Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


In the twelve-step programs, we hear the term "... Sought through prayer and meditation."

But what exactly does that mean, the part about "meditation?" Because nowhere in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous have I found an explanation.

When I discuss it with others they define it in many different ways. Some say they silently sit and reflect. Others may read a page or passage from a meditation book.

After many years, I found an answer. I took a company-sponsored meditation course in Transcendental Meditation. And for a long time, I was satisfied with that. After about 18 years though, I began investigating other types of meditation and discovered Mindfulness.

Although it's not religious in nature, it is derived from Buddhism and has been practiced for over 2500 years. Today it has migrated into the secular and is practiced by many, regardless of their religious beliefs.

I've been practicing at least 30 minutes a day for about five years and discovered that it was exactly what I was looking for. Today it is quite popular throughout the country. In fact so popular, that Google provides free mindfulness courses to all of its 350,000+ employees. Many other organizations, including law firms and government agencies – such as the Veterans Administration – provide free meditation classes.

And a couple of years ago, wanting to learn more about the practice, I took a meditation teacher training course from a local Buddhist minister who offers classes on the Internet. After 11 months I received my certification as a mindfulness instructor. And today I'm able to teach our clients meditation and frequently do so.

For those of you are interested, the definition of mindfulness is: "fully aware of present experience with acceptance, and without judgment."

And a simple way to incorporate this practice into your life is to find time each day where you will be able to sit quietly and not be disturbed.

Once you are seated, either on the floor cross-legged, or perhaps in a chair, you begin to focus on your breath as it comes into your nostrils. Follow the breath into your lungs and continue to follow it as you exhale. Virtually everyone who tries to follow their breath for very long finds their mind wandering. When that happens we are told to pay attention to our thoughts, observe them without judgment and watch them pass from our mind like clouds through the sky. Then we return our attention to our breath.

It's an easy way to stay focused and relaxed, regardless of what life brings us.

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