Recently, a parent of the New Life House community wrote an article about the third step, the third step prayer and what they both meant to him and his program. It got me thinking about my own spiritual program and how I have used prayer and meditation since I stopped using drugs and alcohol.
Spirituality Wasn’t My Thing
I never considered myself a ‘spiritual’ person. To be quite honest, I never gave God, a higher power, or anything of the sort much thought. I knew I wasn’t an atheist, but I just figured that anything concerning an omniscient and all-powerful force that regulated the universe had very little need for me to understand it. To be honest, I just thought I would figure it out when I died.
That being said, I did have some exposure to a spiritual lifestyle as I was growing up. Not only did I attend a Franciscan-based high school, but also my father would take me to a Self-Realization Fellowship service when I was a kid for a few years. It was there that I learned the basics of prayer and meditation, though I felt as if it did not really pertain to me. For all intents and purposes, I didn’t need it.
Widening my Perspective
All this changed the few weeks before I got sober. I had run my life into the ground and wound up in jail for the third time and no one was coming to bail me out. I had to go two weeks without drugs, the longest it had been in the better part of a decade. I was in an extremely strange place with even stranger people and I couldn’t quiet my mind. I was scared and alone. For the first time in years, I decided to meditate and pray.
It took that desperate of a situation to get me to give prayer and meditation a second try. My grand-sponsor always says, “There will be a time when you are reduced to prayer and meditation.” It rings true every time I hear it because of this exact experience. I don’t even know what compelled me to do something I hadn’t tried in years, but really, I had nothing left.
Being Reduced to Prayer & Meditation
Once I got out of jail though, I found very little need to continue the practice. I was no longer desperate, no longer hurting, and I had found living a sober lifestyle to be fairly comfortable. After all, I had already been through the worst of it, right?
Yet periodically, I have found that situations arise that no amount of talking to my sponsor, no amount of meetings and no amount of fellowship and service will help me with, namely, large decisions and resentments. I find myself obsessing on them, quite literally wasting my time and energy about an event that has not occurred or running scenarios in my head of the outcome of a decision I haven’t even made yet. It is during these times that I turn to God.
I have found that prayer and meditation are the only two things that help me through these situations. When a resentment or decision is renting space in my mind and it is hard for me to be present, I need to ask for help. I no longer use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, and in their place I have found a different, far more effective spiritual solution.