The Serenity Prayer as well-known to millions contains within it the deep understanding of how to manage the challenges of life. To re-state it : GOD GRANT ME THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT WHAT I CANNOT CHANGE, THE COURAGE TO CHANGE WHAT I CAN AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
Variations on it (perhaps originally penned by Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr) have spread across the recovery world as well as into the consciousness of ordinary human beings because of the realization that our ultimate suffering and happiness (serenity) resides within our minds.
Yet just knowing this truth does not make it easy to experience. I have heard friends and patients express this frustration time and again. "I know I should accept what I can't change. I just can't do it! If I can't do it…..I'll never find serenity!"
This may be the place where meditation can be of great help.
In particular, mindfulness mediation which allows us to experience the content of our minds as the witness of our oown thoughts and feelings.
There are many excellent sources for exploring mindfulness meditation available on the web. But in short it begins with experiencing the in and out flow of the breath from our nostrils. Our minds will seem to instantly jump to thoughts and feelings.
It is the "monkey chatter" Buddhist adepts speak of. It is actually humorous to observe how difficult it is to maintain the focus of our minds on the breath. Our minds are so used to doing this incessant jumping that we can't easily stop it.
When we recognize that we are thinking/feeling rather than breathing, we gently return to attending to our breaths. We repeat this over and over during our daily sessions. Gradually, I am told, our minds will become better at focusing attention. It will become less unruly and better at addressing it own content–our thoughts and feelings.
I have written about neurotherapy and brain training. Meditation is the oldest and perhaps most effective form of just that. Meditation allows our minds to be more effective at dealing with life's inevitable obstacles and challenges. But it takes time and practice. Habits are notoriously difficult to break and our minds are habitually in a state of chaos.
Meditation actually works. It calms the mind which then calms the body. We find that our problems have not changed, but our ability to address and deal with them has. The words of the Serenity Prayer now have deeper meaning when we can actually experience serenity.It may very well allow us to actually DO what the Serenity Prayer requests–accept what we cannot change as well as the courage and wisdom that necessarily follows. This is true healing.
It certainly cannot hurt to try.