It is more difficult for some people than for others, but learning to connect to a higher power is key to successful, long-term sobriety.
While I was still living in rehab, a recovery panel came to visit.
One of the panelists, describing her daily routine, mentioned that she meditated for 30 minutes, prayed for 15 minutes and journaled for another 15—every single morning. This was her “spiritual hour,” she said, and her entire sobriety hinged on it.
I was annoyed and discouraged. I’d tried meditating many times and never lasted longer than three minutes. I wasn’t sure what to pray to, and 15 minutes of prayer sounded like an eternity. I could handle the journaling, but on the whole, this speaker’s daily habit sounded absurd.
Of course, I soon learned the obvious: what works for one person may not work for another. I was fortunate to have a sponsor who encouraged me to find practices that would work for me.
“I’m not sure where to start,” I told him.
I hadn’t even gotten to the Third Step yet, but my sponsor showed me the Third Step prayer, telling me to print it out on a notecard and put it by my bed. In the morning, before my feet hit the floor, I should recite it.
“God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.”
Those middle words, “take away my difficulties” were my initial focus. I felt swamped by anxieties and pressures, and the only prayer that made sense was “make it stop.”
In the days and weeks that I prayed the Third Step prayer, I gradually began to understand the rest of the words. My difficulties would go quickest if I asked for them to be taken so that I could serve others. By the time I’d really done the Third Step work, the whole prayer made sense.
After many years, the Third Step prayer remains the cornerstone of my morning practice. And yes, I also journal. I still don’t meditate.
The key to developing a good working spiritual practice? Ask others what they do. Try what works for them with an open mind; if it doesn’t work, adapt it or try something else. If you are consistent about trying to connect to your higher power, the right avenue will appear for you.