“We also know that if we miss our practice, we will not be able to erase the gap, for time waits for no one.”
-Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
The Secret of the Yoga Sutra
Greetings. How’s your sobriety? How do you practice your sobriety?
What do you mean, how do I practice my sobriety? I just do!
For the first twelve years of my recovery, this was my answer to such a seemingly stupid question. During those years, my work on Steps 10, 11, and 12 was on paper only.
Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
If the truth be told, I made a seriously half assed effort to take a personal inventory much less admit anything promptly. Honesty had never been one of my strong suits and it was very evident in practicing Step 10. My denial, while better than during actively using, was subtle and evident as I made feeble excuses for taking inventory and admitting it.
Step 11: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
Yes, I would read something from a meditation book a few times per week, especially before meetings so I would look good to the fellowship. In prayer, I would pay lip services to statements of gratitude. Yes, I was grateful. But deep down inside, I knew I could handle this sobriety stuff. Conscious contact was more of a vague awareness of a Higher Power. God’s will for me seemed pretty obvious: Stay sober! I did this on the outside, but on the inside I was good a pushing the boundaries dangerously close to relapse. Dangerously close!
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts and to practice these principles in our lives.
I desperately wanted to sponsor someone but no one asked. Hmmmm? And, there is that word again: practice. With my mind set of pushing the boundaries, there was no practice at all. In fact, I spent about five years not even going to meetings. I went to another men’s group that talked about similar stuff, but not addiction. But it was enough for me. I was handling things just fine. Right?
I had gone to a psychiatrist for a while. He told me that the solution to my issues was four pointed. First was the medical. He was responsible for my medication management. Then he listed the other three as spiritual, emotional and physical. These were my responsibility.
WHAT? How was I supposed to do that?
Well, I asked that question without realizing that God was listening. There were some very loud but subtle messages sent my way. After several years taking yoga classes, I heard a definition of yoga: to unite the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of my being. How did that shrink know that?
God, being full of grace and love, (and humor) continued this message with a harsh dose of reality.
I stopped taking yoga classes and began practicing yoga.
I stopped reading meditation and prayer books and began to learn how to meditate and pray. I was actually learning how to talk, AND LISTEN to my Higher Power. I returned to meetings of our fellowship. I got a sponsor.
Miracles continue. I’d really love to tell you how perfect my life is now. I would not expect any self respecting sober addict to pay any attention to such foolishness. I can tell you that prayer and meditation are becoming woven into my life style of sobriety. I can also tell you that those days when prayer and meditation are missed, that day has a gaping hole in it. I know this because people who love me tell me. I live with an edge to my being. My expectations rise and my resentments rise along with them.
Well, I could cover several pages of stuff that happens when my lifestyle does not include prayer and meditation each day. I’ll spare us all. Yet, again, I recognize that my behavior does not lie. I can’t deny the obvious. Fortunately, those of you in my circle won’t lie to me either.
I return to sincere gratitude. Sobriety is practiced with prayer, meditation, gratitude, honesty, love and a whole lot more. It is practiced with you. We are related so strongly.
I can rest, only with you.