On Meditation and Prayer

by Bree L.

Click for audio from Karen O.

This alcoholic never was much for prayer and meditation. They were for the geriatric set. Meditation was for yogis, not for me. Life was to be lived and grabbed—carpe the diem. Besides, I was too busy, too involved. I had to plan, prepare and my life needed a lot of micromanaging. Prayer was something a person did at church. There was one main prayer, the Our Father, that everyone knew and said. That was the Methodist Our Father with the add on’s, not the shorter Catholic one. Prayer was appropriate only on special occasions, church, funerals, and of course times of gigantic stress.

They were for the geriatric set

For a while transcendental meditation (TM) was the rage. Being a self-willed alcoholic, I skipped the $75 “mantra” fee and did it myself. My 20-minute meditations were abbreviated to 10 and then 5. My foray into TM lasted about a week. In my late teens, I saw the light and converted to Catholicism. My prayer capacity increased. I learned the correct Our Father and Hail Mary necessary for penance after confession. There was also the closing prayer for a perfect act of contrition. All along there were a truckload of times when I prayed, it was quite explicit, but it didn’t seem to work. This includes early years of praying that my father would stop drinking. Later I prayed to find a suitable husband. 

Approaching Steps 11 and 12 with the guidance of my sponsor, I tiptoed around prayer and meditation. Of course I could rattle off prayers. Hey, I had some down cold. But as with life I was physically present but not spiritually aware. (Although I did look very holy as I lifted my eyes to heaven.) With Steps 11 and 12 my higher power came down from the heavens, off the wall and into my heart. Along with that my prayers also evolved.

As with life I was physically present but not aware

Today the Third Step prayer is a mainstay. Father Tom talked of using one breath per word and that slowed the whole process down. I say it slowly, repeat it slowly, savor it slowly and work to digest every word. Many times I have to stop and start over again because I’ve forgotten where I was. I get hung up on that part about bondage of self. Where does it exist? Thus far I’ve climbed past my ex-husband, my wayward daughter and the guy in the meeting who grandstands. Then I’m back to the beginning knowing that any bondage of self is of my own making. 

The biggest thing I have to remember is that I’m not in charge and saying rote prayers keeps me in my head. It can become so automatic that I don’t even remember what I’m praying for. Sometimes during a meeting I’ll drift off to my own meditation. There are quiet times nobody is talking and I take the opportunity to close my eyes and slowly begin, “God, grant me the serenity,” or “God, I offer myself to thee.” Another trick is to visualize a best outcome of things that bother me. I’ve wanted my wayward daughter to come to A.A. However, she’s strong willed and tells me Heineken Light will suffice. I visualize her at her own meeting, partaking of what A.A. offers or going to A.A. activities. I end up giving her a mental hug and courage to be the best person she can. This beats agonizing or worrying about her drinking. I also don’t manufacture resentments by trying to control her. 

photo credits available upon request from thepoint@aasf.org

Lately there has been one of those meeting outliers, who has his own agenda and works to change our A.A. meeting from the inside out, starting with my meeting. What I’ve done is generate love and tolerance toward this person. I can meditate on his well-being, praying that he’ll see the light in his time (not mine). Prayer and meditation keep me connected to the wills of my H.P.

I asked my sponsor: How does one’s H.P. hear a prayer and does it do any good? Apparently the H.P. is beyond us all. The only way we know of its effectiveness is by equating it with sharing. When I share at a meeting, I don’t know if it affects others and can’t really tell how it might be received. The one thing I do know is how I feel relief and the knowledge, the intuitive thought, that I can now continue with my life. Prayer from the heart makes me feel good. I’m going to keep doing it. 

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