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.
AA believes that alcoholism is a threefold disease: spiritual, physical,and emotional which can be arrested, but not cured.
~ AA Literature
We can no more afford an emotional binge, than we can afford an alcoholic toot. We are addicts. We cannot handle the highs or the lows in life. Our brains are hard-wired for an addictive reaction to just about any stresser or crisis. I had one yesterday. I will tell you about it: For the last year, I have been working on updating the bylaws and job descriptions for an intergroup. It is hard work that requires negotiating and talking with others who may not see the need for the changes, or at best are too busy to be bothered. I am a stickler for the rules. The bylaws are needed in order to maintain the tax-exempt status. They also have to conform to what the organization lays out as per format, language, etc. Since I was teaching someone else this process, it also required numerous teaching sessions.
Ok, so long story kept short: we went through many edits, approval by the board, etc. When it came time to be published, the web manager decided to edit our year long work to fit her wants, not needs. I about lost it! For pity’s sake! I called both sponsors, did my ranting and raving, and wrote to G.O.D. for directions. I finally had to hand it over to the chairperson. I am powerless over all people, things, and situations. But, I do have a say so as to how I act and react. In tradition #11, we are taught that we are all just trusted servants. Not one of us is in charge. What the group wants is the consensus as to how we proceed. I am glad to announce, that that service position is ending next month. There is a beginning and an end to all things, even my anger. For today, I cannot afford to carry this anger. I ask G.O.D. to lift and carry the whole thing. I can’t, G.O.D. can, so I guess I will let G.O.D.
While based on this shared belief, the AA program does not promote or favor any particular or an exact concept of a Higher Power.
~ AA Wisdom
The freedom offered in Step # 11 is freedom from loneliness. I thank goodness every day that AA is a spiritual program, not a religious one. I spent 17 years as an agnostic until I found AA. Some kind lady took me under her wings back then. She knew that under all that anger and rage, was a scared little girl that felt unlovable and undeserving. She was not afraid of my abusive nasty demeanor. She knew there is goodness even in the worst of us. Most folks kept a safe distance from me, and I was just fine with that. I did not know if I could trust them, anymore than they could trust me. But, that lady was different. For some reason, I let her draw close. I wanted what she had. Her first assignment for me in step #2, was to write a want ad for an HP that I could trust. For the first time in a very long time, I felt I had a choice.
In Step # 11, the key words are Spiritual Awareness. One cannot have a conscious contact or even a sense of spiritual connection, until they have spiritual awareness or awakening. That makes sense, right? I hope so. So, what is spiritual awareness? Some say it is intuition; a sense of being, not just doing. I had no concept of God. I hated the very word, so I adopted G.O.D. = Group of Drunks. I trusted the group was bigger and stronger than myself. That worked for the first 5 years. Some folks report big, earth shaking “oh wow” moments, seeing the light, or having a great spiritual experience. When I first went sober, that happened. But, since then, most spiritual moments have been “oh, gee” moments….kismet…where things just happen nicely and easily, as if they were meant to be. Whatever your spiritual awakenings may be, spend a few moments in awe.
Remembering that our goal is to develop a closer conscious contact with God, prayer is simply what we do when we talk with our HP, and meditation is simply a way of stilling our minds and opening our spirits to God’s influence. ~ 12 Step literature.
The only way to do meditation or prayer incorrectly, is to not do them at all. At least, that is what the wise women told me when I got here. Having been a proud, card carrying agnostic for over 17 years, I was used to doing my own thing, trusting my own judgement, being rebellious, and and successfully fouling up every area of my life. My way of doing things got me here. If I wanted change, I had to make changes. If I wanted what the elders in AA had, I had to do what they did. Boy, did I hate that. But, I wanted sobriety, peace, and serenity. I wanted to feel sane in insane situations. So, I sat down, listened, and then acted as if.
Since I was pretty rusty at this prayer/meditation stuff, I just did the Serenity Prayer repeatedly, and I said please in the morning and thank you at night. Initially, I did not mean one word of it, but guess what. I started feeling calmer. I started sleeping better. And, I started thinking, these old timers have something going on here! So, then I tried a few more things that were suggested. I expanded my spiritual life. Guess what. It made me feel even more at ease and calmer. I believe it takes what it takes. Be patient with the newcomers. The booze has their brains all fuzzy, and thus they cannot focus as much as you may want. They cannot hear you when they are hanging on to life itself. Introduce concepts slowly. Relax, they will be ready when they are ready.