Category Archives: 12 Step Spirituality

NOW!

Today is Wednesday.

Wednesday is like my “Friday.”

I came home from work, took a jog and meditated – relaxing into the thought of my “weekend” ahead. Instead of staying in this NOW moment, my thoughts quickly shifted to Saturday, which is my “Monday,” and what I will have to do when I return to work. Gratefully the next thought that came to me was: “It’s not Saturday yet. It’s Wednesday 7:30pm. Stay in this moment!” I remembered a spiritual guide that I once had who, when I would be fretting about some future task or event, would say: “It’s not here yet. Live this moment.”

How often I live life focused on the next thing instead of this moment. And in so doing, am I really living?

I am convinced that it was my meditation that brought me to this little awareness this evening. Meditation focuses us simply on the NOW. 12 Step Groups often talk about “one day at a time, one moment at a time.” Simply living THIS moment. When an addict is focused on not ever being able to use in the future this hinders recovery. But when an addict focuses on simply not using today, or this moment it, makes recovery much more manageable. In the same way, when I am focused on the future, this hinders living. When I am focused on today, or this moment, life unfolds.

I imagine that my friend who had a stroke right before Christmas and his partner can easily get paralyzed when they begin thinking about the future, when various stages of recovery will come and what will happen in the weeks to come. Sanity or some peace of mind must come from simply focusing on today’s progress, instead of a whirl of thoughts about the future. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for them at times! I know how very much and how very quickly I want to see my friend recover. I can’ only imagine how much more they want the same. I will pray that, with a focus on today’s progress, life will unfold for them in good and positive ways, as indeed it already has these past 12 days!

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IN THE ARMS OF YOUR SILENT EMBRACE

Today I was meditating, and, as often is the case, my mind gets going and I want to get up and start getting something done that I’m thinking about. Sometimes it is “work” just to sit there. Funny huh? “Work” just to sit there?

The White Robed Monks call this “Just Sitting,” a practice adopted from Zen, where one simply sits 15 minutes a day, concentrating on the breath and clearing the mind of all thought. When we do this our mind, our ego revolts. That little voice in our heads just doesn’t want to leave us alone.

What struck me this morning again is that when I want to heed that voice within, when I want to get up and start moving and stop this sitting – I am not trusting! In essence, when I break the meditation and start running, I am saying that I trust more in myself than I do in Divine Power. My experience, however, says that when I stay with this “work,” when I simply sit and make an empty space in my mind, I connect directly with Source Energy, God, the Spirit. Suddenly my work is given energy and much more is accomplished – and somehow – directly as a result of thinking no-thing, my thoughts are clarified and my life is given meaning and direction. It’s like I have suddenly been plugged in!

Can I trust enough to stay with the silent embrace and make a space in my life to connect with Source? Try it. And see what happens!


Amazing Divine Synchronicity

I have been struggling with the re-emergence of a guy in my life that I once had deep feelings for. I have been struggling with the way he is living his life. I am no saint, by any means; but after many years of not being in touch, to hear of the way he is living and justifying his life surprises me.

In the midst of this struggle, I opened to a daily reading. It was from Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle” and this is what it said: “Let us look at our own shortcomings and leave other’s alone. . . . There is no reason why we should expect everyone else to travel by our own road, and we should not attempt to point them to the spiritual path when perhaps we don’t know what it is.”

I looked up and laughed, amazed at Divine Synchronicity. . . . And to think there are times when I have difficulty believing!

Teresa goes on to say that we might learn important lessons from the people who shock us. Indeed, it may help define more clearly what is life giving to us and who we are.

Get the focus off of him; and get it back on yourself and what you need to do to live in ways that are life giving for you.


Raising What Was Left For Dead

Have you ever felt absolutely, utterly lifeless?  Have your choices ever left you wandering in a valley of despair and regret?  Have life circumstances, broken relationships or betrayal ever left you paralyzed and with a sense of utter hopelessness for the future?  Has an addiction ever held you so tightly within its prison walls that you felt no means of escape?

In such times it is difficult to believe in the reality of any Power that could lift us beyond what seems like a living grave. . . . Yet, that is our hope and, frankly, that IS our reality.  There IS a Power that can lift us up.  If I look back on my life experience I see clearly how this Power has raised me to new life on various occasions; and I need to call on this Source again.  Traditional religious language would call this “salvation.”

I try to do it all myself.  Or rather, I get so caught up in paralysis that I do NOTHING.  But once I am able to call upon this Power and DO SOMETHING that will help connect me to It (like prayer, meditation, reading a meditation, etc.) – EVEN IF I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT AND DON’T FEEL A BIT CONNECTED IN THE PROCESS – once I do this Something begins to lift me.

Today as I meditated, I chanted a hymn from the Camaldolese Morning Prayer.  The words of the first verse struck me:

“God’s glory, Christ, our new dawned Day,
In deep compassion for our earth
Has raised what we had left for dead,
And healed what sin* had brought to birth.”

*Read here “weakness, addiction, sickness, brokenness, betrayal, poor choices, etc.”

The Power is there to raise what we had left for dead.


First Things First

Can you relate to this?

Why is it that when I hit a stressful time in life, the very things – like meditation and exercise – that would help relieve stress, are the very first things to get bumped from the daily routine? It’s like something within me says, “there’s no time for this!” And so, I begin to shave these things from my daily routine. Then over time, I wonder why I am getting more stressed, having difficulty sleeping and focusing!

In reality, these are the most important things NOT to bump from the schedule in the midst of a difficult time. They are the very life-blood that keeps me grounded. Without them, all else begins to suffer – my work, my relationships, even my play time!

I lay awake last night, once again, feeling the pent up energy in my body and my restless spirit as my mind whirled. I have not exercised in a while. No wonder I am having difficulty sleeping. So much pent up energy! I have not really given myself to meditation in a while. No wonder I have difficulty focusing!

The irony is this: when I bump meditation and exercise from the schedule, it seems I don’t have enough time. When I take the time to meditate and exercise, it seems as if I have much more time on my hands, time even to play!

First things first. What are the REALLY important things that I need to maintain in order to live well, even in the midst of a stressful time?


The Truth Will Set You Free

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 31).

 

Did you ever try to run from the truth?  Have you, or are you hiding something from your partner?  Have you ever, or are you now living in denial about some negative behavior in your life? 

 

OR

 

Have you ever, or are you now not acknowledging the truth of your goodness, what you have to offer to others, the gift that you are?

 

We spend tremendous amounts of energy hiding from the truth.  No wonder we’re so tired out at times.  Once we acknowledge the truth, it’s like a heavy weight is lifted from our shoulders and we begin to know what it is to walk through life with a bit of a lilt in our step. 

 

For years I hid the truth of who I was.  I hid it from others and I hid it from myself.  I lived in a prison of fear and struggle, fighting these feelings I had for those of my own sex.  After all, if I was “one of those” I was told I was headed to hell!  I will always remember the spring day when I first uttered those words out loud:  “I am gay.”  I was shaking.  I was so frightened; . . . and yet exhilarated at the same time as I felt myself being freed.  And you know what?  After I said it, the world didn’t come to an end.  As a matter of fact it felt like a two ton weight was lifted off of me.  The truth set me free.

 

Perhaps there is a truth within that you are struggling to acknowledge.  It might be a negative behavior that you’re hiding, or it might be realizing and acknowledging your giftedness.  Perhaps it might be good to sit and feel the weight, the pressure, all the energy that you’re spending hiding that truth.  Do you really want to live this way?  The first step to living more fully is acknowledging the truth.  In A.A. they say: “We ADMITTED we were powerless over alcohol.”  It is the admission, the acknowledgement that is the first step to freedom.  The truth will set us free!


You Want to Live?

Jonah 3: 1-10

If someone told you that if you didn’t stop doing something you would soon be dead, would you stop doing that thing which is destroying you? I think most of us, if given the chance would indeed stop and choose to live! Jonah called out to the people, telling them that if they didn’t change they would soon be dead; and the people quickly turned from their death dealing ways and chose life.

Most of the time, we don’t have a Jonah though. We don’t have someone telling us to stop some negative pattern of behavior so that we might experience the best Life has to offer. Or if we do, we take their call to us as a personal affront, instead of seeing it as a gesture of love and concern for our well being. Most of the time we go about our negative habits or patterns of thinking or behavior totally denying how they are affecting us and those around us.

Don’t you want to really live? Don’t you want to get out there and drink life in?

When we’re caught in some bad habit, some negative pattern it literally sucks the life out of us, doesn’t it? Think about some negative thinking you might have, some negative behavior, some ingrained bad habit. Doesn’t it sap the life out of you, not to mention those around you?

I believe that God wants us to live, wants us to drink life in and get rid of those things that hold us from doing just that. Lent then really isn’t about gloom and doom. It’s about rising from the graves that we’ve built for ourselves. It’s about naming the lie that this or that behavior is going to make me feel better; when in reality it’s sucking the life out of me! It’s about letting go of that which has kept us mired in winter’s lifelessness. It’s about taking some small step away from something which is killing us or those around us and stepping into a new springtime of living!