Image courtesy of  suphakit73/

In an 11th step centering prayer meeting discussion this morning we talked about how  we all have recurring compulsions and that we should not be self-critical when related obsessive thoughts become the focus of our attention. It was suggested that we should acknowledge such thoughts and look beyond them and continue seeking the God of our choosing. Thus, one can develop the habit of thought redirection so that the after first acknowledging such thoughts one can think something like,  “Oh, you again” and immediately follow that thought with “I am going to look over/around you as I seek to be in the presence of my Higher Power.” The “you again” is simple enough for me, but I’ve got to work on the re-direction part.

In recognizing the all too familiar obsessive thoughts (cravings) I tend to sometimes start thinking about the “you” addressed in “oh, you again” rather than immediately turning  the focus of my thoughts to the God that protects me from giving into those cravings. It can be as simple as just taking a deep breath and thinking “I’m in God’s hands, you no longer have power over me” or “I’m not wasting my time on you anymore, I am, instead, turning my will and my life over to the care of my God as I understand him.” I have heard these phrases repeated over and over again by people in recovery, and I have even said them myself. But this is the first time I have associated them with mindful breathing and centering prayer—–a practice that is teaching me to quiet my mind and extraneous thoughts while I consent to spending some alone time with God, accepting his love, and listening instead of asking.

I have experienced a lot of “positive side effects” of centering prayer since I have been learning this new technique. One is that the skills my mind learns to use while in centering prayer can “bleed out” into “ordinary reality.” For example, I can have an obsessive thought about food any time I open my refrigerator—–or even think about what is in my refrigerator. I am learning to just smile and think, “oh, you again” when such thoughts occur.  Then I immediately remember I started the day off by turning my will and my life over to God, so those thoughts are rendered “powerless” over triggering compulsive eating. I’ve been doing something similar to this for years whenever I happen to walk through a grocery store’s liquor section.

Applying this thought redirection approach is starting to help me put my eating compulsion into  perspective. I have been trying the “25 chews/bite with one breath between bites” method (Altman, Donald,  2004.  Meal by Meal: 365 Daily Meditations for Finding Balance Through Mindful Eating, Kindle Locations 3644-3648, New World Library, Kindle Edition )when I consciously remember to do so. It has amazed me that it no longer feels “silly” as my previous attempts to learn to eat slowly have. Now I am aware of taste, texture, and the need to chew things thoroughly before swallowing. The breath between bites has been amazing—–it reminds to thank God during those “breathing” times for the gift of living—–of being able to breathe and to eat healthy food as it should be eaten. It has changed eating from being a frantic race to fill an ever-empty hole to a celebration of the sacred. What once seemed tedious and unnecessary  has become a very viable, easy way to accomplish a means of reaffirming my spiritual path.  It is amazing to me how much better thought redirection can work for me if the re-direction I apply is directly associated with something spiritually important to me .

God bless and keep you.