We know that support for our recovery will always be here for us, as long as we remember to place principles before personalities.
~ 12 Step Literature
With the year ending, it is a good time to review what worked, what did not work, what changes have we made, and what gifts have we received as a result of working this program in all of our affairs. I can only speak for myself, but no matter how much anger and pain that was expressed this year, my personal life has been peaceful and productive. I have remained sober in thought and deed. I have not done everything perfectly, but I reserve the right to be human. This year, as in most years the gifts I received filled up three notebook pages. One time, I heard it said that we are born with more gifts than we can ever open. That sounds right to me. Life is good. It can be pretty predictable and a bit stodgy, but it is good. Bills are paid, I have enough money for a big emergency, a roof over my head, a cat to cuddle, good friends in program, a job that has meaning for me, and food in my tummy. Not everyone has these comforts. Life is good.
Here are some parting Tradition #12 questions that may help you assess how things are going:
Do we confuse AA principles with our own personal opinions?
Are we ever tempted to look at AA service as a career booster?
Do we use anonymity correctly, only using private contact info for AA purposes?
What is my primary purpose in being in AA?
Have a peaceful and sober New Years. Check out the events page for what is going on in AA this weekend. You are not alone.
As we continue to grow spiritually, we begin to lose our desire for prestige in AA and in other areas of our life. ~ 12 Step literature
Being a sponsor or trusted servant in AA takes its toll. Now and then, it is important to take the time to refill the soul or that proverbial cup of energy. After all, we cannot give what we do not have. We are merely human beings trying to do spiritual work. We have needs too. It is a good time of year to close things out, much like gathering all the remnants and receipts of last year’s tax and personal issues, we need to review and resolve any old service hold overs from this past year. I know that I am letting go of a huge service position and starting a new one in January. That means making sure all the old work is completed and handed over; as well as orienting myself to the new tasks ahead. Change is never easy, but it always means growth and new things to learn.
How do we go about refilling our own spiritual cup? Take a day or two and do a retreat in your own home or go elsewhere if possible. Just review what worked and what didn’t. Ask yourself:
What did I learned this year?
What/who do I need to let go of?
How can I challenge myself going forward?
What am I willing to do to enhance my recovery program?
Am I truly benefiting those I work with, or is there more I can do?
We are never fully done in AA, nor will we ever graduate. We are living and learning. If not, we are not doing it right! Ha ha. Happy journey.
The sponsor without weaknesses has not shown up, so far as we know. ~ Living Sober
Coming down off the high of the holidays will take awhile. Just bear that in mind .Be gentle with yourself. You may feel especially lonely and let down. You may have cravings for junk food and caffeine to “pep” yourself up. This will last a few days or up to two weeks. Just relax and go with the flow. Treat yourself to something that you don;t normally have in your life; such as a massage, pedicure or manicure, a good juicy novel, etc. Indulge and repair your heart. Watch some silly comedy. I keep some comedy movies on store. A good laugh will produce those feel good hormones and take you away from ruminating over the Xmas that oughtta, couldda, or shouldda been.
We all hope for sane and happy holidays. I know for many years I yearned for just one happy holiday season, until I realized that that happiness started with me. Being overly happy is just as difficult for alcoholics as being very sad is. What goes up, must come down. I try to shoot for just the middle of the road and peaceful days. That way, I do not come down from the crash. That works for me. I also appreciate days that are a balance between serious, neutral and silly moments and events. Try this: make a list each day with 3 columns: I want to…I need to…I have to. Put 3 things under each column head. If you get one of these things from each column completed in a day’s time, you are doing things right! Have a good day.You deserve it.
I may die with this disease, but I do not have to die of it.” ~ Anon
Here is a test. For the next few weeks, listen to how people read the 12th step in How It Works. Listen carefully. Most folks read “as A result of these steps; not, how it is really written, “as THE result of these steps.” The words of the steps were written so specifically that the message is abundantly clear. After working the 12 steps thoroughly and honestly, our result will be a spiritual awakening. This result would not be one of a number of results, but it would be THE result. This clarifies what we are working toward when we go through the steps to the best of our ability. We are trying to have a spiritual awakening which will allow us to stop craving and using alcohol. Certainly, that is the result we were seeking when we got here. Right? From that spiritual awakening, all else will blossom and grow. All that we need in life will follow in due course.
The acronym for the word Trust = Totally Relying Upon Step #12. Trust is a two way street. If I want to be able to trust my sponsor or my HP, I must be trustworthy. It is like the gossip or or sexual cheater: they tend to blame the victim first of the same things they are guilty of. It is called deflection. It allows the person who is doing the gossiping or cheating to feel less guilty of and more justified in their own behaviors. In the 12 Step Recovery Program, we get the chance to live differently. No matter how much we cheated or gossiped (or any other wrongs we may have committed) we now have the chance to right those wrongs and live as an equal among all others. We can now be trusted and believed. We no longer have to blame our victims and avoid our responsibilities. Now, that is what I call a living miracle and a spiritual awakening in the making. Thank goodness for AA.
P.A.U.S.E. = Pray and use spiritual energy. ~ Anon
Yesterday, I saw a Gregorian Chant being sung in a Nebraskan seminary. That took me back to my religious roots. I have always loved singing as a form of prayer. The vibrations in the brain are so healing. One of my biggest gripes against the church of my origin is when they outlawed Latin in the rituals. It seemed to me that prayer and song in an ancient language was more devout and more meaningful. Perhaps it was more romantic and exotic as well. Some say song is joyous noise. I like to sing along to hymns like “Alleluia” loudly and off pitch while driving. Hey, whatever floats your boat!
Here is a mantra I learned which may be of help:
Be still, and know that I am G.O.D.
Be still, and know that I am.
Be still, and know that I.
Be still, and know that.
Be still, and know.
Enjoy some joyous noise today. If nothing else, listen to some Christmas music….lalalalalala!!
It is often said that we only know what we know until we learn something better. Once we learn better, we can act better.
~ Maya Angelou
One of the assumptions running around our AA rooms is that everyone is Christian or is becoming Christian. I am here to say that that is not our goal in AA. What and who we believe or don’t believe in is an outside issue. To believe that everyone of the alcoholics in a room are exactly like me is misconception that will keep me sick. Just because someone is following a different spiritual path, does not make them or me lost. The only thing I can be sure of is that we are all alcoholics and we all want to be better mentally, physically, and spiritually. So, when we say Christian prayers such as the Our Father we are actually not following these 2 traditions of AA…..there can be no outside issues and we do not promote any sect, religion, or political persuasion.
In my years in AA, my concept of and relationship to a G.O.D. has grown in this way:
I was agnostic for the 17 years prior to AA and the G.O.D. word infuriated me. I was told to just use the group/AA as my HP, so G.O.D. meant = Group of Drunks. That worked and kept me sober, until I needed more. So, the sponsor at that time (some 5 years in) suggested G..O.D. could be = Good Orderly Direction. I needed that! Things like eating breakfast, paying the rent, staying in one home for more that a year, going to bed on time, etc. were things I needed to learn. In the last 10 years or so due to age, some severe medical issues, and becoming smug in sobriety, I needed a G.O.D. = Gift of Desperation! So, that is where I have come from and where I am now. It has not been perfect. It has been a process not a race. Just do the next best thing and ask yourself from time to time: is what I am doing working for me?
It has been said that, “almost the only scoffers at prayer (and meditation) are those who never tried it enough.” ~ AA Literature
There are two types of meditation and many ways to perform meditation. The most common form of meditation is passive. This could be Focused Attention, Open Monitoring, Effortless Presence, Zen, Visspana, Mindfulness, Metta, Mantra, Transcendental, Yoga, Self-Enquiry, Taoist, Qigong, Christian, and Guided. Click on the link for detailed information on what these are and how they are practiced. I have tried a great many of them, but I must tell you that my little A.D.D. soul has trouble sitting still and quiet for any length of time. It is hard to quiet my brain. So, I was thrilled when I ran into a Buddhist leader who said there was second and just as effective type of meditation called “active.” Some of these might involve: Contemplative walking, measured breathing, Tai Chi, Gardening, Crafting, Creative Arts, Sand Mandalas, etc. I find that when I am in my head too much or emotionally upset; getting into the flow of motion helps clear out the confusion and helps me focus on solutions.
Here are 3 local AA meditation groups that I have heard good things about:
Mondays 6 PM: 4th Dimension Group St. Marks Disciple Center 1105 Grand Avenue Des Moines, Iowa.
Wednesdays 6:30 PM: Powell Treatment Center Conference Room Lutheran Hospital 700 E. University Des Moines, Iowa.
Fridays: 6 PM: Unity Church 414 31st Street Des Moines, Iowa.
Whether you are active or passive in meditation matters not. Do what works for you and your mind and heart. Just do it.