I started meditating every day, sometimes twice a day.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
The benefits trickled, slowly at first, then gaining momentum as time passed. Internally, I felt an increasing sense of calm. Situations that usually ate my lunch ceased to hold much power over me. I was no longer horrified when I walked into a room full of people I didn’t know.
One incredible effect of 12 step recovery is the ability to “inventory” a past situation in rather objective fashion. You sit down with pen and paper, follow instructions from the Big Book and swim in a river of knowledge filled with underlying emotions, causes and behaviors.
Executed properly, these inventories wash away sediments of mind and leave behind genuine nuggets of self-knowledge. Actions and thoughts of the past are analyzed. But this information is gleaned after the fact.
Meditation offers the ability to view thoughts in real time. This was one of the first mind-blowing features I discovered about meditation. It felt as though I was in a movie theater watching a reel of my thoughts flash before the big screen.
I’d never experienced anything like it. Even my acid trip at Bonnaroo with Nine Inch Nails headlining and Buddha materializing out of cumulus clouds paled in comparison. There I was, engulfed in tranquility of breath and sound, watching my thoughts wander like an old man watches people from a park bench.
For the first time in my life, I received insight into the inner workings of my mind. There was good. There was bad. And there was ugly. But there was progress.
Relief naturally followed. Mindfulness breeds relief. It invites tranquility. I challenge anyone to focus solely on breath and sound for 20 minutes and not feel relaxed.
About one year into my meditation practice, I realized something that seemed so profound, yet now seems so simple. I cannot apply spiritual principles from an inner state of agitation. When I’m angry, frustrated, anxious or fearful, I always fail to fully practice some spiritual quality.
I’m pretty sure this is why the Big Book goes to great lengths to suggest that alcoholics and drug addicts pause when agitated and guard against resentment. Bill Wilson and the first 100 alcoholics knew it was difficult, if not impossible, to maintain healthy spiritual living in the midst of internal turmoil.
When I’m calm, I tend to treat others with respect. When I’m calm, I’m less likely to let a slip of the tongue hurt someone else. When I’m calm, I’m more likely to feel in harmony with my surroundings.
I did hear someone in a meeting say that, even after practicing meditation, they are still vulnerable to negative alcoholic behavior. While I can certainly act like a donk in spite of regular meditation, I’m less prone to erratic behavior. And when I do act out, I’ll have much better odds of catching myself before all hell breaks loose, provided I practice mindfulness meditation regularly.
After 2 years of daily meditation practice, I am finally the laid-back dude I always wanted to be. The Dink now abides, without the booze and pot.