Waking – a meditation

light

 

In the grey cocoon of light the mind
finds metamorphosis,
makes from the wreck of what she was
the wings of what she is.
 

Ursula K. LeGuin — Waking

 

I have been thinking about “spiritual awakening”. I heard a speaker, who said, that “spiritual awakening” is just what it says: that we “wake up” to a new life of the spirit. It’s just that simple. There does not have to be any sudden change, any “aha” moment, any flood of inspiration or visitation. Just waking up. I think about waking up from a night’s sleep. Sometimes I come slowly to consciousness, not really sure where the boundary is between sleep and waking. At other times, I am instantly and suddenly wide awake, with a clear boundary between dreaming and reality.

My spiritual awakening in recovery was gradual. I did not have a moment of enlightenment, when it all changed for me. I had to pause and take stock, to ask myself, “How am I living my life now? How is this different from my life before recovery?” In that asking, the answer was clear: I had awakened. I was more present, more aware, more conscious, more intentional, and perhaps more rational in the way I lived, in the way I interacted with others, and in my understanding of a Higher Power that was restoring me to sanity. The Al-Anon program was, for me, a “grey cocoon of light” that supported and enabled my metamorphosis from “the wreck of what [I] was” to “the wings of  what [I] am”.

A meditation for December 28, 2013.

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forgiveness – a meditation

heart

 

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Matthew West – Forgiveness

Forgiveness…

I have had to learn that forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
… that forgiveness does not mean what happened was “ok”.
… that forgiveness does not say “do it to me again.”
… that forgiveness does not mean I can’t set boundaries.
But most of all, I have had to learn that forgiveness is for me.
… that forgiveness opens a path to healing.
… that forgiveness frees my heart.
… that forgiveness brings me closer to God.

Forgiveness can come from a lot of places.

Forgiveness can come from understanding and compassion. From understanding that people are fallible, and that most of the time we are doing the best we know how to do. From compassion for another’s struggle and pain. From understanding that addiction is a disease of the mind and spirit, and compassion for the compulsion and obsession that is inevitable in active addiction.

Forgiveness can come from love. Love that encompasses and holds another in their full humanity and brokenness. Love that says “You are too important to me, for me to throw you out of my heart.” Love that is able to say, “I will hold you in my heart, but it is not healthy for me to have you in my life right now.” Love like God has for all of us.

Forgiveness can come from recognizing that holding onto pain and resentment hurts me more than it hurts the object of my anger. Every resentment, every grudge, every remembered pain keeps me from serenity. Every time I lie awake chewing over some past wrong, every time my gut tightens at the memory, every time I turn away in anger from another person is a time that removes me from living my life for myself, a time that I am not fully in the present moment, a time that I am not enjoying what is happening right here, right now.

It helps me to remember that forgiveness does not condone past wrongs. Forgiveness is not the same as saying “It was OK.” It is not forgetting that we were hurt. And it is definitely not saying “Do it to me again!” I can find forgiveness for past hurts, while setting boundaries to prevent future harm. If somebody stole from me, I can say “you may not come into my house.” If someone was emotionally abusive to me, I can say “I will not be with you.” If their behavior came from active drinking, I can say “I will spend time with you only when you are sober.” If someone repeatedly violates my physical space, I will say “next time you come here without my permission, I will call the police.” In forgiveness, I can do these things with love and compassion, rather than with anger and rejection.

Finding forgiveness heals my heart, bringing me peace and serenity. Finding forgiveness allows me to remember what happened without reliving the pain. Finding forgiveness brings me closer to the life that my Higher Power wants me to live.

Forgiving is not always easy. But it is necessary … for me.

A meditation for December 26, 2013.

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spiritual awakening – a guest meditation from Beth

how much love?

 

 

Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

 

Step 12 of Al-Anon

 

I have heard many people in al anon say that they have had a spiritual awakening, thanks to this program, and that as a result, they have gotten their lives back. Thankfully, I can say that too. I am one of those lucky, happy people. But what does having my life back really mean for me? After years of not being present in my own life as a result of throwing myself headlong into the drama and chaos of trying to live other peoples’ lives FOR them, because of working this program, the crazy negative constant chatter in my head has subsided. I am peaceful where I was once obsessed. I am kind to myself where I once was my own worst enemy.

This internal quiet has become a part of my daily existence, and I now find myself open and available to receive the many joys life offers me each day. I observe, listen, and am present with myself and others in a way I have not experienced in a long, long time, maybe since I was a child. People say it is never too late to have a happy childhood. I am having mine now. I am happy to say that I am actually LIVING each day, and treasuring my life to the fullest.

This does not mean every day is a picnic. It just means that I am ok with it, whatever happens. I know by now that both the bad and the good will always come and go like the tides, because i embraced with my whole heart the wise slogan this too shall pass.

The pain and sadness I have endured have left me with a melancholy streak. That is ok. Because of my experiences I can offer true compassion to others who are in pain, like my son. I can allow him the space to walk his own path for himself with dignity. I can detach in love, with real hope for him in my heart because I know that the program works.

Because of the mistakes I have made, I have the humility to know that I don’t have all of the answers, and I am absolutely done forcing solutions.

How did all of this happen? My sanity and balance have been restored in large part by love. The love shared between members of this program is very powerful. You loved me when I could not love myself. The love I felt for you was real and heartfelt, and so i began to trust and believe that the love you showed me was real too. This helped a lot! It started me on my journey of learning to love myself again. The love a newcomer receives from members of this program is like a tidal wave, very powerful, and at first very unexpected. I am humbled and immensely grateful for the love freely given to me in these rooms. And I love being able to reflect all this goodness right back at all of you. But most of all i love being loving and kind to MYSELF.

The other primary source of my restored wellbeing was working the steps. The time and sweat that I put into writing my searching and fearless moral inventory was well spent. So was the energy I devoted to making amends. I felt reborn and freed from age old self-imposed shackles afterwards. I repeat a mini version of this process using step 10 continually in my life, and I always feel truer to myself and more whole as a result. The steps are a symphony, not a note wasted or unnecessary. This fellowship and it’s gifts are truly amazing.

So now that I am present in my life, spiritually awake, practicing the Al-Anon principles in all of my affairs, I get to see some really beautiful things. Here is what i saw the other day, something i would never have seen in my old obsessed crazy state. I would have been too busy micromanaging my son’s life, fully convinced that I not only could but should control every step he took, missing my own life while careening headlong toward exhaustion and failure.

Riding home on the train the other day, on a sunny lovely day, I looked out the window as the train stopped. Passengers were getting off at “highland station”, so named because the platform is a top a small hill. I saw a group of about ten young boys ranging in age from 5 to 8 outside my window. They were pushing bikes up this small grassy hill only to ride down it together in glee, over and over. Their happiness was so contagious that i found myself grinning. As they were making their way back up the hill towards me, I started waving. One boy tentatively waved back. I smiled bigger and waved harder. Then another waved back. Soon all were waving and smiling at me. Then, from the direction they were looking, I could tell that the conductor had started waving at them too. And some other passengers followed suit. By the time the train pulled away, everybody on the train was waving at the little boys, and all the boys were waving back with glee. It was so beautiful, and I started it all, because I was awake, living my own life.

Thanks to this program I am having my own happy childhood today, finding love to share around every corner.

A meditation for December 13, 2013

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giving thanks – a meditation

DSC_6098

 

Oh, we give thanks for this precious day,
For all gathered here, and those far away;
For this time we share with love and care,
Oh, we give thanks for this precious day.

“We Give Thanks” by Wendy Luella Perkins

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It is a day when we traditionally gather with our family and friends to be thankful for what we have in our lives. Last year, I was the only one awake at my home in the morning, and I decided to make a gratitude list. I started with A, thinking of things I was grateful for that began with the letter A, then B, C, etc. I hadn’t gotten too far into the alphabet and a feeling of warmth started to pervade my spirit.

Here is an updated version of that list, with people’s names blanked for anonymity.

A* – my beloved wife, who loves me and puts up with my foibles.
Breath – the inspiration that replenishes my body and soul.
Computers – that provide me both vocation and diversion.
Dentistry – without which I would have no functional teeth.
E* – my vivacious, inquisitive daughter.
Facebook – keeping me in touch with distant friends.
Grandparents – long gone physically, but still right there in my memories.
Health – still good, despite the aches and pains inherent in aging.
Inquisitiveness – keeping me interested and engaged in the world.
J* – my sister, who is closer in adulthood than we ever were as children.
Knowledge – helping me to live in right relationship with people and this earth.
Love – which increases as I give it away.
M* – my mother, who gave me life and taught me to live in the world.
N* – my amazing son, who continues to push his own boundaries and dreams.
Owls – they add mystery to the night. I recently heard one at 3AM from my bedroom.
Poetry – especially that of my brother, M*, who demonstrates strength in adversity by his example.
Questions – may I always have them!
Recovery – my path to continued growth and serenity.
Serenity – the ability to stay calm in the midst of life’s storms.
Three – reminding me that it’s not all black and white, yes and no.
Unitarian Universalism – a community that supports me in my spiritual questing and questioning.
Vision – bringing the colors and beauty of the world to me.
W* – my father, who is a rock of my life, and taught me so much.
X-rays – helping to diagnose my body’s failings.
Yesterday – reminding me that acceptance is the answer to my problems today.
Z – reminding me to be grateful for what I have today, because all things eventually come to an end.

A meditation for November 28, 2013.

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plant a tree – a meditation

4529789618_fca6f88bf4_b

 

 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.

The second best time is now.

– Chinese Proverb

 

Steps 6 and 7 give me an opportunity to change. It is easy for me to say “Oh, that’s just the way I am, and anyway, it’s too late to do anything about it.” Or, in other words “I should have planted that  tree 20 years ago.” But you know, my life is not over. And if I plant a new tree now, I will probably still be around in 20 years to enjoy it. If I start to make a change in the way I act, now, I will enjoy the benefits of that change for years to come.

Step 7, “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings”, is a tool I can use to begin that change. By saying, “I want to change, please help me,” I open the door to a happier future.  I plant the seed. Of course, I will need to tend the seedling tree, watering, weeding, protecting it from damage as it grows. In my life, I need to water the seed of change by noticing when my character defect still surfaces, by practicing new behavior, and by being gentle with myself when the old behavior recurs (as it inevitably will.) I celebrate my progress, just as I celebrate the tree growing from a sprout, to a “whip”, to a sapling, to a small tree, and finally into a full grown tree with flowers and maybe fruit, which I can sit in the shade of or climb as I wish.

I may need to ask my Higher Power for the humility to be teachable, to learn a new way of being. That is the essence of Step 6, “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” In Step 6, I prepare the ground of my spirit for the seed of change, just as I might prepare soil for planting a tree. To plant a tree, I would dig a hole. I would mix various amendments such as peat, sand, compost, or fertilizer into the soil, so that the seed has a nourishing and well-drained environment to encourage its growth. Similarly, I might examine my shortcomings, asking myself  these questions: What is the pain caused by this shortcoming? What is the payoff? Why did I develop this behavior? How does it continue to benefit me? Can I have the patience I need for real change? In this way, I prepare myself and become ready to accept the new life that is sure to grow in the time ahead.

A meditation for November 14, 2013.

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