we strive to spend some quality time with our Higher Power through meditation.

Now we begin the process of weeding out and cleaning our "Spiritual Garden" of negative past actions, emotions and thoughts.

Step Four: "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

Meditation application of Step 4:
We reflect deeply seeking to become aware of the root causes of our spiritual wounds.

Try an online Guided 4th Step Reflective Meditation. We suggest that you read the article first before doing this meditation.

Step Four Reflective Meditation


"Next, we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by strenuous effort to face, and be rid of, the things in ourselves that had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions."

Meditation is our most effective tool in reaching the root causes of our spiritual wounds.

When we think a thought, such as a resentment, our mind communicates this thought throughout our body via chemical electrical impulses. It also communicates these thoughts to the world around us through magnetic energy fields and to the rest universe via "light" energy. These communications are colored or flavored in a way that reflects the idea, emotion, and intensity. In the world of science energy can never be destroyed, but it can change form. A visualization of this is Pig Pen, from the Peanuts comic strip, and the cloud of dust that followed him. We lived a life of resentment, fear, anger and many other undesirable actions. These behaviors all resulted in a transmission of energy into our world affecting us and those around us. But what were the causes of this way of living?

"First we searched at the flaws in our make-up, which caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what defeated us, we considered it’s common manifestation."

"Resentment is the "number one" offender. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically."

"It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness …….but with alcoholics, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the Sunlight of the Spirit." Big Book, pg 63-64

The Big Book is very clear in describing our spiritual illness. The definition of resentment is: "indignation or ill will felt as a result of a real or imagined grievance." We may treat this illness in a similar way as we treat a physical illness. Meditation is a spiritual remedy to our spiritual disease.

Let’s visualize that our spiritual life as an image of a garden. All of the different aspects of our LowerSelf, our physical body, ego, emotional body, mental body and energy body – our past and current actions, emotions and thoughts, are the plants and objects now found in our Spiritual Garden. The energy from our past collects to figuratively create your Spiritual Garden. This is called karma in the Eastern traditions. "Karma is both action and the result of action. What we experience today is the result of our karma – both good and bad – created by our previous actions. This chain of cause and effect that we ourselves have created can be snapped by karma yoga." (Vedanta A Simple Introduction, by Pravrajika Vrajaprana pg 24) Karma Yoga is the yoga of action or work. This means that we can work towards clearing up the results of our past deeds. Jesus taught that we reap what we sow. Our Spiritual Garden reflects the actions of our lives. The good news is that we can work to change the way our garden looks.

You can imagine that as we first become sober our Spiritual Gardens are cluttered with wreckage, weeds of resentments and fears and barren of fruits and flowers. Our Spiritual Gardens are direct reflections of our current spiritual health. Our 11th Step meditations for the first three steps have helped us to build a foundation, through the inner work of connecting to our Higher Power and learning to express our SpiritSelf. Now, beginning with Step Four, we begin to clean up our Spiritual Gardens as we become observers of our LowerSelf, to do the inner meditation work to recover from our Spiritual illness and to take the outer actions that will place us in right relations with our SpiritSelf and others in our lives.

The Fourth Step is a wonderful opportunity to begin healing our Spiritual Gardens from the clutter of resentments and other negative emotions that we have been carrying with us throughout our lives. The act of making a written inventory as described in the Big Book, very simply lists these resentments and fears and shows us how to examine our side of the picture.

In the 11th Step Meditation approach to Step Four we want to develop the spiritual qualities of forgiveness, and non-judgment and the quality of Love.

"We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick, too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would gratefully grant a sick friend. When a person offended us we said to ourselves, "This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God Save me from being angry. Thy will be done."

"We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn’t treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly, and tolerant view of each and every one." Pg 67

We can practice this 4th Step prayer in our meditation or anytime with those that we have a resentment towards:

  1. In your meditations, take a few minutes to surround the person that is offending you.
  2. Surround them in a healing cloud of light knowing that they are spiritually sick as we are.
  3. Focus on this intention: The light of our Higher Power surrounds you. The love of our Higher Power enfolds you.

We cannot know what our Higher Powers will for this person is, but by reaching out and touching them in this way we can help build a healing connection between them and Higher Power.

The root cause of our spiritual disease is our sense of separation from Higher Power. If we realized every moment of the day that we are always in the presence of our Higher Power, there is no reason to be angry or afraid. But, we forget. The original mistake that we make is that of judgment. Judgment creates a separation from Higher Power and closes our Heart Center, which is our connection to Higher Power. We are reflections of Higher Power’s love. When we focus on our Heart Center, our true self we are expressing the love that we are. We practiced this in our Step 2 11th Step Meditation.

Resentment and fear are judgments. We are angry or afraid of situations because we think we have been wronged or cheated. In Step 4 we learn spiritual discernment. To learn to see our actions and motivations clearly without judgment in our past and in our daily lives.

The Fourth Step Inventory, in the Big Book, is simple:

" First, "we look at our resentments to see how each one affects our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations."

" Next, we are asked to put "out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man’s. When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight." Big Book pg 67

" The inventory also asked us to list our fears. When we are fearful we feel alone and certainly not in the presence of God. "This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it.

"Perhaps there is a better way, we think so. For we are now on a different basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity." Big Book Pg 68

The Fourth Step, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the practice of meditation are all focused on cleaning up our side of the street, our Spiritual Gardens. We have spent many years living in fear, seeking blame and solutions outside of ourselves when the root causes and the answers have always been located within us.

Reflective Meditation is a great technique to learn and use for our inventory work. Reflective Meditation is a guided, coordinated thought process on a specific subject. We begin with a "seed thought" which is the particular resentment or fear that we have. This should not be an aimless, pondering, thinking activity. We already do too much of this in our minds, allowing it do take us on it’s random journey.

We want to learn to use our minds as a tool. We have the habit of letting our minds use or control us. This is a skill that we develop in meditation. We learned detachment from our thoughts and emotions in the Step One meditation and continue to practice it in every meditation.

Now, in our Step Four 11th Step Meditation we will "walk" through the inventory process in our meditation. Here are a few tips to remember in you Reflective Meditation:

  • Hold the attitude of the Observer – Notice when your mind tries to deviate because of emotions or mental baggage attached to the resentment or fear.
  • We want to be persistent in thinking this through.
  • Sit with each or your conclusions and choices in each column to see if further perceptions will come to you.
  • Keep the intention of the 4th step meditation present. Your mind will try to distract you from the work you are doing.
  • Remember, we are weeding our Spiritual Gardens through this moral inventory by
    • Identifying and healing our spiritual wounds, – resentments and fears.
  • We will also identify our positive spiritual assets to nurture and increase these in our lives.

In meditation we will develop a clear understanding of the difficulties between the LowerSelf and our SpiritSelf. Self-centeredness is an identification and preoccupation with our LowerSelf, its shortcomings, worries, and fears. Our SpiritSelf is not only the observer but the doer, also. We can make wise decisions and learn to guide the decisions of our lives. We are not at the mercy of our LowerSelf mind.

Step 4 Reflective Meditation

Here is a guided meditation for you to use. Repeat each affirmation in rhythm with your breath over and over as you progress through the meditation.

  1. Relaxation, Centering and Aligning with our Higher Power – Begin with a few minutes to relax, get quiet, listen to your breath and let go of the day
    • " Begin the meditation by getting comfortable and listening to our breath. Feel the clean light-filled air on the inhale filling your lungs and body with goodness and love. Exhale deeply and visualize all sickness and negativity leaving your lungs and body with the breath.
  2. Use the following affirmations that align with the first 3 steps to help begin the meditation:
    • Step 1 – "I relax and I let go" Repeat this phrase in rhythm with your breathing
    • Step 2 – "I let go and I let God (or you may use the word "love") Begin focusing on your heart center. Imagine a white light glowing in your chest that is warm and full of love.
    • Step 3 I offer myself to my Higher Power. Become aware of how this surrender affirmation feels and what it looks like.
  3. Begin our Step 4 Reflective meditation segment. I suggest that you select 1 resentment of fear to reflect on in each meditation.
    • Observe the resentment or fear that you wish to work with.
    • Does it affect our "self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations?"
      • Detach from "the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes." Strive to realize any emotions that we associate with this resentment.
      • Evaluate only how we are affected.
      • Sit quietly with this for a few minutes to see if deeper insights come to you.
    • Next consider "where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened?"
      • Strive to become aware of any emotions that we associate with our actions in our part of this resentment.
      • Evaluate only how we are affected.
      • Sit with this for a few minutes to see if deeper insights come to you.
    • What is the motivation for my spiritual defect?. What am I afraid of in this situation?
      • Strive to become aware of any emotions that we associate with our motivation in our part of this resentment.
      • Evaluate only how we are affected.
      • Sit with this for a few minutes to see if deeper insights come to you.
      • Understand the meaning of each of our answers toward this resentment of fear
      • Evaluate our part in this fear and how it is affecting us today
    • What is one of your Spiritual Assets that you can increase to help prevent this spiritual wound in the future?
      • Forgiveness
      • Tolerance
      • Compassion
      • Love
      • What else?
        • Take one of these attributes and insert it into this affirmation
          o "I am the <asset> of my Higher Power in action."
          Repeat this as you imagine this asset increasing growing within you.

  4. Take a few minutes to surround the person that is offending you.
    • Surround them in a healing cloud of light knowing that they are spiritually sick as we are.
    • Focus on this intention: The light of our Higher Power surrounds you. The love of our Higher Power enfolds you.
  5. Slowly bring your awareness back into the room and your body. End your meditation slowly and sit quietly for a few minutes to absorb the experience.

In this way we shine the sunlight of the spirit on our spiritual wounds to heal them.

Realization of our defects, problems judgments and conflicts naturally urges us to take the next steps toward order, healing, harmony with others and wholeness with ourselves in the next Step Five.

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