The Actual Experience of Meditation (Step Eleven continued)

The actual experience of meditation and prayer across the centuries is, of course, immense.  The world’s libraries and places of worship are a treasure trove for all seekers.  It is to be hoped that every A.A. who has a religious connection which emphasizes meditation will return to the practice of that devotion as never before.  But what about the rest of us who, less fortunate, don’t even know how to begin?

Well, we might start like this.  First let’s look at a really good prayer.  We don’t have far to seek; the great men and women of all religions have left us a wonderful supply.  Here let us consider one that is a classic.

Its author was a man who for several hundred years now has been rated as a saint.  We won’t be biased or scared off by that fact, because although he was not an alcoholic he did, like us, go through the emotional wringer.  And as he came out the other side of that painful experience, this prayer was his expression of what he could then see, feel, and wish to become:

“Lord, make me a channel of thy peace–that where there is hatred, I may bring love–that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness–that where there is discord, I may bring harmony–that where there is error, I may bring truth–that where there is doubt, I may bring faith–that where there is despair, I may bring hope–that where there are shadows, I may bring light–that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.  Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted–to understand, than to be understood–to love, than to be loved.  For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.  It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.  It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.  Amen.”

As beginners in meditation, we might now reread this prayer several times very slowly, savoring every word and trying to take in the deep meaning of each phrase and idea.  It will help if we can drop all resistance to what our friend says.  For in meditation, debate has no place.  We rest quietly with the thoughts of someone who knows, so that we may experience and learn.

I have been collecting a few prayers and poems that I like and reading and rewriting them and rotating them in the sidebar here.  It occurred to me that the prayers that are included in our books are only a few.  When I struggled to maintain a shaky sobriety, I fell back on prayers I had learned as a child and now I’m seeking to learn more.

I read and write these prayers and sort of meditate on them almost every day and sometimes several times a day.  I turn to them in times of high stress at work.  Still I don’t feel I’ve gotten very far with this and probably it’s because I don’t really ever, or hardly ever, try to quiet my mind.

When I arrive at work in the morning, for a long time I’ve listened to a “dial-a-prayer.”  I found that I don’t concentrate well or at all.  I’ve been listening in my car before I get out of the car to limit distractions, and that helps, but my mind still wanders quickly and widely.  I wonder if it’s because I am a Gemini?  Probably not.

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