Recently I’ve been put on anti-depressants by the doctor. They’ve helped, I have to say. They’ve helped me to stop caring about - well - everything, really. They’ve shut up the endlessly punishing stream of thought that has been interrupting sanity for the last few months.
My sponsor came round and I told him about it. I wasn’t sure how he’d respond; people have some extreme views about medication in recovery.
Saying that, my sponsor’s not particularly extreme about anything, unless you count sitting in silence in a Zen monastery for weeks at a stretch. He’s never actually ever told me to do anything, for example. He just allows me to get on with it.
I remember when I got to steps eight and nine. There I was, with the list of the people I’d harmed, expecting him to help me outline some sort of approach towards making my amends. What he actually said was: “I always find it useful to read the book before making amends to someone. Apart from that, just go and have your own experience.”
It was a similar thing when I told him that I had stopped praying for a month, as a definite experiment in step eleven.
“Why’s that, then?” he asked.
“Because when I relapsed, people kept getting in my face and saying: ‘Did you pray in the morning before you took a drink?’ and some of them, if I answered yes, said: ‘Well, you couldn’t have meant it.’ So I have to ask myself this: Do I want to have a fear-based recovery? Do I believe that if I fail to say a prayer in the morning God is going to punish me by making me drink?”
“Ok,” he nodded. “See if it works.”
Of course, God did not strike me dead, and I drifted back into daily prayer without even realising it. It’s just one of those things I do. Some people call it talking to themselves.
So I could have anticipated his response to my latest news, perhaps, which was: “That’s great. See if it works.”
Because of the perilous state of my mental terrain I’d had much difficulty staying present over the last few weeks, and meditation, well, that had just gone straight out the window. I couldn’t even sit still.
He’d brought round a cd to help me, by this chap called Adyashanti. Now, I’ve never really been keen on the idea of meditation cds - it smacks too much of whale noises and hippies - but I’m learning that what worked for me last year doesn’t necessarily work for me this year, and if something has stopped working then I need to find something new which does. I can’t afford to be closed-minded about these matters.
The investigation was this: What happens when we allow everything to be as it is?
Talk about taking the pressure off. Talk about turning it over. What happens when we relinquish control? What happens when we abandon self-centred striving? What happens when we simply allow things to be as they are?
We become open. We become closer to our natural state. We are the space in which thought arises; the space in which feeling arises. In fact, we are the space in which everything arises.
Naturally, I’m converted. From now on I am going to allow everything to be as it is, at least until I forget.
Now, where was I?