I could not stop myself from binge eating, and stay stopped, without a reliance on a Power greater than myself. I tried stopping using willpower, but that didn’t work out too well. After suffering enormous weight gain and tremendous emotional pain, I was pushed to my knees and was desperate enough to do anything that would give me freedom from my mental obsession with food and eating. When I came into the rooms of Addictive Eaters Anonymous, I asked for and was given some simple suggestions about how to eat and what to eat. I quickly realised and accepted that the craving for food was just a symptom of my emotional and spiritual malady and I needed another way to live without abusing food.
Now, it’s vitally important for me to follow suggestions as if my life depended on them. Indeed, I have found that my life does depend upon practical spiritual guidance. My sponsor’s long term sobriety - which is now over 39 years free from food, drink and drugs - is precisely why I asked her to help me and have followed her suggestions. I need to do the things the people who have serenity and sobriety do. And so, without question, I started to meditate soon after meeting my sponsor. The simple instructions I’ve been given stay with me and continue to be a part of my sobriety.
Through stillness, I began to experience a Power greater than myself
In my early days of prayer and meditation, I used words and I lay still for 20 minutes. I hadn’t a clue how to pray or meditate, but I kind of just knew that I should sit still, breathe from the tummy and see what happens. So that is what I did; I lay still on the apartment bed, I closed my eyes and allowed whatever feelings to come up. Then I tried expressing the thoughts and feelings that arose to a Power greater than myself. I had no idea who or what I was speaking to, but I didn’t analyse or think about it. I just felt that there must be something greater than me, given the sum of the planet, the sun, the stars, the moon, the night and day and the air I breathed. Whatever was responsible for it all could also listen to my prayers and my requests. I also treated this Power as if it were my best friend. I decided that I would put away my old ideas about God, that I would form a new relationship with a Power that cared about me, loved me and wanted the best for me. I decided that I would talk to this Power as if I were courting or building a new relationship with a friend I liked. I thought to myself, well if I made a new best girlfriend, I would spend precious time getting to know her, listening, talking and spending time together. So that’s exactly what I did when it came to prayer and meditation.
Over time, this friendship has blossomed and grown. It has evolved to where I no longer need as many words and no longer need as many minutes to form a conscious contact with a Power greater than myself. Just like any good friendship, I know it is there and sometimes I can take it for granted. But the most important thing is that each day I have real conscious and consistent contact with the Power that is responsible for our universe, and all the humans, animals and vegetation on our planet.
Making conscious contact with a Power greater than myself throughout the day
Each morning, I wake up very early. It is my favourite part of the day; it is dark, still, and quiet and I often see foxes outside my window roaming the streets, looking healthy and quite friendly. Actually they make me smile and the moment I sit in my armchair looking out of the window, I immediately feel peaceful. I feel a calm that envelops me as I breathe deeply maybe six or seven times, although I’m not counting. My heartbeat slows and I’ll pick up one of my many spiritual books, including the book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ll read a sentence or two, maybe a paragraph or even a couple of pages and again, as I do this, I get a conscious intuitive feeling as to how little or how much I should read. As I feel the pages underneath my fingers, breathing deeply, in that moment of stillness, I am aware of a Power. It is what I did this morning and it was a wonderful experience. I probably sat still, read and breathed for 20 minutes, but it is not a ritual. It really is an intuitive feeling as to how little or how long I sit in this way each day. As part of this conscious contact meditation, I call my sponsor and share with her how I intend to spend my day. Whether I'm engaged in chores or doing service for others, this practice enables me to get out of my head and share with another person how it is I intend to use and share this absolute and generous flow of energy. It is a gift that I have been given and has enabled me to stop addictively eating and slowly killing myself by binge-eating, drinking and popping painkillers.
This morning, as I was picking up a friend to join me at a meeting, I missed a junction and lost my way. Now my usual mindset and modus operandi is to feel guilt and shame, to feel bad and berate myself for getting lost and for being later than I promised. However, as I started the day in stillness and was rooted in this peaceful Power, I believe I was able to catch that negative voice and tell it to go away. Instead, I breathed and I treated myself as I would a friend. My shoulders relaxed, I smiled, and I reminded myself that I did my best and left home on time. While I had programmed the satnav correctly, it began to rain heavily with sleet and snow and I missed my turning twice. I was able to pull over, call my friend calmly and safely and tell her I was late. I took my foot off the gas and relaxed for the remainder of the drive. I decided not to blame and not to feel bad, because I had started my day rooted in stillness and I had asked this Power to guide me and help me be of maximum service to others.
My sober way of life is a daily practice that frees me from binge eating
I don’t know how this prayer and meditation will evolve. I am excited that it seems to get better and better. The only requirement, I believe, is that I consistently practise this sober way of life without fail. Sometimes that means just standing still for 30 seconds or taking three conscious breaths, because of course life situations and people demand my attention and the stillness meditation has to occur on the go, or as I reach for my hat and coat or put on my boots. I become still and aware of the Power that is around me, in me and beside me. I silently tap into that Power without words and without people knowing that, as they’re speaking to me or as I’m driving the car, I’m actually in an aware meditative state. I absolutely intend to continue this practice in all my affairs. It is the golden thread running through life that keeps me grounded and at ease with the world. I can live peacefully only by contacting that Power greater than myself many times a day.
I believe that those of us who have found this miraculous way of life are walking miracles. I am able to have closer relationships with the people in my life. Not only my husband, but even the bank manager and other drivers get a nicer me. My life is no longer ruled by food, I have stopped binge eating and stayed stopped, only eating what my body needs. With the help of my sponsor, other AEA members and by living the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of AEA including prayer and meditation I have a new way of life.