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September 1994

Meditation

Now that I have survived getting sober and have begun my spiritual journey in recovery, meditation has become a valuable tool in my daily life.

Why meditate? Because it helps us to live in the now and is suggested in the Eleventh Step: "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him. . ."

When I first got sober I was filled with fear and self-loathing. It was suggested that I try to meditate to help with the severe anxiety and insomnia I suffered from. My response to the suggestion was, "But I can't meditate." Yet, I had never tried to meditate; it was hard for me to imagine just sitting still and being with myself.

I have since learned that anyone can meditate. You don't have to be a yogi mystic or join an ashram to learn how. After medicating and anesthetizing myself with alcohol, I found I needed something to be gentle with my vulnerable self. That something for me was meditation.

My life was so full in recovery, I was finding it hard to accomplish all the things that I wanted to do in a day, trying to make up for twenty years of time lost because of active alcoholism. I wanted to get well yesterday, yet I resisted trying meditation because it was new and different. "I can't find the time to meditate, what with meetings, school, and just life in general." My sponsor responded with, "Make the time for yourself! Like meetings, eating well, and exercising, meditation is a wonderful daily gift of self-love. Find a special place, your own private retreat, to meditate for just twenty minutes a day."

I found myself on an emotional roller coaster, as so many of us talk about in the program. I had a hard time concentrating and communicating how I was feeling, other than lousy. I joined a meditation group that met once a week and I felt frustrated when I first attempted to meditate and nothing happened, other than feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. All my racing thoughts and every little noise around me were irritating distractions. I had a hard time focusing and paying attention. When asked how it was going, I responded, "It's not working for me; there are too many distractions." I was gently told it's normal to have thoughts and noises distract me from clearing my mind, but to just notice them instead of resisting or struggling, gently bringing myself back to my breathing.

I assumed I was doing something wrong. After all, my low self-esteem had me convinced that I could do nothing right. "But how do I meditate? With so much turmoil and stress already in my life, how do I sit quietly and calmly meditate for twenty minutes?" It was suggested that I dress comfortably, sit either cross legged or in a chair, whichever was more comfortable as long as my back was straight, close my eyes, and begin to focus on my natural breathing. I finally stopped resisting and did it, "keeping it simple."

Upon awakening after my daily prayers, I now meditate for twenty minutes in my own private retreat before facing the world.

Meditation has become a daily gift of self-love, just as my sponsor promised it would be. I'm beginning to clear up and have had genuine moments of serenity. Meditation, as part of the Steps, continues to be a valuable tool in helping me improve my conscious contact with my Higher Power. Like anything, meditation gets easier with practice. It has helped me to become less anxious; instead of reacting to every little problem, I'm able to stand back and look for solutions. I still have my moments like every human being, and I'm far from perfect, but I feel better about myself today. In my fourth year of recovery, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps, I am becoming the woman I was meant to be, "one day at a time."

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