I was one of those people who couldn’t buy enough self-help books. I have an entire closet of them and they all look new because I didn’t completely read or work through any one of them. My pattern with these books was to buy, begin reading, decide that everyone else could change but they weren’t like me and so I could not relate, and finally, attempt to do whatever exercises were offered but gave up since I knew they would not be of any value. I tried to psych myself up and focus on a phrase or quotation that would suddenly enlighten me. It never worked.
When I began the process of recovery I realized that most all addicts have done the self-help thing in one way or another. We all found it didn’t work because it is virtually impossible for anyone to get out of addiction hell alone no matter what the method. For me, and I think for many of you, we eliminated the self-help activities and dove headfirst into recovery literature.
It wasn’t enough to read “The Big Book”, “The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”, as well as other approved books and pamphlets. We became hungry for everything and anything that would define who we were, our experiences and the solution. We became collectors of every 24-hour/day book that we could find on the shelves of a bookstore or online. These helped us begin our day, end our day, or give us focus throughout the day. Prayer and meditation were and are key elements in these publications; both of which are requirements for us to stay sober.
It surprised me when someone emailed me about how she enjoyed my book but then told me that she couldn’t read too much about addiction on a regular basis. I hadn’t thought of that before. Writing a weekly article and having a readership had made me think that everyone in recovery enjoyed reading about their addiction/recovery. Then I realized that the number of readers I have on a monthly basis peaks and wanes and that at times, we all just need a break.
Personally, I have gotten away from the daily meditation books specifically for addicts for the simple reason that I wanted something that embraced more than my addiction. I do believe these are real lifesavers and would always recommend any one of them to a newly sober person but I needed a change.
I was waiting for my sponsee this past week at the bookstore. I picked up a book—I didn’t care what it was—to put on the table to save it while I browsed. When I came back to the table I picked it up without looking at it to return it to its place. I glanced at the title, “The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have” by Mark Nepo (Conari Press). I couldn’t find where I had found the book so I took it back to the table and began to read. It was exactly what I needed to hear. It was that daily meditation that I was searching for. Needless to say, it is now the way I begin my day.
Mark Nepo is not a new author but began as a poet. He has a very intriguing story and this book is the result of his bout with cancer. Facing death change the way he felt, thought, and wrote and we are definitely the beneficiaries of these changes. The book is a daily meditation but it is not directed at addiction or the afflicted. It is spiritual, it is everyday. Mark writes simply. What I mean is that he writes philosophically but not so that the reader has to sit and wonder what on earth he means. He writes about life, courage, friendship, love, pain and joy.
Prayer and meditation are a big part of our recovery and we can pray and meditate without a focus on our addiction. We can focus on our lives as they are today and how we want to live out our tomorrows. I love Mark’s words and because I am one of those people that need to be told how and what to meditate on, Mark offers short, suggestions on how the reader might meditate on the reading for that day. They are doable and give the opportunity to dig into ourselves for a brief moment. Many of these begin with sitting quietly and breathing. None require more than a few minutes of time. And even though Mark is not in recovery (because he doesn’t need to be), you will be able to find many of the basic truths of the 12 Steps in his writing because as we know, these are principles for good living for all of us.
If you are in the market for a change in a daily meditation book, try this one. It is beautiful outside and in. This is a perfect time of year to buy it so you can begin the new year in a new way. I didn’t think a book like this could excite me. This one did. I end with a quotation from Mark’s book that I believe reflects the purpose: “It is my profound hope that something in these pages will surprise and refresh you, will make you glisten,will help you live, love, and find your way to joy.”
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.
"Like" Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of "The Intervention Book: Stories and Solutions from Addicts, Professionals, and Families"