The Sunlight of the Spirit

When I began to explore ideas of a Power greater than myself, I readily conceded that nature is majestic—I often found peace among the redwood trees or in the Pacific surf—but praying to nature didn’t work for me. Then, in the quiet of meditation, I recalled a childhood memory: calling ‘God’ the beauty of the sun’s rays peeking through rainclouds. There it was, my HP, “the sunlight of the Spirit” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th. ed., p. 66). The Spirit lights the path before me to show me the way in my daily reprieve from addiction.

When I started meditating, I was taught to find a peaceful image in my head and explore it in detail to quiet the other static. Then I learned to follow my breath and allow thoughts to come in and float out without getting stuck. Meditation is not about total silence; it is more a refined awareness and an acceptance of human frailty. Meditation is one of the ways I become quiet enough to hear direction from the Spirit. I have attended Twelve Step meditation meetings, walked labyrinths, and used guided tapes. Currently I am learning to integrate an open-eyed meditation practice in my daily life, meditating while standing in line at the pharmacy, waiting in traffic, gardening, biking, walking, cleaning—anything.

My constant daily contact with the “sunlight of the Spirit” begins with the Third Step Prayer (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 63) when I awaken, after which I bicycle on a stationary bike while meditating on my breath. Then I read; then I meditate, sitting in light-filled quiet. If I am troubled about some aspect of my life, I offer it in prayer and listen for the answer. Sometimes a response is immediate: a thought of which action to take. Sometimes I don’t even feel a connection, but the practice remains the same, knowing I will be back tomorrow, sitting quietly, waiting for guidance. Then I do my daily writing (personal inventory and Step work) and exchange emails with my sponsor and sponsees. Often I find solutions in connections with others.

I listen for the next right action and then follow through. I live abstinently, staying present to participate in sacred moments (such as noticing something intriguing and focusing quietly for a minute or two in awe), thanking the Spirit before and after I eat, looking for reasons to be grateful and writing them down. I ask for help and compassion when interacting with others: offering the energy of prayer; participating in Twelve Step phone calls, emails, and texts; opening my home to someone who needs quiet or to a group celebrating recovery; and engaging in sponsorship and meetings.

I used to have two mottoes to excuse my frenzied participation in life: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and “It hasn’t killed me yet.” To know that meditation could lead me instead to quiet acceptance, with compassion for myself and others, is a miracle I haven’t yet fully explored. At least now I might be still enough to hear the answer.

~ Anonymous, Rohnert Park, California USA