There are a number of twelve steps programs in the world today for various types of self-help. There are twelve step recovery programs for addiction, compulsive behaviors, twelve steps to a better life, twelve steps to better parenting, and many more – these programs are all based originally on the twelve steps from Alcoholics Anonymous. However, no matter which you are seeking help for or what you are fighting recovery for in your life, the twelve steps remain very similar.
Step 11 talks about meditation — “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.” Common problems to mastering step 11 come in various forms including: I can't meditate. There is just no way I can stop thinking for twenty minutes! Nope. No. I can't. I don't have time. It won't work. What good will meditation do me? I don't know how! I don't have enough discipline to stick at it, and many more. I have used and heard a number of excuses in regards to meditation but in my journey of recovery, I had to trust that the steps were a part of staying sober and in doing so, I knew I had to find a way to master this step as best as I could.
Spirituality remains the focus of many meditations, becoming in tune with your God as you understand it to be, or reaching out to your higher power whatever or whomever that may be. Spirituality is a very individual journey and a struggle for many people in the world, whether they are in recovery or not. I finally realized that meditation can take many forms and many of them don't involve sitting in a cross-legged position for ten hours a day.
Here are some short and quick meditation techniques I found helpful. There is always room to build on these and to use various classes and guided meditations to help you on your way to increasing these short versions into longer sustainable meditations.
- Take three deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. With each breath, observe how your body responds, how the air fills your lungs and leaves through your mouth.
- Take a short walk outside. While doing so, stop and touch something in nature — a tree leaf, a blade of grass even — and really feel it. See its symmetry and feel its texture.
- Listen to talk radio (fill your mind with something new, something that doesn't really concern you and isn't your problem to solve). I have heard many a great story on talk radio, from naked oil riggers all the way bats have their own accents and dialects depending on which cave they are from. It takes your mind to something else rather than the problems you may be facing or the cravings you may be having.
- Play music that makes you want to dance... then dance.
- Find a spot on the wall you can concentrate on and for three minutes, just concentrate while breathing deeply on that spot. If your mind wanders bring it back to the spot on the wall.
- Ground yourself by looking around your immediate area. Count the trees, count the signs, and count the tiles in the ceiling. Take a look at where you are right now, right this minute, and pull yourself from future and past thinking.
These are very easy tactics to fit into your day. They can be done anywhere and can help you begin your journey to a calmer and more stable mind. These methods can help with triggers and also relapse prevention.
Before I tried these, I felt like meditation was unattainable for me, calming of my mind would be impossible, fighting the cravings would never be possible, and that for step 11, I was doomed. However, these helped me and I hope they can help someone else.
Recommended unconventional books on meditation:
Joy on Demand – Chade-Meng Tan
The Buddah Walks Into a Bar – Londro Rinzler
Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle