Powerlessness and the Beauty of Feeling

Step 11 starts out, sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with god as we understood him. To me prayer means talking to god, but what about meditation? I’ve heard that meditation literally means ‘to listen.’ But.. listen to what?.. Or to whom? If one thinks of meditation as being the flip side of prayer, one can think of meditation as listening to god. It would make sense then that doing these two things would help us to improve our conscious contact with god because prayer and meditation would effectively amount to having a conversation with him.

If I speak to God in the language of English when I pray, in what language does he speak to me when I meditate? The answer to this question depends on what one listens to when one meditates. I myself focus on how feelings manifest themselves within me as bodily sensations. So for me at least, the God of my understanding speaks to me in the language of feelings.

But this strikes a dissonant chord. If God loves me, and he speaks to me in the language of feelings, then why at times can feelings be so horrendously uncomfortable that they’ve nearly driven me to suicide? How could what is supposed to be the word of god be so savage and merciless?

The answer to this question, I believe lies in the way that god’s message is interpreted. Insofar as God loves me, his message is always loving, so if it doesn’t feel that way the problem lies with me, not with Him. So how might I reorient myself with respect to God so that I can take his words for what they are?

According to Buddhist wisdom, what turns pain into suffering is one’s resistance to it. Resistance compounds pain because when I resist pain I effectively become in pain for being in pain. I become sad that I am sad, angry that I’m angry, I’m hurt that I’m hurt. These feelings build on themselves when, for example, I become angry for being angry for being angry for being angry, ad infinitum. This vicious cycle of negative emotion then becomes self-perpetuating, spiraling out of control and yielding horrific and terrifying results. The way to break this loop is through practicing Step 1, thereby acknowledging one’s powerlessness over the feeling. In realizing the futility of trying to control these feelings I cease in my resistance to them and prevent them from growing in intensity.

This as it happens, is exactly what I seek to do when I meditate. In acknowledging my powerlessness over feelings, I strive to allow all them to come and go of their own accord, like a leaf floating in the breeze. By ceasing in the struggle against these feelings, I can feel them for what they are, unobscured by all the layers of secondary feeling. What’s underneath is always beautiful, whether it’s sadness, anger, joy or hurt and that’s because it is literally the voice of god.