karma– a meditation

 

“Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I used to think karma meant that people that I thought were mean to me would get what they deserved. And with that idea in mind, I would walk around with a feeling of self-righteousness and avoid conflict by comforting myself with the idea that the universe would find a way to punish the other person for hurting my feelings. I thought this was healing, but after coming into my program of recovery, I realize this was even more hurtful to my serenity than getting into a conflict because I walked around with an expectation of another person being punished for what I felt they did to me. And I tied my own self-value to that. If they were happy, I’d feel resentful and angry. If that person was sad, I would feel vindicated. I operated entirely on the basis of revenge.

Thankfully I came into recovery. I learned that karma can have a place in my recovery. But not in the way that I saw it before my program. Today,  I see karma not so much as a punishment for others, but as an opportunity for me to learn more about myself. For example, I have a coworker with whom I find interaction to be quite difficult and trying. Often, when I have to work with her, I find myself expecting to be frustrated and angry.  As the quote says “Life is going to give you just what you put in it.” So when I came to an interaction acting as if I was going to be frustrated and angry, life reflected back to me exactly the circumstance I expected. This is because when I expect to act frustrated and angry, I act frustrated angry preemptively. I see things through the bias of my own attitude.

This, however, is great news! Because I can change my attitude, I can change my experience. The next time I met up with this coworker, upon the suggestion of my Sponsor, I acted as if this would be a pleasant conversation and I would come out of the experience feeling serene. When I took that into the interaction, that’s exactly what happened. I was in a different mindset and was able to, then, set aside my own fear and judgment and be more open to compassion and humility. Though my coworker had not changed, but my attitude had changed. And that was enough.

A meditation for August 9, 2013.

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leaving – a guest meditation by Hillery

 

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted.  But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out?  Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.”

 

Dr. Seuss, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

I have been considering whether or not I should leave my husband. We’ve been together for 12 years, with a three year split in the middle, in which I’d broken off contact with him because he was emotionally, mentally and sexually harassing me (he still does). My family, on the other hand, were convinced that my husband and I were perfect for each other. So, to make them happy, I got back together with him.

A year after that, my father passed away from alcoholism. I felt alone. I had never had very much success in dating, either. So, when my husband asked if I would be his girlfriend again, I said ‘yes,’ even though I really wanted to say ‘no.’ I would do this again when we got married.

I had become so accustomed to letting other people make my decisions for me, and so used to trying to make everyone else happy, that I vowed to spend the rest of my life with someone I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with.

For the past two years I’ve wanted divorce, but was too scared of the unknown – a job, a new life, a new place to live – how would I take care of myself? I wasn’t sure what to do. So, I waited. I waited for the strength to go ahead and take care of myself, against the wishes of others, to be able to set boundaries for myself (albeit small ones) and I waited for a sign that it was the right time to move on.

Finally, I feel like I’ve been getting those signs, it seems ridiculous: A song which gave me encouragement, tears, hope; a text from my brother asking me to get a place with him; and my husband asking me to get a job. BINGO! I prayed the other day for guidance to this divorce issue. I’ve never truly prayed before, but I realized that I can’t do this without my higher power guiding me. I heard “compassion” – for my husband, for myself, and for my children, because it will be a long and hard road ahead.

It will be one day at a time, but I feel like I’m starting to feel that I can be free.

A meditation for August 6, 2013.

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choice – a meditation

 

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The word “decision” was a tricky one for me. It’s funny because I always thought I was great at deciding things. I decide very quickly that I do or don’t want something and whether or not I would pursue it. And that’s true. I am great at the initial decision of acknowledging there something I want and something I want to pursue. But all the thoughts that come after that decision are thoughts of worry, concern, and fear that it won’t turn out the way that I want it to.

My whole life, I was this way. I would worry and be concerned and be scared. My fear that I wouldn’t get my needs met always, always overpowered my actual needs and desires. Inevitably, my fears came true. I used to think “What horrible luck! Why does this always happen to me?” Looking back, I feel such deep love and compassion for myself at that time, because I honestly did not have the tools to know why “it always happened to me.”

The answer was in the mirror. It always happened to me because it was always what I thought I deserved. And whether in small or big ways, I conspired to make into a reality what I believed to be true. If I felt ashamed, guilty, and had low self-esteem, I unconsciously sought out relationships that involved controlling, judgmental people. That is, I sought situations that reflected back to me what I believed to be true.

My environment reflects what I believe in my soul because I am drawn to realities that I can understand. Anytime that anything in my life did not coincide with my own beliefs about myself and my life, I rejected it. If someone was nice to me, I did not trust it. If something good happened to me, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

My outsides reflect my insides. When I first heard that statement, I expected to be angry, but instead, I was so incredibly grateful. My outsides reflected my insides. My insides do not reflect my outsides. I can choose to change my attitudes and actions – my insides – to change my environment and change my life. I can choose.

But how? How do I change my attitudes and actions? One of the first things my Sponsor shared with me was to act “as if.” I can act as if I love myself. I can act as if I have good self-esteem. I can act as if I know my needs are more important than my fears. I can act as if I trust that my Higher Power will take care of me no matter what happens. And when I acted that way, something magical happened and I started to believe it in my soul. When I started to believe it in my soul, my insides changed. And true to form, my outsides reflected my insides and my world changed. Though I still live in a reality that I chose, in recovery, I know that I can choose a different reality.

A meditation for July 25, 2013.

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truth– a meditation

 

“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid the branch breaking because the trust is not in the branch but its own wings.”

I feel as though the first three Steps of the 12 Steps of my recovery program tell me just this. That I need no longer be afraid and look down and wonder if the “branch” under my feet is going to break, if the people in my life will fail me, if I will fail myself. I can realize that all of these things are outside of my control and not worry about them. As with the bird, my trust is no longer place in all of these fallible things. My trust is in a power greater than myself, a Higher Power of my own understanding. I realize also that when a bird sits on a branch and puts the trust in its wings, it does not wonder about the physics of flying, how wings work, or the aerodynamics of avian flight. It just trusts. In the same way, I put my trust in my Higher Power. I realize that if the “branch” stays under me, I will have a secure place to stand; and if it falls out from under me, something magical will happen and I will fly.

A meditation for June 29, 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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