By Chris M
“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.”
There it is, right there in the steps. Kind of hard to ignore, isn’t it? Oh, we like to talk about prayer, its power, and its value. And rightfully so. But many of us, especially when we’re new, want to just slide right over that meditation part. It’s kind of like the elephant in the room: Everybody knows it’s there, but nobody wants to talk about it. Many of us don’t have the slightest clue what meditation really does or how it works. So we ignore it. Many of us think we could never do it, that we could never “quiet our mind” enough to meditate. I was one of those, and for a long time.
The fact that meditation is prominently mentioned in the eleventh step told me that it must be something of value, and that I needed to find a way to make it part of my life. So I decided to find a way to learn about meditation. There are many ways to do that. There are hordes of books, CDs, DVDs, YouTube videos, and more tools that can help. I chose a more direct path. I found a continuing education course at a local college in the town I was working in entitled Mediation 101. And I went to class once a week for 10 weeks, and I was taught about meditation by somebody who knew. Kind of like how the program works, huh? One addict helping another.
I learned that I didn’t have to quiet my mind, I just had to focus on a single thing: it could be my breathing, a mantra, an object of meditation…it was up to me. I learned I didn’t have to stop thoughts from occurring, I just had to exercise the discipline not to follow them when they arose. Most importantly, I learned that meditation was like anything else worth doing, it took practice and repetition to get better at it. It didn’t come overnight.
That was seven years ago, and since then I have had periods of great success with meditation, and periods that were not so great. Not surprisingly, the most success was achieved during periods when I practiced consistently. The benefits of consistent meditation for me have been better focus, more clarity of thought, and increased peace and serenity.
Over the years I have also learned there are many different forms of meditation, all of which have benefit. I have meditated in groups with others, where I was taught walking meditation. I have also learned that anything I do where I can focus on a single thing can be used as meditation. I have meditated on the golf course; I have meditated while riding a bicycle; and more recently, I have meditated while running. All of these methods are useful and add to my practice. I will say that, for me, none of these is a complete substitute for classic sitting, breathing meditation, but they are very useful as an addition or when that is not possible.
Each individual may have a different experience from trying different forms of meditation. All forms may not be for everybody. If you already have a meditation practice, you know its value. If not, I encourage you to give it a try. I don’t think it will hurt you, and you might be surprised at what you get out of it.