It has been my experience that the "and meditation" part of this step is often overlooked and omitted as a foundation for a sane and serene recovery program."Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."
Meditation, as stated in the 12 & 12, is "intensely practical" which is why I feel that Bill W.'s article on emotional sobriety, dicusses one of the first fruits of meditation.
In another article in the Grapevine, from March 1962, and included in the book Language of the Heart on pages 269-272, Bill mentions one of the methods he uses to meditate:
"One way to get at the meaning of the principle of acceptance is to mediate upon it in the context of AA's much used prayer, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference....In times of very rough going, the grateful acceptance of my blessings, oft repeated, can also bring me some of the serenity of which our prayer speaks. Whenever I fall under acute pressures I lengthen my daily walks and slowly repeat our Serenity Prayer in rhythm to my steps and breathing.....This benign healing process and repetition, sometimes necessary to persist for days has seldom failed to restore me to at least a workable emotional balance and perspective."Bill shows us how he used a type of walking meditation to find emoational balance. The Big Book offers some great advice and perspective on meditation and applying it in the 11th Step.
Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
As the Step reads it states that we seek through “prayer and meditation.” When I began getting sober I noticed that many people in the rooms did not pay attention to the “and” and left a specific meditation period out of their program.
The type of meditation that the Big Books talks about is more of a reflective, thinking over things, type of quiet period. This mirrors what most Western religious people in the 1930’s knew about meditation and AA’s roots in the Protestant Oxford Group. Meditation, as we know it today, was not widely understood, yet, in the United States. But, these early members were onto one of the keys to emotional and spiritual sobriety which Bill W. would focus on later on in his sobriety.
There are a number of good suggestions in this section and I suggest that you read and become familiar with this section of the Big Book as you begin your meditation journey. Here are some of the quotes that stand out for me:
“On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.” Page 86Yes, morning is considered the best time for meditation before my mind becomes obsessed with the day and my ego begins to run the show.
“Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought- life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives. “ page 86My thinking had become unmanageable and is probably the root cause of many of my troubles. I think many of us are thinkaholics and meditation helps to teach us detachment from our thoughts.
“….we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.” Page 86In meditation, I can practice opening myself to my higher power, detaching from my ego, and allowing the divine therapist some time and space to help heal me in ways that I cannot understand.
“Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle.” Page 86I relax and let go. I am constantly thinking and feeling and doing. How can I access my higher power or the universe if I am never quiet and still.
“We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind.” Page 87Conscious Contact – at first we experience glimpse’s of this, but with time, patience and a consistent practice of meditation we can develop a close conscious contact with our higher power. I believe that this is the advance part of this step.
“If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, we attend to that also.” Page 87Group meditations provide a safe haven to discover meditation, to learn different techniques from experienced meditators and to relax into that deep group energy.
“There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one's priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer. “ page 87I decided to become a Spiritual Explorer on my meditation path to learn about meditation and to begin to understand what my higher power was and my relationship to that “Creative Intelligence” as mentioned on page ?
“As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.” Page 87Try doing mini-meditations throughout the day – breath deeply, listen to your breath for several minutes.
“It works - it really does.” Page 88Randy F.