Meditation in Recovery
Meditation in recovery is a workshop designed to help those who seek to take their recovery to another level. Bill Wilson, co-founder of the first 12 Step Recovery Program, said in later years that 12 step work was only the beginning of true spiritual growth. He referred to 12 Step Recovery as â€œSpiritual Kindergarten.â€ He felt that continued effort on our part was necessary in order to truly practice Spiritual Principles â€œin all our affairs.â€
In the 11th Step, meditation is given as one of the methods to improve. How can we use this technique to enhance our â€œSpiritual Awakeningâ€ and improve our practice of â€œSpiritual Principles?â€ How can meditation help in this restoration? How does the mind affect the feelings and emotions, which seem to prompt our actions? Can meditation help us to see how our mind works? Can seeing how our mind works actually lead to changes in our feelings and emotions? Will this affect our actions? What about the consequences we experience as a result of our actions? Can a change in thinking actually affect these? All these questions have answers. The answers deal with â€œSanity.â€ What is sanity?
â€œStill crazy after all these yearsâ€
Step two says â€ (We) came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.â€ Is this true? Does my thinking, my speech, my actions, indeed my life indicates a restoration to sanity? We often hear maybe have even said â€œIâ€™m still crazy after all these years.â€ What does this say about Step 2? Does it mean that Step 2 is somehow not true? We often hear the phrase â€œMy mind is a dangerous neighborhood.â€ Although this is understandable in the early days of recovery, should it still be this way after years of recovery? â€œDoes it have to remain this wayâ€ may be a better question? Has sanity, at least a measure of it, been restored? If I have not been restored to sanity, at least is some measure, how can I help someone else in this respect? What message am I passing on to the newcomers in Recovery? But, if I am still crazy, what can I do to improve my own sanity? Step 2 says that a power greater than ourselves â€œcouldâ€ restore us to sanity. Why â€œcouldâ€ instead of â€œwould?â€ It is because we have a part in it too? We have to be willing. We have to do the work, which allows the sanity to be restored. We have to be open-minded enough to try something new and different. We can try meditation as one of the tools of restoration.
In what ways are we â€œinsaneâ€ â€œcrazy?â€ Donâ€™t we really mean â€œcaught up in thingsâ€ like fear, anxiety, impatience, anger, resentment, rage, jealousy, lust, insecurity, obsession, compulsion, sadness, grief, despair, confusion, delusion, low self-esteem or self-righteousness. What are these things? They are all â€œconditions/states of mind.â€ It all begins in the mind, our thoughts, ideas, concepts, beliefs and our ignorance. Everything traces back to the mind. How does this happen? It begins with a sensation. We all have senses. Some of us have use of full complement of them, some have only partial use. Senses like touch, taste, smell, sight, sound and consciousness. When we sense something through one of these gifts a â€œsensationâ€ occurs. This â€œsensationâ€ notifies the mind. The mind can observe it and move on to the next moment or cause a reaction. The same is true for the sense of smell, sound and taste. Through consciousness we can remember it and move on, or it can cause a reaction. Through consciousness we can project, speculate on what we think may happen in the future. We project a sensation of some kind. This can bring a feeling, an emotion into existence. This can feel like insanity. This is insanity. The past is over, and the future we cannot accurately predict.
Some sensations produce â€œnatural reactions.â€ When we feel heat, we pull back, etc. These are natural. However, if sensations are producing thoughts that are causing emotions to arise, this is where the â€œcrazinessâ€ could be â€œnipped in the budâ€ and we could prevent most of the â€œcrazinessâ€ from every beginning. We can use mediation to observe this process in action and to begin to develop the necessary meditative awareness in order to â€œPractice the Principles in all our affairs.â€ Our mind can go from a â€œdangerous neighborhoodâ€ to a very nice place to be, a place conducive to practicing principles like acceptance, patience, tolerance, kindness, understanding, compassion, surrender, humility, powerlessness, courage, forgiveness, open-mindedness, honesty, willingness and love toward ourselves and others. When we learn to stem the tide of â€œcrazinessâ€ we can also learn how to use meditative awareness to re-direct our thoughts to the Spiritual Principles we want to practice. This is true sanity, â€œpracticing these Principles in all our affairs.â€ The mind is an incredible â€œthinking machine.â€ If we understand and use it properly, it can be an asset rather than a liability. So, how can we use the wonderful tool of meditation to achieve the â€œmeditative awarenessâ€ that leads to sanity. Letâ€™s begin the lifelong process now!
STOP, OBSERVE and RETURN
We will begin with what I call Stop, Observe and Return
STOP: In order to stop the thought process long enough to begin to develop meditative awareness, we will give the mind something to focus on, namely: the breath. First we simply take a few deep breaths, breathing slowly and deliberately. As we breathe in, long and deep, we say to ourselves â€œIâ€™m breathing in.â€ as we exhale, slowly and deliberately, we say to ourselves Iâ€™m breathing out.â€ On the in â€“ breath we feel the sensation of breathing in. Feel the air coming in through the tip of our nostrils and filling up the diaphragm, the lungs, and the entire body, on the out breath we feel the sensation of the air leaving the entire body, especially the lungs and the diaphragm. Get it all out! If you like, you can picture the in breath as white, purity and the in breath as dirty, dingy, and brownish in color, impurity. We are breathing in positive, pushing out the negative.
After a few deep breath, come back to natural breathing, still feeling the sensations of breathing, still saying â€œIâ€™m breathing in Iâ€™m breathing out.â€
Focus in these things. This is meditation.
Observe: you should be able to do the first part for a while, stopping the mind from wandering; but then it will start. As thoughts begin to arise, you will soon notice that you have left the focus of breathing and you donâ€™t even know why or how it happened. Donâ€™t be bothered by this. Just observe it when it takes place, then let it go. The thought has arisen, now let it cease. Donâ€™t judge it as good or bad, right or wrong, just let it go. How do I let it go?
Return: return to your breathing. â€œIâ€™m breathing in, Iâ€™m breathing out,.â€ Feel the breath going in and out, picture the color and nature of each.
&nb sp; Stop! Observe! Return!
Then just repeat this process for a few minutes. You can extend the length of time gradually. If you feel like you are wasting your time, this is a case of the mind taking you somewhere that leads to â€œcraziness.â€ Just return your focus once again. Meditation is a form of discipline that yields good fruit. Practice, Practice, Practice! You are beginning the process that leads to â€œMeditative Awareness.â€