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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

The art of listening


“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”  Step 11


Meditation is mentioned 37 times in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and is used universally as an influential and healing exercise.  There came a time when we had to investigate and experiment lest we miss out on what was touted as an essential element in transformation.


Not knowing what to do with our thoughts, we used to drink.  Before turning the corner toward spirituality, we thought meditation was a bizarro activity practiced primarily by monks and new-age factions.  Our unfamiliarity fueled our falsehoods about a phenomenon that now shapes our days and influences our lives in an intense and prevailing way.


Meditation comes easily to some and is harder for others. As our journeys have unfolded, we have been in both camps. Like many valuable initiatives, breakthroughs happened in the process of practice. 


We sought guidance from those with experience and used the following as a frame to get the most from the moments spent.  We hope the 7 steps assist the reader who is intrigued, interested, or involved in the act(s) of meditation:


1.       Commit, pick a time, and be consistent

We have found the early morning hours to be the best time to practice meditation. Distractions are minimal pre-dawn.  Some say it takes between 21 and 40 days to form a habit.  We say give meditation a 30-day try; grabbing 30 minutes a day does the trick, but don’t let that stop you from starting – begin with 5/10 minute sessions to establish a groove.   Set the alarm and settle in. 


2.       Be fed, be free, and get comfortable

Grab a beverage and put something in your stomach if you wake up hungry. Find somewhere quiet and comfortable, somewhere with low stimuli and little chance of interruptions. Pick a seat that suits your comfort style. Again, consistency matters, so try to park in the same place each day. Throw some noise-canceling headphones on, take a couple of breaths, and quiet down to create a blank canvas on which to paint.


3.       Listen to some low-key/soft music

Start with the unfamiliar.  The idea is to begin the “unplug” phase.  Listen for as long as it takes to step away from the trash streaming your way.  Keep it quiet, allowing the mind to find a pace of tranquility.  The mind WILL wander, but we learn to gently point it back to nothingness over time.


4.       Break and Pray

Prayer throws what’s inside out into the universe.  Clearing the air with the creator of heaven and earth, the sun, stars, and all the universes imagined.  This is where we got snagged early on, as one session seems incapable of sorting through all that is on our list. 


We learned to pick and choose and prioritize what we put out. We were sure to be more grateful than demanding.  We learned to plea and petition for character over commodity.  We lead with and close with our long list of thanksgiving – this puts much in proper perspective.


5.       Read something spiritual

Strong words from a daily devotional, inspirational issue or a piece of scripture go a long way in connecting the talking with the listening.  It sets the stage and is usually translatable to the situations we are facing. 


6.       SIT and be quiet

This is where the ball meets the bat.  It is time to be quiet and listen.  It always starts with a silence, but as often, an inner voice emerges.  Thoughts shape, and definition unfolds.  Clarity occupies a once cloudy space.


DON’T BE DISCOURAGED if voices are not heard.  Don’t quit before the magic happens.  Time delivers on its schedule. 


7.       Ramp up the tunes: get motivated.

We close out with energy and a powerful praise tune that helps set the tone for the day. 

This is just the frame that we have adapted to.  There are a million guided meditations online and thousands of books on the art.  Try yours, try this, try it!


We are careful not to rate our daily experiences. There is no meter or gauge. There is no good or bad meditation; it is simply meditation. Answers may come instantly or over time.


We set our expectations appropriately. Stupid thoughts come our way throughout the process, and we slide the dark to the side, making room for the light. 


We are amazed how, once connected through meditation, we can identify answers in what we see, hear, and experience.  Solutions unexpectedly unfold from what was once shambles. 


This is just our experience.  We invite the reader to craft their own.



 

Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from sober.coffee podcast episode #55  titled “Meditation - "The Art of Listening"”      The session dropped 4/20/2022.  Click here to hear the podcast. 

 

 

BLOG DISCLAIMER:

Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.

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