The Eleventh Step – Seeking A Conscious Contact With God Through Prayer And Meditation
If you are working a 12-Step program, even if you’re an agnostic or atheist, you know what is required of the Eleventh Step. It states, “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” Most of us are well versed in prayer, but many of us forget that meditation is also a necessary ingredient in the recipe of recovery.
In 12-Step recovery, you are supposed to live one day at a time and take one step at a time. This is good advice, of course. The steps are in order for a reason. For instance, you don’t want to run around trying to make amends to people on your first day clean. What would be the use? Your apologies wouldn’t be sincere, and they would fall on deaf ears. Your pleas for forgiveness would be driven purely out of guilt and motivated by all the wrong reasons. There is wisdom in working the steps in order.
However; just because you aren’t on Step 11 doesn’t mean you can’t begin meditating now – no matter what step you are on. After all, you pray every day, right? Many recovering addicts and alcoholics say the Serenity Prayer several times throughout the day just to get through the next 24 hours.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.” These words hold instantaneous, transformational power. You don’t have to be on the Eleventh Step to recite this life-altering prayer. Why should you wait to bring about beautiful and spiritual practice of meditation?
Prayer Is You Talking To God, Meditation Is God Talking To You
If you have gotten as far as the Eleventh Step, you may be missing out on the second part of the step. Most people in recovery do not hesitate to pray, but they skip out on the meditation piece. Prayer is easy. It is asking God to do something. We have no problem asking God to help us a hundred times a day.
God, please relieve my anxiety…..God, give me the courage to say what needs to be said…..God, grant me the ability to carry out your will…..God, help me to hold my tongue and not say the wrong thing…..God, I am worried about my finances – please make sure the bills get paid.
It has been said that prayer is what happens when we talk to God, and when meditation happens; God is talking to us. If you have already gotten to Step Eleven – or you are currently working on this Step, we want to ask you – how much time are spending in meditation these days? If the answer is, “Not enough,” or “Not at all,” we hope this blog will convince you to get into the practice of meditating more frequently.
What Is Meditation? A Few Definitions That Are Easy To Understand
Meditation is difficult to explain because the experience of meditating transcends human language. Nevertheless, to help you better understand what meditation is, here are a few definitions that may clear things up a bit:
Webster’s Dictionary says that to meditate is “to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.”
Yoga International defines meditation as “a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within.”
Psychology Today has this to say about meditation: “Meditation is the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. Meditating is deceptively simple.”
Though we hope these explanations gives you some insight into meditation, we recognize that you will never understand what meditation is until you actually do it.
You Don’t Have To Be A Zen Guru To Meditate…Anyone Can Meditate – Anytime, Anywhere
For many, the concept of meditation is mysterious and esoteric. Some mistakenly believe the practice is one only exercised by Buddhist monks who live in monasteries and have taken a vow of celibacy. Others think meditation can only be enjoyed by those who are pure in spirit. These are myths.
Anyone can practice meditation – anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to belong to any particular faith to meditate. You don’t have to have a certain spiritual condition. You don’t even have to know what you are doing to begin meditating. To meditate, all you have to do is meditate.
Meditation is nothing more than breathing, turning inward, and quieting the mind. It is a very simple practice. It doesn’t require any complicated instruction. You don’t need any fancy equipment to meditate. You don’t have to run out and buy books to learn how to do it. You don’t need a Zen practitioner to show you the way. You don’t have to go to a sacred space. You don’t even need a mat! You just need a quiet place and a willingness to try.
Different Meditation Techniques Explained
Although at its core, meditation is the same practice – breath control, stillness, quiet, and clearing of the mind, there are a number of different types of meditation techniques. Here are some of the mot common:
Mantra Meditation – This type of meditation involves the repetition of a word, phrase, or sound over and over again in the mind. A popular mantra is “Ohm.”
According to Deepak Chopra, “As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, the mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you’re finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose. Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice.”
Zen Meditation – This involves the use of what are called “koans.” Koans are paradoxical riddles that cause the mind to transcend the chatter the rational mind inevitably produces. For example, the koan might be, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” You ask yourself the question and listen for the answer. In the process of your mind trying to find the answer – to which there is none – you reach a state of meditation.
Guided Meditation – Guided meditation uses imagery to guide the meditation experience through a journey of some kind. These are often accomplished by allowing someone outside yourself to guide you through the experience. You may decide that you are going to take a walk through the woods along a stream. You focus your attention on everything about the journey – the leaves crunching under your feet, the sound of the rushing water of the stream going by, the birds chirping in the trees. By intently experiencing everything about your guided journey, you transcend the chatter of your mind and begin meditating.
Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to mediate. The key is just to sit with yourself and do it. We recommend that you go to the Google Play Store and search “meditation.” There are hundreds of apps you can download to your phone that will help you learn how to meditate.
Keeping It Simple – Meditation Is Really Just About Breathing And Getting Quiet
We introduced you to a few meditation techniques because we wanted you to know there are a number of different ways to meditate. But, if you are just getting started, you might want to just keep it simple.
Meditation is about quieting your mind and finding that serene and tranquil place beyond the chatter in your head. Many people avoid meditating because they don’t want to have to sit with their mind and hear what it has to say. Here’s the trick – if you practice meditation, the mental chatter will get quiet and you will be better able to deal with your own thoughts.
To start simply, sit on the floor comfortably. Set a timer for twenty minutes. Close your eyes and just breathe. Focus your attention on your breath. Let your mind wander, as it will be prone to do. Breathe in, breathe out. Don’t worry if you are meditating “the right way.” There is no wrong way to do it. You may eventually reach a state of calmness and tranquility, but if you don’t that is okay.
Make the commitment to do this three times a week – no matter what happens. As you get into the practice of meditating, you will begin to see how it works. Before long, you will reach the place where your mind quiets and comes to a place of rest. The more you meditate, the more quickly your mind will reach this state of being.
The Benefits Of Meditation – Why The Advantages Of Meditation Go Beyond The Realm Of Recovery
In recovery, meditation is the most profound way to tap into your Higher Power. It is designed to help you improve your conscious contact with the God of your understanding. But, the benefits of meditation stretch far beyond the realm of recovery.
Here are seven advantages to meditation:
- Meditation is a way to practice mindfulness. In the technologically-charged world that we live in, we are always on the go; moving from one tech device to the next. We are perpetually on the phone, the computer, or watching television. Meditation allows us to free ourselves from the bondage of technology and be mindful in the present moment.
- Meditation improves emotional well-being. When you meditate, you free yourself from anxiety, worry, fear, and self-doubt.
- Meditation produces a state of calm and improves mood. When you meditate, you feel as though you are floating – without a care in the world. It will quiet the chatter in your mind.
- Meditation reduces stress. Let’s face it – we live in an ever-increasing stressful world. We have stress at work and at home. By meditating, you lower stress and become better equipped to manage stress in your everyday life.
- Meditation helps improve the state of depression. Studies have shown that those who suffer from depression saw a 75 percent improvement in their condition after meditating regularly.
- Meditation improves mental strength and focus. It helps your mind to learn, come up with creative ideas, make better decisions, and be less distracted.
- Meditation improves your physical health. It helps with circulation, boosts the immune system, and reduces blood pressure.
With all the reasons to meditate, it’s time to get into the practice. Start meditating today by setting aside twenty minutes to sit alone quietly with your eyes closed, and focusing on your breath. You will be amazed at what meditation can do for you.