Leader's Share and Step Questions
”Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry it out.”
When I came into program 10 years ago, I had behind me over 30 years of on-and-off yoga and meditation. Because it was on-and-off, and therefore light years away from perfect, I also had pretty much the same amount of time of guilt over not practicing enough.
It is a miracle that today, I can smile about that. That guilt had grown deep roots, and had turned into despair at times. And now it’s gone. I don’t meditate any more than I did before, and rarely do yoga. But I have what I had hungered so much for: the comfortable, loving contact with the divine that years of tooth-grinding meditation on a hard meditation bench was supposed to have given me. Please, please, don’t get me wrong. I have great respect for the form of meditation that takes place on a meditation bench; it turned out, though, that this was not to be my direct path, at least not so far.
How did it change? There are many little turns and moments that I can point to, and maybe they all worked together. I don’t even know when the moment came that that guilt had gone. Oh, I wish I could give you the recipe, but I don’t have it.
What I do know is this:
Don’t leave until the miracle happens.
And while I wasn’t leaving, I stuck around for the “sought”. Sought through prayer and meditation …
Prayer is going for a walk and touching my favourite tree. Meditation is staring at the moon. Prayer is mumbling the serenity prayer after turning the lights off and falling asleep half way through. It is reminding myself to listen, listen, listen, as someone tells me their story; it is taking a moment longer to pet my cat, being willing to do something uncomfortable that my husband asked me to do, or going to a quiet place when my brain feels overheated. Meditation is listening to music, looking deep into my friend’s eyes, and, yes, sitting straight and counting my breath.
All these little things are “seeking”, seeking, seeking, seeking, being willing to look for the light switch in a dark room, even if it takes forever to find.
When I was younger, I thought I could do this by myself; in fact, I was convinced that I can have contact with a Higher Power only in solitude. I rarely, rarely talked to others Higher Power “stuff” and when I did, only in the safest way possible. There was NOT going to be ANY vulnerability there! Today it seems to me that this contact with a Higher Power is so complex, and so different from what the world tells us, that we absolutely need the support of others. And what better place to do that than with my OA friends!
So this is about seeking, reaching out, it is a process, something that’s in constant motion. The questions, the doubting, the insecurities, the changes – it’s all part of it.
The conscious contact with God is a wonderful thing. Most of us also like it when this contact is as close to “constant” as possible. I met a guy once who talked about his sponsor who said, “I talk to God when I wake up, when I brush my teeth, when I get dressed, when I make my coffee …” Amazing. Maybe one day I’ll get there. In the meantime, I try to be conscious as much as possible – and of course, the more I do that, the more it happens. It’s a muscle that needs to be trained all the time. Step 10 helps with that training. (I’m a Step 10 junkie, in case you haven’t noticed yet :)
And while we’re at it, let’s review that God thing again. “God” is a word we use. We often refer to it as “the God of my understanding”, and let’s once again remember that this God can be ANYTHING we want. When I did my undergrad degree, I met two brothers, both university instructors, and they were fierce, passionate atheists. They were as dedicated to their atheism as I have seen few religious people to the God of their understanding, and to this day the two brothers strike me as deeply spiritual, in their own way.
“Praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for us.” That’s a funny one. What does that mean? I can’t pray for my mother to feel comfortable in her retirement home? I can’t pray for a brand new car? I don’t know exactly what it means but I have a feeling that it is a reminder to steer away from selfishness and to look at the big picture, God’s picture. It also means – and that’s something I feel quite strongly about – that through that conscious contact, we can have the knowledge, the in-the-bones sense of knowing, that we need to walk on the path that at some deep level we know is the right one. It also refers, in my opinion/experience, to the type of knowledge that is tempered over and over again by healthy reality checks. For example, right now, I am being showered with compliments at work. You might think I’m a genius and that I walk on water. Then I come home and my husband tells me I have spinach in my teeth, and that the gas company phoned threatening us to turn the gas off because I STILL haven’t paid the bill. Oops. Reality. The God of my understanding tells me that I need to welcome that reality.
“… and the strength to carry it out.” Oh boy. Maybe I don’t ask enough for it because often I know pretty well what my Higher Power’s will is but the strength is nowhere to be seen. Or is it the willingness? I don’t have a good sense yet for what the difference is between the strength and the willingness. Maybe that’s something that we can work on together.
I really like this passage from the Big Book:
“In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.”
Aaaah … we don’t struggle … I am reminded how an OA elder once advised me to “wear the world like a loose garment.” Yes. The world fits much better that way.
What are your thoughts?
Do you have a favourite prayer?
What are other forms of conscious contact for you?
Would you like to have more conscious contact? Do you have any ideas for that which you haven’t tried yet?
Do you have an experience of gaining a knowledge of God’s will?
Is there a difference between the willingness and the strength to carry out the will of your Higher Power? What are your thoughts?
What is a struggle you could give up?
Is there a piece of program writing you’d like to share with us?
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Hello my dear friends
Today, instead of my own musings, I'm sending you a treasure chest. I've gathered all we've said this week about conscious contact and prayer and listed it for us. Look at all the riches! May this serve us in good times and in times when we feel sad and lacking hope. And as we reach out to others - sponsees, the OA fellow to whom we "turn resolutely", whoever else -
maybe this can become a source of goodness to them, as well.
• Walking on the treadmill is a form of meditation that takes me away from myself and the cares of the day.
• The songs on my exercise CD just seem to inspire thoughts of my commitment to turn my life over to my HP and his constant care and love for me.
• My morning generally starts early with a long long hot bubble bath.
• My regular readings – Usually programme literature and other inspirational materials I come across.
• Start the day gentle and relaxing.
• Writing letters to God.
• I meditate on questions and write what I feel heès telling me then test it against the 4 absolutes: honesty, purity, unselfishness, love.
• Observing nature.
• Taking time to be still and listen.
• I have quiet time listening to the radio.
• Just a peaceful walk gives me time to listen to him and hear his answers.
• Taping notes everywhere. Even in my car to remind me to take even just the fewest of moments to talk to my HP.
• I love music, mainly songs that have meaning in them. Words of a song can make me feel better. I feel he has been answering me in random songs.
• Every situation I go through is partnered with everything I need to go through it, given to me by Spirit.
• Watching the clouds.
• Sit quietly and wait.
• The sound of water.
• Greenery, trees to houseplants.
• Certain fragrances.
• The combination of Ocean, sun and sand is amazing, I feel so alive.
• I do love to sit on the beach and listen to the waves and pelicans and seagulls. It’s very peaceful and makes me realize how magnificent my God is.
• Some music makes me more conscious of my HP. The gifts of the composers behind the music as well as the voices and instruments that deliver the music.
• I know this is odd, but when I see the clock at 4:44 a.m. and 4:44 p.m. I think there is a message there for me. Is it my HP asking me to stop and reflect? Anyway, when it shows up on the clock I usually stop and say: Wow! 4:44!
• Seeing shots on TV of people doing Tai Chi. The fluid movements and gestures bring me to a holy place.
• Taking a course on meditation.
• When I read something that means something to me I save it on my OA sayings document.
• I love the idea that my HP accepts all of me, good and bad, and can help me to be of service.
• Pausing. Pausing and reflecting and trying to get in touch with the peaceful, loving part of me instead of the reactive, anxious part of me. That helps me to act as I believe my HP would want me to act.
• Spend a minute or two in the morning … It is now going to be in my action plan 3/times week.
• I have to go to my place of worship every week.
• silly simple things like birds singing.
• the simple beauty of a child stomping on a puddle.
• feeling the warm water on our hands as we wash the dishes.
• smelling the fresh cut grass.
• quiet times by the beach and just listen to the ocean and feel the sun rays.
• Listening to Jazz & Gospel music.
• Religious teaching tapes.
• Feeding the animals, and watching them scurry about ...
• Religious texts.
• Driving the car, washing the dishes, relaxing.
• Going for a walk and touching my favourite tree.
• Staring at the moon.
• It is reminding myself to listen, listen, listen, as someone tells me their story.
• Taking a moment longer to pet my cat.
• Being willing to do something uncomfortable that my husband asked me to do.
• Going to a quiet place when my brain feels overheated.
• Looking deep into my friend’s eyes.
• Sitting straight and counting my breath.
• Simply talk to God from the heart as it comes to me.
• I thank HP for being there whenever I need Him.
• I walked within my own soul and found that God was there waiting for me to realize that he was a part of me or I a part of he.
• My favorite prayer is the Third Step Prayer. I think I’ve shared in other steps about how my sponsor had me break it down to “make it my own”. That was a true gift because even though it is memorized, like the prayers of my youth, each day I make it mine which makes it fresh for me.
• I often feel God talking to me through meetings or visiting with a program friend. When I realized meditation isn’t just going “ohmmmm” but can come from inspiration from another, that also opened a whole new realm of thinking for me.
• I have learned that I must start my day through prayer and meditation in order for me to function. If I make my start with God, I can face the day and anything else I might encounter.
Conscious contact is remembering to "THANK GOD" for everything in my world. Even the minute. It's "constant awareness for blessings recieved, -- and blessings to come".
• I welcome Him to continue to walk with me forever.
• I just have random daily conversations with god. Whether im getting ready for work, or on my hour lunch break I like to talk to him about everything like his is my best friend sitting beside me.
• I want it to become a habit in my life to always thank him and talk to him. To bring everything to him.
• I pray and meditate all day long. During all parts of my day.
• Whenever I think of it I say "Thy will not mine" or please help me make this decision.
• Prayer is mumbling the serenity prayer after turning the lights off and falling asleep half way through.
• Step 11 is the bread and butter of this program (no pun intended).
• Don’t leave until the miracle happens.
• Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks up.
• We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle.
• We can recognize a communication from our Higher Power by the effect it has on us. If time spent in prayer and meditation makes us even a little bit saner or more loving, if it encourages or strengthens us even a tiny bit, we can be sure God has "spoken" and we have "heard".
• “The art of living is probably the highest form of personal expression: one is not concerned with who is behind or ahead, but rather with the enjoyment of now. There is no waiting for a payoff, for that day when certain things are settled or when that ship comes in. The art of living requires that I like myself, accept what I am and stop wishing I were otherwise. There is no room for pretense. People who have developed the art of living are sweetly loving and deeply sensitive while maintaining their independence. They are as respectful of their own values and opinions as those of others.”
• The serenity prayer.
• The 3rd step prayer. God, I offer myself to Thee------
• Prayer of St. Francis
"Lord, help me to remember that YOU are always there - Listening to my heart, and answering every prayer." ...
Father, you know that all good things depend on your Powerful Actions, take away my sins and do with me as You will.
"God, please take over the management of my life and everything about me. I am making this conscious decision to turn my will and my life over to Your care and am asking You to please take over all parts of my life. Please, God, move into my heart. However You do it is Your business, but make Yourself real inside me and fill my awful emptiness. Fill me with your love … and make me know Your will for me. And now, God, help Yourself to me and keep on doing it. I'm not sure I want You to, but do it anyhow."
Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind,
Whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me; I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty,
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Help me to remain calm and strong
in the face of all that comes towards me.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
Help me seek pure thoughts and act with the intention of helping others.
Help me find compassion without empathy overwhelming me.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy
- Myself (My fears and my doubts).
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to you without shame.
I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.
I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.
I put my hands in yours, and together we can do what we could never do alone. No longer is there a sense of hopelessness, No longer must we each depend upon our own unsteady will power. We are all together now, reaching out our hands for power and strength greater than ours and as we join hands we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.
The Twelve Steps
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