denial – a meditation

 

“The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something that our hearts know is a lie.”

Karen Moning

My ego and soul often have conversations with one another. This interaction between the two parts of me is constant, whether I awake or asleep, happy or sad, or restless or at peace. The details of each conversation varies depending on what the topic is, but the general gist is the same: my ego says “I am afraid that everything needs to be different for me to be happy” and my soul responds “I am happy already, I am just afraid to see that I am.”

Before recovery, these conversations occurred also, but I didn’t realize because the voice of my ego had reigned supreme over my choices for so long that I hardly heard the small voice of my soul respond. As I worked the Steps, that changed. The voice of my soul became louder and louder. I wasn’t used to hearing both voices and I suppose my ego wasn’t used to the competition so it often felt like a battle in my head. My initial days in the program felt like a struggle between the ego that I knew and the soul that I had rejected. But I slowly began to listen to the voice of my soul. It was so calm and peaceful that I felt at peace listening to it. I felt charmed by it and began to utterly ignore my ego.

This, however, was very typical behavior for me. I always go to extremes. With my black-and-white thinking, I had either entirely ignored my soul or entirely ignored my ego. But the truth is both are part of me. To reject either one is to reject a part of myself, and when I reject part of myself, I feel fearful and fall to old patterns. And this is exactly what happened. I began to ignore my “bad” feelings. I began to tell myself that I shouldn’t be angry and that I can’t be unhappy and that I have to be serene all of the time. But I am human and I could not do those things and I began to be afraid that I wasn’t good enough to listen to my soul. The irony of it all was that my soul, ever loving and accepting, never told me ignore my ego. It kept trying to guide me to acceptance of all of me by signaling me through my emotional discomfort that the path that I was treading would not guide me to happiness. When I finally became desperate again, I was able to listen to my soul once more as well as my ego. I learned that I am both things. I am yin and yang. I am dark and light. I am ego and soul. To deem one good and the other bad is to not honor myself.

It is only when I am able to listen to what my ego is telling me that I am able to understand myself and my fears, and then my soul is able to reach out and be nurturing during this awareness and guide me to healing and peace. One without the other does not help me. That is only half of me. It is only when I am able to accept both sides, able to accept all of me, that I am able be open, honest, loving, and peaceful.

A meditation for October 12, 2013.

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*maintaining serenity – a guest meditation by Ruth

 

If you planning to do something, become aware of what you really going to do. For example when you plan to go to the natatorium, than imagine how it is there, how people bespatter you with water, pushing you back and forth, accuse you and steal from you. But you will go there in peace and feeling safe, when you remind yourself upfront that you want to stick to your moral conviction. This aligns you with human sanity. This approach applies to everything else. Then when something is really disturbing you, you can say to yourself. I didn’t want to go only to take a bath but I wanted also to practice my moral convictions which makes me sane. This won’t happen if I let myself get upset by those incidents.

Epictetus – The Enchiridion

 

Epictetus was a late stoic philosopher who lived from about 50 to 130 after Christ. When I came first to Al Anon, I recognized that the program contains a lot of ancient wisdom; this made me feel comfortable early on. On the other hand, to know that human beings are struggling with the same issues since ancient times made me feel as thought I am part of a chain of humans from the past to the present.

My home group meets in a parish hall near the oldest church in town, the fundaments of which date back to the 9th century.When I arrive early enough before the meeting, I get into the church and sit there for awhile. Then, I think that all of the prayers which have been spoken around this place are still there and I have a feeling of being connected to the time, location, and the human beings around me. When I am on the street again, trying to make my way, I am much more relaxed looking at the other people and knowing that they are also just on their way.

 

A meditation for September 20, 2013.

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knowing – a meditation

 

The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.

Socrates

In the past, I looked for a formula to be sure to always do the “right” thing. I liked the idea of a black and white world. I wished there was always a clear right and wrong because I wanted to be right all the time.  I wanted to be in control in that way.  In the past, it was easy for me to tell people what to do or ask people what to do, as though there was one absolute answer for everyone. I wanted there to be an absolute answer because otherwise, that meant people could be unpredictable and that life was unpredictable and that I wasn’t in control. I feared that if there were no absolutes, how could I be safe?

Fortunately, what I want is not how the world actually works. I have learned that most things in my world fall into a grey area with very, very little black or white anywhere. There is almost never a clear answer when I am looking for a solution to an issue I am having. There is no absolute right and wrong in my life. There is just what feels right to me at the time – what aligns with what my Higher Power wants for me. Today, aligning with my Higher Power in my thoughts and actions is my safety.

To me, this does not feel like knowledge of the mind but awareness of my soul; not right and wrong, but what aligns with my soul and what does not align with my soul. In this way, I beginning to understand that I can only know what aligns with my soul right now, and even then, only when I can quiet my ego and listen. I can not with know what aligns the souls of others. I can not know what will align with my soul in the future. So, I cannot offer advice or judge. I can only do the next right thing.

For me, the wisdom was in accepting that my ego knows nothing, and my soul is in tune with everything. When I can connect with my Higher Power, when I can connect with what is in the Highest Good for my soul, I am at peace.

A meditation for August 4, 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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expectations – a meditation

 

“When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist

I spend a great deal of time focusing on the external. I judge people and situations as “right” or “wrong”, or even “good” or “bad” depending on how I feel about them. I even used to say things like “they made me feel…” or “he hurt me…” or “she mad me mad…” In none of these situations do I take accountability for my own feelings in the situations. I just hold my external circumstances to up to certain expectations.

How did I develop these expectations? I believed that if everything and everyone were a certain (as I expect them to be) then I would be safe and happy. I wouldn’t be yelled at or teased or judged or criticized. And that’s what I wanted so badly. I wanted peace. I wanted a space to just be myself. Ironically, this is exactly what I was not allowing of the people and environment around me. Though I wanted peace, I kept pushing my expectations on others either passively or aggressively. Though I did not want to be criticized, I was constantly assessing how other people or situations could and should change for the better. In my desire to have space to exist, I tried to control all the space around me. But I do not need to do that.

In the beginning of this meditation, I wrote “I judge people and situations depending on how I feel about them.” In this sentence lies the answer to my need to control via expectations. The key is my feelings. I think, often, I take my feelings out of proportion by minimizing them. I reject or ignore my feelings by telling myself not important enough. But those feelings build up and form resentments and expectations which I then take out of of proportion again and believe them to be the most important thing. This is black-and-white thinking. But it does not need to be.

I can simply accept my feelings for what they are – my ego responding to the world around me. I can accept that I am sometimes in pain, happy, angry, sad, etc. If I can do this without judging my feelings and simply allowing them to be, I am better able to process them and only then am I able to decide how I want to react.

Just for today, I will try not to judge others. Rather, when I feel frustrated or upset about another person’s behavior, I will stop and take a quick inventory on why I feel bothered. I will not judge my reaction as good or bad, but rather simply accept it. In doing so, I can give myself peace and give myself space to exist. When I can offer this compassion to myself, only then am I able to offer it to others.

A meditation for July 31, 2013*

*Thanks to Hillery for requesting a meditation on the topic of expectations! Continue reading “expectations – a meditation”