Guided Meditation – Step 2 & The 2nd Noble Truth
Step 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous
Came to believe that only a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Buddhism Step 2: The 2nd Nobel Truth
Suffering is caused by craving.
Let’s begin by adjusting ourselves so that we are in a comfortable position. Imagine a red string attached to your pelvic bones, drawing up through the spine, neck, and head, exiting at the top of the head, and connecting you to the ceiling. This thread keeps your body comfortably erect, not stressing joints or muscles, simply holding you in the posture most beneficial to your meditation. Your seat is grounded into your chair, legs strong and relaxed grounding into the feet which connect to the floor, the earth.
Now that we have focused our awareness on preparing our bodies for meditation we begin to direct awareness to the breath. We don’t change or alter the breath in any way, we simple pay attention to it. We notice the breath coming in at the upper lip and the edges of our nostrils, cool on the inhale, we feel it fill our chest and abdomen, we notice the slight pause before the body naturally begins the exhale. Now we notice the abdomen flattening, the chest becoming less swollen with air, the throat guiding air up in to the nasal cavity and as the breath exits the body we notice the sensation of warmth on the edges of the nostrils and upper lip. We will remain here for several breaths, noticing, naming internally the phases of the breath, not forcing or altering.
Begin by considering the similarities between the 2nd Step of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 2nd Nobel truth.
We have now admitted powerlessness and unmanageability and have surrendered to the fact that the drinking way of life no longer works. In Step 2 we begin to look at how we got to a point where we no longer had control and could no longer help ourselves. We begin to see that by giving our control and our power over to drugs and alcohol we had become insane.
Take yourself back to the time where you clearly recognized that you had become powerless to help yourself in the face of your addiction. Take time here to investigate the feelings and sensations that arise with your breath. Observing, noting, watching what comes up but not allowing yourself to become attached to the thoughts or images that arise. Breathe through the thought, observe it, do not follow it. Note feelings or sensations that arise, and send the thought off with your exhaling breath.
What feelings come up as you breathe. Perhaps you feel the sensation of losing something. You have lost control. You have lost your power. You have accepted that which is unacceptable.
Hope is on the horizon now, you have surrendered, you have felt your powerlessness and you have realized the unmanageability of your life. You have made a decision to change the way you live. Most importantly, you have acknowledged your powerlessness to change on your own.
But, now comes the question, what is a power greater than myself? Is it a god? Is it something or someone I must worship, I must believe in? Do I already have to believe in it to get relief, to stay sober, to grow?
No, we don’t have any of those obligations. We simply acknowledge that we are unable to help ourselves and we open our minds and our hearts to the possibility that there is something greater out there, beyond us, beyond the idea of self, that can be the catalyst for change; that can light the path.
We are like the lamplighters of old, we have lit each lamp on the street of our existence. We can clearly see where we have been by the lights that are on. Yet we are at a crossroads. Darkness lays before us creating uncertainty, perhaps fear. We know that somewhere in that darkness are the answers, the key, the beginning of the path. We make ourselves willing to wade into that darkness, adjust our eyes, and see what is revealed.
As you visualize this journey of lighting lamps, wading through your addiction, each lamp marking wreckage, unmanageability, shame, fear, and anything else that comes up, remember to breathe deeply. Gently note what each incident is, what each lit lamp along the way represents. Each lamp is a mark of your journey toward sobriety, toward health.
Let yourself fully experience this moments, but experience them as an observer. Use each in breath to draw in light-filled and soothing air. A balm for the pain that addiction has caused. On each out-breath, push the pain and suffering of the moment you have witnessed out of your body and into the ether. See, in your mind’s eye, the sooty, black dust of each memory being pushed out of your nostrils and the clean and light-filled air of your inhale replacing the detritus of the past.
Let’s look closely now at the 2nd Nobel Truth the Buddha shared with us. Suffering is caused by craving. This fact is so clear in our lives, in our disease, in our choice to become clean and sober.
Our craving for alcohol and drugs has caused us to suffer. It has made us mentally sick. It has made our bodies sick and diseased. This craving has made our relationships sick. Our speech, our actions, our beliefs sick. Every aspect of our lives is covered in the paul of our addiction. We have allowed our addiction to wilt everything in our lives and to hurt those we love.
This awareness, this clarity of the root cause of the disease, craving, is like a gate. We know what happened and why. We craved relief which we found in our drug of choice. Our drug of choice made us and everything around us sick, like a garden that no one waters.
This gate of understanding brings hope in its clarity and simplicity. We know that we had no control over the craving and the suffering. We know that we cannot help ourselves, we cannot get and stay clean and sober on our own will. The disease of addiction has nothing to do with discipline, will, or determination. It laughs in the face of resolve. Step 2 and the 2nd Nobel Truth are the gates toward action. They are the knowledge steps. Craving, suffering, and helplessness open us to belief that something greater than ourselves, our self-will, must work to right our keeling ships.
We use the following affirmations with our breath to aid us in the process of absorbing this new-found knowledge and of surrendering to something greater than ourselves so that we may change.
- I accept that I am powerless over alcohol.
- I surrender to the fact that I am an alcoholic.
- I accept that I am unable to stop drinking and drugging on my own.
- I surrender to the fact that my craving has caused me to have this disease which has caused me to suffer.
- I accept the fact that my disease has caused others to suffer.
- I surrender to the truth of a power greater than myself.
- I accept that I am ready to see this power work in my life to bring me back to center, to a place of lasting peace and recovery.
In surrendering to the fact that our disease is caused by craving and that we are unable to cure ourselves by any means we begin to see hope and light. We accept that we have no control, that our craving for relief is so powerful that only a power greater than us, than our will, can restore us to sanity. We surrender to the fact that our craving has caused us to become mentally ill. In this surrender to fact we generate peace, hope, and a deep willingness to do the work needed to live a healthy life free from disease, craving and suffering. A life led by a power that we cannot see but can instead feel working in and through us.
Now let’s let the work we have done settle in our bodies by practicing Buddha’s four part breath. Breathe in long and breathe out naturally for ten breaths. Breathe in naturally and breathe out long for ten breaths. Breathe in short and breathe out naturally for ten breaths. Breathe in naturally and breathe out short for ten breaths.
Now let’s bring awareness back to our bodies by wiggling the toes, gently moving the feet, legs, shifting in our seat, torso, back, arms, neck, and heads. Gently, open your eyes when you are ready.
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