awareness – a meditation

 

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

Bruce Lee

This quote reminds me of every time I have turned myself into a victim. I would often feel frustrated by a situation in my life, but be afraid of change. That is to say, I would prioritize my fear of change over my frustration about the situation. I think, had I been self-aware enough to realize and accept this, I would have been more serene. But instead, I told myself I was a victim and that I was forced into a situation in which I did not want to be. This self-defeatist attitude did not serve me, however. Instead, it added to my unhappiness.

When I came to my recovery program, however, people did not judge my choices. Instead they offered a safe place for me to be myself – whatever choices that might entail. In this safe environment, I was able to take my own inventory and see my part in the situations about which I felt unhappy. Then I was able to be self-aware about the role I played in my life. Once I was able to see that and see that I had choices, I no longer felt like a victim. At that point, regardless of my external circumstances, I was able to see myself as valued and empowered to take control of my own life. I no longer needed to stay at my plateau. I could move forward.

Today, I will not talk about the things I can't do. I will only talk about the things I can do. In doing so, I will be able to see the solution rather than focusing on the problem and am better able to see my part in it.

A meditation for August 4, 2013.

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wait – a meditation

 

Don't wait until everything is just right […] There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger.

Mark Victor Hansen

In my life, as with everything else, I often looked to the external to provide me with a sign that the time is right for me to make a change. Because change scares me, I kept waiting for all the best possible scenarios to align to offer me the path of least resistance. Funny thing is, even when that happened, I still had an excuse for why it wasn't a good time. That's because I kept looking externally to solve something that was internal – my fear.

My program of recovery showed me that my fear does not have to be my reality. Because of all the support I received from the Fellowship, I was able to feel safe to explore my fear and accept it; only then was I able to look internally past that fear and realize that there is something more important than it – my serenity.

Once I prioritized my serenity, I started looking internally for the signs that I should make a change and what I should change. I would take inventory, pray, and meditate. When I did this, I made choices from a place of self-awareness and calm. As a result, I was able to let go of the results of my actions while still being able to accept the consequences of my actions. I am so grateful to the program for allowing me to know this peace.

A meditation for August 2, 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”

be – a meditation

 

You are a child of the Universe,
No less than the trees and the stars;
You have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.

-Desiderata Les Crane

Someone once told me “You exist so you have the right to be.” I thought why did this person just repeat themselves in the same sentence. As I worked on the 12 Steps of Recovery, however, I realized that I often deny myself the right to be. I deny myself the right to set boundaries, or stand up for myself, or even acknowledge my own feelings. In the face of any opposition or conflict, I used to shut down – I'd freeze or simply submit to the other person's wishes.

Now that I am in the program, I realize, I do not have to. I can ask for my needs to be met and I can meet those needs myself. If I need to feel safe, I can tell the other person that I am feeling scared or uncomfortable and request that they stop behaving in a certain manner towards me. If they choose not to, I can meet my own needs by leaving that situation for that moment.

When I realized this, I suddenly felt angry with myself for not knowing this sooner – for not being that person earlier. But, thanks to the program, my Higher Power, and my Sponsor, I was able to realize that those behaviors were helpful to me once and I can grateful for those behaviors because they kept me safe once. They kept me alive. How could I not feel gratitude for that? But now I can realize that those behaviors do not work for me in my current situations.

For me, it's like doing well in history class and then going to my math class and trying to apply what I learned in history class. It just doesn't work. It doesn't mean history is any better or worse a subject than math. It just means what I learned in history just won't help me score well in math. It's the same with my old behaviors. They worked for me in one situation, but not in another.

With my connection to my Higher Power, the support of the Fellowship of my program of Recovery, and the 12 Steps, I can take those first steps forward and to learn not only what doesn't work for me anymore but also what could work for me in the future. And forgive myself for mistakes along the way because I know whatever happens is meant to be. When I do this, I let myself be.

A meditation for July 19, 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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