Spirituality is for Everyone
As often before, we must see the first 12 Steppers, and thousands who followed them, in the context of their Christian faith. If you share that belief or one which is comparable, then to speak of prayer and contact with God and of his plan for your life is natural to you. Your faith and the vision it gives you will carry you forward.
But if you are not a believer do not dismiss the notion of spirituality.
We all have a sense of that which is beyond our knowledge and experience, which thoughts and words cannot encompass. When we contemplate the magnitude of the universe, or a sunset, or an insect’s wing, or the trust of a child, or a great work of art, we become aware, beyond and within the merely observable, of truths we will never fathom and cannot describe.
Meditation is for Everyone
Often, we reflect on these marvels for no more than a moment. But there is great advantage in careful contemplation. As we look more deeply into any mystery, we see more clearly that within it which is explicable and can be set to one side. What is left is even more wonderful.
Recovery of mind and body is not enough. Your future depends on your spirit.
Christians may be familiar with the meditation techniques of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales and the many more recent teachers who have built on their foundations. Judaism and Islam and other religions have their mystical teachers too and for all these the goal is a deeper awareness of God and what he has purposed.
For Buddhists and some others, the aim of meditation is not to be in touch with a spiritual entity but to take control of the mind and bring it to a state of peace and focus where awareness of everything is more possible. Buddhism too has many teachers who have signposted this journey.
These differing understandings of the nature, purpose and methods of meditation are not mutually exclusive. Those who belong to a faith should not be afraid of learning lessons from the practices and insights of others. If your vision of God is a true one, then it cannot be threatened by discovering how others have pierced the veil to glimpse what is beyond.
Those with no belief in God should not dismiss meditation as something for the religious alone. Humbly accepting that they do not know everything, they should seek to understand better what can be known and investigate every means there is to explore the unknowable. For them, the possibilities are even greater for they never reach a full stop and say, “beyond this point I must accept it is just how God wills it;” the wonder and excitement of their journey is unending.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
The Self at the Centre
Surprisingly, accepting that we cannot answer every question quells frustration and develops our sense of inner peace. When, in Step 1, you accepted that your life had become unmanageable, that did not plunge you into panic; it brought a glimmer of calm light into your life. It is only when the man in the quicksand stops thrashing about that he ceases to sink and can contemplate escape and reach out for help.
In a similar way, the more we meditate on the mysterious and wonderful, the clearer the two poles of self-awareness become. In all the vastness and complexity of everything that is, I begin to see that my problems are not so significant; what I perceive as overwhelming obstacles are tiny and well within the capabilities of my friends, my family, my mentors and myself to manage. At the same time, I become more and more aware that everything that exists is interdependent and that I am an essential and important part of the ultimate whole. The universe might be able to manage without me, but it would be different. I matter.