I often think about what has helped me stay sober all these years. The two things that stand out so clearly are prayer and meditation. At the age of twenty, I was at a pitiful and incomprehensible point in my life, and I was terrified of the drunk I had become. I reached out for my family’s help, after a dramatic suicide attempt, and within two days I was in a drug and alcohol treatment center. After I was released from the detox room, I was given a Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), the Twelve and Twelve (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions), and a meditation book titled, Day by Day.
Of course I had no idea how these tools would help me get out of the alcoholic insanity and impending doom that I woke up with every day. I was placed in a room with an older woman, and I saw her reading her books and getting on her knees to pray. She asked me if I prayed, and my answer was no. She suggested I try praying. The shame set in – Yes, I was raised with a combination of traditional Native American beliefs and Catholicism, but I could not say a single full prayer. As the days passed in this treatment center, I found out that my prayer could be as simple as asking God to help me stay clean and sober today and thanking God for keeping me clean and sober today. These were my first prayers from my heart.
As for meditation in the early days of sobriety, it was reading my AA approved literature and my meditation book, Day by Day, which was a book written by young people, for young people. Knowing that young people had written this book gave me hope that I could stay sober too. During this time I also began reading the personal stories, and I found out that there were other alcoholics just like me.
My prayer and meditation was solidified even more when I was sent to live in a young people halfway house for three months. Our daily routine included getting up at sunrise to read a meditation book or other AA literature all together, and sit quietly for a short period of time. Who would have guessed that getting up at sunrise to pray and meditate with a bunch of alcoholic brats would be one of my favorite memories of early sobriety?
Today, I am so grateful for the spiritual foundation that was laid. I have had thirty one years of continuous sobriety since I was in that treatment center and halfway house, but I continue to pray and meditate. As I became more familiar with the Big Book and Twelve and Twelve, I found out that there are specific prayers and specific guidelines for prayer and meditation, which have guided my spirituality through good days and bad days. My meditation time includes reading Daily Reflections and other spiritual resources. Wow, little did I know, when given those books initially, that they would be essential in my spiritual toolkit.