In Loving Memory of Vic

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Step Eleven

Step Eleven

“We 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.”

Spiritual adepts are sometimes called ‘seers’ because of their ability to ‘see’ meaning into past present and future events. Any of us can improve our ability to ‘see.’ We admit our limits as well as our willingness to grow in this area. In other words, we must literally ‘seek’ the ability to clearly ‘see’ the spiritual reality. We ask for God’s help in every area of life while we are learning to use greater powers to better ourselves and make us more nearly fit instruments of a loving God. We learn to assume the attitude of someone who is sincere and believes that prayer will produce results. A myriad of different groups practice meditation outside of Narcotics Anonymous. Nearly all these groups practice a particular religion or philosophy. An endorsement of any of these methods would be a violation of our Traditions. It would also clearly place a restriction on the individual’s right to have a God of his/her understanding. Many of us stick to the definition that meditation is simply getting still, quiet and listening for our Higher Power’s guidance. This definition allows us to develop spiritually in our own way. Meditation allows us to reconsider some of the things that didn’t work for us in the past because they might work today. We can also envision possible futures in time to make changes for the better. We can catch errors of judgment brought on by the new choices life offers us and our inexperience at dealing with life in favorable situations.

Over the years, we may have heard it stated many times that meditation would allow us to ‘see’ the path to follow. We amazingly seemed left in the dark as to how to choose the paths to follow and how to go about this. Most assuredly, there is as wide of a range of meditative techniques as there are people. In NA, we do not promote just one method of meditation above the others nor urge all of our members to follow one particular method, just meditate! This however, doesn’t mean that we cannot outline any variety of practices that we know. We have that freedom and responsibility. ‘Meditations’ open the inner self in order to obtain a higher spiritual nature. To create unity between the two is, broadly speaking, the purpose of meditation. One type of meditation proposes that one choose an object on which to focus – a seed of thought, a mantra, a scene in nature, a symbol or a quality. A second method is simply a way of observing one’s thought process. We will attempt to share some very simple meditative exercises of both types here.

Before starting, it may help to take a sheet of paper and jot down some of our motives for wanting to meditate. For instance, we may want to find an inner teacher, achieve a spiritual calm, or enhance our personality through meditation. Many of us may simply want to escape from tension, anger, self-obsession or other personal limitations.

Meditative Exercises 1. Meditation using a quality or ideal. We take, for example, ‘the strength of tenderness’ as the focal point of quiet thought. We reflect upon its deeper meaning and after a while we might mentally picture those people that we know who embody ‘tenderness’. We try to get an empathetic feeling for the way they look at life. Next, we may move on in our thoughts to the saints or sages in the history of humanity. We may think of the great people that we have known in our life and see the similarities of character. We ask, “How is this quality visible in their lives?” We may then imagine ourselves in the presence of a great spiritual teacher. We pause and feel the strength of their tenderness in us. We pause again, take a few deep breaths and retain these feelings when we exit our meditation and go to do other things. We should repeat this exercise regularly in order for it to enrich our link with the ‘qualities or ideals’ that we want in our lives. 2. Meditation by listening to a piece of music that you find uplifting because of its gentleness or power. Get comfortable; allow the music to enter through every pore in your body through its vibratory nature. Let it wash through you, cleansing and invigorating you. Remember, when your mind wanders off the music to a worry, duty, future event or memory you bring it gently back to the music. 3. Meditation by choosing two or three verses from ‘inspirational literature’ that are powerful and beautiful to you. Reflect upon them meditatively and repeat them with the intention of using the principles involved in your daily life. Do this in spare moments throughout the day until they become part of you. Such verses evoke and encourage all that is best in you and gain power to motivate you through the years. Whenever you are facing a difficult situation or making an important decision, reflect upon how this verse relates to what you are about to do. 4. Meditation by observing your ‘thought processes’ as you sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Don’t suppress your thoughts; simply take note of each one as it occurs. Some examples are, “Concern about an upcoming activity, recalling an experience, distractions in your immediate environment, a mental conversation with someone, or the awareness of physical discomfort.” You should take notes of general categories of thought and let go of specific thoughts. You are like an empty cup. Your life fills the cup. You can change what is in the cup. 5. Meditation using ‘Invocations’, as an invitation to your Higher Power to enter you life. Each morning, noon and evening set aside two-minutes to center yourself and to repeat an invocation such as one of the following. Try to have your will focused fully and feel the energy of the invocation’s meaning stream into you, through you, and out of you. Invocations such as these, when used over time, can become powerful tools for our new way of life. We offer these two invocations in the hope that, as meditative examples, they may be of some assistance to members who wish to practice this method of meditation.

“May the blessing of _____________ flow to __________.

May she/he be comforted, strengthened and guided.”

– or –

“May I be an instrument for your will to be done.

May your strength and guidance pour through me to __________.”

Please share any experiences that you may have with meditation to those asking for help in this area. Sharing an experience, giving it away, is how things become real for you and extends our own progress. Usually, there is a calm certainty that accompanies the constant, supportive feedback that we associate with having knowledge of God’s will. Frequent obstacles, unusual delays and supportive criticism should cause us to pause and consider whether what we’re doing is spiritual or self-willed. This is not to imply that ‘doing God’s will’ is always easy. Sometimes all we can do to go on and the dream or vision of what God wants us to do remains visible. We want a practical and tangible way to implement these visions just like with many of our attitudes regarding spirituality. If what we’re attempting to do seems to be too troublesome, frustrating, or awkward, maybe we should look at alternatives and ask others for suggestions. If after we question what we are contemplating, and continue to feel certain inside, we may need to pray for additional strength to carry out God’s will for us. As addicts, we have a problem with taking on too much, often more than we can handle.

We learn to work with surrender, faith and the ability to act without going against our true spiritual nature. We discover that when we don’t go against our own nature, we don’t go find ourselves in useless conflicts with others as often. Our sense of what is right and wrong shifts from the confusion of addiction to something more sensible. While the past may remain confusing for a while, our present becomes clearer to us. Many of us discover, perhaps for the first time in our lives, that ‘moral’ is a way to experience ‘more.’ Moral is not just a judgement against us. Spirituality gives us new ways through which we can experience reality. We can get more done in our lives as we discover that spiritual principles are tools for shaping our lives just as we can get more done at work with the proper tools and supplies. Along with meditation, we may find other words useful. Contemplation and reflection describe two internal processes that have the power to release or direct our spiritual energy. Contemplation is, in a simple form, when we just sit and stare while wide-awake. Many of us use this technique to still our mind while keeping our eyes open. When we ‘tune out’ enough of the external chatter and shove our basic desires out of the way, we may discover thoughts and feelings we had forgotten. We know that these will only go away when we give them the time and attention they deserve.

We can test our ideas, thinking patterns and feelings by meditative reflection. This reflection involves no great mystery, trick or single technique by which we can to this. Just by sitting quietly, we can eventually reach a level where we can discover our mistakes, gain enthusiasm or change our mind without the pain and embarrassment of ‘failure.’ Many of us became accustomed to feeling jerked along by life that we couldn’t pause and settle down within ourselves before feeling forced to action. A principle of living clean is that by taking care of what we can do, we gain momentum to make other improvements. Reflection might be another word that some substitute for meditation but it may better describe the process of sending out thoughts or trying on feelings without the necessity to act on them. The basic difference between these terms seems to be indirect visions or reflections as compared to the direct insight of meditation. Directly dealing with things is most the most desirable method. We should do this wherever possible. Recovery allows us to step out of the bleak, desolate landscape of addiction into a changing landscape where unfamiliar abilities, responsibilities and demands continuously appear. Being able to explore these things privately without the risk of ‘being wrong’ brings us an advantage in reality. Reflection is a clear-headed and simple way in which we can envision something and think it through before we commit ourselves to action.

One simple way to begin reflective contemplation is to focus our attention completely on any bright point of light that is convenient to where we’re sitting. As our attention becomes riveted on this point of light, we find ourselves awake and feeling intensified in a manner that most of us call ‘regaining our senses’. Many have asked, “Is self-reliance a safe practice for an addict?” Some may answer, “No.” How does this relate to Tradition Seven, “being fully self-supporting”? What about simply trusting our feelings? Can we rely on our feelings to guide us? Why would we have them if we couldn’t? Did God create these feelings just to confuse us? Of course not! The disease of addiction would have us believe that God is our primary source of confusion, maybe even our only one. God is the source of our clarity; He gives us the ability to see things as they really are. We can begin to sort out our feelings and our thoughts as we attempt be more God-centered. We learn how to trust these God-inspired thoughts and feelings. We know that when our feelings or thinking gets confused, it’s the disease attacking us. When our thoughts and feelings are clear and we are at peace with them, it’s God. Telling ourselves this is the way we learn to trust ourselves. We begin to see that God is working in our lives. We need to act out on these inspirations and affirmations by sharing our feelings and thoughts.

We have found our faith and courage by the grace of the God of our understanding. When we do God’s will, our self-will pales in comparison. God shows His love, patience and tolerance by carrying us when we cannot carry ourselves. Each of us has received a different gift with which to carry the message and with God’s guidance; we have many tools available to us. God may have given some of us the natural ability of carpentry. We are all given gifts. When we are humble enough to ‘see’ God’s will and courageous enough to follow His guidance, we come to believe that all things are possible, even for us. We have found that hope without faith is vanity in its most destructive form. Praying daily and accepting life on life’s terms brings profound changes in our spirit. Sometimes it seems that even the pain that we have experienced was God’s will because of the lessons we have learned. While spiritual answers differ between individuals, we do share some common ground. Some of these common truths are that “God’s will for us is to practice love, honesty, surrender, faith, acceptance, and acknowledging His presence in our lives.” “God’s will for us is to use the talents that He gave us to help others.” “God’s will for us is to carry a message of hope, love, understanding, and life.” We receive the inspiration and the strength that we need to carry out each task that the God of our understanding gives us. Our knowledge of God’s will like all of our concepts change over time. As we become more capable, we must make a greater effort. Through prayer, asking God for direction, and meditation, listening for His response, we have learned to identify the difference between our will and God’s will.

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