December 28, 2006

A New Life That Works

"Is sobriety all that we are to expect of a spiritual awakening No, sobriety is only a bare beginning; If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go on. As it does go on, we find that bit by bit we can discard the old life -- the one that did not work -- for a new life that can and does work under any conditions whatever."

Bill W., Grapevine, December 1957 c. 1967 AAWS, As Bill Sees It, p. 8

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Put Willpower to Work For You

Alcoholics do have tremendous willpower. Consider the ways we could manage to get a drink in defiance of all visible possibilities. Merely to get up some mornings -- with a rusting cast-iron stomach, all your teeth wearing tiny sweaters, and each hair electrified -- takes willpower many nondrinkers rarely dream of. . .

Oh yes, real drinkers have real willpower. The trick we learned was to put that will to work for our health, and to make ourselves explore recovery ideas at great depth, even though it sometimes might have seemed like drudgery.

c. 1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 84

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Consider Guided Meditation

A guided meditation uses the sound of a person’s voice to direct you through an inner process of relaxing your body and shifting your mind’s focus. The voice may be a person in the room with you or a recording—even something downloaded from the internet—and it is generally spoken in soothing, soft tones. You may be guided to focus on aspects of your physical body, such as on your breathing, relaxing your muscles one-by-one, or on an area in need of healing.

Sometimes it might involve visualizing a journey through the beauty of the natural world. Other times, you may be led to envision yourself working with light or energy, accomplishing your goals, or repeating positive thoughts in your head. Your guide may walk you through relaxation or motivation to help you change a habit, access untapped potential, or perhaps merely to find the silence within you. Whether you are familiar with meditation or you are a beginner, being guided gives you the opportunity to benefit from the insight of others. There are numerous meditation and visualization techniques based in various spiritual philosophies and psychological applications.

You may want to try several techniques to see what appeals to you the most, or just to gain a fresh perspective. Guided meditation allows you to learn from others in a way that is similar to ones used by ancients the world over. Once learned, meditation is a tool that will always be available to you.

Like having a tour guide while traveling in a foreign country, a guided meditation takes you on an inner journey. But this tour allows you to see and experience your own inner world, a place that truly only exists within you. The scenes created in your mind’s eye can be revisited at anytime, without a guide, because once you have seen the fascinating landscape of your own inner terrain, there will always be more to explore.


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Deep Gratitude

We have been given a new life just because we happened to become alcoholics. We certainly don't deserve the new life that has been given us. There is little in our past to warrant the life we have now.

Many people live good lives from their youth on, not getting into serious trouble, being well adjusted to life, and yet they have not found all that we drunks have found. We had the good fortune to find Alcoholics Anonymous and with it a new life. We are among the lucky few in the world who have learned a new way to live.

Am I deeply grateful for the new life that I have learned in AA.?

Meditation for the Day
A deep gratitude to the Higher Power for all the blessings that we have and that we don't deserve has come to us. We thank God and mean it. Then comes service to other people, out of gratitude for what we have received. This entails some sacrifice of ourselves and our own affairs. But we are glad to do it. Gratitude, service, and then sacrifice are the steps that lead to good A.A. work. They open the door to a new life for us.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may gladly serve others out of deep gratitude for what I have received. I pray that I may keep a deep sense of obligation

From Twenty Fours Hours a Day©Hazelden Foundation

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The Great Fact

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.

c. 2001AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p.25

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December 20, 2006

Happiness Comes From Right Living

Life is not a search for happiness. Happiness is a by-product of living the right kind of a life, of doing the right thing. Do not search for happiness, search for right living and happiness will be your reward.

Life is sometimes a march of duty during dull, dark days. But happiness will come again, as God's smile of recognition of your faithfulness. True happiness is always the by-product of a life well lived.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may not seek happiness but seek to do right. I pray that I may not seek pleasure so much as the things that bring true happiness.

From "Twenty-Four Hours A Day" ©Hazelden Foundation.

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Don't Stuff Your Feelings

Many of us have gotten so good at following the "don't feel" rule that we can try to talk ourselves out of having feelings, even in recovery.

"If I was really working a good program, I wouldn't feel angry."

"I don't get angry. I'm a Christian. I forgive and forget."

"I'm not angry. I'm affirming that I'm happy."

These are all statements, some of them quite clever, that indicate we're operating under the "don't feel" rule again.

Part of working a good program means acknowledging and dealing with our feelings. We strive to accept and deal with our anger so it doesn't harden into resentments. We don't use recovery as an excuse to shut down our

Yes, we are striving for forgiveness, but we still want to feel, listen to, and stay with our feelings until it is time to release them appropriately. Our Higher Power created the emotional part of ourselves. God is not telling us to not feel; it's our dysfunctional systems.

We also need to be careful how we use affirmations; discounting our emotions won't make feelings go away. If we're angry, it's okay to have that feeling. That's part of how we get and stay healthy.

Today, I will refuse to accept shame from others or myself for feeling my feelings.

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

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Acts of Charity

Often, we think of charity as the making of monetary contributions or volunteering services. But charity is exemplified in other ways as well - simple kindness toward others, leniency in judgment of others, benevolence toward others, displaying esteem for others, holding others in value. Charity includes not just what we do for people, but how we treat people.

Charity manifests itself ultimately through an open, caring, and loving heart. Opportunities for numberless acts of charity present themselves daily.

based on an article by G.A. Hazelwood

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Walk the Talk

"Words mean nothing until we put them into action." Basic Text p.56

The Twelfth Step reminds us "to practice these principles in all our affairs:' In NA, we see living examples of this suggestion all around us. The more experienced members, who seem to have an aura of peace surrounding them, demonstrate the rewards of applying this bit of wisdom in their lives.

To receive the rewards of the Twelfth Step, it is vital that we practice the spiritual principles of recovery even when no one is looking. If we talk about recovery at meetings but continue to live as we did in active addiction, our fellow members may suspect that we are doing nothing more than quoting bumper stickers.

What we pass on to newer members comes more from how we live than what we say. If we advise someone to "turn it over" without having experienced the miracle of the Third Step, chances are the message will fail to reach the ears of the newcomer for whom it's intended. On the other hand, if we "walk what we talk" and share our genuine experience in recovery, the message will surely be evident to all.

Just for today: I will practice the principles of recovery, even when I'm the only one who knows.

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

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December 19, 2006

Take Care of Yourself Emotionally

What does it mean to take care of myself emotionally? I recognize when I'm feeling angry, and I accept that feeling without shame or blame.

I recognize when I'm feeling hurt, and I accept those feelings without attempting to punish the source of my pain. I recognize and feel fear when that emotion presents itself. I allow myself to feel happiness, joy, and love when those emotions are available. Taking care of myself means I've made a decision that it's okay to feel.

Taking care of my emotions means I allow myself to stay with the feeling until it's time to release it and go on to the next one. I recognize that sometimes my feelings can help point me toward reality, but sometimes my feelings are deceptive. They are important, but I do not have to let them control me. I can feel, and think too.

I talk to people about my feelings when that's appropriate and safe. I reach out for help or guidance if I get stuck in a particular emotion.

I'm open to the lessons my emotions may be trying to teach me. After I feel, accept, and release the feeling, I ask myself what it is I want or need to do to take care of myself.

Taking care of myself emotionally means I value, treasure, explore, and cherish the emotional part of myself.

Today, I will take care of myself emotionally. I will be open to, and accepting of, the emotional part of myself and other people. I will strive for balance by combining emotions with reason, but I will not allow intellect to push the emotional part of myself away.

From the book The Language of Letting Go. Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation<

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December 17, 2006

What is God's Will for My Life?

If we are talking about life in broad terms, the answer is fairly obvious. The call of God is always for us to live with noble purpose, with love as our highest motivation. We are in the world to develop ourselves to our highest potential and to make the greatest possible contribution to the world. Anything, therefore, that contributes to our total well-being and to the well-being of others is clearly the will of God.

If, however, the question is about what God wants me to do about the daily decisions of my life, the answer is not so clear. My own opinion is that God would probably want us to change the question—"What do I deep inside want to do with my life?" This calls in question the idea that God has a master plan for every life and all we have to do is find out the details. Nothing is left to me except to discover what has already been laid out for me in advance. This does not fit my idea of human freedom.

When God created humankind in the divine image, the highest expression of that image is the power to be a decision maker. In this sense, one is never complete, but is always being formed by the decisions we make. If this be true, God casts the responsibility on us to choose that which is best for us. These choices come inevitably from the judgments we make about what reflects our highest selves.

Each one of us is a unique person, with gifts, abilities and desires that give us the opportunities for creativity. To discover who we are and what those deep desires of our hearts mean gives us the clue to making decisions about what we do with our lives. If we choose wisely, we will experience the joy of growing a self and offering it as a source of strength to others.

This does not mean that God is not with us in the critical moments of decision-making. Through prayer and meditation, we have access into the divine Presence that provides guidance and inspiration. God is never so pleased as when we stand up and make a moral decision that reflects our desire to live at the highest and most useful level attainable.

--The Rev. Dr. Brooks Ramsey

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December 03, 2006

4 Steps to Release Anger

From "Positive Energy," by Judith Orloff, M.D.:

Anger, an intense sense of displeasure and antagonism, comes from the Latin angere, "to strangle." We get angry at those who've harmed us, aggravated us, or let us down. We get angry at ourselves. At God. Growing up, I was angry about being stuck on Earth; I felt like an alien, just longed to go "home." Sometimes anger becomes a mask for fear or hurt; it also leads to resentments, which I'll discuss later.

Anger is human, we all have it. In this program you'll learn to identify it and healthily release it, then keep moving on. Anger is a toxic subtle energy. Seething in your system, it can eat you alive, or else dangerously erupt. Keep in mind: Those painfully polite churchgoing housewives turned ax murderers snapped from repressing anger, not from consciously expressing it.
Make changes now to disfuse anger that throws you off by following the 48-hour rule

1. Quickly identify your source of anger. Impulsive, unconscious anger is the dangerous kind-it can hurt us, others, even break windows. To avoid unhappy repercussions, when anger hits, slow down your reaction. Immediately identify the cause, but don't go on the attack.

2. Give yourself permission to rant for 48 hours max. The worst thing you can do is squash anger: trying to contain this energy bomb will only explode your insides or cause you to passive-aggressively act it out. But now is not the time to confront the offender. For 48 hours, let lose and rail about the object of your anger by yourself, or with a therapist or friend. Doing so begins your healing by diffusing negative energy.

3. After 48 hours, start letting anger go. This means getting out of your ego (even if you're "right") and into self-preservation. Releasing anger is a process, but you can start now. I recommend writing in your journal to vent all the venom. Or keep praying to have it removed. Breathe your anger out of the emotional energy center in the solar plexus; make sure it doesn't congeal. Take a few moments periodically to breathe calm in, and expel the toxicity of anger.

4. Express your anger to the offender. First, take a measure of the situation. If the person is nonreceptive, vindictive, or there's no positive gain (say with a tyrant boss), it may not be appropriate to express your anger directly. Instead use the above steps or minimize contact. If you think the person may be receptive, remember the goal is not to eviscerate him or her, but to get your point across and be heard...The offender may want to resolve differences or apologize. If not, don't fuel antagonism or engage in a power struggle. Stay firm and centered in the knowledge that you've expressed your truth. You might say, "I respect your feelings, but we have to agree to disagree. I'm sorry we can't resolve this right now."

Reprinting this article.

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Acceptance Leads to Freedom

"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 began to be free."

Bill W.
from As Bill Sees It

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Recovery is Job One

"We have to keep our recovery first and our priorities in order"
Basic Text p. 79

Before coming to NA, we used many excuses to justify our use of drugs: "He yelled at me" "She said this." "My partner left." "I got fired." We used these same excuses for not seeking help for our drug problem. We had to realize that these things kept happening because we kept using drugs. Only when we made recovery our first priority did these situations begin to change.

We may be subject to the same tendency today, using excuses for not attending meetings and being of service. Our current excuses may be of a different nature: "I can't leave my kids." "My vacation wore me out." "I have to finish this project so I can impress my boss." But still, if we don't make recovery our first priority, chances are that we won't have to worry about these excuses anymore. Kids, vacations, and jobs probably won't be in our lives if we relapse.

Our recovery must come first. Job or no job, relationship or no relationship, we have to attend meetings, work the steps, call our sponsor, and be of service to God and others. These simple actions are what make it possible for us to have vacations, families, and bosses to worry about.

Recovery is the foundation of our lives, making everything else possible.

Just for today: I will keep my priorities in order. Number One on the list is my recovery.

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

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