I find that one of the best tools to surrender is breathing.
Now I’m huge into breathing, and I’m huge into meditation what I’ve learned over the years through active involvement in 12 Step programs. We sit in our meetings, and we talk a whole lot about spiritual principles and our beliefs or lack of beliefs. And we will hear each other talk about who our higher power is and how important it is to surround ourselves with like-minded.
I remember when I first came to be apart of the 12 Step communities.
I was a smart ass teenager, and I conflicted in every arrogant way I could. With YOU Adults, with the idea of living without drugs, with the 12 steps and with “coming to believe.” It wasn’t that I was an atheist; I was more of an agnostic. I always felt there was something more than just existence. I just didn’t give much thought to it back then.
Religion was never really forced on me growing up. We went to church when my grandmother was healthy enough for us to go to church. We went to a Methodist church. So it wasn’t real strict, totally different than my wife. Some of the most significant conflicts in our relationship, directly relate to how rigid her upbringing had been.
It all changed one night at an old broken down fishing lodge.
There is an old fishing lodge on Lake Whitney in Texas. There have been 12 Step recovery conventions going on there since the ’70s. I went to my first Whitney convention in 86. Back then, the rooms were virtually empty during the Whitney convention. Recovery meetings in Fort Worth and Dallas were empty. Everybody went to Whitney every three months.
I remember the first time I went to the lodge.
I went there with members of my 12 Step group, and we stayed in a not so nice hotel. All the guys from my group stayed in one room. There were around 7 of us; some of us crashed out on the floor. And I’m just 16 years old. I didn’t have any money; they took me to the convention.
I had missed the first two Whitney’s because of being in treatment the first time and the second time over a girl. (That’s another story. Um, I was just 16) But I went to the Whitney Convention and man, I heard all these wonderful stories about Whitney and about the “God meeting” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I get there and my expectations were so blown up out of proportion.
When I got there, all it was was a broken-down old fishing lodge and a bunch of old farts. That first night we went back to the hotel room. There was no way I was falling asleep that night. You share a room with 6 other guys, you have to have a damn good pair of earplugs. The snoring was unbearable I became angry and resentful. I didn’t want to do anything but go back home.
Getting up and going outside to smoke. One of the guys I was there with recognized my irritation. He followed me out and said, “come on, let’s head back up to the convention. See if anybody’s still up”. So we get up, we get back to the lodge. It’s around 2:00 in the morning; the lodge is quiet. There are still a few stragglers up. We decide to go up to Serenity Point.
Serenity Point was a little different back then.
The Cross was in a different position, and at that time was lit up by three floodlights. We get up to the point that night, and it was a complete overcast. You couldn’t see any stars, no moon, just solid gray clouds.
We were sitting on the edge of the cliff. I’m wining and complaining about how big of a dump the lodge was. How the convention was nothing like I was told. And how impossible it is to sleep in a room full guys sawing logs.
There were few other recovering addicts up there. I can barely remember who they were now. But we’re sitting there talking, and I’m complaining about everything that’s wrong with Whitney and why I didn’t need to be there.
When one of the other members just sat down next to me and he introduced himself.
Not that I remember his name, but I remember his voice quite clearly, “have you ever seen anything so amazing?” I responded, “what?” And he’s looking up at the sky, and I look up and long story short, the light on the cross cast a massive shadow upon the clouds. And it caught my attention.
I looked up, and what I saw the first time looked liked a silhouette of a man holding his arms open. I stood up, and when I looked up again, all I saw was a big shadowy cross on the clouds. The lights that had lit up the cross was projecting a shadow of it onto the clouds. At that moment, the wind blew hard, and my hair was just as long then, as it is now. (Of course, it was a little thicker, but it was just as long). And when that wind blew, my hair covered my face, and I had a sudden awareness.
All the I complaining and arguing about why I didn’t really need to believe in God all came to an end.
Because in that one moment, 16 years old standing on the edge of a cliff. I realized there was something that I had never seen that I had never felt that I could not control. I could only try to redirect or imitate it, yet I had always believed in it. I could lock myself away from it, but it was still there. No one’s ever seen it, ever. But yet no one has ever denied the existence of it. We all believe in it. We’re all dependant on it. And we are all connected by it. Always, continuously, simultaneously being touched by it, depending on it, breathing it.
The air and in the most active form, the wind!
Even in all the best-known creation stories and text, life began with a breath. And a breath only exists in the present. It doesn’t exist in the past or in the future, only in the present. So if I can learn to focus day to day on only my breath, I can stay in the moment.
“Always aspire to inspire before we expire!”