I am coming back to Step 11 this week to talk about meditation. I am an older guy in my 60’s, lived most of my life in a rural setting and attended a conservative church. In my younger days when I thought about meditation, I pictured someone sitting on the floor, eyes closed, humming, and incense burning (to cover the odor of pot). What I would have called hippy dippy new age crap. Some people may practice some of that when they meditate, but meditation is so much more. A definition from Merriam-Webster.com is, “to focus ones thoughts on: reflect or ponder over.” As I began to approach meditation with an open mind, I discovered that many religions including Christianity, Buddhism and Islam practice meditation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church encourages meditation as a form of prayer and many of the early desert fathers of the Christian faith practiced meditation and encouraged their followers to do so.
My simplest explanation of meditation is setting aside quiet, focused time to focus on healthy thoughts and practices. For some that may mean sitting on the floor with legs crossed. For some of my friend’s meditation takes place on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book that helps them to focus their thoughts. The book could be the Bible. Some of my friends in AA use books like Daily Reflections, Keep It Simple or Courage to Change. I have found that meditation is easiest for me when I am walking, sometimes in a park or forest, but it can even be walking a sidewalk in town.
My meditation begins with a time of calming and focusing my thoughts. This usually includes slowing my breathing. Slowing my pace when I am walking. Then I focus my thoughts. Sometimes I may focus on a passage from the Bible, Sometimes, it’s a thought from a book I am reading or a podcast I have listened to. Often, it’s something I have heard shared in a recovery meeting or by my sponsor. It’s usually a short phrase that’s easy for me to repeat and I do so several times. Then I begin to ask myself questions. Does this tell me anything about my concept of God? What does this tell me about myself? What does this tell me about my relationships with others? What is one way that this applies to my life? And I finish by asking, what is one step I can take today to apply the good that I see here?
Step 11 speaks of a combination of prayer and meditation. I have often heard wise people say that prayer is me speaking to God and meditation is taking the time to allow God to speak to me. I would say that I have always prayed often, anytime sometime “bad” happened. But it wasn’t until I had spent some time on the path of recovery that I really began to practice taking time to listen to God speak to me. My experience has been that even if He doesn’t give me an answer that fixes the problem, He almost always is clear in saying, “It’s ok. I’m here.” Often, that’s all I really need. Just to know I’m not alone.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you. Maybe we can talk.