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What Do 12-Step Recovery Programs Mean By “Meditation”?

12-Step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous suggest prayer and meditation as the 11th step in the program, but what exactly do they mean by “meditation”? Many people have the belief that meditation means sitting in the lotus position with your eyes closed and incense burning. While some people meditate this way, the type of meditation suggested by the main text of Alcoholics Anonymous, known as the “Big Book”, seems to suggest a different form of meditation.

Merriam-Webster has two different definitions of the word “meditate”. One, which is what people commonly think of, is “to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.” This would refer to the close-eyed, diaphragmatic breathing type of meditation that many people think of. The other definition, however, is “to engage in contemplation or reflection”. The wording of the “Big Book” seems to suggest that the form of meditation suggested is more along the lines of spiritual introspection.

The “Big Book” suggest that each night we go through a process of constructively reviewing our day and asking ourselves a series of questions: “Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all?” We think about what we could have done to be a better, more spiritual person through this process of reflection.. In the morning we go through a process of contemplation: “On awakening, let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day.” Both the reflection and contemplation that we engage in are forms of meditation.

As we continue to pray and meditate, our spiritual lives become enhanced and we are able to move through our day with ease. The “Big Book” offers a series of promises about what will occur as we continue to practice the 11th step: “What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind,” and, “we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration.” In short, the more we engage in our 11th step through spiritual contemplation and reflection, the more connected we will feel to our Higher Power and our own spirituality.

Your health doesn’t have to be diminished as a result of addiction. You can make the courageous decision to seek help now and begin building a brighter future in sobriety. Resilient House, a treatment facility located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, understands the tolls addiction can take on your mind, body, and spirit. The caring and compassionate staff at Resilient House are ready to address all the aspects of substance dependency to bring you to a state of wholeness that supports long-term sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431