The 1st Step of meditation: Relax and Let Go of unmanageable thoughts and emotions
The 2nd Step of meditation: Discover and practice my inner connection to my Higher Power to restore me to sanity
The 3rd Step of meditation: Make decisions to surrender my self-will to allow God’s will to flow
Meditation helps us to practice letting go of unmanageable thoughts, connect to a power greater than ourselves, and make the decisions to let go and connect over and over again throughout the meditation.
Step Three: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.
I have discovered that I have a very powerful mental and emotional self-will muscle that has been given free rein to rule my thoughts, emotions and my actions for all these years. There is no better description of this muscle in action, in a person totally trapped in ego and separated from their spiritual self, than in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous on pages 60-63.
“Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. “
“Our actor is self-centered- ego-centric, as people call it today.”
“Selfish –self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self delusion, self-seeking and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.”
“So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes this possible. We had to have God’s help.”
Imagine how our self-will muscle keeps a firm grip on this self-centered perspective of the world. If we have a perception or worldview, that tells us that we are separate and alone, then, we develop many unconscious emotional programs, fears and behaviors, to protect us in this isolated world. To me, this is the insanity from which I need to be restored, or recovered, from. When I am stuck in that selfish and self-centered place, I am viewing the world as a Randy-centered universe. Everything revolves around me, is being done to me or against me.
This is self-centeredness, what we commonly call Ego, or as I like to call it, my self-will muscles. My self-will muscle worldview is that I’m separate and alone. To me, this is the root of my spiritual disease, my insanity! These self will muscles, just like my physical muscles, contract and hold onto my past perceptions, ideas, resents and fears. I'm reminded of the saying from the rooms - "I never let go of anything that didn't have claw marks on it."
The other inner action of the self-will muscle is pushing. I often push people or situations, thoughts, feelings and things away from me that are uncomfortable. I am in denial, resentment or fear, refusing to see the truth in the "sunlight of the spirit." I pushed away the program and my Higher Power as I went in and out for 5 years before I stayed sober and accepted the idea that I could not take that first drink, no matter what.
These two self-will muscle groups often work together to team up to slow my spiritual progress. I often hear people push away new ideas or habits - such as daily meditation, because they are holding on to the ideas that "meditation doesn't work for me," or "I am just not able to quiet my mind," or "I just don't have time in the day" for 15-20 minutes of quiet meditation.
How do we shift from self-will, Ego, muscle dominance to a sane, whole spiritual perspective and lifestyle? Meditation is a highly effective the tool that gives us practice creating this new worldview.
The simple spiritual exercise of meditation works in so many incredible ways to heal our bodies, our emotions, our minds, the people in our lives and even our planet. In recent years science has discovered that in meditation we:
change the way our brains are hardwired by mapping new neural pathways
heal our physical bodies through the transmission of neuro-peptides to every cell in our bodies
generate a healing, loving, organizing electromagnetic energy from our heart center that touches every part of our body and others within a 5-8 foot radius of us
transmit biophotons from the sub-atomic level that communicates our thoughts, emotions and actions instantly to the rest of the world
So, why can’t I just change? I got sober when I was 39 years old. I had been living and exercising my self-will muscles for 39 years. There was much energy, or mud, caked around my behaviors, my old belief systems, and my thoughts patterns.
Every action produces a reaction. Science calls this the law of cause and effect. The bible teaches us that “we reap what we sow.” We receive the fruits of what we plant and nurture. The eastern religions call this karma. Everything that we think, or say, or do creates energy in the world. Thoughts are things. Our brain does not know the difference between a thought and an action. Everything that I have thought, felt, said or done has been recorded as energy in my mind, my body and in the Universe. This is a scary thought!
Imagine the character of Pig Pen in the Peanuts comic strip. Like him, we walk around surrounded by a cloud of energy, swirling around us with a multitude of emotional colors and mental baggage, interacting with the world leaving our energy scattered about everywhere we go. As alcoholics and drug addicts, and human beings in general, we have mis-directed our energies. Meditation is a wonderful tool to help us re-train our mind and our perspective on our emotions and our lives.
I call the self that I am striving to remember and reconnect to, my SpiritSelf. This has been described as the True Self, Higher Self, Soul, and Higher Consciousness. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. My SpiritSelf has been a overshadowed to my self-will muscles for much of my life. I practice letting go of my self-will muscles in meditation. I become the observer of my thoughts and life. I discover and reconnect, again, to my Higher Power. I let go and I let God.
But, what is God's Will? How can we tell the difference between God’s will and our will? We have had many years of being the director of our lives. We learn that as we practice meditation and overcoming ourselves we will slowly become more closely connected, the conscious contact promised in the 11th Step, with our SpiritSelf and God.
We begin by developing an awareness in meditation. The first step is learning how to relax our bodies, how to not listen to the “voices” of our mind and to practice connecting with our Higher Power and other human beings. We cannot stop our mind from thinking as we meditate. As thoughts arise in your meditation, just watch them float by, as if on a cloud or in a stream. Become the observer of your thoughts. This is learning to be detached from your thoughts. You will find that this will be a skill that becomes easier the more that you meditate.
You can practice being in the Presence of our Higher Power during meditations. When you settle into our inner meditation space you can begin to create a visualization of what your Higher Power looks like. This can be an image of light, a symbol, a person, or anything that you wish to develop as an image in your meditation of a power greater than yourself. What does this look and feel like? Your Higher Power image will evolve over time as you work with this meditation and throughout your sobriety. Remember, thoughts are things and as you connect to your higher power in meditation you are actually creating this connection!
We encounter a Step 3 opportunity every moment during meditation. It is an opportunity to “make a decision” and take an action – will it be the self-will path or the SpiritSelf path? Will I choose to follow the unmanageable thoughts that are crying for my attention, or will I detach, watch the thought float by and stay centered in the meditative moment?
This is a "surrender moment," a 3rd Step moment in meditation. I have thoughts or distractions in my meditation. I can choose to attach an emotion to them, to be distracted by them, or I can choose to notice the thought, detach from it and return to my meditation. Sometimes when I am unsettled, it seems like the thoughts and distractions are quite regular, I need to remember that I am being given the opportunity to demonstrate, over and over, my "decision" to turn my will and life over to the care of God. What a wonderful gift and exercise to actually practice this surrender moment!
The more I practice this surrender intention during meditation the more I diminish my self-will muscles, my ego. Every time I make the decision to detach from my unmanageable thoughts and emotions I am surrendering to God's will. Each meditation moves me one small step closer to the "conscious contact" promised in Step 11. Some days I sense that I have glimpses of this in the moment, in the now awareness of what the next right action is.
When I am in doubt about what God's will is I follow these tips. I know if I take these actions that I will be very close to making a decision to align with God’s Will:
Work the Steps
Let go and Let God
Listen to the silence within
Do the next right thing
Express love to yourself and to all others
I sense an 11th Step Meditation movement within the 12 Step groups. More 11th Step meditation meetings and resources are becoming available each year. Maybe we are at the beginning of the next frontier in recovery - Spiritual Sobriety.
Here is my 11th Step Intention for today....Learn to Meditate. Meditate every day. Meditate with groups. Help others to meditate.