I first learned about meditation in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Step 11 of 12 reads: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Initially, there was no way I could sit still: my body and mind were so squirrely and fidgety. My thoughts were rapid and shot in from every direction. It was terrible! But I knew that meditation was something I needed to learn to do in order to stay sober.
I found a sliver of peace when I would go outside and feel the cool breeze. At the beginning of sobriety, I had very little physical contact with anyone else. So when the breeze would swirl around me or blow my hair I would imagine it was my Higher Power reminding me of its presence. Over the next six months, my body detoxed, and I was able to better focus. The light came back into my eyes and I was able to sit a little longer with time.
While flipping through a Yoga Journal magazine, I saw an ad with Deepak Chopra announcing the 21-Day Meditation Challenge. I immediately signed up. Each morning, I’d have an MP3 waiting in my inbox and so it was that with thousands of other people around the world, I listened to the guided meditations both in the morning and in the afternoon. That was when I began to realize the many benefits of meditation.
Every morning I would make my pot of green tea, grab my earbuds, and curl up in my Ikea living room chair and listen to the day’s meditation. It was nothing fancy as I was on a tight budget at the time. But from time to time, I would splurge on an energy candle and Nag Champa incense to spice up my meditation space.
I started each morning to find a little more peace within myself. Some of the reasons I drank were to push down the pain from my childhood and without warning, these emotions could bubble to the surface if I experienced the slightest bit of irritation. Meditation helped with this… a lot. And with some practice under my belt, I found that I could stop and meditate anywhere.
If I found myself at the airport listening to the sounds of crying children, people talking loudly on their phones, or large groups of people I felt overwhelmed. I would put on my noise canceling headphones and listen to Deepak Chopra remind me that there was peace within.
And it was true!
I do quick meditations when I need to reset during the day. I meditate in the parking lot before going into the gym after driving in traffic. I use it before going into a stressful place, such as the DMV.
I recently went into meditation while sailing with family on a charter boat in the USVI’s. (Family can be challenging!) Today I use mediation as my daily medicine that benefits both my mind and my body. I can quickly tell when I’ve skipped my time in stillness as my fuse becomes a little shorter with others, and myself.
Meditation has, over time, allowed me to remain calm during what could potentially be disturbing situations. I’ve learned how to pause and take a breath. There are so many things in this world we have no control over. But we can control our thoughts and actions.
“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.”