the eleventh step in the program of recovery
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
“Silence is God’s first language.” -John of the Cross, 16th century Christian mystic
Some time ago, I conceded to my innermost self, I am an addict. Once on this path, the step work was laid out for me. I cleaned house and began to trust God. I began working with others. I prayed daily. But… I did not meditate (though I did try). In fact, I tried and I tried and I tried again. It seemed impossible. Every few weeks I would sit for a few minutes and become impatient as my mind attacked and fled like a crow flying, drawn to all the shiny bits flashing around in a very full skull. I became frustrated and simply gave up.
The process repeated itself over and over for nearly nine months. Though I had not had a drug or drink, I began to suffer intensely. My psyche was battered and bashed with all the things others ought or ought not to be doing. “Mark can’t talk to me that way!” or “That’s not how this is supposed to work!” or “Doesn’t she know how to behave?” The world did not suit me. My lot did not suit me. Others were stupid, insensitive, and generally (edited for vulgarity). Something had to change, and that something was me.
There are 12 steps. And here’s the truth: I did 11 and a half of them. Meditation was off the board. Yet it was clear from my experience that 95.8% of the work is not enough for a real addict like me. Through good sponsorship, it became apparent that I must begin to truly meditate. The method didn’t matter so much — from breath awareness, to chanting, to silent attentiveness. I was instructed that whatever method God led me to was fine.
I began a daily practice of 20 minutes of centering meditation every morning. I set the timer and did not move no matter what. This was very difficult for several weeks. Then all began to change — twenty minutes didn’t seem that long at all. Life became easier. I was not so easily swayed nor bothered by the vicissitudes and vagaries of daily existence. Here are some of my previous belief systems: “I’m a good meditator because my mind is still,” or “Meditation is very hard,” or “I’m not very good at meditation.”
All of these are false statements. Moreover, they are somewhat foolish statements. You see, they are false (and foolish) because there is no such thing as good or bad meditation. If one wants to be good at meditation, one simply has to do it and do it regularly — at a set time everyday, for a set period. This is the pure measure and mean of so called “good” meditation. The Big Book is clear in the 11th step instructions: “We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in this simple way…” (page 88).
May God bless you.