Meditation = Mindfulness

Everyone seems to love and often quote pages 86-87:

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions, we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use…

And, it goes on, “we usually conclude this period of meditation with a prayer…”

You’ll notice this “mediation” is not described as sitting still with eyes closed for 20 minutes (or longer). Nor is it repeating a mantra or focusing on one’s breathing and emptying the mind. Meditation, at least in the Big Book, is something else entirely. I like to think the Big Book is advocating “getting focused” and “remembering some key ideas to bring to the day.” That way of thinking about it is keeping in line with the theme of “action” that runs through the steps and the program.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with the quiet sitting type of mediation.  Many find it helpful and calming. No harm in doing it, at all. The same is true for exercise. Exercising is great and can help with recovery.  And while both ideas are terrific, they are not AA.

When the 12 and 12 speaks directly to mediation, it speaks of thinking about St. Francis’s prayer as the mediation.

But wait, isn’t thinking bad for the AA? I hear that all the time in meetings, “I can’t trust my thinking!” Or, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!”

I bring this up because this derogatory view of thinking is not productive. And while it true that too much thinking can be a bad thing, again, the concept that thinking in and of itself is should be avoided is not AA.

The Big Book points out, “God gave us minds to use,” and “… our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration.”

So, if you’re not doing the sitting quietly, emptying the mind type of mediation every morning fear not. And, if you’re thinking about things, guess what? You are working the program by employing mindful meditation, and mindfulness in general.

Here’s what try to do every day:

  • Wake Up.  I know I need to give myself some time to become awake, so I allow time for that.
  • Get Focused. I think about the day ahead, who I am, what I am about and what I can uniquely bring to the day ahead. I often think about ideas like abundance and goodness.
  • Tap into Gratitude. The day always goes better with a thankful and full heart. Grateful to so much. Thinking about a few of them is always a great start.
  • Pay Attention. Avoid distractions. Don’t zone out. Having an ample amount of sleep makes this easier.  For me lately, this includes putting the phone away when I am around people.
  • Try not to react. Instead, be thoughtful, understand the context. Understand that the quiet of no response is one that is often well received.
  • Be kind and compassionate. If I am grateful and paying attention, I find many opportunities to show kindness and compassion throughout the day without any recognition or fanfare.

When I do all this, I find I am happy, calm and energized. Best of all, I sleep like a baby.

What a program!

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