A meeting discussion this morning made me realise that It would be helpful to write about prayer and meditation from a newcomer perspective. How do you pray and meditate when you’re still fairly new and don’t have a strong understanding of your higher power?
Why a higher power is important to my AA programme…
I’ll be doing a more in depth post about higher power in the near future, for now I’ll try to outline briefly why my higher power is important for my own programme of recovery.
In short, a relationship with a higher power (for this alcoholic at least) allows me to feel a sense of connection with the world around me. It helps me to process and understand what’s going on in the wider world around me.
If there are people, places or things which I find difficult or challenging I get to hand things over and practice acceptance. With my higher power, I know that whatever happens around me is happening because it what is meant to be. Things may not be to my liking or go to plan, but there is something out there at work, something bigger than myself. It has a plan and this is the way that plan is currently unfolding. When things are going well, I feel connected and a sense of peace and purpose. When times are challenging I find solace knowing that god’s will and not mine is unfolding.
This might all sound a bit much to you if you’re new to the twelve steps, my advice is just take things slowly at first. In time you’ll be able to build your own sense of what higher power means to you and build a relationship with it as you progress through the programme.
Prayer and mediation are important for life in the programme as they allow us to connect with our higher power and ourselves. I personally use prayer each day to react out, channel my higher power and ensure that just for today, I do my best to carry out my higher power’s will. Meditation I use differently, this is something I do to help clear my mind when life is overwhelming or I need some peace and clarity in order to be the best version of myself and ‘do the next right thing‘.
Some things to bear in mind if you’re new..
My relationship and understanding of my higher power didn’t come immediately, which made prayer and meditation difficult in early sobriety. To get to where I am now took time. It took discussions with my sponsor, attending meetings and chats with fellows about their own experiences. Even after this it still took some time to reflect and process things before my relationship with my higher power emerged. It is also worth noting that I’ve spoken to many AA’s who have said that their relationship and understanding changes over time, so newcommers shouldn’t worry about trying to get this perfect the first time. It will come, and as you’ll often hear in the rooms, if in doubt ‘fake it until you make it’.
What advice would I give for newcommers looking to practice prayer and meditation in early sobriety?
I personally wouldn’t overthink meditation in early recovery. My advice is either to use body-scan guided meditations from YouTube or apps like Calm or Headspace when starting out. These personally really help me to concentrate on being present, in the moment and to escape and clear my head. The result is some peace and clarity which enables me to better practice programme principles throughout my day. As you get more comfortable with basic meditations just explore different kinds and see what works for you…
Before I had a deep understanding of my higher power I was hesitant about prayer. I felt nervous as I wasn’t sure what I was praying to exactly. I would recite the Serenity Prayer and then also use this time to think positively about people in my life. I would wish good on those around me, those who needed help, support and guidance as well as take time to give thanks for all the good things in my life. This was a basic framework which worked for me, and over time my prayers have evolved alongside my understanding and relationship with my higher power.
One last thing which really helped me was to look for evidence of a higher power at work in your life. I couldn’t make sense of what my higher power was, but I could see evidence of something bigger than myself at work. I was clean and sober, well rested, waking up without fear, shame or regret. I felt emotions again, I felt less isolated and alone, I started to feel connection with other people, my house was clean and tidy, I was sleeping better, taking better care of myself and looking forward to heading to meetings and learning more about the programme.
These are all basic things now I look back, but in the first few months of sobriety these were all huge positive changes, gifts in my life, all down to something bigger than myself.
It was my higher power at work, I just didn’t know it at the time…