Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mindfulness and the 12 Steps

We just spent an entire evening in our living room with a group of friends (and an adorable eight-week old baby) watching grown men beat on each other (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Watching UFC has become a tradition over the years. It started out as a male bonding experience for the fellows, but more recently, girlfriends, wives and even daughters have joined in. The fights tonight were rather boring, but the company was splendid. 

I hope it doesn't sound outrageous for me to be writing a post tonight about wanting to become more spiritual. Believe me, I am hell bent on figuring out how to get on and stay on a more spiritual path. I've been interested in the concept of mindfulness for years, and am attracted to the apparent parallels between mindfulness and twelve step recovery. Yesterday I opened a book that is actually blowing me away. 

The book is Mindfulness and the 12 Steps: Living Recovery in the Present Moment, written by Thérèse Jacobs-Stewart. Interestingly, we have had another book in our house for years that focuses quite similiarly on the topic of Buddhism and the 12 steps. I've tried to read that other book a number of times, but I just couldn't get into it, and I think it's because it was written by a man. Not that I have anything against male writers, but the words on the page of Kevin Griffin's One Breath of a Time just don't leap off the page and connect with me the way that the Jacobs-Stewart book does. I get her.

As I noted in a post a few days back, I am on the seventh step, and I desperately need some of my shortcomings to be removed. Jacobs-Stewart reveals that the Buddhist approach to dissolving "habituated patterns" of the negative sort is called "aspiration practice."

"Buddhist tradition points to an aspiration practice as a way of 'walking in the direction' of our desired change. We hold a strong intention to let go of the old, asking that our heart may open, blossoming into the new. We are inspired to make a vow, relying on our Higher Power to help us carry it through."

In other words, if we are going to ask that our shortcomings be removed, we need to "hold an intention to open to a new virtue in its place." I like this thinking a lot. It feels more productive to me than the way I have worked the seventh step in the past. It's late now, so I am going to sleep on this new information and continue this tomorrow.

By the way, this post is going up at 12:42 am so it will look like I missed posting for a day. But I didn't.

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