choice – a meditation

 

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.

Zen Proverb

I have an amazing Sponsor. When I converse with her, I never feel judged, I feel safe, and I feel heard. But, most importantly, I never feel that she gives me advice or tells me what to do.  She does, however, share her experience, strength, and hope from her application of the program and the 12 Steps to her life. This is extremely important to me because it gives me the space to choose for myself whether or not to walk through the door that she has opened.

Having the space to walk through the door or to not walk through that door and not judged by my Sponsor has been one of the greatest gifts of the program because it helped me understand the word “choice.” I could choose to do something for myself regardless of what others had done, and still be respected and valued. Simple, though it is, this is not something I ever realized before. In the past, I would make my choices based on what I thought others wanted me to do or what would make others happy, and then feel like a victim. But realizing this choice was the first time I felt I could safely participate in my own life.

This awareness first occurred in my relationship with my Sponsor. Then this relationship with my Sponsor became the foundation upon which I started to (and continue to try to) base other relationships. I wanted this freedom, this choice. I wanted this, because it is through the choices that I make that I feel that I can exist and take part in my life. And I am so grateful to my Sponsor and the program for showing me this door.  

A meditation for July 6, 2013.

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feelings– a meditation

 

Most of the good work in this world was done by people who weren't feeling all that well the day they  did it.

Eleanor Roosevelt

I have some extremely black-and-white thinking when left to my own devices;I think that I can either acknowledge, and therefore must submit to, my feelings or I think I must be in utter denial of my feelings in order to make a logical, rational choice about my behavior. I used to feel this way because I was scared – I was scared that tuning into my feelings and still making conscious choices about my life would leave me vulnerable and open to being hurt and therefore weak. So I moved to extremes in interactions with others – either extreme emotion or utterly shutting down emotion in myself – to protect myself.

Neither of these, however, worked for me. Today, in recovery, I learn that I must acknowledge my feelings and accept them in order to make a conscious decision about my actions. I can choose to act on my feelings or not. But when I ignore my feelings, I am ignoring myself and ignoring my own need for love and acceptance by myself and my Higher Power. Only through this acknowledgment, acceptance, and asking for help (Steps 4, 5, 6, & 7) am I able to do the next right thing, consciously and without resentment. And when I do this,  I am stronger than I have ever been before. After all, what could be stronger than knowing myself, loving myself, and knowing my worth lies, not in the other person's response, but solely with my Higher Power?

A meditation for July 5, 2013.

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working through grief – a meditation

past-present-future-sign1

 

Awareness. Acceptance. Action.

 

I have been thinking about how I “work the steps” on my grieving. The “3 A's” of awareness, acceptance, and action give me the key. As I begin to become aware of my grief, I admit my powerlessness, and believe that my higher power can help me to move through it. This is encompassed by steps 1-3.

I look more closely at what it is that I am grieving, and make a searching inventory of its sources and manifestations. This is step 4 and brings me to complete awareness.

Next, I must admit these things to my Higher Power, to myself, and to another human being. By talking about it, I both make it real and lessen its hold on me. This is step 5, and it begins to move me into acceptance. I have admitted my grief out loud, and begin to own it as mine, rather than as some outside force that is making me miserable.

I pray for acceptance and for the readiness to have it removed, knowing that I may have to live through sadness, pain, anger and other feelings before it is “gone”. This is Step 6, and completes my acceptance.

Finally, I can take action of a sort, by asking my Higher Power to “remove” the power that my grief has over my daily life. The grief itself may never be completely gone, but I will come back to serenity, no longer tormented by it. This is Step 7.

A meditation for July 4, 2013.

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listen – a meditation

 

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

Stephen Convey

Every time that I listen to someone speak about his/her feelings and start forming a reply before this person has finished talking, I realize I am not allowing the person the right or dignity of their own feelings. I do this when I am feeling hurt, angry, and fearful that my needs won't be met, so I get defensive.

Recently my Higher Power chose to help me with this defect of “listening to reply” when a loved one was speaking with me. My loved one was hurt and quite defensive and, in return, I was defensive. I listened with intent to reply and when I replied, it went so poorly and I did not keep my side of the street clean. I was drained and emotionally exhausted by the interaction. I, later, approached this person with the intent to listen. And that's what I did, I listened and nothing else. I allowed them the space to feel their feelings whether I felt it was right or wrong. And I made an amends for my part and my behavior in the situation.

Later, when I tried to express my feelings, the other person listened with the intent to reply. This, I think, was my Higher Power trying to teach me patience and compassion because I was now able to understand how it feels when I do that to others. And even though they replied,  I was able to listen to their responses rather than try to be defensive and, therefore, able to keep my side of the street clean.

Finally, my Higher Power taught me understanding and sympathy. The same person that was angry about certain behaviors I engaged in later came to me and thanked me for being able to hold a space for their feelings and then discussed with me about a different situation. While my loved one spoke, I listened with the intent to understand. Though they didn't realize, I heard them speak about how they engage in the same behaviors that they found so frustrating in me. In that moment, though my loved one didn't make that connection between the two of us, I understood and felt sympathy. And simply by realizing that we are the same, my own pain at not being heard earlier, was healed. I realized connections are two-way streets.

I am so thankful for this experience. I learned how to not be defensive. I learned patience. I learned to understand. But most of all, I learned to listen because if I hadn't been able to listen, I would never have been able to heal.

A meditation for July 1, 2013.

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reflect – a meditation

 

We can waste time searching for our own reflection in others, or we can focus on reflecting what we love in others.

 

So much of my life has been spent watching or experiencing one abusive situation after another and seeing how my loved ones sweep it under the rug and pretend it's OK. It really shook me and caused me to lose faith in myself. When I saw something happen that I felt traumatized by and everyone in my life pretended it was normal, I started assuming that I was too sensitive or imagining things or just plain wrong. And if I brought  up the situations with others, often I would get punished for bringing it up. So, unable to express my feelings and told I am wrong, I started just shutting down when an uncomfortable situation was occurring. When I did this, I began to lose my connection with myself because I no longer trusted myself. I treated myself as a crazy person that had no concept of reality. So I would constantly seek myself in others. As the quote says, I would look for my own reflection in others. I would look to others for validation of myself and my feelings to see if they were “correct.”

Now that I am in program, I learned that my feelings are my feelings and I cannot control my feelings. Having feelings, no matter what they are, is never “wrong.” However, when I am not self-aware enough to allow myself to feel and accept my feelings, my actions can be controlled by them. I learned through the Steps how to love myself by accepting my feelings and then giving them up to my Higher Power, take inventory of a situation, and do the next right thing. I learned this by practicing program, reaching out to others to hear their experience, strength, and hope through phone calls and meetings. When I heard something that I resonated with and met someone who exhibited the peace that I wanted to have, I listened to what they had to say. And I began reflecting their behaviors in those situations. I began reflecting what I loved in others because it helped me learned new skills to deal with difficult situations. And stopped looking for others to reflect back to me who I was because I had a strong connection with my Higher Power. When I practice these principles in all my affairs, I achieve serenity.

A meditation for June 28, 2013.

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