The topic at my meditation meeting this week was peace, and while sitting, it came to me that my idea of peace has changed over the years.
When I was getting high all the time, my idea of “peace” was to obliterate everything going on in my head. I thought — to the extent that I thought at all — that being a vegetable was peaceful. And I suppose it was, in some ways. The problem is, you can’t dull just the “bad” thoughts and feelings. You do drugs like I did, you dull everything. I was pretty dull by the end there … and not peaceful, anyway, because I was tortured about what I was doing.
Then I came to recovery, got sober, and immediately found a new kind of peace: a calm quiet where once had been that torture. Once I really got over the hump and the obsession to use left me, I was free of the whole “do I use or not” negotiation process. I won’t be going to that kegger because I won’t be drinking, which means I won’t be battling the desire to smoke, which means I won’t be feeling the shame and guilt and regret. I was free … of that.
Then I realized that all those thoughts and feelings were coming back, all the “stuff” I was using over in the first place. Not much peace after all! It was time to do the work of “spiritual housekeeping.” Particularly when I did Step 5, and shared some of my darkest moments with somebody else, was I able to realize I wasn’t a horrible monster, just a guy with a disease called addiction — and one of many, at that. And being sober, I was free of those behaviors. Working the steps, I was moving towards being free of the crazy thoughts and feelings.
That process, of course, is ongoing. Today my idea of peace is being in that calm, quiet place in my center, whatever is going on outside. I can experience ups and downs, I can have positive and negative thoughts, and still be okay. I can be at peace, no matter what’s going on. That allows me to be present with what actually is going on, rather than off in a fog of thinking, or swept away by feelings, or loaded.
This kind of peace also allows me to recognize where I still have work to do. When I am really on my game, it’s precisely the moments of non-peace when I can stop, look within, and ask myself what’s going on, what part of the spiritual house needs a little cleaning?
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