In a discussion meeting online the topic of Meditation came up, and it was noted that most all of us have “trouble” meditating due to the cacaphony of thoughts rambling around in our heads, that we are not very adept at the practice of the 11th step…
Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying ONLY for knowledge for His will for us and the power to carry that out.
What does the BigBook say about this on page 86???
“ON AWAKENING (not on our way to work, or after we’ve showered and eaten, or at some point in the morning, but as soon as we wake up,) let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. (ANOTHER reference back to the Third Step.) Under THESE conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane WHEN our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.”
So the book tells us to pray and meditate first thing in the morning. Let’s look at the sentence beginning with, “Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking…” Please notice these words, they are VERY important. “Before we begin…” – Before we begin what? Before we begin considering our plans for THIS day, and before listening to our Inner Voice. How do we know we’re supposed to listen to God? Because, right afterward, it says we ask God to direct our thinking.
If we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonesty or self-seeking motives, doesn’t it stand to reason that our next thoughts are possibly going to be from our Higher Power? What do we call these thoughts from God? We call these thoughts guidance.
The Big Book tells us that our Creator will provide us with the answers to all of our issues, disclosing how the Spirit of the Universe is going to answer our request for help.
In essence it is telling us that self-examination, meditation and prayer puts us in contact with our Creator, the God of our understanding.
In another book I find this primary injunction on meditation ..
“Be Still, and Know that I AM.”
HELP!! How Do I Do That?? The racket in my head won’t be STILL.
Let me expound now on what I have discovered over the years. It may be a little contorted and involved as I chase down the thoughts in my mind.
In one ancient philosophy addiction to thought is seen as a major obstacle to enlightenment because when our mind is focused on thought we cannot experience reality. Thought takes us out of the Here and Now and into the past, into the future and into illusion/fantasy making, all unreal realms.
On a practical level, thoughts are the major source of anxiety, guilt, remorse, fear and sadness, emotions that certainly cause us a great deal of anguish.
It is not possible to stop thought except perhaps in very advanced levels of mental training????, but it is possible to disengage attention from thought.
The way I have found to do that is to focus my attention on sensations from the body, the wiggling of my toes, the sound and feelng of my breathing, the feeling of my pulse. This is the great advantage of having bodies, they are always anchored in the Here and Now, while our minds are busy careening around the past and future.
As we pay attention to body sensations our attention is focused in Present Reality.
Meditation, in essence, is a means of breaking our addiction to thought, so we can direct and focus our attention, and make that conscious contact with our Higher Power, deep down within.
Meditation, learning to control attention and keep it in one place, is both simple and difficult … simple because it is nothing more than maintaining focus … and difficult because we must change the lifelong habit of letting our mind wander where it will.
The real goal of meditation and the practice of the 11th Step, is to learn to do it constantly as we move through the world of our daily life with our Higher Power.
My practice down through the years has devolved to a simplicity taking no more than a few seconds. ON AWAKENING I immediately focus on the sensation of my toes wiggling against the bed clothes or listen to or feel my breathing. With that I say “Thanks, Charlie” (One of the names I call my Higher Power), reaffirming my gratitude at being given another day in life and sobriety. As that settles in, I say “OK, Charlie,” reaffirming my 3rd Step decision and the unvoiced simple prayer I have used since my early sobriety. Charlie knows the thrust of the prayer before I voice it, he is in control of the utterance.
But just for review, here it is …
God, help me to not put anything into my mind or body today that you would not have there. Take all of my relationships in life and make of them what you will. Thy will be done in their lives as well as in mine and Let Me Know The Truth. Amen”
I do this on awakening and again as I lay myself down to sleep with the added prayer “Please relieve my mind,” which works almost like a light switch, a sensation occurs behind my eyes, and whoosh, I am asleep. Be Still and Know That I AM works every time I seek it in earnest.
“When you are Awake the dream is gone…
When you are Enlightened the ‘world of illusion’ is gone…
…and the TRUTH will make you FREE.”
Love and Peace, Barefoot