September 28, 2005

No Reservations Required

We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic." Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.


Today I am an alcoholic. Tomorrow will be no different. My alcoholism lives within me now and forever. I must never forget what I am. Alcohol will surely kill me if I fail to recognize and acknowledge my disease on a daily basis. I am not playing a game in which a loss is a temporary setback. I am dealing with my disease, for which there is no cure, only daily acceptance and vigilance.

From Daily Reflections

Despair Turns to Hope

Just for Today, September 28

"Gradually as we become more God-centered than self centered, our despair turns to hope." Basic Text, p.92

As using addicts, despair was our relentless companion. It colored our every waking moment. Despair was born of our experience in active addiction: No matter what measures we tried to make our lives better, we slid ever deeper into misery. Attempts we made to control our lives frequently met with failure. In a sense, our First Step admission of powerlessness was an acknowledgment of despair.

Steps Two and Three lead us gradually out of that despair and into new hope, the companion of the recovering addict. Having accepted that so many of our efforts to change have failed, we come to believe that there is a Power greater than ourselves. We believe this Power can-and will-help us. We practice the Second and Third Steps as an affirmation of our hope for a better life, turning to this Power for guidance. As we come to rely more and more on a Higher Power for the management of our day-to-day life, the despair arising from our long experiment with self-sufficiency disappears

Just for today: I will reaffirm my Third Step decision. I know that, with a Higher Power in my life, there is hope.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

September 27, 2005

Healing is a Process

Healing the Emotions
by Barry S. Weinberg

If there's ever gonna be healing,
there has to be remembering and feeling,
so that there can be forgiving,
there has to be knowledge and understanding.

-- Sinead O'Connor

Healing is a process. It is a path that bestows great benefit merely by walking upon its soil. Often, we enter this process with the hope of reaching a certain destination, achieving a certain goal, or reaping a certain reward, only to discover that when we arrive, the path continues into the horizon offering greater rewards and larger goals. With this realization, we learn that healing is not about the outcome, but who we become in the process.

As you continue to journey on a clear path to healing, it is very common for different feelings and emotions to arise. Old guilt, anger, and doubt may enter your mind and heart from out of nowhere. Likewise, new fear, anxiety, and sadness may develop if you see no end to the path before you. Although all these feelings are shared by all of us on our healing path, when you are experiencing them yourself, you may feel that you are alone in the process. The world may suddenly seem like a very big place, and that you are the only one on the face of the Earth.

During the healing process, these feelings are normal. Every human being walks the same path and feels the same feelings. If you experience such feelings, know that you are not alone. Recognize these uncomfortable and frightening feelings for what they are -- signs and signals that you are healing and that you are on the right track.

In walking the clear path to healing myself and assisting hundreds of people to do the same, I realized that there are seven emotions common to all of us, and seven Processes of the Heart that move us through each of these emotions. As you read this, remember two things:

"The only way out is through," and "You have got to feel it, to heal it."

EMOTION #1: Doubt

I place doubt at the top of the list, because I feel that this is the greatest obstacle on a clear path to healing. When doubt is present, nothing is possible. We learned that what we think creates a vibration that attracts to it whatever was imaged by the thought. When experiencing doubt, we send out a vibration that states that what we wish to manifest in our life is not possible, therefore the impossibility is attracted into our life.

Doubt is like a tiny bead of black ink dropped into a glass of clear water. The water is forever tainted, forever clouded. If you focus on your vision, speak positive affirmations, and live in gratitude, you have no doubts. However, as soon as you allow the tiniest seed of doubt to enter your mind, your mind becomes tainted, clouding your vision and hindering the process of healing.

The doubt we experience may be directed towards our health practitioner or whatever procedure or protocol we may be utilizing. It may be directed towards the universal principles that govern the universe or towards the healing process itself. Whereas all doubt will slow down the healing process, the doubt that will bring the healing process to a complete stand still and very often send it into a tail spin, initiating a dis-ease process, is doubt in ourself.

When we doubt ourself, our talents, and our abilities, specifically our ability to heal, it creates changes in our body both energetically and biochemically that make it impossible to heal and often cause our bodies to create dis-ease. In Candice Pert's book, Molecules of Emotion, she describes a study that was conducted to determine the effect of thought on our immune system.

In this study, they asked for the assistance of people who had contracted AIDS. They divided the subjects into two groups. One group was instructed to look in the mirror each day and affirm positive statements such as, "I can heal myself. I am a wonderful, strong, and a powerful person. Everyday I am becoming healthier and healthier. My life is worth living." The second group was also asked to look in the mirror, but instead to affirm negative statements, such as, "I am worthless. I could never possibly heal this disease that has no cure. Death is certain."

What they found is that in the first group, the T-Cell count rose steadily, whereas in the second group the T -Cell count plummeted and the subject's condition began to deteriorate. To confirm their findings, they then reversed the groups, having the first group do the negative affirmations and the second group affirm the positive.

Immediately the T -Cell counts started to shift, and the condition of the subjects reversed in both groups! Realizing the powerful effect of the experiment, they brought the study to an abrupt halt and had both groups begin positive affirmations. As you can imagine, as soon as they started declaring life-affirming statements, their T -Cell counts immediately began to rise and their condition dramatically improved.

What this study shows us is when we experience the certainty and unwavering faith that we can achieve, all doubt is removed from our mind, everything becomes possible, including the healing of a seemingly "incurable" disease. As soon as doubt again enters the mind, the healing process is halted and our quality of life begins to deteriorate.

In his book, Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins describes how he healed himself of an "incurable" disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis (A.S.). A.S. is a chronic inflammation of the spinal joints in which over time the spinal bones, or vertebrae, begin to fuse together. It is very painful and can often lead to organ dysfunction. According to the diagnosis, there is no cure, and the prognosis is death.

Mr. Cousins disagreed. He believed that although the disease had no "cure", the body and mind were capable of "healing" anything including A.S. So how did Mr. Cousins heal this incurable disease? He took very large doses of Vitamin C and watched funny movies all day. He proved that "laughter is the best medicine". Watching "Marx Brothers", "Three Stooges", and other early comedy teams, he caused himself to laugh all day. Over the course of a few years, Mr. Cousins treatment worked and he healed himself of A.S.

Had Mr. Cousins believed the doctor's prognosis and doubted his own ability to heal, he would have succumbed to the deadliness of this disease. Instead, he believed in himself and he healed.

By becoming aware -- the first process of the heart -- that doubt inhibits healing, replace it with certainty and belief and accelerate the healing process.

EMOTION #2: Apathy

If you continue to live in doubt, and fail to reach the certainty and faith in your ability to heal yourself or in a healing facilitator who will help you, you may enter a period in which you feel apathy. In this state we no longer care whether we get better or worse. We may become lethargic and enter a state of hibernation in which we do nothing, say nothing, and want nothing. What's the use? We're not going to get better anyway, so why even try? If doubt doesn't taint the water, apathy surely will.

In my healing practice, it has been my experience that at this point the condition of most people begins to deteriorate. I often offer a few words of encouragement and tell an inspirational story to lift them out of doubt, however, once they reached the point where they had given up and didn't care whether they got better or worse, there was generally nothing I could do to help them. It was up to them. If there is no desire or intention to heal, healing can not take place.

Should you be in a state of apathy, and have a desire to move on, the only way to replace it is with care. The only way to replace apathy with care is through acknowledgment, the second process of the heart. When you begin to acknowledge the wonderful healing power within you, all feelings of apathy fall away, and you begin to participate more in your healing process, igniting a spark under the flame of health.

EMOTION #3: Anxiety

Quite often, we have complete certainty and faith that our body can and will heal itself, yet we begin to feel impatient in regards to when. We may have certain discomforts or symptoms that we understand serve an important purpose, yet they are very uncomfortable and inconvenient and we wish that they would serve their purpose already. This anticipation can often cause another emotion to arise in the form of anxiety. Anxiety is the experience of wanting something now, while understanding that it may not happen for quite some time.

Healing is a process and processes take time. Just as it takes time for dis-ease to develop, it takes time for healing to occur.

Comedian George Carlin eloquently said, "Time is something we made up so that everything doesn't happen at once." And that is exactly right. The only place the future and the past exist is in our minds, specifically in our memories and imagination. The only time that truly exists at any moment is the present moment -- now. Likewise, at any one time, we are nowhere... that is, now - here.

Imagine you are in a boat floating on a river. As you careen around the curves, flowing with the current downstream, you can only be at one place at any one time -- exactly where you are. Where you have been represents the past, and the river before you represents the future, yet your boat can only exist here and now. When you leave that here and now, you find yourself in a new here and now, with the old here and now becoming a there and then. (Whew!)

Now imagine yourself floating in a hot air balloon. Soaring in the blue sky amongst the beautiful clouds, you look down to see the entire river from beginning to end. From this vantage point, you realize that there is no past, present, or future. There is only one river. So it is with time. In our finite existence on the physical earth, we can only experience the now moment, just as we can only be one place on the river. Just as we can see the river in its entirety from above, when we increase our awareness and level of consciousness, we can begin to realize that there really is only one time and one place -- here and now.

Another result of anxiety is worry. Worry is the anticipation of something terrible happening in the future. If you focus on your vision of health and stay focused in the here and now, all worry, like anxiety, falls to the wayside. By placing your attention upon where you are at the present moment you can begin to accept -- the third process of the heart -- your current state and relieve yourself of anxiety and worry and begin to feel secure and calm.

EMOTION #4: Helplessness

If we never become aware of our ability to heal ourself and acknowledge the power we all possess, and continue to live in doubt and apathy, we will reach a point in life where we give up. In this state of mind, we begin to believe there is no hope and that our condition or situation that we are living in is permanent. We forget that everything is in a constant state of change, and we lose sight of our bodies' innate intelligence and infinite healing capacity. We despair that all possibility of recovery and an improved quality of life is lost.

In this state of helplessness, healing is impossible, and unless we replace it with confidence, strength, and inner power, our condition may begin to deteriorate. When we begin to appreciate -- the fourth process of the heart -- the power of the healer within all of us and the gifts and strengths we all possess, the helplessness is replaced with power, and the healing process takes a quantum leap forward.

EMOTION #5: Sadness

When we experience pain, dis-ease, and other forms of suffering, it is difficult not to focus on the suffering. We know that in order to create health, we must focus on healing. When we want to be strong and vibrant, we must see ourselves as such. Yet, when we are constantly reminded of our dis-ease by our limitations and discomforts, it is a challenge to keep our mind focused on health. This challenge can often cause us to lose sight of our vision. With the overwhelming constant reminder of our condition, our thoughts may begin to focus on our suffering, our disease, and everything that we may be lacking. Unfortunately, by focusing on images of misery, it only creates more of the same -- misery loves company. When all we see is our suffering, and we lose sight of our healing vision, what remains is sadness.

From sadness comes grief. Grief is the feeling we experience when we focus on what we have lost or are lacking. Again, by focusing on what we lack we only create more lack. Yes, I agree that a certain period of grieving is necessary in healing, especially when we have lost a loved one. However, when we can begin to focus on the joy we experienced with that person and the wonderful life they lived, the grief turns to joy and the spirit of their memory continues to live with us through the rest of our lives.

If you are feeling sadness or grief during your healing process, focus on what you wish to create and affirm it -- the fifth process of the heart -- everyday. By doing this, not only does your sadness turn to joy, but the image in your vision begins to manifest in your life.

EMOTION #6: Anger

When we overcome our helplessness, sadness, or other emotions during our healing process, we may begin to feel angry. We may think, "Why did this happen to me?" We may have lived a life of virtue and responsibility and still entered some form of dis-ease process. When this occurs, we may feel angry that such a thing could happen.

In order to feel angry we must blame someone or something. We choose something outside of ourselves and make it the culprit. By blaming the culprit, we make ourselves the victim. As the victim, we become angry that the culprit has done something to interfere with our lives. In this state of anger, we no longer need to accept responsibility for what is happening, because it is their fault.

From anger comes guilt. Guilt is the experience of blaming ourselves for some past thought, word, or action we committed that resulted in our dis-ease. Even though long-term guilt can be very devastating to the healing process, it can actually be the first step towards accepting responsibility. By removing the fault from someone else and putting it on ourselves, it begins our liberation.

To free ourself of anger and guilt we must be open to forgive, specifically in the form of atonement or at-one-ment -- the sixth process of the heart. When we realize that we are not separate from our dis-ease, we accept what is occurring and accept full responsibility for what has occurred, without the need to find blame or fault in another or within ourselves. True forgiveness occurs when we understand that what is happening is actually in our best interest for our fullest healing and we become one with the process.

EMOTION #7: Fear

I left this emotion for last because it encompasses all the others. In order for there to be doubt, helplessness, apathy, anxiety, sadness, or anger, there must be some degree of fear. We experience fear when we are uncertain of our future and we envision in our mind only the worst. When we see no hope of recovery and no end to our suffering, we feel fear. When it seems that our end is near and nothing can help us, we experience fear. Fear is at the heart of all the other emotions discussed. As said in the book, Dune, by Frank Herbert, "Fear is the mind-killer." By removing fear all together, we can eradicate all emotions that interfere with healing.

In its truest essence, fear is the absence of love. When we are in love, there are no limits to what we can accomplish. When we are in awe -- the seventh process of the heart -- nothing is impossible and healing becomes something that always amazes us, but never surprises us.

This article is excerpted from A Clear Path to Healing, © 2001, by Dr. Barry
S. Weinberg.

Setbacks are Normal, Temporary

Sometimes, after we begin recovery, things in our life seem to get worse for a time. Our finances, our relationships, or our health may seem to deteriorate.

This is temporary; this is a normal part of recovery and healing. It may be the way things will be for a time, but not for long.

Keep working at recovery, and the trend will reverse. Before too long, things, and us, will be better than they were before. This time, the foundation will be solid.

God, help me trust You and recovery, even when I have setbacks. Help me remember that the problems are temporary, and when they are solved, I will be on more solid ground.

You are reading from the book The Language of Letting Go Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

September 26, 2005

Making Peace with the Past

Even God cannot change the past.

Holding on to the past, either through guilt, longing, denial, or resentment, is a waste of valuable energy - energy that can be used to transform today and tomorrow.

"I used to live in my past," said one recovering woman. "I was either trying to change it, or I was letting it control me. Usually both.

"I constantly felt guilty about things that had happened. Things I had done; things others had done to me - even though I had made amends for most everything, the guilt ran deep. Everything was somehow my fault. I could never just let it go.

"I held on to anger for years, telling myself it was justified. I was in denial about a lot of things. Sometimes, I'd try to absolutely forget about my past, but I never really stopped and sorted through it; my past was like a dark cloud that followed me around, and I couldn't shake clear of it. I guess I was scared to let it go, afraid of today, afraid of tomorrow.

I've been recovering now for years, and it has taken me almost as many years to gain the proper perspective on my past. I'm learning I can't forget it; I need to heal from it. I need to feel and let go of any feelings I still have, especially anger.

"I need to stop blaming myself for painful events that took place, and trust that everything has happened on schedule, and truly all is okay. I've learned to stop regretting, and to start being grateful.

"When I think about the past, I thank God for the healing and the memory. If something occurs that needs an amend, I make it and am done with it. I've learned to look at my past with compassion for myself, trusting that my Higher Power was in control, even then.

"I've healed from some of the worst things that happened to me. I've made peace with myself about these issues, and I've learned that healing from some of these issues has enabled me to help others to heal too. I'm able to see how the worst things helped form my character and developed some of my finer points.

"I've even developed gratitude for my failed relationships because they have brought me to who and where I am today.

"What I've learned has been acceptance - without guilt, anger, blame, or shame. I've even had to learn to accept the years I spent feeling guilty, angry, shameful, and blaming."

We cannot control the past. But we can transform it by allowing ourselves to heal from it and by accepting it with love for others and ourselves. I know, because that woman is me.

Today, I will begin being grateful for my past. I cannot change what happened, but I can transform the past by owning my power, now, to accept, heal, and learn from it.

You are reading from the book The Language of Letting Go Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

September 25, 2005

Honesty is a Process

Only God can fully know what absolute honesty is. Therefore, each of us has to conceive what this great ideal may be -- to the best of our ability. Fallible as we all are, and will be in this life, it would be presumption to suppose we could ever really achieve absolute honesty. The best we can do is to strive for a better quality of honesty.

c. 1967 AAWS, As Bill Sees It, p. 172

AA-related 'Alconym' . . .
H O W = Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness.

From AA Thought for the Day (courtesy September 25, 2005

Prayer is a Journey on a Two-Way Street

"Prayer is not asking. It is a language of the soul." -- Mohandas Gandhi

At school I was told that prayer is "talking to God". Then I discovered that prayer is more than this -- prayer is a relationship with God. It is a two-way system -- I talk to God but I must also listen to Him. Like any relationship that is going to work and grow, it needs time. I must spend time developing my relationship with God. I must create an awareness of his presence in my life because I believe He is always there for me.

But more than this, prayer is a yearning for truth within the center of my being. In prayer I get in touch with that part of me that will be forever restless until it finds rest, eternal rest, in Him.

O God, prayer is my journey into You.

From Father Leo Booth's Daily Meditation

September 24, 2005

Love is...

As time passes in AA, we hear or read much about love:
love is as simple as becoming always available.
Love is a sincere interest in others.
Love is a desire to be of service.
Love is an ability to understand others and their problems.
Giving love is more important than being loved.
Love is always positive and constructive.
It does not tolerate negativism.
It must be given and received unconditionally,
without reservations, with no strings attached.
When we love, we will see in others
what we wish to have in ourselves.
We will know that love is a privilege given to us by God.
When we love, we will never be bored with life or our program.
It is what impels us to be active and to get involved in service.

c. 1998 AAGrapevine, Inc., The Best of the Grapevine [vol. 3], pp. 296-7

September 23, 2005

The Buzzard, the Bat, the Bee and the Flea

If you put a buzzard in a pen six feet square and open at the top, the bird (in spite of his ability to fly) will be an absolute prisoner. When a buzzard begins a flight from the ground, he always starts with a run of ten or twelve feet. Without space to run, he will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small cage with no top.

The ordinary bat cannot take off from a level place. If a bat is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it knows to do is shuffle about helplessly until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

A bumblebee, if dropped into an empty drinking glass, will be there until it dies unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it is completely exhausted and dies.

A common flea can be put into a box or glass with a lid on it. It jumps up over and over again trying to escape only to keep bouncing back down off the lid. Pretty soon, it will stop trying to escape. Then, you can take the lid off the flea’s container and it will stay there until it dies, not realizing it could now jump out.

In many ways, there are a number of people that feel like the buzzard, the bat, the bee and the flea. They are struggling about through life, feeling trapped with all their problems and frustrations, not realizing that the answer is right there “above” them.

God is our answer. He is the one that can show us the way out. Like the need of the buzzard or bat, God can teach us ways to do things that we have never done before.

I encourage you to reach out to God for the answer of any challenge you may be facing today. --Author Unknown

Freedom Through Acceptance

As Bill Sees It

Freedom Through Acceptance, p. 109

We admitted we couldn't lick alcohol with our own remaining resources, and so we accepted the further fact that dependence upon a Higher Power (if only our A.A. group) could do this hitherto impossible job. The moment we were able to accept these facts fully, our release from the alcohol compulsion had begun.

For most of us, this pair of acceptances had required a lot of exertion to achieve. Our whole treasured philosophy of self-sufficiency had to be cast aside. This had not been done with sheer will power; it came instead as the result of developing the willingness to accept these new facts of living.

We neither ran nor fought. But accept we did. And then we begun to be free.

Grapevine, March 1962

September 17, 2005

Humility and Responsibility: Recovery in Two Words

"All A.A. progress can be reckoned in terms of just two words: humility and responsibility. Our whole spiritual development can be accurately measured by our degree of adherence to these magnificent standards.

"Ever deepening humility, accompanied by an ever greater willingness to accept and to act upon clear-cut obligations - these are truly our touchstones for all growth in the life of the spirit. They hold up to us the very essence of right being and right doing. It is by them that we are enabled to find and to do God's will."


September 16, 2005

Taking Stock Helps Us Change

Today's thought is:

Taking an inventory helps us know who we really are.

Before calling it a day, let's look honestly at who we were today. Were we thoughtful and courteous to our friends and lovers? Did we criticize them for not living up to our expectations? Did we put ourselves down for not measuring up to the standards of someone else? Did we ask our Higher Power for guidance, or were we ego-bound?

Getting to know who we are is crucial if we are to change. Doing a daily inventory reflects our willingness to look at ourselves. Most of us want to make changes, or we wouldn't be here in this program. However, we don't have to change everything at once. In fact, that wouldn't be possible. Let's just focus on a small change. Evaluating ourselves at the end of each day will clarify what we need to do differently.

I can be the person I really want to be if I know which behaviors I need to change. I'll do an inventory today.

You are reading from the book:
A Life of My Own by Karen Casey
Copyright 1993 by Hazelden Foundation.

September 15, 2005

Sharing Our Woundedness

How strange that we should ordinarily feel compelled to hide our wounds when we are all wounded! Community requires the ability to expose our wounds and weaknesses to our fellow creatures. It also requires the ability to be affected by the wounds of others... But even more important is the love that arises among us when we share, both ways, our woundedness.

--M. Scott Peck

September 14, 2005

Beliefs are not Facts

"We see what we believe rather than believe what we see.
-- Alan Watts

"If what you believe is actually true, you don't need to believe it.
-- Ron Smothermon

What are beliefs really? Beliefs are opinions, assumptions, prejudices, judgments, ideas, and attitudes through which everything you experience in life is filtered.

They're the psychological tools we use to interface with the world; that limited warehouse of stored knowledge we use to analyze, comprehend, categorize and interpret any given situation or event. They are the lenses through which we see the world.

Most beliefs are inherited. Many of your beliefs were probably inherited from your parents, grandparents, teachers, bosses, spouses -- whomever. And you've deduced a bunch of them from books, the media, magazines, movies -- whatever.

Your beliefs are based on information that was available when you formed them. Some of your beliefs are nearly as old as you. And beliefs you inherited from your parents were probably inherited from their parents, who in turn inherited them their parents and so on. There's no telling how old some of your beliefs are -- beliefs as old as the information they were based on. (We're not talking about tradition here, we are talking about beliefs -- we need tradition in our lives.)

Beliefs label your world. Beliefs dictate our experience whether we realize it or not. We automatically notice things we're expecting to see, because we're looking for them. In this way, the world largely conforms to our beliefs about it. The outer world is a reflection of our inner world. If you believe, for instance, that people are inherently bad, then you'll pay more attention to people doing bad things.

As you observe life, reality becomes one way -- your way. Your observations form a loop and reinforce your beliefs about the world. You'll look at the world and say, "yup, just like I thought!" Beliefs keep you in agreement with yourself.

Maintaining your beliefs feels safe mostly because they're familiar to you. They may feel safe, but in reality beliefs can be dangerous. On the pretense of helping you, they may be severely limiting. Though beliefs are supposed to define your world, they can often confine your world. They narrowly shape what and how you experience life. Sticking stubbornly to your beliefs is not a virtue if they're harming you. It's like driving your car with the brakes on.

You are responsible for your beliefs. Every once in a while you need a belief housecleaning. You need to pull them out, dust them off and take a cold hard look at them. Ask yourself: "Are my beliefs still working for me? Are they helping me or hurting me?" Common sense dictates we should evaluate our beliefs based on how they affect us and those around us.

Do you really want your mind possessed by static beliefs based on out-of-date or false information? Beliefs that limit your thinking and keep you from expanding your understanding of the ever-changing world around you? Beliefs that keep you from true fulfillment and personal development?

The world is constantly changing. It's a fact. However, to move forward - to evolve - you have to realize that beliefs are not facts. Your beliefs don't even necessarily reflect the truth. In fact, most of the time they don't. You may know what you believe, but believing is not the same as knowing.

But know this: Beliefs are not facts. Beliefs are just beliefs.

About The Author:
Rich Rahn's personal search for meaning has taken him to Spain, Florida, Cape Hatteras, California, a thousand miles off the coast of Mexico on a tuna boat, through hundreds of books, and eventually home to Michigan. But his real journey was his inner search. In his book Evolve Yourself, Rich introduces the reader to what he's discovered about life the pursuit of happiness. This article was excerpted from his book Evolve Yourself, published by Duh! Books, Bloomfield Hills, MI

September 12, 2005

Let in the Love

"Many of us have difficulty accepting compliments because we subconsciously believe that we are not worthy of them. A compliment triggers our discomfort of believing that if the complimenters knew the truth about us, they would find the contrary. We do not recognize that the person who compliments us is closer to the truth than we are.

There are many ways in which we deflect love when it's offered. We say no to money when it's available, and we sabotage jobs. We deal similarly with relationships, running from quality people, acting in ways that we know will make them leave, or settling for less than we want and deserve. In sexuality, we may stop ourselves from receiving real pleasure or experiencing orgasm because we fear feeling vulnerable or being overwhelmed by the energy of the love. Then, we go on living at half-steam and wonder why we are not happy.

We can cultivate our capacity to receive and enjoy love. Practice letting compliments in. Instead of firing off a polite "Thank you," take a breath and a moment to let the gift seep in; this will energize you and bless the giver. When offered money or support, gratefully accept. In relationships and sexuality, don't settle for half-fulfillment; cultivate being filled with the gifts your partner brings. Then we can all be wholly beautiful and lovable, no matter how many of us there are. Honor God and yourself, by letting the love in."

--Alan Cohen

Hold On to Today

From "On a Winter Day:"

"I knew I had to have a new beginning, and this beginning had to be here. I could not start anywhere else. I had to let go of the past and forget the future. As long as I held on to the past with one hand and grabbed at the future with the
other hand, I had nothing to hold on to today with. So I had to begin here, now."

c. 1973, Came to Believe..., page 46

Surrender, then Change

"There are two things I've learned from this program. First, to surrender completely. I was fighting a losing battle with the bottle. I gave up, and through defeat, I won. Second, to change myself, because the world isn't going to change to suit 'poor little old me.'

It's just this simple -- whatever it is in me that led me down the alcoholic road to misery, I no longer want any part of it."

c.1976, AA for the Woman (AA Pamphlet P-5), p. 17

Today, help me, God, to let go of my resistance to change. Help me to be open to the process. Help me believe that the place I'll be dropped off will be better than the place where I was picked up. Help me surrender, trust, and accept, even if I don't understand.

--Melody Beattie

September 10, 2005

Alcoholism is Unconditional

Alcoholism respects no ifs. It does not go away, not for a week, for a day, or even for an hour, leaving us nonalcoholic and able to drink again on some special occasion or for some extraordinary reason -- not even if it is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, or a big sorrow hits us, or if it rains in Spain or the stars fall on Alabama. Alcoholism for us is unconditional, with no dispensations available at any price.

c. 1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 63

September 07, 2005

A Strong Dose of Real Values

"We become able to make wise and loving decisions based on principles and ideals that have real value in our lives." Basic Text p.101

Addiction gave us a certain set of values, principles we applied in our lives. "You pushed me" one of those values told us, "so I pushed back, hard." "It's mine" was another value generated by our disease. "Well, okay, maybe it wasn't mine to start with, but I liked it, so I made it mine' Those values were hardly values at all-more like rationalizations-and they certainly didn't help us make wise and loving decisions. In fact, they served primarily to dig us deeper and deeper into the grave we'd already dug for ourselves.

The Twelve Steps give us a strong dose of real values, the kind that help us live in harmony with ourselves and those around us. We place our faith not in ourselves, our families, or our communities, but in a Higher Power-and in doing so, we grow secure enough to be able to trust our communities, our families, and even ourselves. We learn to be honest, no matter what-and we learn to refrain from doing things we might want to hide. We learn to accept responsibility for our actions. "It's mine" is replaced with a spirit of selflessness. These are the kind of values that help us become a responsible, productive part of the life around us. Rather than digging us deeper into a grave, these values restore us to the world of the living.

Just for today: I am grateful for the values I've developed. I am thankful for the ability they give me to make wise, loving decisions as a responsible, productive member of my community. pg. 255

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

September 06, 2005

A Burning Hut

"The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small,uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost.

He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.

"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground----it just may be a smoke signal that summons grace of God. For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it"

September 05, 2005

One Purpose

"We have denied ourselves personal government, professionalism, and the right to say who our members shall be. We have abandoned do-goodism, reform, and paternalism. We refuse charitable money and prefer to pay our own way. We will cooperate with practically everybody, yet we decline to marry our Society to anyone. We abstain from public controversy and will not quarrel among ourselves about those things that so rip society asunder -- religion, politics, and reform. We have but one purpose: to carry the AA message to the sick alcoholic who wants it.

Bill W., January 1955
c. 1988 The AA Grapevine, Inc., The Language Of The Heart, p. 211

September 04, 2005

Writing in Sand or Stone

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. In a specific point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one, who got slapped, was hurt, but without anything to say, he wrote in the sand: "TODAY, MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE".

They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who got slapped and hurt started drowning, and the other friend saved him. When he recovered from the fright, he wrote on a stone: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE".

The friend who saved and slapped his best friend, asked him, "Why, after I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you write on a stone?"

The other friend, smiling, replied, "When a friend hurts us, we should write it down in the sand, where the winds of forgiveness are in charge of erasing it away, and when something great happens, we should engrave it in the stone of the memory of the heart, where no wind can erase it"

Author Unknown

September 03, 2005

The Spiritual Life

"As we grow spiritually, we find that our old attitudes toward our instincts
need to undergo drastic revisions. Our desires for emotional security and wealth, for personal prestige and power, for romance, and for family satisfactions - all these have to be tempered and redirected. We have learned that the satisfaction of instincts cannot be the sole end and aim of our lives. If we place instincts first, we have got the cart before the horse; we shall be pulled backward into disillusionment. But when we are willing to place spiritual growth first - then and only then do we have a real chance."

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 114, Copyright © 1952 A.A.W.S. Inc.

"Spiritual Progress is the law of your being. Try to see around you more and more of beauty and truth, knowledge and power. Today try to be stronger, braver, more loving as a result of what you did yesterday. This law of spiritual progress gives meaning and purpose to your life. Always expect better things ahead. You can accomplish much good through the strength of God's spirit in you. Never be too discouraged. The world is sure to get better, in spite of setbacks of war, hate, and greed. Be part of the cure of the world's ills, rather than part of the disease.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may keep progressing in the better life. I pray that I may be a part of the forces for good in the world."

©Hazelden Foundation PO Box 176 Center City, MN 55012©

"The spiritual life depends upon the Unseen. To live the spiritual life, you must believe in the Unseen. Try not to lose the consciousness of God's spirit in you and in others. As a child in its mother's arms, stay sheltered in the understanding and love of God. God will relieve you of the weight of worry and care, misery and depression, want and woe, faintness and heartache, if you will let Him. Lift up your eyes from earth's troubles and view the glory of the unseen God. Each day try to see more good in people, more of the Unseen in the seen.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may rest and abide in the presence of the unseen God. I pray that I may leave my burdens in His care."

©Hazelden Foundation PO Box 176 Center City, MN 55012©

September 02, 2005

Joy Comes to an Open Heart

An Open Heart

I had nothing to do with this gift coming to me, so my gratitude is beyond description. It did not take me back to the person I was before drinking or in my active Sunday-school days. It gave me a new life -- rather, life itself. . .

It must have been spiritual; it was neither intellectual nor physical, that's for sure. I believe it was God as I understand Him, working through the love and understanding available in AA.

May I keep my heart open. The joy which can come to an open heart is unlimited.

c. 1973 AAWS, Came To Believe. . ., p. 31

September 01, 2005

Spituality and Religion not the Same

From "A Drunk, Like You:"

"I finally began to separate the religious aspects of my life from AA's spiritual program. Now the big difference to me is that religion is the ritual, and we all differ there, and spirituality is the way we feel about what we do. It's about my personal contact with my personal Higher Power, as I understand Him.

"Everything has turned around ... All this and more I owe to the Fellowship in the rooms and the program in the book."

c. 2001, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 406

"The idea that religion and spirituality were not one and the same was a new notion. My sponsor asked that I merely remain open-minded to the possibility that there was a Power greater than myself, one of my own understanding. . .

Reluctantly, I opened my mind to the fact that maybe, just maybe, there was something to this spiritual lifestyle. Slowly, but surely, I realized there was indeed a Power greater than myself, and I soon found myself with a full-time God in my life and following a spiritual path that didn't conflict with my personal religious convictions."

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 287