December 28, 2012

Enlightenment is Coming to us All...

Maybe those of you traveling the Twelve Step path will agree it is a good thing enlightenment is not mentioned until Step 12?   After all, who comes to a meeting looking for enlightenment (AKA, spiritual awakening)?

For me, the awakening took twenty years.  When I had a relapse two autumns ago, I "came to" and suddenly knew which step I had skipped.

That's when I made the decision put the second part of step eleven, meditation,  first in my life.  I began by meditating on, and accepting, my depression. 

I am very much a latecomer to formal meditation.  The precision in such an undertaking was intimidating for me. But I've discovered there's also a lot of gentleness in mindfulness meditation, particularly when I use Pema Chodron's words as my guide. 

Pema shares how the natural awakening that results from meditation creates an awareness of spaciousness, of life beginning to open us up.  Spaciousness allows us to experience the world as large and ever changing.   The world includes us, at last. 

I've learned mindfulness meditation is a practice of loving all the details of my life. It is a close kin to centering prayer. 

Which leads me to another thought, that the 12-steps are also "centering."  I picture the 12 steps (and meditation in particular)  creating a circle surrounding me that grows larger with each time I let the (principles of the) steps dance me.  

 In many spiritual traditions the circle is a powerful symbol of sacredness of all things.  Imagine that you too, are drawing a circle around yourself. The circle that surrounds you shows you that you're part of a sacred space, in the heart (or center) of the world. 

Before meditation, I too easily allowed worries, pains, limitations, desires and fears to blind me to the beauty of existence, so all I could feel was my misery towards my not-so-wonderful life.  That misery created a cyclone of anxiety for me. Instead, meditation opened me gradually to my surroundings, so bit by bit I became a little less stuck in self-concern (or self-centeredness).  As I found room to breathe, I began to see I was standing already at the center of the world, in the middle of the sacred circle.  

Truly seen, life is such a miracle, but sadly our old habits of thinking would have us only feel resentment about how it's not working out for us.

At the end of the year, on the brink of another Step Twelve,  I finally can recognize that a "spiritual awakening" is occurring. I might even have a modicum of humility,  to admit the awakening came from practicing all the steps. Meditation helped me drop some old old habits, for good. 

On this third day of the Christmas, I hope you find your horizons opening.  Take time to lay your burdens at the feet of your Higher Power, and dwell in unconditional love and compassion,  just for today. 

Ch. 7


  1. Beautiful post Smitty. I like your metaphor of the sacred circle to help find balance. Happy New Year!

  2. I hope that you had a quiet and serene Christmas, Smitty. Glad to be catching up with you.


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