December 31, 2007

Great Expectations in the New Year

Wait, and expect good things - for yourself and your loved ones.

When you wonder what is coming, tell yourself the best is coming, the very best life and love have to offer, the best God and His universe have to send. Then open your hands to receive it. Claim it, and it is yours.

See the best in your mind; envision what it will look like, what it will feel like. Focus, until you can see it clearly. Let your whole being, body and soul, enter into and hold onto the image for a moment.

Then, let it go. Come back into today, the present moment. Do not obsess. Do not become fearful. Become excited. Live today fully, expressing gratitude for all you have been, all you are, and all you will become.

Wait, and expect good things.

Today, when I think abut the year ahead, I will focus on the good that is coming.

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

Beware of the Dogmatists

A discussion of God, religion, spirituality and AA leads naturally into the problem of AA dogmatism – actually, the problem of AA dogmatists. The actual "official" AA program as described in the Big Book and other approved literature is conspicuously and consciously non-dogmatic and broad. The famous Twelve Steps themselves are merely "suggested as a program of recovery."

But because human beings tend to have opinions about matters vital to their welfare, and because alcoholics as a group are probably more prone to having and expressing strong opinions than average, it is not uncommon to find AA members here and there who are convinced that their understanding of the AA program is the only possible correct one, and hence that failure to adhere to their beliefs and practices will inevitably lead to ruin on the part of anyone unwise enough to disregard their superior wisdom.

Since the whole psychological or spiritual aim of AA recovery is to gain a sense of perspective on oneself that leads to tolerance and a nonjudgmental outlook, individuals who attempt to compel others to accept their own beliefs cannot be said to be "practicing the program" themselves. Such people are often described as "dry drunks," i.e. alcoholics who, though not drinking, are nevertheless behaving the way alcoholics commonly do when they drink. These "dry drunks" manifest judgmental and intolerant attitudes and a sense of personal grandiosity and "know-it-all"-ism that causes them to believe they know best, not only for themselves but also for other people.

They are not content to keep their opinions to themselves, nor even to state them humbly or diplomatically. In extreme cases they resemble the firey pulpit preachers of organized religion's yesteryear, always prepared to thunder forth their understanding of the one and only Truth to infidels and unbelievers, coupling their sermons and admonitions with the direst possible warnings of what will unquestionably befall those who fail to heed them. They are unattractive personalities who violate the AA principle of "promotion by attraction," i.e. of the responsibility of each AA member to strive to become the sort of person that others desire to emulate. The AA newcomer can safely ignore the often detailed instructions and advice of such people in favor of the more relaxed and accepting suggestions of less rigid or fanatical members.

Newcomers should also be prepared for the diversity and individuality of opinion that is usually expressed in meetings, and should realize that nobody in the meeting, regardless of how they may present themselves and their beliefs, is officially authorized to speak for AA itself. Everyone's opinion, from the rankest newcomer to the most seasoned and sober veteran, is simply their opinion.

In AA there are no generals, no officers, nor even any non-coms. Everyone alike is a pfc – "private first class." This certainly does not mean that everyone's opinion is just as true or useful as everyone else's – but it does mean that no one has been officially commissioned with the AA authority to lord it over anyone else or to tell them with any authority beyond that of their personal opinion how they must practice their own program of recovery.

From an excellent web page chock full of good advice and resources - Your First AA Meeting, whose table of contents is reproduced below.

Your First AA Meeting
An Unofficial Guide For the Perplexed

Introduction
Locating a meeting
Types of AA meetings
Discussion meetings
Big Bookand Step Study meetings
Speaker meetings
Clubhouse and church meetings
Meeting size
Smoking or non-smoking?
The diversity of AA groups
Ritualsand readings: What goes on at a typical AA meeting
The problem of fear
90 Meetings in 90 days? You must be CRAZY!
Arriving late, leaving early
Anonymity and confidentiality
What should you say if you share?
God, Religion and Spirituality
Dogmatism and dogmatists
Sponsors and sponsorship
Principles before personalities
Before and after the meeting
Brainwashing, mind control and cultism
Slogans and other superficial things
A New Vocabulary: Acceptance, Humility, Powerlessness
AA and Psychiatry. The Question of Medications
The AA Preamble
The Serenity Prayer
The Twelve Steps of AA
The Twelve Traditions of AA
The Promises of AA
Links to AA resources(Big Book, meeting finders, &etc.)

Self Will Run Riot

There are two wills available for us: self will and God's will. Our choice is: figure it out ourselves, or have the Creator involved in our lives. If we are honest with ourselves and look at past experiences, what are our lives like when we try to figure it out ourselves? Is there fear, confusion, frustration, anger, attacking others, conflict, fault finding, manipulation, teasing others, belittling others or devaluation? If these things are present, they indicate that we are choosing self will. What is it like if we turn our will over to the Creator?

What are the results if we ask the Great Spirit to guide our life? Examples are: freedom, choices, consequences, love forgiveness, helping others, happiness, joy, solutions, and peace. Which will I choose today, self will or God's will?

Creator, I know what my choice is. I want You to direct my life. I want You to direct my thinking. You are the Grandfather. You know what I need even before I do. Today I ask You to tell me what I can do for You today. Tell me in a way I can understand and I will be happy to do it.

Elder's Meditation of the Day from WhiteBison.org

December 29, 2007

Your Own Conception of a Higher Power is Sufficient

Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another's conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with a Higher Power. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps.

based on ~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, We Agnostics, pg. 46~

Holiday Surviving and Thriving

Staying sober and healthy during the holiday season is not always easy. These articles from this About.com page offer tips for dealing with many aspects of surviving the holidays safely.


Surviving the Holidays Sober Staying sober during the holidays may not be easy, but it can be done. This six-day e-course provides tips for maintaining sobriety, dealing with depression, and staying healthy during the holiday season.

Holidays and Recovery Recently sober people are often confronted with drinking and using situations for the first time since they began their recoveries. There are solutions.

Dealing With the Holidays The holidays can be a time of great joy and celebration or a time of great pain, sorrow and depression for anyone. These can be particularly dangerous times for people who are in recovery, especially those in early recovery.

Staying Sober During the Holidays Regular visitors to the About Alcoholism site have taken time to share thier personal tips on dealing with the pressures of the Holiday Season.

How To Resist Drinking at a Party Not drinking when everyone else is can be very difficult, but it can be done with careful planning and determination.

It's Okay to Celebrate! We spend so much time trying to "help" those who struggle with the holidays, that sometimes we forget that for most it's a joyful, happy time and a reason to celebrate.

Planning a Safe Party Due to the dangers and liabilities involved, companies and individuals alike are coming to the realization that alcohol should not be the main attraction at holiday parties.

Healthy Holidays Whether you are dealing with stress, depression, grief or you are just allergic to your Christmas tree, your About.com Guides can help you have a safer, happier holiday.

Dealing With Depression Dealing with stress, depression, grief and seasonal blahs during the holidays.

Staying in Shape Staying in shape during the holiday season.

Taking Care of Yourself Looking after you is not always easy during the holiday season.

Safety Tips Tips for having a safe holiday season for you and your family from your About Health Guides.

New Beginnings

Sometimes, as part of taking care of ourselves, it becomes time to end certain relationships. Sometimes, it comes time to change the parameters of a particular relationship.

This is true in love, in friendships, with family, and on the job.

Endings and changes in relationships are not easy. But often, they are necessary.

Sometimes, we linger in relationships that are dead, out of fear of being alone or to postpone the inevitable grieving process that accompanies endings. Sometimes, we need to linger for a while, to prepare ourselves, to get strong and ready enough to handle the change.

If that is what we are doing, we can be gentle with ourselves. It is better to wait until that moment when it feels solid, clear, and consistent to act.

We will know. We will know. We can trust ourselves.

Knowing that a relationship is changing or is about to end is a difficult place to be in, especially when it is not yet time to act but we know the time is drawing near. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, as the lesson draws to a close. We may become impatient to put closure on it, but not yet feel empowered to do that. That's okay. The time is not yet right. Something important is still happening. When the time is right, we can trust that it will happen. We will receive the power and the ability to do what we need to do.

Ending relationships or changing the boundaries of a particular relationship is not easy. It requires courage and faith. It requires a willingness on our part to take care of ourselves and, sometimes, to stand-alone for a while.

Let go of fear. Understand that change is an important part of recovery. Love yourself enough to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and find enough confidence to believe that you will love again.

We are never starting over. In recovery, we are moving forward in a perfectly planned progression of lessons. We will find ourselves with certain people - in love, family, friendships, and work - when we need to be with them. When the lesson has been mastered, we will move on. We will find ourselves in a new place, learning new lessons, with new people.

No, the lessons are not all painful. We will arrive at that place where we can learn, not from pain, but from joy and love.

Our needs will get met.

Today, I will accept where I am in my relationships, even if that place is awkward and uncomfortable. If I am in the midst of endings, I will face and accept my grief. God, help me trust that the path I am on has been perfectly and lovingly planned for me. Help me believe that my relationships are teaching me important lessons. Help me accept and be grateful for middles, endings, and new beginnings.

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

December 24, 2007

Spiritual Revolution

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

from TransitionsDaily | Google Groups

The Twelve Tips for a Sober Holiday Season

1. Line up extra Recovery activities for the holiday season.Arrange to take newcomers to meetings, answer the phones at a clubhouse or central office,or help line, speak, help with dishes, or visit the detox ward at a hospital.

2. Be host to Recovering friends, especially newcomers. If you don’t have a place where you can throw a formal party, take one person to a diner and spring for the coffee.

3. Keep your Recovery telephone list with you all the time. If a using or drinking urge or panic comes—postpone everything else until you’ve called someone in Recovery.

4. Find out about the special holiday parties, meetings, or other celebrations given by groups in your area, and go. If you’re timid, take someone newer than you are.

5. Skip any social occasion you are nervous about. Remember how clever you were at excuses when using or drinking? Now put the talent to good use. No office party is as important as saving your life.

6. If you have to go to a party and can’t take a Recovery friend with you, keep some candy handy.

7. Don’t think you have to stay late. Plan in advance an “important date” you have to keep.

8. Worship in your own way.

9. Don’t sit around brooding. Catch up on those books, museums, walks, and letters.
10. Don’t start now getting worked up about all those holiday temptations. Remember—“one day at a time.” And “Just for Today”

11. Enjoy the true spirit of holiday love and joy. Maybe you cannot give material gifts — but this year, you can give love.

12. “Having had a ….” No need to spell out the Twelfth Step here, since you already know it.

Adapted From a Box 459 Holiday Issue

Embrace Reality

Above all, we reject fantasizing and accept reality.

The more I drank, the more I fantasized everything. I imagined getting even for hurts and rejections. In my mind's eye I played and replayed scenes in which I was plucked magically from the bar where I stood nursing a drink and was instantly exalted to some position of power and prestige.

I lived in a dream world.

AA led me gently from this fantasizing to embrace reality with open arms.

And I found it beautiful! For, at last, I was at peace with myself. And with others.

And with God.

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 559
from AAOnline.net

December 21, 2007

Freedom from Self-Obsession

"In living the steps, we begin to let go of our self-obsession."
--Basic Text p.94

Many of us came to the program convinced that our feelings, our wants, and our needs were of the utmost importance to everyone. We had practiced a lifetime of self-seeking, self-centered behavior and believed it was the only way to live.

That self-centeredness doesn't cease just because we stop using drugs. Perhaps we attend our first NA function and are positive that everyone in the room is watching us, judging us, and condemning us. We may demand that our sponsor be on call to listen to us whenever we want-and they, in turn, may gently suggest that the world does not revolve around us. The more we insist on being the center of the universe, the less satisfied we will be with our friends, our sponsor, and everything else.

Freedom from self-obsession can be found through concentrating more on the needs of others and less on our own. When others have problems, we can offer help. When newcomers need rides to meetings, we can pick them up. When friends are lonely, we can spend time with them. When we find ourselves feeling unloved or ignored, we can offer the love and attention we need to someone else. In giving, we receive much more in return-and that's a promise we can trust.

Just for today: I will share the world with others, knowing they are just as important as I am. I will nourish my spirit by giving of myself.

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

December 20, 2007

Finding Answers in the Heart

I spent most of my life worrying about myself, thinking that I was unwanted, that I was unloved.

I've learned since being in AA that the more I worry about me loving you, and the less I worry about you loving me, the happier I'll be. I discovered a fellowship of human beings that I'd never seen before. I learned how to have self-respect through work that AA gave me to do. I learned how to be a friend. I learned how to go out and help other people -- there was nowhere else I could have done that. I have learned that the more I give, the more I will have; the more I learn to give, the more I learn to live.

c. 2003 AAWS, Experience, Strength and Hope, p. 218

AA-related 'Alconym' . . .

F A I T H = Finding Answers In The Heart.

from AAOnline.net

Allergy and Obsession


"Alcohol addiction has yet to be completely understood by the scientific and medical communities. One thing commonly agreed upon is that alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is a fatal disease if not treated. Luckily... there are numerous ways to combat alcoholism for those willing to stop drinking and accept help.

"Alcoholism is considered by most to be an obsession of the mind and allergy of the body. When thinking of an allergy, most people think of an allergic reaction to, say, shellfish. For someone who is allergic to shellfish to sit at the dinner table and fill their stomach with it could be fatal. But what if this person has an obsession that cannot be controlled once they begin eating the shellfish? They need more and more until they have filled themselves with it and must be hospitalized because of it. Family members and friends can hide the shellfish, not buy it, skip the shellfish sections of the local market but somehow, someway, the individual with the shellfish obsession will find a way to get it and eat it. Again, this sets off a turn of events that nearly kills the person and lands them in the hospital. Alcoholism is similar to the example above.

"As it has been said before, one drink is too many and a thousand is never enough. The disease of alcoholism is sly, mysterious, potent and patient. A non alcoholic can be at a social event, have a drink maybe two, start to feel tipsy or a sense of loss of control, nausea might set in and they will stop. For an alcoholic at the same event, they will have a drink and begin to feel more in control, more elated and free. Another drink increases that feeling so another will be needed after that and another and then another. The alcoholic will continue to drink and will be drunk before the night is over.

"When a person crosses the line between normal drinking and alcoholism, they will never be the same again. It is like changing a cucumber into a pickle. The pickle will never be a cucumber again. The alcoholic will try to grasp the same feelings and emotions they once associated with casual drinking but it will elude them indefinitely. They will continue down numerous paths to try and regain what once was but will exhaust every avenue until there is nowhere else to turn. Even then, they may still drink.

"Alcoholism is misunderstood by the general population and there is good reason behind this. Non alcoholics will never be able to comprehend the powerful obsession affiliated with alcoholism. It is something that cannot be understood unless it is lived by the individual themselves. Even the alcoholic may be baffled by their life threatening dilemma. Not too long ago alcoholics were thrown into insane asylums and locked away. But there is hope for the alcoholic today. By accepting help, an alcoholic can increase their chances of living a purpose-filled and happy, alcohol-free life."

From this Patrick McLemore article.

December 17, 2007

Open to Self-Nurturing

Many of us have been so deprived of nurturing that we think it's silly or self-indulgent. Nurturing is neither silly nor self-indulgent; it's how we show love for ourselves. That's what we're striving for in recovery - a loving relationship with ourselves that works, so we can have loving relationships with others that work.

When we hurt, we ask ourselves what we need to help us feel better. When we feel alone, we reach out to someone safe. Without feeling that we are a burden, we allow that person to be there for us.

We rest when we're tired; eat when we're hungry; have fun or relax when our spirits need a lift. Nurturing means giving ourselves gifts - a trip to the beauty salon or barbershop, a massage, a book, a new jacket, or a new suit or dress. It means a long, hot bath to forget about our problems and the world for a few moments when that would feel good.

We learn to be gentle with ourselves and to open up to the nurturing that others have to offer us.

As part of nurturing ourselves, we allow ourselves to give and receive positive touch - touch that feels appropriate to us, touch that is safe. We reject touch that doesn't feel good or safe and is not positive.

We learn to give ourselves what we need in a gentle, loving, compassionate way. We do this with the understanding it will not make us lazy, spoiled, self centered, or narcissistic. Nurtured people are effective in their work and in their relationships.

We will learn to feel loved by ourselves so much that we can truly love others and let them love us.

Today, I will nurture myself. I will also be open to the nurturing that I can give to others and receive from them.

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

From 12-Step Soul Food For The Spirit

December 15, 2007

Road to Genuine Humility

"Hence it was most evident that a solitary self-appraisal, and the admission of our defects based upon that alone, wouldn't be nearly enough. We'd have to have outside help if we were surely to know and admit the truth about ourselves...the help of God and another human being. Only by discussing ourselves, holding back nothing, only by being willing to take advice and accept direction could we set foot on the road to straight thinking, solid honesty, and genuine humility."

(Twelve and Twelve, Step Five, pg. 59)

From 12 Step Recovery Google Group

December 08, 2007

Holiday Blues


When we catch self-pity starting, we also can take action against it with instant bookkeeping. For every entry of misery on the debit side, we find a blessings we can mark on the credit side. . .

We can use the same method to combat the holiday blues, which are sung not only by alcoholics. Christmas and New Year's, birthdays and anniversaries throw many other people into the morass of self-pity. . .

Instead, we add up the other side of the ledger, in gratitude for health, for loved ones who are around, and for our ability to give love, now that we live in sobriety.

c.1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 58

a Daily Reprieve

"It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition."

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Into Action, pg. 85~

December 04, 2007

A Beautiful People

The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

--Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Start By Forgiving

The moment we ponder a twisted or broken relationship with another person, our emotions go on the defensive. To escape looking at the wrongs we have done another, we resentfully focus on the wrong he has done us. Triumphantly we seize upon his slightest misbehavior as the perfect excuse for minimizing or forgetting our own.

Right here we need to fetch ourselves up sharply. Let's remember that alcoholics are not the only ones bedeviled by sick emotions. In many instances we are really dealing with fellow sufferers, people whose woes we have increased. If we are about to ask forgiveness for ourselves, why shouldn't we start out by forgiving them, one and all?

TWELVE AND TWELVE, P. 78

Caution: Ego Ahead

"The smarter a man is the more he needs God to protect him from thinking he knows everything."
--George Webb, PIMA

A spiritual person needs to be careful. The more confident we are, the more likely our egos will get us into trouble. It's relatively easy to become self-righteous. We start to think we are teachers and others are students. We start to judge others. We start, very subtlely at first, to play God. After a while we really get good at it. This is very dangerous. We need to remind ourselves, we are here to do God's will. We need to pray every morning. Each day we need to check in with God to see what He would have us do. At night we need to spend time with God and review our day. By doing these things, we will stay on track.

My Creator, guide my path and show me how to correct my life.

Elder's Meditation of the Day from WhiteBison.org

December 03, 2007

New Roads Await

"Don't feel sorry for yourself if you have chosen the wrong road--turn around!"
--Edgar Cayce

I know many people who could stand to hear--and take to heart--this piece of advice. Many people seem to find themselves "stuck" in certain places, jobs, or situations, and they don't realize that all that's necessary for them to change their situations is to make a decision and either turn around and go back and find the right road, or simply to start out on another road that looks positive to them.

It's easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, though. After all, when something goes wrong, we want others to know that something's wrong, that we're deserving of other people's sympathy or pity. But this type of approach does absolutely nothing to change or help our situations; it merely shows a negative reaction to what's going on in our lives.

A positive reaction, though, is one that puts us on the road to make a change when we feel that a change is due. There are times in our lives when things just aren't working; at those times, it's important that we make decisions that put us on the road to improvement, not that keep us on the barren road of self-pity.

We all choose wrong roads now and then, no matter how good or how honorable our intentions. What helps to determine our character and the quality of our lives, though, is not necessarily the road we choose, but what we decide to do once we find out that we're on a wrong road. In those decisions we'll see our lives being constructed, refined, and improved...

"When you find yourself overpowered, as it were, by melancholy, the best way is to go out and do something."
--John Keble

From livinglifefully.com--inspiration, motivation, and encouragement

Self Care Involves Setting Boundaries

Many of us are skilled at denying and discounting what hurts us. We may endure a particular situation, telling ourselves repeatedly it's not that bad; we shouldn't be so demanding; it'll change any day; we should be able to live with it; it doesn't annoy us; the other person didn't really mean it; it doesn't hurt; maybe it's just us.

We may fight and argue with ourselves about the reality and validity of our pain - our right to feel it and do something about it. Often we will tolerate too much or so much that we become furious and refuse to tolerate any more.

We can learn to develop healthy tolerance.

We do that by setting healthy boundaries and trusting ourselves to own our power with people. We can lessen our pain and suffering by validating and paying attention to ourselves. We can work at shortening the time between identifying a need to set a boundary, and taking clear, direct action.

We aren't crazy. Some behaviors really do bug us. Some behaviors really are inappropriate, annoying, hurtful, or abusive. We don't have to feel guilty about taking care of ourselves once we identify a boundary that needs to be set. Look at the experience as an experiment in owning our power, in establishing new, healthy boundaries and limits for ourselves.

We don't have to feel guilty or apologize or explain ourselves after we've set a boundary. We can learn to accept the awkwardness and discomfort of setting boundaries with people. We can establish our rights to have these limits. We can give the other person room to have and explore his or her feelings; we can give ourselves room to have our feelings - as we struggle to own our power and create good, working relationships.

Once we can trust our ability to take care of ourselves, we will develop healthy reasonable tolerance of others.

God, help me begin striving for healthy boundaries and healthy tolerance for others and myself.

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

No Longer Trapped

"Perhaps for the first time, we see a vision of our new life."
Basic Text p. 34

In our addiction, our vision of ourselves was very limited. Each day, we went through the same routine: getting, using, and finding ways and means to get more. And that's all we could reasonably expect for the duration of our lives. Our potential was limited.

Today, our prospects are changed. Recovery has given us a new vision of ourselves and our lives. We are no longer trapped in the endlessly gray routine of addiction. We are free to stretch ourselves in new ways, trying out new ideas and new activities. In doing so, we come to see ourselves in a new way. Our potential is limited only by the strength of the Higher Power that cares for us-and that strength has no limits.

In recovery, life and everything in it appears open to us. Guided by our spiritual principles, driven by the power given us by the God of our understanding, our horizons are limitless.

Just for today: I will open my eyes to the possibilities before me. My potential is as limitless and as powerful as the God of my understanding.Today, I will act on that potential.

Just For Today, December 3, Vision Without Limits, Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

November 20, 2007

Count Your Blessings Every Day

Commit yourself to noticing your blessings, and saying thank you to God and to others for them. Try some of the following suggestions or add your own:

Take the time to write thank-you notes in response to gifts you've received, events you've enjoyed, or anything else that deserves thanks.

Say thank you to other people as often as possible.

Say grace before and after meals in thankfulness for the food that sustains your body.

Give God a quick thank you throughout the day for anything that give you joy.

Take a daily inventory of the blessings of that particular day. If you wish, keep a written list of these and see if it grows longer over time.

From beliefnet.com

November 03, 2007

The Divine Within

"Peace... comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
--Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) OGLALA SIOUX

If we are to know peace we must look within ourselves. In order to do this, we must learn to be still. We must quiet the mind. We must learn to meditate. Meditation helps us locate and find the center that is within ourselves. The center is where the Great One resides. When we start to look for peace, we need to realize where it is within ourselves. When we experience conflict we need to pause for a moment and ask the Power within ourselves, "How do you want me to handle this? What would you suggest I do in this situation?" By asking the Higher Power for help we find peace.

WhiteBison.org Elder's Meditation of the Day

November 02, 2007

Putting the Past in Perspective

"We want to look our past in the face, see it for what it really was, and release it so we can live today." Basic Text, p.28

For many of us, the past is like a bad dream. Our lives aren't the same any more, but we still have fleeting, highly charged emotional memories of a really uncomfortable past. The guilt, fear, and anger that once dominated us may spill into our new life, complicating our efforts to change and grow.

The Twelve Steps are the formula that helps us learn to put the past in its place. Through the Fourth and Fifth Steps, we become aware that our old behavior didn't work. We ask a Higher Power to relieve us of our shortcomings in the Sixth and Seventh Steps, and we begin to be relieved of the guilt and fear that plagued us for so many years. In the Eighth and Ninth Steps, by making amends, we demonstrate to others that our lives are changing. We are no longer controlled by the past. Once the past loses its control over us, we are free to find new ways to live, ways that reflect who we truly are.

Just for today: I don't have to be controlled by my past. I will live this new day as the new person I am becoming.

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

Lay Aside Religious Prejudice

We who have traveled a path through agnosticism or atheism beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion. We have learned that, whatever the human frailties of various faiths may be, those faiths have given purpose and direction to millions. People of faith have a rational idea of what life is all about.

Actually, we used to have no reasonable conception whatever. We used to amuse ourselves by cynically dissecting spiritual beliefs and practices, when we might have seen that many spiritually minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness, and usefulness that we should have sought for ourselves.

As Bill Sees It: People of Faith copyright AAWS, Inc.

November 01, 2007

The Grateful Person

The grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.
-- Thomas Merton: Thoughts in Solitude

www.gratefulness.org

Hope for Tomorrow

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 if a big sorrow hits us, or if it rains in Spain or the stars fall on Alabama. Alcoholism is for us unconditional, with no dispensations available at any price. . .
c.1998 AAWS, Living Sober, pp. 63-4

Adjust the Sails

It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 85

My first sponsor told me there were two things to say about prayer and meditation: first, I had to start and second, I had to continue. When I came to A.A. my spiritual life was bankrupt; if I considered God at all, He was to be called upon only when my self-will was incapable of a task or when overwhelming fears had eroded my ego.

Today I am grateful for a new life, one in which my prayers are those of thanksgiving. My prayer time is more for listening than for talking. I know today that if I cannot change the wind, I can adjust my sail. I know the difference between superstition and spirituality. I know there is a graceful way of being right, and many ways to be wrong.

---Daily Reflections copyright AAWS Inc.

October 31, 2007

Developing a Relationship with a Higher Power

"Ongoing recovery is dependent on our relationship with a loving God who cares for us and will do for us what we find impossible to do for ourselves." Basic Text, p.96

Working the Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous gives us a fresh start in life and some guidance for living in the world. But the steps are more than a fresh start. When we do our best to work the steps, we develop a relationship with our personal Higher Power.

In the Third Step, we decide to allow a loving God to influence our lives. Much of the courage, trust, and willingness we need to continue through the succeeding steps comes from this decision. In the Seventh Step, we go even further by asking this Higher Power to change our lives. The Eleventh Step is a way for us to improve the relationship.

Recovery is a process of growth and change in which our lives are renewed. The Twelve Steps are the roadmap, the specific directions we take in order to continue in recovery. But the support we need to proceed with each step comes from our faith in a Higher Power, the belief that all will be well. Faith gives us courage to act. Each step we work is supported by our relationship with a loving God.

Just for today: I will remember that the source of my courage and willingness is my relationship with my Higher Power.

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

October 15, 2007

Steps in the Sunlight


I was a slave to the behavior patterns of alcoholism. I was chained to negativity, with no hope of cutting loose. The Steps offered me an alternative. . .

Today I can choose to open the door to freedom and rejoice in the sunlight of the Steps, as they cleanse the spirit within me.

c. 1990 AAWS, Daily Reflections, p. 114

Thought to Ponder . . .
Just for today, I choose not to drink.

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

AA Thought for the Day(courtesy AAOnline.net)

Freedom Comes from Dependence on a Higher Power

"As recovering addicts, we find that we are still dependent, but our dependence has shifted from the things around us to a loving God and the inner strength we get in our relationship with Him."
Basic Text pp.67-68

For many addicts, rebelliousness is second nature. We didn't want to depend on anyone or anything, and especially not on God. The beauty of using, we thought, was that it gave us the power to be and feel anything we wanted, all by ourselves. But the price we paid for this illusory freedom was a dependence beyond our worst nightmares. Rather than freeing us, using enslaved us.

When we came to Narcotics Anonymous, we learned that dependence on God didn't have to mean what we may have thought it meant. Yes, if we wanted to be restored to sanity, we would need to tap "a Power greater than ourselves". However, we could choose our own concept of this Higher Power-we could even make one up. Dependence on a Higher Power would not limit us, we discovered; it would free us.

The Power we find in recovery is the power we lacked on our own. It is the love we were afraid to depend on others for. It is the sense of personal direction we never had, the guidance we couldn't humble ourselves to ask for or trust others to give. It is all these things, and it is our own. Today, we are grateful to have a Higher Power to depend on.

Just for today: I will depend on the love and inner strength I draw from the God of my own understanding.

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

October 14, 2007

Set Free to Live and Love

"If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand.

Let us, with God's help, continually surrender these hobbling liabilities. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to twelfth-step ourselves, as well as others, into emotional sobriety."

Bill. W., AAGrapevine, January 1958 c.1967AAWS, As Bill Sees It, p. 288

My Own House in Order

"We emphasize setting our house in order because it brings us relief." Basic Text p. 93

Focusing on what others are doing can provide momentary relief from having to take a look at ourselves. But one of the secrets of success in Narcotics Anonymous is making sure our own house is in order. So what does "setting our house in order" mean, anyway?

It means we work the steps, allowing us to look at our role in our relationships with others. When we have a problem with someone, we can take our own inventory to find out what our part in the problem has been. With the help of our sponsor, we strive to set it right. Then, each day, we continue taking our inventory to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

It's pretty simple. We treat others as we would like others to treat us. We promptly make amends when we owe them. And when we turn our lives over to the care of our Higher Power on a daily basis, we can start to avoid running on the self-will so characteristic of our active addiction. Guided by a Power that seeks the best for everyone, our relationships with others will surely improve.

Just for today: I will set my own house in order. Today, I will examine my part in the problems in my life. If I owe amends, I will make them.

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

Trust, Not Control

Controlling is a direct response to our fear, panic, and sense of helplessness. It is a direct response to feeling overwhelmed, and to distrust. We may not trust ourselves, our Higher Power, the Plan, the Universe, or the process of life. Instead of trusting, we revert to control.

We can approach this need to control by dealing with our fear. We deal with fear by trusting - ourselves, our Higher Power, the love and support of the Universe, the Plan, and this process we call life and recovery. We can trust that when things don't work out the way we want, God has something better planned.

We can trust ourselves to get where we need to go, say what we need to say, do what we need to do, know what we need to know, be who we need to be, and become all we can become, when we are intended to do that, when we are ready, and when the time is right. We can trust our Higher Power and the Universe to give us all the direction we need. We can trust ourselves to listen, and respond, accordingly.

We can trust that all we need on this journey shall come to us. We will not get all we need for the entire journey today. We shall receive today's supplies today, and tomorrow's supplies tomorrow.

We were never intended to carry supplies for the entire journey. The burden would be too heavy, and the way was intended to be light.

Trust in yourself. We do not have to plan, control, and schedule all things. The schedule and plan have been written. All we need to do is show up. The way will become clear and the supplies will be amply and clearly provided, one day at a time.

Trust, my friend, in today.

Today, I will trust that I will receive all I need to get me through today. I will trust that the same shall happen tomorrow.

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

October 03, 2007

Pain Can Be a Friend

As we work the first nine Steps, we prepare ourselves for the adventure of a new life. But when we approach Step Ten we commence to put our A.A. way of living to practical use, day by day, in fair weather or foul. Then comes the acid test: can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance, and live to good purpose under all conditions?
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 88

I know the Promises are being fulfilled in my life, but I want to maintain and develop them by the daily application of Step Ten. I have learned through this Step that if I am disturbed, there is something wrong with me. The other person may be wrong too, but I can only deal with my feelings. When I am hurt or upset, I have to continually look for the cause in me, and then I have to admit and correct my mistakes. It isn't easy, but as long as I know I am progressing spiritually, I know that I can mark my effort up as a job well done.

I have found that pain is a friend; it lets me know their is something wrong with my emotions, just as a physical pain lets me know there is something wrong with my body. When I take the appropriate action through the Twelve Steps, the pain gradually goes away.

From Daily Reflections ©Copyright 1990 AAWS, INC.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.
c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p.417

Two Wolves

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life...

He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

One wolf is evil -- he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.

The other is good---he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied: "The one you feed".

Electronic Version of Alcoholics Anonymous

Big Book On Line

September 24, 2007

Melt Icy Mountains with Willingness

"My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, 'Why don't you choose your own conception of God?'

That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last. It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning."

c. 1976AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 12

"Is sobriety all that we are to expect of a spiritual awakening? Again, the voice of AA speaks up. No, sobriety is only a bare beginning, it is only the first gift of the first awakening. If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go on. And if 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.

Regardless of worldly success or failure, regardless of pain or joy, regardless of sickness or health or even of death itself, a new life of endless possibilities can be lived if we are willing to continue our awakening."

Bill W., December 1957
c. 1988AAWS, The Language of the Heart, p. 234

Dr. Silkworth's Rx for Relapse Prevention

Dr. W.D. Silkworth, genial and beloved little patriarch at Towns Hospital, New York, for twelve years and now (1945) also in charge of the new A.A. ward at Knickerbocker, also New York, defines it [relapse] as the "alcoholic double-cross."

"The majority who slip after periods of sobriety," says Dr. Silkworth, "have double-crossed themselves into thinking that somehow they can have the unopened bottle and drink it, too. Even though they have been in A.A. and going to meetings, and following parts of the program, they have accepted it with reservations somewhere. They actually have been one step ahead of a drink. Then they began playing around with the notion they can drink a little and still have the good things of A.A. The outcome is an inevitable as the bottle becoming empty once it has been opened by the alcoholic."

When Dr. Silkworth discusses A.A. "slips" his usually cheerful face becomes serious, even a little grim. Through his long years of practice in the field, he has become increasingly sympathetic, but not case-hardened, to alcoholics. He understands what they experience. Having been one of the first in his profession to support A.A. and having guided scores of alcoholics into A.A., he also appreciates the fact that a "slip" for an A.A. involves an extra degree of remorse and misery.

Dr. Silkworth is particularly emphatic on one point.

"Slips are not the fault of A.A. I have heard patients complain, when brought in for another drying out, that A.A. failed them. The truth, of course, is that they failed A.A. But this mental maneuvering to transfer the blame is obviously another indication of fallacious thinking. It is another symptom of the disease."

A quick way to get Dr. Silkworth's appraisal of A.A. is to ask him how he thinks "slips" can be prevented.

"First," he explains, "let's remember the cause. The A.A. who "slips" has not accepted the A.A. program in its entirety. He has a reservation, or reservations. He's tried to make a compromise. Frequently, of course, he will say he doesn't know why he reverted to a drink. He means that sincerely and, as a matter of fact, he may not be aware of any reason. But if his thoughts can be probed deeply enough a reason can usually be found in the form of a reservation."

"The preventive, therefore, is acceptance of the A.A. program and A.A. principles without any reservations..."

From this 1945 AA Grapevine article

September 20, 2007

Desire for Revenge Blocks the Light

No matter how long we've been recovering, no matter how solid our spiritual ground, we may still feel an overwhelming desire at times to punish, or get even, with another person.

We want revenge.

We want to see the other person hurt the way he or she has hurt us. We want to see life deal that person just rewards. In fact, we would like to help life out.

Those are normal feelings, but we do not have to act on them. These feelings are part of our anger but it's not our job to deal justice.

We can allow ourselves to feel the anger. It is helpful to go one step deeper and let ourselves feel the other feelings - the hurt, the pain, the anguish. But our goal is to release the feelings, and be finished with them.

We can hold the other person accountable. We can hold the other person responsible. But it is not our responsibility to be judge and jury. Actively seeking revenge will not help us. It will block us and hold us back.

Walk away. Stop playing the game. Unhook. Learn your lesson. Thank the other person for having taught you something valuable. And be finished with it. Put it behind, with the lesson intact.

Acceptance helps. So does forgiveness - not the kind that invites that person to use us again, but a forgiveness that releases the other person and sets him or her free to walk a separate path, while releasing our anger and resentments. That sets us free to walk our own path.

Today, I will be as angry as I need to be, with a goal of finishing my business with others. Once I have released my hurt and anger, I will strive for healthy forgiveness - forgiveness with boundaries.

I understand that boundaries, coupled with forgiveness and compassion, will move me forward.

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

Forgiveness Soothes Regret

"Holding onto regret is like dragging the weight of the past with us everywhere we go. It drains our energy, leaving less available for life in the present because we are constantly feeding an old issue. This attachment can cause illness the same way watering a dead plant creates decay. We know that something new and beautiful can grow in its place if we only prepare the soil and plant the right seeds.

"We also know that we create our lives from our thoughts, so dwelling on the past may actually recreate a situation in our lives where we are forced to make the choice again and again. We can choose to move on right now by applying what we have learned to the present and perhaps even sharing with others, transforming the energy into something that is constructive and creative for ourselves and others.

"Forgiveness is the soothing balm that can heal regret. In meditation, we can imagine discussing the issue with the self of our past and offering our forgiveness for the choice. In return, we can ask for our selves’ forgiveness for keeping them locked in that space of judgment for so long. We may also want to ask forgiveness from anyone else who may have been affected and perhaps offer our forgiveness.

"By replaying the event in our minds, we can choose a new ending using all that we now know. Imagine that you have actually gone back into the past and made this change, and then say goodbye to it. Release your former self with a hug and bring the forgiveness and love back with you to the present. Since we are usually our harshest critics, it is amazing how powerfully healing it can be to offer ourselves love.

"Keeping our minds and our energy fully in the present allows us to fuel our physical and emotional healing and well-being today. This action frees our energy to create the dreams we dream for the future. By taking responsibility and action in the present, we can release our hold on the past."

From DailyOm.com

Counting My Blessings

"Today, I'm counting my blessings instead of my troubles. When I walked into the friendly atmosphere of my first AA meeting, I knew I was where I belonged. Here were people who had thought and felt as I had. Here was the understanding I'd been searching for all my life. These people were my friends, and I felt their sincere interest in me.

With these new and enlightening doors opening up to me, I was able to make the eventual decision to stop drinking, a day at a time -- because I, too, was an alcoholic. And with this came the only real freedom, the freedom of truth."

c. 1976AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 355

Thought to Consider . . .

If you love someone, tell them now.
Eternity is time enough for silence.

August 29, 2007

Staying in the Process of Love

"If we are not careful, we can let ourselves get pushed into self-pity. To avoid that trap we must reaffirm our faith in the power of love to change things. When we cease to believe that a loving act is never wasted, we begin to sink into darkness and cynicism. A deep belief in the power of love means that we must make a commitment to keep on giving even when we cannot see any immediate results.

Love, after all, is not just an isolated act – it is a process that flows out of an attitude of optimism and hope. So what do I do in those moments when I don't feel like pouring my energy into loving acts? Keep on doing them! Have we not learned that love is not just a feeling but also an action?"

--Rev. Dr. Brooks Ramsey

Forgiveness Exercises

"Here are ten ways to help you move towards contentment and forgiveness in your life and move away from toxic emotions. Go to a quiet place, preferably in your home, then relax for about 5-10 minutes and go through the following steps in your mind.

1. Calm your emotions through deep breathing.
2. Analyze the event from a logical, objective perspective.
3. Seek the truth and the facts.
4. Acknowledge the facts of what happened.
5. Know that you were mistreated.
6. Acknowledge that you were right.
7. Let the memory fade into history.
8. Let go of the anger and hateful energy that surrounds you.
9. Focus your thoughts on those who care about you in life.
10. Focus your thoughts on the things in life that you like.

By performing these simple steps on a daily basis, you should gradually notice that you feel more content and at peace with yourself. By focusing on those who love you and the things in life that you like, you will attract positive energy into your life…and that’s a good thing."

Read more in this Inspiration Newsletter

10 Tips for a Fearless Life

"Fear. We've all felt its icy hand--whether it's a sudden grab, or a subtle, lingering presence. No matter how it functions in your life, no doubt you're happiest and most fulfilled when it's not at the wheel, steering.

In this gallery [from Beliefnet.com], Buddhist writer Susan Piver offers simple techniques you can apply to everyday fears--from asking for help to remembering to breathe."

June 25, 2007

The Blame Game Pain

"As we begin to truly understand that the world outside of us is a reflection of the world inside of us, we may feel confused about who is to blame for the problems in our lives. If we had a difficult childhood, we may wonder how we can take responsibility for that, and in our current relationships, the same question arises.

"We all know that blaming others is the opposite of taking responsibility, but we may not understand how to take responsibility for things that we don’t truly feel responsible for. We may blame our parents for our low self-esteem, and we may blame our current partner for exacerbating it with their unconscious behavior.

"Objectively, this seems to make sense. After all, it is not our fault if our parents were irresponsible or unkind, and we are not to blame for our partner’s bad behavior.

"Perhaps the problem lies with the activity of blaming. Whether we blame others or blame ourselves, there is something aggressive and unkind about it. It sets up a situation in which it becomes difficult to move forward under the burdensome feelings of shame and guilt that arise. It also puts the resolution of our pain in the hands of someone other than us.

"Ultimately, we cannot insist that someone else take responsibility for their actions; only they can make that choice when they are ready. In the meantime, if we want to move forward with our lives instead of waiting around for something that may or may not happen, we begin to see the wisdom of taking the situation into our own hands.

We do this by forgiving our parents, even if they have not asked for our forgiveness, so that we can be free. We end the abusive relationship with our partner, who may never admit to any wrongdoing, because we are willing to take responsibility for how we are treated. In short, we love ourselves as we want to be loved and create the life we know we deserve. We leave the resolution of the wrongs committed against us in the hands of the universe, releasing ourselves to live a life free of blame."

From the DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

Inspirational Quotes on Forgiveness

The Positivity Blog offeres 10 Inspirational Quotes on Forgiveness, stating:
Here’s a small collection of quotes on forgiveness. I especially like the quote by Catherine Ponder, it’s an accurate and useful observation of how things can work. And it’s a good reason to forgive.

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
--Paul Boose

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.
--Catherine Ponder

The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbour as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.
--Eric Hoffer

Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.
--Oscar Wilde

We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.
--Sir. Francis Bacon

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
--Mahatma Gandhi

Most of us can forgive and forget; we just don’t want the other person to forget that we forgave.
--Ivern Ball

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.
--Robert Muller

True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment.
--David Ridge

Let us forgive each other - only then will we live in peace.
--Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

June 20, 2007

Thoughts Create Reality

Our thoughts are powerful forces in the creation of our experience of life. You may be able to recall a time when frustration that was based on a misunderstanding completely evaporated when your understanding changed. This is because our interpretation defines our experience, and it can change in an instant. Our only true reality is the present moment, so rather than merely accepting that life is happening to us, we can harness the power of our thoughts to actively create a positive reality. For example, we can choose to appreciate beauty around us rather than focusing on traffic or look for admirable qualities in the people we deal with rather than focusing on the negative. By choosing how to interpret and define each moment with your thoughts, you truly create your reality.

Throughout the day, we can monitor our thoughts to catch ourselves in the middle of investing our energy elsewhere—such as into belief in limitations—and instead pull our focus back to the infinite possibilities of the present. Taking a deep breath will help us center our thoughts on being in our bodies right now. Regular meditation allows us to gain mastery over our minds so that we can still our thoughts to focus on the pureness of being. If we mentally dwell on the past or the future, we may miss the experience of living in the present moment. Setting and visualizing goals is wonderful, but we can bring our thoughts into our current experience by taking steps to create them now.

Our minds are powerful tools that we can harness to create our reality. Through them we move the unformed energy of the universe into form, which gives us direction for our words and actions. Each thought is like a stone dropped into a lake, sending ripples out into our world to affect all they touch. We can choose our focus and how we invest our energy, which gives us the power to design our lives to be whatever we choose in each and every moment.

from the DailyOM

Unshakeable Foundation

"There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life.

Now and then we may be granted a glimpse of that ultimate reality which is God's kingdom. And we will be comforted and assured that our own destiny in that realm will be secure for so long as we try, however falteringly, to find and do the will of our own Creator."
©1952AAWS, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 98

Thought to Consider . . .
Prayer is asking a question. Meditation is listening for the answer.

True Friends and Priceless Relationships

I have had my share of problems, heartaches, and disappointments because that is life, but also I have known a great deal of joy and a peace that is the handmaiden of an inner freedom. I have a wealth of friends and, with my AA friends, an unusual quality of fellowship. For, to these people, I am truly related. First, through mutual pain and despair, and later through mutual objectives and newfound faith and hope.

And, as the years go by, working together, sharing our experiences with one another, and also sharing a mutual trust, understanding, and love -- without strings, without obligation -- we acquire relationships that are unique and priceless.

c.2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 276

Thought to Ponder . . .
A friend is one who sees through you and still enjoys the view.

from AA Thought for the Day (courtesy AAOnline.net)

June 19, 2007

Choosing Love

How can someone ever trust in the existence of an unconditional divine love when most, if not all, of what he or she has experienced is the opposite of love - fear, hatred, violence, and abuse?

They are not condemned to be victims! There remains within them, hidden as it may seem, the possibility to choose love. Many people who have suffered the most horrendous rejections and been subject to the most cruel torture are able to choose love. By choosing love they become witnesses not only to enormous human resiliency but also to the divine love that transcends all human loves. Those who choose, even on a small scale, to love in the midst of hatred and fear are the people who offer true hope to our world.

---Henri Nouwen

May 31, 2007

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

"Humility is probably the most difficult virtue to realize."
--Thomas Yellowtail, CROW

Two definitions of humility are (1) being aware of one's own defects of character, and (2) giving credit where credit is due. This means if you do something and are successful because God gave you certain talents, give credit to God when someone tells you how well you did; this is being humble.

If you are successful at something, but had help from friends, spouse, neighbors, give credit to those who helped you; this is being humble. If you have done a task and you alone accomplished it, give credit to yourself; this is being humble. Say the truth and give credit where credit is due.

Grandfather, let me walk a truthful road today.

Elder's Meditation of the Day from White Bison

Online Fourth Step Resources

Step Four - "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

"So when A.A. suggests a fearless moral inventory, it must seem to every newcomer that more is being asked of him than he can do. Both his pride and his fear beat him back every time he tries to look within himself. Pride says, "You need not pass this way," and Fear says, "You dare not look!" But the testimony of A.A.'s who have really tried a moral inventory is that pride and fear of this sort turn out to be bogeymen, nothing else. Once we have a complete willingness to take inventory, and exert ourselves to do the job thoroughly, a wonderful light falls upon this foggy scene. As we persist, a brand-new kind of confidence is born, and the sense of relief at finally facing ourselves is indescribable. These are the first fruits of Step Four."

pp. 49-50

"Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man's. When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight."

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, How It Works, pg. 67~


To Aid in taking this moral inventory, consider the following online resources:

"The history of this 4th Step Guide is vague but it has been attributed to anonymous members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Various versions could be found on early recovery computer bulletin boards (BBS). One version was dubbed 'The California 4th Step Guide' as it was believed that the originators were located in California.

In any event this guide has well over 300 questions for a person to answer starting with your childhood years, through adolescence, and into your adult life. The guide works for all 12 step programs as the guide is not specific to any particular program. The guide has a very good set of general directions for doing a 4th step."

This is an another Fourth Step Guide that follows a question and answer format, whose author, Jason Wittman, describes it as follows:

"This is about as complete a guide to writing a 4th Step inventory as you will ever see. I have never found a guide that was both a step by step guide to writing a complete inventory and had complete directions on how to do it. Although it is always suggested that one has a Sponsor who will guide one through this process, many people do not have a Sponsor. I have written the instructions assuming that the reader knows nothing about the process."

This site contains links to printer friendly unpublished NA Fourth Step guides described as follows:

"These guides come from early drafts of the "Basic Text" and "It Works." Because much of the material in these drafts did not make the final cut, these are not NA conference-approved Fourth Step guides. However, these NA Fourth Step guides are valuable because of their remarkable similarity to the Fourth Step process described in the AA Big Book."

This site provides several different step work and relapse prevention guides and assistance to 12-Step work and preventing relapse to alcohol and drug addiction.

On its pages "you will find work sheets ready to print and use to guide you through the Twelve Steps. Although our focus is upon the Alcoholics Anonymous approach, these guides can be used for working an NA, CA, CMA, or any other program of recovery. This service is designed to assist with step work, with quotes and pages from the Big Book, with forms ready to copy and utilize. There is a section devoted to relapse prevention as well."

This is a PDF file with charts and lists of defects that are helpful prompts. The site states:

"Everything contained in these sheets is directly from the Big Book 'Alcoholics Anonymous', there is no opinion, just fact."

This is another set of 4th step worksheets in PDF format with extensive lists of prompts that uses the wording from Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) pages 63-71. A version in rtf (rich text format) is available here

This site sets forth a general set of practical directions stating:

"Buy paper and pen and start writing. The AA Big Book says on eight different occasions that we write out this step. It's the writing it down that helps trigger the release."

Another site with 4th Step Work sheets explains that:

"Step Four is a fact-finding and fact-facing process. We are searching for "causes and conditions." We want to uncover the truth about ourselves. We want to discover the attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, fears, actions, behaviors, and the behavior patterns - that have been blocking us, causing us problems and causing our failure.

We want to learn the exact nature our "character defects" and what causes us to do the unacceptable things we do - so that once they are removed - we can acquire and live with new attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, actions and behaviors for our highest good, and for the highest good of those with whom we come in contact.

This prepares us to live a life of purpose - where we can be in maximum fit condition to be of service to others. And, by taking inventory and learning the exact nature of our wrongs - we will be able to recognize when we might be slipping into our old way of life - and headed for new problems, and possibly relapse.

Another approach and guide may be found at this nalouisville site.

[2nd link updated May 31, 2007]

May 30, 2007

Don't Let Depression Get You Down

"Recovering people are susceptible to the same diseases as nonaddicts. Some people have a depressive outlook on life. Some people become depressed when they sustain a loss. And some people are depressed when they must give up their chemicals. But there is also a kind of depression that results from certain chemical changes in the body, that can occur in addicts and nonaddicts alike. This latter type of depression can be treated with safe, nonaddictive antidepressants. The failure to treat such depression can result in prolonged dysfunction, severe suffering, and even suicide. A recovering person with severe depression should be evaluated by someone competent in the diagnosis of dual disorders. While addicts are prone to take medication indiscriminately, they should not be deprived of nonaddictive medication that can be life-saving. Recovering people who need medical treatment for depression should not be excluded from the program and deprived of the support the fellowship can provide when that need is greatest."

---Dr. Abraham Twerski

May 27, 2007

Choose to Live

"Our necessities are certainly immense and compelling. Each of us must conform reasonably well to AA's Steps and Traditions, or else we shall go mad or die of alcoholism. Therefore the compulsion among most of us to survive and grow soon becomes far stronger than the temptation to drink or misbehave. Literally, we must 'do or die.'

So we make the choice to live. This, in turn, means the choice of AA
principles, practices, and attitudes. This is our first great and critical choice. Admittedly, this is made under the fearful and immediate lash of John Barleycorn, the killer. Plainly enough, this first choice is far more a necessity than it is an act of virtue."

Bill W., May 1960 ©1988AAGrapevine, The Language of the Heart, pp. 301-2

All About Love and Service

Our Twelve Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words "love" and "service." We understand what love is, and we understand what service is. So let's keep those two things in mind.

Let us also remember to guard that erring member the tongue, and if we must use it, let's use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance.

-Dr. Bob S., co-founder of AA, July 1950 c.1980 AAWS, Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, p. 338

the Higher Power of the Group

"Our understanding of a Higher Power is up to us.... We can call it the group, the program, or we can call it God." Basic Text, p. 24

Many of us have a hard time with the idea of a Higher Power until we fully accept the depth of our own powerlessness over addiction. Once we do, most of us are at least willing to consider seeking the help of some Power greater than our disease. The first practical exposure many of us have to that kind of Power is in the NA group. Perhaps that's where we should start in developing our own understanding of God.

One evidence of the Power in the group is the unconditional love shown when NA members help one another without expectation of reward. The group's collective experience in recovery is itself a Power greater than our own, for the group has practical knowledge of what works and what doesn't And the fact that addicts keep coming to NA meetings, day after day, is a demonstration of the presence of a Higher Power, some attractive, caring force at work that helps addicts stay clean and grow.

All these things are evidence of a Power that can be found in NA groups. When we look around with an open mind, each of us will be able to identify other signs of that Power. It doesn't matter if we call it God, a Higher Power, or anything else‹just as long as we find a way to incorporate that Power into our daily lives.

Just for today: I will open my eyes and my mind to signs of a Power that exists in my NA group. I will call upon that Power to help me stay clean. pg. 152

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

Freedom to Choose

We have choices, more choices than we let ourselves see.

We may feel trapped in our relationships, our jobs, our life. We may feel locked into behaviors such as caretaking or controlling.

Feeling trapped is a symptom of codependency. When we hear ourselves say, I have to take care of this person. . . . I have to say yes. . . . I have to try to control that person. . . . I have to behave this way, think this way, feel this way. . . . we can know we are choosing not to see choices.

That sense of being trapped is an illusion. We are not controlled by circumstances, our past, the expectations of others, or our unhealthy expectations for ourselves. We can choose what feels right for us, without guilt. We have options.

Recovery is not about behaving perfectly or according to anyone else's rules. More than anything else, recovery is about knowing we have choices and giving ourselves the freedom to choose.

Today, I will open my thinking and myself to the choices available to me. I will make choices that are good for me.

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

May 26, 2007

Gratitude in Action

Gratitude should go forward, rather than backward.

AS BILL SEES IT, p. 29

I am very grateful that my Higher Power has given me a second chance to live a worthwhile life. Through Alcoholics Anonymous, I have been restored to sanity. The promises are being fulfilled in my life. I am grateful to be free from the slavery of alcohol. I am grateful for peace of mind and the opportunity to grow, but my gratitude should go forward rather than backward. I cannot stay sober on yesterday's meetings or past Twelfth-Step calls; I need to put my gratitude into action today. Our co-founder said our gratitude can best be shown by carrying the message to others. Without action, my gratitude is just a pleasant emotion. I need to put it into action by working Step Twelve, by carrying the message and practicing the principles in all my affairs. I am grateful for the chance to carry the message today!

from Daily Reflections ©1990 AAWS, INC.

May 23, 2007

Life Without Fear

"Fear is an element of all chemical dependencies. The fear is not panic or agoraphobia, but a terror that has been described as follows by a recovering person: 'Ever since I was a kid I felt I was walking through a minefield.' When we walk through a minefield, we are aware that the next step may blow us to bits. If the next step is survived, it may be the one after that. There is no relief, because minefields are everywhere: at home or at work, when alone or with friends. The only respite is a chemical, for the brief period of its action.

But these minefields exist only in our imagination. They are as unreal as other hallucinations. This is the insanity to which the program refers-the insanity of believing there are mines where none exist. Some psychologists help a person walk safely through the minefield. The Twelve Step program helps a person realize that the minefields do not exist. The promise of recovery is serenity instead of fear. Gradually the mines disappear, and we can direct our efforts to dealing with the challenges of the real world that do exist. With recovery we gain the wisdom to know the difference."

---Dr. Abraham Twerski

Embrace & Enjoy Life

Life is not to be endured; life is to be enjoyed and embraced.

The belief that we must square our shoulders and get through a meager, deprived existence for far off rewards in Heaven is a codependent belief.

Yes, most of us still have times when life will be stressful and challenge our endurance skills. But in recovery, we're learning to live, to enjoy our life, and handle situations as they come.

Our survival skills have served us well. They have gotten us through difficult times - as children and adults. Our ability to freeze feelings, deny problems, deprive ourselves, and cope with stress has helped us get where we are today. But we're safe now. We're learning to do more than survive. We can let go of unhealthy survival behaviors. We're learning new, better ways to protect and care for ourselves. We're free to feel our feelings, identify and solve problems, and give ourselves the best. We're free to open up and come alive.

Today, I will let go of my unhealthy endurance and survival skills. I will choose a new mode of living, one that allows me to be alive and enjoy the adventure.

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