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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plant a tree – a meditation

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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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acceptance – a guest meditation by Scott B.

 

“Every good thought you think is contributing its share to the ultimate result of your life.”
Grenville Kleiser, Courage to Change P. 176
My first months in program, I couldn’t gather new tools fast enough. I tried everything I could, anything anyone recommended. One of the personal methods suggested was to repeat to myself; “I am good. I am unique. I am beautiful. I love you,” while looking in a mirror. I had the initial thought that it was cheesy, something crazy people said to themselves. Well, I was feeling crazy, so I took a deep breath, and said it out loud to my reflection. With my low self-worth and self-esteem, I didn’t feel comfortable. I felt awkward, embarrassed and ashamed even in the privacy of my home.
In spite of my mixed emotions, I said each of these four sentences again and again, day after day. I would say it in my car rear-view mirror while stopped at a light, (heaven forbid, never when another car was beside me) worried that someone might see me talking to myself. Faithfully, I kept repeating these phrases even without a mirror, now memorized by rote from many weeks of repetition. The words almost became a mantra.  Internally, I didn’t approach the place of transforming love I had expected to reach (and I expected to reach someplace, anyplace, much sooner). I felt no comfort from my repeated efforts over time.
Disheartened, I concluded that saying these simple things could not possibly work and there was no use in continuing. As time in recovery went by, I would occasionally break out a simple, “I love you.” in the mirror. Still, after all this time, I felt the awkwardness spread through me and my stomach tensed as I looked away. Forgotten in the depths of my mind (lost in one of those bad neighborhoods) my affirmations faded, though I continued going to meetings.
When I experienced what seemed like a long period of no growth in my program, I figured I had plateaued. A friend shared during a meeting that change, lasting change, happens on her Higher Power’s time. All she needs to do is her footwork, go to meetings and be patient. This stuck in my brain like a burr. It would not go away. It echoed in my head daily.
That summer I went on an eight mile walk, in eighty degree heat.  I rested, but I had run out of water about 3 miles from home. Dehydrated, I arrived at my house, filled up on water and poured an ice-cold glass of milk. I sat down in front of my computer. I reached for my mug of milk, my hand moved way too fast, and I spilled the white liquid all over my laptop. The screen went half black, the other half froze and I turned the laptop on its side, unplugged it, and ejected the battery.
Anger rushed through me. Powerlessness surrounded me. The feelings were coming and I couldn’t stop them. I felt overwhelmed. I had heard so many times not to try to stop feelings. It was best to recognize them, feel them and let them go. But I made a mistake! And not just a little one! How could I of all people, be human? The turmoil inside me swirled. Old tapes told me to shame myself. New behaviors told me to laugh and accept it. Before program I would spend months, even years beating myself up over such an incident. Which direction should I take? Help me God, what do I do, where do I go?
The mirror. The mirror? Now? Really? My gut feeling was to walk into the living room and stand in front of the mirror. I felt nudged. I looked deep into my own panicked eyes and said, “I love you, Scott and there’s nothing you can ever do to make me stop loving you.” There was no awkward pause, no feeling of inadequacy. I held my gaze and didn’t look away. A wave of gratitude washed over me. Tears welled in my eyes as I cried and laughed at the same time. My gaze was unwavering until it was blurry and I couldn’t see. Thank-you, God. Thank-you. I kept thinking that the feeling would leave, but there it was; solid in my Higher Power’s Love.
Only in looking back from now can I see that everything contributed to my growth; every meeting, every coffee, lunch and potluck. Each email, text and affirmation. Every conversation, every call to my sponsors, every vulnerable moment. All the Concepts, Traditions and every Step along the way. My Higher Power takes it all in and uses my experiences to change me into who I’m meant to be.
A meditation for October 16, 2013.

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the Fourth Step – a meditation

 

The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them.

This quote, I feel, captures the essence of my low self-esteem and lack of self-trust. I sought the approval of others because I did not love myself. I sought the advice and direction of others because I did not trust myself. As I spent more time in the program, this began to change. I started to love myself and honor myself…mostly. As long as I am honest with myself about my motivations, I am able to love my decisions because I brought them forth from a place of love and awareness. But I find I am blessed in the moments that I find myself seeking out the approval of others because, in my awareness, I am able to see this as a symptom of my not being honest with myself and not loving myself. It is only during those times that I seek out the approval of others because I am unable to feel connected to myself or my Higher Power in moments of falsehood. When I notice myself turning others into my Higher Power in this way, I honor myself by taking pause and taking an inventory of the situation and my true motivations. It is only through this rigorous honesty that I am able to find myself. And it is only by finding myself that I am able to let go of fear.

A meditation for October 11, 2013.

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self – a meditation

 

It is always our own self that we find at the end of the journey.

Ella Maillart

What I find most beautiful about this quote is that it doesn’t say that I need to be someone different at the end of the journey. What I see in this quote is that spiritual growth is not about changing into someone else, at all. It’s about becoming more myself. This is something I feel is true with every passing day in recovery. Sometimes I think to myself that I’m not recovering, I am uncovering. That, I seek out the person I am under all of my fears and resentments and anger. I used to reject that person because I thought that person was weak and unloveable. I thought that acting on fears or anger makes me strong. But I realize that it’s those anger-based actions that have brought me the most suffering because I am not being myself. I do not believe I am an angry person or a scared person. I am a person that can feel angry or scared, but basing my whole life on those two emotions has brought a lot of imbalance in my life. Once I became more aware of myself, I am able to feel fear and angry and choose to act out of love for myself.

A meditation for October 09,2013

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