February 28, 2007

Path of Joy, Wonder and Love

"Personality change was what we really needed. Change from self-destructive patterns of life became necessary."
---Basic Text, p. 15

In early life, most of us were capable of joy and wonder, of giving and receiving unconditional love. When we started using, we introduced an influence into our lives that slowly drove us away from those things. The further we were pushed down the path of addiction, the further we withdrew from joy, wonder, and love.

That journey was not taken overnight. But however long it took, we arrived at the doors of NA with more than just a drug problem. The influence of addiction had warped our whole pattern of living beyond recognition.

The Twelve Steps work miracles, it's true, but not many of them are worked overnight. Our disease slowly influenced our spiritual development for the worse. Recovery introduces a new influence to our lives, a source of fellowship and spiritual strength slowly impelling us into new, healthy patterns of living.

This change, of course, doesn't "just happen:' But if we cooperate with the new influence NA has brought to our lives, over time we will experience the personality change we call recovery. The Twelve Steps provide us with a program for the kind of cooperation required to restore joy, wonder, and love to our lives.

Just for today:
I will cooperate with the new influence of fellowship and spiritual strength NA has introduced to my life, I will work the next step in my program.

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

the Reality of Sobriety

A.A. is no success story in the ordinary sense of the word. It is a story of suffering transmuted, under grace, into spiritual progress.
---AS BILL SEES IT, p. 35

Upon entering A.A. I listened to others talk about the reality of their drinking: loneliness, terror and pain. As I listened further, I soon heard a description of a very different kind -- the reality of sobriety. It is a reality of freedom and happiness, of purpose and direction, and of serenity and peace with God, ourselves and others. By attending meetings I am reintroduced to that reality, over and over. I see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices of those around me. By working the program I find the direction and strength with which to make it mine. The joy of A.A. is that this new reality is available to me.

Daily Reflections

Letting Go of Fear

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live in every experience, painful or joyous, to live in gratitude for every moment, to live abundantly.
---Dorothy Thompson

Today's Meditation:

I believe that fear is by far the greatest motivator in life. How many of our actions are based on our fears? How many of our reactions are the result of our fears? Whether we want them to be or not, our fears are just about the strongest determiners of our actions that we have in our lives.

That is, until we let them go and begin to trust life and living and God, whatever we conceive God to be. The problem is that most of us have become comfortable with our fears--because we know them so well, we treat them almost as if they were old friends, never to be let go of, and we keep them with us all the time.

But they aren't our friends, no matter how comfortable they may feel. They hurt us, and they rob us of many opportunities to enjoy our lives. I've had friends like that, too--people who brought me down when I was with them. It took a great deal of effort to leave those friendships, for my own good. I tried to change them into what I thought friendship would be, but that never worked--in the end, I had to make the hard decision of taking care of my own spiritual and emotional well-being, and I stopped seeing certain people. It's only happened twice, but both times it's been an extremely important thing for me to do, something that opened up my growth potential.

I've left fears behind in the same way. I've recognized them as destructive and hurtful, and I've decided that they do not serve me in healthy ways. It's been hard to do, and there are still several fears hanging on tenaciously and ruthlessly, but I'm still working at it. And I'm sure I'll keep working at it until I die--but it's work that definitely is worth all the effort."

From livinglifefully.com daily meditation

February 26, 2007

What Am I Going To Do About It?

Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house.

Dealing with expectations is a frequent topic at meetings. It isn't wrong to expect progress of myself, good things from life, or decent treatment from others. Where I get into trouble is when my expectations become demands. I will fall short of what I wish to be and situations will go in ways I do not like, because people will let me down sometimes.

The only question is: "What am I going to do about it?" Wallow in self-pity or anger; retaliate and make a bad situation worse; or will I trust in God's power to bring blessings on the messes in which I find myself? Will I ask Him what I should be learning; do I keep on doing the right things I know how to do, no matter what; do I take time to share my faith and blessings with others?

Daily Reflection Copyright 1990 AAWS

Bringing Our Secrets into the Light

We all have our secrets: thoughts, memories, feelings that we keep to ourselves. Often we think, "If people knew what I feel or think, they would not love me." These carefully kept secrets can do us much harm. They can make us feel guilty or ashamed and may lead us to self-rejection, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and actions.

One of the most important things we can do with our secrets is to share them in a safe place, with people we trust. When we have a good way to bring our secrets into the light and can look at them with others, we will quickly discover that we are not alone with our secrets and that our trusting friends will love us more deeply and more intimately than before. Bringing our secrets into the light creates community and inner healing. As a result of sharing secrets, not only will others love us better but we will love ourselves more fully.

--Henri Nouwen

Take Time Out

"The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil." --Thomas Edison

We are receiving an incredible amount of information today from a vast number of sources...How can we ever keep up? How can we remember everything we think we should remember? How can we remember what others expect us to remember?

We can't. It's that simple. We just can't. Too much information is coming at us all at once; it's overwhelming.

Sometimes we get so overloaded that we can't even remember our own telephone number! And there are times when some of us feel afraid. We wonder if we are losing our memories or developing Alzheimer's disease. When we are under stress, the overload feels all the more oppressive.

When precious time alone is a regular part of our daily life, we can minimize the effects of data overload. We can maintain a sense of calmness without ever allowing ourselves to become overly stressed. We stay balanced and centered. It becomes easier to weed out the important from the trivial. When we maintain a sense of inner peace and tranquility, outside pressures are less apt to bother us.

This may be an "ideal" because when leading a full and busy life maintaining inner peace and tranquility at all times is impossible for most of us. I know of no one who is fully present in the world who can accomplish this ideal. Even when we are away from the activities of the world, such as at a retreat or on a vacation, the bombardment of our own thoughts can disturb our peace of mind.

When we find ourselves on overload, it's time to take an important action: withdraw. Even if we have only five minutes, we need to stop. Change what we're doing. Take a walk. Meditate. Get away physically, if not mentally. Begin supper. Do any one of the number of things...

When I find myself stressed and confused I can stop and take some time for myself. In the quiet time I can give my mind a rest and not demand from it more than it can handle. I can be gentle with myself.

Information Overload From Precious Solitude, by Ruth Fishel
www.spirithaven. com

The Promises

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Into Action, Page 83~

February 21, 2007

They Becomes We

At once, I became a part -- if only a tiny part -- of a cosmos...
--AS BILL SEES IT, p. 225

When I first came to A.A., I decided that "they" were very nice people -- perhaps a little naive, a little too friendly, but basically decent, earnest people (with whom I had nothing in common). I saw "them" at meetings-after all, that was where "they" existed. I shook hands with "them" and, when I went out the door, I forgot about "them."

Then one day my Higher Power, whom I did not then believe in, arranged to create a community project outside of A.A., but one which happened to involve many A.A. members. We worked together, I got to know "them" as people. I came to admire "them," even to like "them" and, in spite of myself, to enjoy "them." "Their" practice of the program in their daily lives -- not just in talk at meetings -- attracted me and I wanted what they had. Suddenly the "they" became "we." I have not had a drink since.

Daily Reflections
©Copyright 1990 AAWS

Gratitude Replaces Self-Pity

"Self-pity is one of the most destructive of defects; it will drain us of all positive energy."
--Basic Text, p. 77

In active addiction, many of us used self-pity as a survival mechanism. We didn't believe there was an alternative to living in our disease or perhaps we didn't want to believe. As long as we could feel sorry for ourselves and blame someone else for our troubles, we didn't have to accept the consequences of our actions; believing ourselves powerless to change, we didn't have to accept the need for change. Using this "survival mechanism" kept us from entering recovery and led us closer, day by day, to self-destruction. Self-pity is a tool of our disease; we need to stop using it and learn instead to use the new tools we find in the NA program.

We have come to believe that effective help is available for us; when we seek that help, finding it in the NA program, self-pity is displaced by gratitude. Many tools are at our disposal: the Twelve Steps, the support of our sponsor, the fellowship of other recovering addicts, and the care of our Higher Power. The availability of all these tools is more than enough reason to be grateful. We no longer live in isolation, without hope; we have certain help at hand for anything we may face. The surest way to become grateful is to take advantage of the help available to us in the NA program and to experience the improvement the program will bring in our lives.

Just for today: I will be grateful for the hope NA has given me. I will cultivate my recovery and stop cultivating self-pity.

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

February 20, 2007

Quality of Faith

"To clergymen, doctors, friends, and families, the alcoholic who means well and tries hard is a heartbreaking riddle. To most A.A.s, he is not. There are too many of us who have been just like him, and have found the riddle's answer. This answer has to do with the quality of faith rather than its quantity. This has been our blind spot.

We supposed we had humility when really we hadn't. We supposed we had been serious about religious practices when, upon honest appraisal, we found we had only been superficial. Or, going to the other extreme, we had wallowed in emotionalism and had mistaken it for true religious feeling. In both cases, we had been asking for something for nothing. The fact was that we hadn't really cleaned house so that the grace of God could enter us and expel the obsession."

© 1952, AAWS, Inc. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pg. 32

Quick Ways to Pray

Do you struggle to find time to pray during your hectic daily life? These 10 suggestions [from Beliefnet.com] for quick ways to pray will help you catch a few moments to talk to God in the most unlikely of places, from the shower to the elevator. Get started on your new daily prayer routine now.

First on the list:

"Give an Alarm Clock Alleluia

When your alarm goes off in the morning, open your eyes and repeat this line from the Psalms: "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad."

Commit to living in gratitude for the day, and you'll soon notice how much happier your days can become."

February 19, 2007

Nourish Your Precious Self

When someone says, "My precious child," you get an instant feeling of how deeply they love their offspring. Any time someone refers to another person as 'precious', be it a parent, spouse, sibling, friend or mentor, it expresses a special depth, a significant bond of caring.

Every Friday I ask all of you to, "Take care of your precious selves". I use the word 'precious' for a reason.

How often do you say, "My precious self"? Have you ever said it?

Chances are, you haven't. We take extra care of the precious people in our lives, yet we ignore the one precious person who 'is' our life. We push ourselves to exhaustion, demanding more and more of ourselves each day. Our physical, mental and spiritual capacities are depleted by the drive to do more, accomplish more, and be more.

No one can fill up the empty core at the center of your being. When it's empty, it's empty. You're the only one who knows it's empty and you're the only one who can replenish the well.

How much good are doing when you're feeling terrible? How well are you able to respond to the needs of others when your mind is so weary you can't think straight? How are you going to help, or care for another, once you fall face down on the earth from pure exhaustion? What are you really offering, when you have nothing left to give?

Stop depriving yourself of the time you need to relax, refuel and rejoice. Pay attention to your needs and heed their call. The simple act of being gentle and kind to yourself is a profound way to offer your best self - in all your precious glory - to the world.

--Terri McPherson

WiseHearts Love and Friendship Center

No Reservations Required

"Relapse is never an accident. Relapse is a sign that we have a reservation in our program." Basic Text, p. 76

A reservation is something we set aside for future use. In our case, a reservation is the expectation that, if such-and-such happens, we will surely relapse. What event do we expect will be too painful to bear?

Maybe we think that if a spouse or lover leaves us, we will have to get high. If we lose our job, surely, we think, we will use. Or maybe it's the death of a loved one that we expect to be unbearable. In any case, the reservations we harbor give us permission to use when they come true-as they often do.

We can prepare ourselves for success instead of relapse by examining our expectations and altering them where we can. Most of us carry within us a catalog of anticipated misery closely related to our fears. We can learn how to survive pain by watching other members live through similar pain. We can apply their lessons to our own expectations. Instead of telling ourselves we will have to get high if this happens, we can quietly reassure ourselves that we, too, can stay clean through whatever life brings us today.

Just for today: I will check for any reservations that may endanger my recovery and share them with another addict.

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

February 17, 2007

Willing to Work a Program

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

Change is Growth

Change is the characteristic of all growth. From drinking to sobriety, from dishonesty to honesty, from conflict to serenity, from hate to love, from childish dependence to adult responsibility - all this and infinitely more represent change for the better.

Such changes are accomplished by a belief in and a practice of sound principles. Here we must needs discard bad or ineffective principles in favor of good ones that work. Even good principles can sometimes be displaced by the discovery of still better ones.

Only God is unchanging; only He has all the truth there is.

As Bill Sees It - Only God Is Unchanging
LETTER, 1966
Copyright®1967 AAWS

Surprised by Joy

"A.A. *is* a joyful program! Even so, I occasionally balk at taking the necessary steps to move ahead, and find myself resisting the very actions that could bring about the joy I want. I would not resist if those actions did not touch some vulnerable area of my life, an area that needs hope and fulfillment. Repeated exposure to joyfulness has a way of softening the hard, outer edges of my ego. Therein lies the power of joyfulness to help all members of A.A."

© 1990 AAWS, Inc.; Daily Reflections, pg. 372

February 16, 2007

Seeing the Beauty and Goodness in Front of Us

We don't have to go far to find the treasure we are seeking. There is beauty and goodness right where we are. And only when we can see the beauty and goodness that are close by can we recognize beauty and goodness on our travels far and wide. There are trees and flowers to enjoy, paintings and sculptures to admire; most of all there are people who smile, play, and show kindness and gentleness. They are all around us, to be recognized as free gifts to receive in gratitude.

Our temptation is to collect all the beauty and goodness surrounding us as helpful information we can use for our projects. But then we cannot enjoy it, and we soon find that we need a vacation to restore ourselves. Let's try to see the beauty and goodness in front of us before we go elsewhere to look for it.

--Henri Nouwen

Nurturing a Sense of Belonging

Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a completely hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless.

The moment we catch even a glimpse of God's will, the moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs. We know that God lovingly watches over us. We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter.

copyright AAWS

The Equation of Love

We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. "Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?" As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way.

I was always fascinated with the study of scientific principles. I was emotionally and physically distant from people while I pursued Absolute Knowledge. God and spirituality were meaningless academic exercises. I was a modem man of science, knowledge was my Higher Power. Given the right set of equations, life was merely another problem to solve. Yet my inner self was dying from my outer man's solution to life's problems and the solution was alcohol.

In spite of my intelligence, alcohol became my Higher Power. It was through the unconditional love which emanated from A.A. people and meetings that I was able to discard alcohol as my Higher Power. The great void was filled. I was no longer lonely and apart from life. I had found a true power greater than myself, I had found God's love. There is only one equation which really matters to me now: God is in A.A.

From Daily Reflections

When I was driven to my knees by alcohol,I was made ready to ask for the gift of faith. And all was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God's love; I was alone no more.

Bill W., Letter, 1966
c. 1967 AAWS, As Bill Sees It, p. 51

February 14, 2007

A Program of Action

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

--John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.

--Karl Barth

From GRATEFULNESS.ORG - A Network for Grateful Living

The Power to Choose

We must never be blinded by the futile philosophy that we are just the hapless victims of our inheritance, of our life experience, and of our surroundings - that these are the sole forces that make our decisions for us. This is not the road to freedom. We have to believe that we can really choose.
"As active alcoholics, we lost our ability to choose whether we would drink. We were the victims of a compulsion which seemed to decree that we must go on with our own destruction.

"Yet we finally did make choices that brought about our recovery. We came to believe that alone we were powerless over alcohol. This was surely a choice, and a most difficult one. We came to believe that a Higher Power could restore us to sanity when we became willing to practice A.A.'s Twelve Steps.

"In short, we chose to "become willing," and no better choice did we ever make."

From As Bill Sees It Copyright AAWS

February 13, 2007

Moving from Fear to Love

As a young adult, I considered myself an agnostic -- I didn't know if God existed or not, at least that is what I told myself. In 1975 I become a part of 12 Step Recovery and at each meeting I heard the words "God" and "Higher Power." I grimaced, I had an attitude -- I internally ridiculed and mocked whoever spoke such words thinking how queer it was.

As I endeavored to work The Program, however, I discovered that my proclaimed agnosticism was really a cover up for fear. I did, in fact,believe in God, but I didn't want to, because my Higher Power was a punishing God. The song tells us that Santa Claus "knows when you've been good or bad so be good for goodness sakes." Well, that also described my Higher Power.

I had spent years and years convincing others how good I was, but I knew and therefore God knew about all the "little bads" (telling my brother to stick his lip on the ice cube tray and when it pulled off some skin feigning ignorance and compassion-- "Oh, you poor thing, I didn't know that would happen." Or the little deceits such as paying someone a compliment and then making fun of that person in my head. Or pretending to always be happy, good, and loving -- when I felt just the opposite). I saw myself as a phony and God knew about the deception.

Therefore, if I believed there was a God, then I was in trouble because He was keeping track and knew that I was deceitful, dishonest, and not the person I pretended to be. And since, "He knows when you've been good or badÅ " I was in for some big time punishment. My greatest moments of inner terror occurred after my second child was born. I had two healthy children (first a girl, then a boy, just what I wanted). I had a successful husband, a lovely home with two cars in the garage, etc., etc.

My fear: payback time. And what better way to get back at me than through my children. So each day I awoke riddled with fear -- is today the day God will strike one of my children with an incurable disease? I lived this way for months and it was pure agony.

My turning point came at a 12 Step Retreat weekend when my son was about nine months old. I heard the main speaker talk about God saying "God loves me no matter what." That got my attention -- I had believed that I had to be good to get love, from my parents, from God, from everyone. Unconditional love, what a concept! My spiritual awakening was not a bolt of lightening. But it began that day as I chose to open to an unconditionally loving Higher Power.

It was a lot like the soaker hose I use in my garden. When I turn it on, you can hardly see the water that is dripping out, but in the morning the ground is saturated. Opening to an unconditionally loving Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, has allowed me to feel saturated with God's love. It has opened me to a love far beyond what I had ever received on this earth plane.

I no longer believe there is a punishing God -- my Higher Power loves me no matter what! I am profoundly grateful that I have had a spiritual awakening. Instead of the fear I once felt, I now only feel love.

Meryl Hershey Beck

Feel the Pain, then Go On

Feelings of hurt or anger can be some of the most difficult to face. We can feel so vulnerable, frightened, and powerless when these feelings appear. And these feelings may trigger memories of other, similar times when we felt powerless.

Sometimes, to gain a sense of control, we may punish the people around us, whether they are people we blame for these feelings or innocent bystanders. We may try to "get even," or we may manipulate behind people's backs to gain a sense of power over the situation.

These actions may give us a temporary feeling of satisfaction, but they only postpone facing our pain.

Feeling hurt does not have to be so frightening. We do not have to work so hard to avoid it. While hurt feelings aren't as much fun as feeling happy, they are, still, just feelings.

We can surrender to them, feel them, and go on. That does not mean we have to seek out hurt feelings or dwell unnecessarily on them. Emotional pain does not have to devastate us. We can sit still, feel the pain, figure out if there's something we need to do to take care of ourselves, and then go on with our life.

We do not have to act in haste; we do not have to punish others to get control over our feelings. We can begin sharing our hurt feelings with others. That brings relief and often healing to them and to us.

Eventually, we learn the lesson that real power comes from allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to feel hurt. Real power comes from knowing we can take care of ourselves, even when we feel emotional pain. Real power comes when we stop holding others responsible for our pain, and we take responsibility for all our feelings.

Today, I will surrender to my feelings, even the emotionally painful ones. Instead of acting in haste, or attempting to punish someone, I will be vulnerable enough to feel my feelings.

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

February 12, 2007

Recovery is a Chance at a New Life

"Narcotics Anonymous offers addicts a program of recovery that is more than just a life without drugs. Not only is this way of life better than the hell we lived, it is better than any life that we have ever known." Basic Text p. 103

Few of us have any interest in "recovering" what we had before we started using. Many of us suffered severely from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Getting high and staying high seemed like the only possible way to cope with such abuse. Others suffered in less noticeable but equally painful ways before addiction took hold. We lacked direction and purpose. We were spiritually empty. We felt isolated, unable to empathize with others. We had none of the things that give life its sense and value. We took drugs in a vain attempt to fill the emptiness inside ourselves. Most of us wouldn't want to "recover" what we used to have.

Ultimately, the recovery we find in NA is something different: a chance at a new life. We've been given tools to clear the wreckage from our lives. We've been given support in courageously setting forth on a new path. And we've been given the gift of conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves, providing us with the inner strength and direction we so sorely lacked in the past.

Recovering? Yes, in every way. We're recovering a whole new life, better than anything we ever dreamed possible. We are grateful.

Just for today: I've recovered something I never had, something I never imagined possible: the life of a recovering addict. Thank you, Higher Power, in more than words can say.

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

The Realm of Spirit is Roomy

In ancient times material progress was painfully slow. The spirit of modern scientific inquiry, research, and invention was almost unknown.

In the realm of the material, men's minds were lettered by superstition, tradition, and all sorts of fixed ideas. Some of the contemporaries of Columbus thought a round earth preposterous. Others came near putting Galileo to death for his astronomical heresies.

Are not some of us just as biased and unreasonable about the realm of the spirit as were the ancients about the realm of the material?


We have found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the realm of spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive, never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all...

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS - 1. p. 51 - 2. p. 46
From AS BILL SEES IT copyright AAWS

Walk a Mile

Sometimes we forget to take the time to recognize the richness that defines our lives. This may be because many of the messages we encounter as we go about our affairs prompt us to think about what we don’t have rather than all the abundance we do enjoy. Consequently, our gratitude exists in perpetual conflict with our desire for more, whether we crave time, convenience, wealth, or enlightenment. Yet understanding and truly appreciating our blessings can be as simple as walking a mile in another’s shoes for a short period of time. Because many of us lead comparatively insular lives, we may not comprehend the full scope of our prosperity that is relative to our sisters and brothers in humanity.

If you find taking an inventory of your life’s blessings difficult, consider the ease with which you nourish your body and mind, feed your family, move from place to place, and attend to tasks at hand. For a great number of people, activities you may take for granted, such as attaining an education, buying healthy food, commuting to work, or keeping a clean house, represent great challenges.

To experience firsthand the complex tests others face as a matter of course in their daily lives, try living without the amenities you most often take for granted. This can be a great experiment to undertake with your entire family or a classroom. Understanding working poverty can be as easy as endeavoring to buy nutritious foods with a budget of $100 for the week. If you own a car, relying on public transportation for even just a day can help you see the true value of the comfort and conveniences others do without. As you explore a life without things you may normally take for granted,! ask yourself for how long you could endure.

The compassionate gratitude that floods your heart when you come to fully realize your abundance may awaken pangs of guilt in your heart. Be aware, however, that the purpose of such an experiment is to open your heart further in gratitude and compassion. This awareness can help you attain a deeper level of gratitude that will allow you to savor and, above all, appreciate your life with renewed grace.

From DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

February 11, 2007

Letting Go of Sadness

A block to joy and love can be unresolved sadness from the past.

In the past, we told ourselves many things to deny the pain: It doesn't hurt that much.... Maybe if I just wait, things will change.... It's no big deal. I can get through this.... Maybe if I try to change the other person, I won't have to change myself.

We denied that it hurt because we didn't want to feel the pain.

Unfinished business doesn't go away. It keeps repeating itself, until it gets our attention, until we feel it, deal with it, and heal. That's one lesson we are learning in recovery from codependency and adult children issues.

Many of us didn't have the tools, support, or safety we needed to acknowledge and accept pain in our past. It's okay. We're safe now. Slowly, carefully, we can begin to open ourselves up to our feelings. We can begin the process of feeling what we have denied so long - not to blame, not to shame, but to heal ourselves in preparation for a better life. It's okay to cry when we need to cry and feel the sadness many of us have stored within for so long. We can feel and release these feelings.

Grief is a cleansing process. It's an acceptance process. It moves us fromour past, into today, and into a better future - a future free of sabotaging behaviors, a future that holds more options than our past.

God, as I move through this day, let me be open to my feelings Today, help me know that I don't have to either force or repress the healing available to me in recovery. Help me trust that if I am open and available, the healing will happen naturally, in a manageable way.

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

February 10, 2007

How to Tie Up Your Loose Ends

"1. Identify the five people with whom you have the most unresolved issues. These could be past relationships, employers, business partners, friends, family, or co-workers. These are people you avoid talking with and running into.

2. Contact each of these five loose ends. Invite each separately to a coffee shop or some other nonthreatening, nonalcohol environment. Tell each one that you want to apologize for allowing things to get crossways between you. Even if she was the one who hurt you, tell her you want to move on...

3. Show up on time and thank each for being forgiving enough to meet with you. Tell each person that you want to apologize for whatever you did that hurt him (even if you don't completely agree with his view of the situation)...Listen to each issue each of them raise and try to see it from their perspectives. Don't interrupt them when they are sharing. Seek to understand why they harbor bad feelings toward you. Apologize for each thing they think you did to wrong them. If you're nervous about apologizing, go ahead and practice in a mirror before each meeting.

4. At the end of the conversation, thank each once again for talking with you. It was a big show of faith in your character. Plus, she's helping you to move toward your dreams by tying up loose ends in your past. The next day, send her a handwritten card thanking her for reconnecting. You can then decide whether or not to stay in touch."

Read more in this article from Beliefnet.com

The Paradoxes of Recovery

On the face of it, surrendering certainly does not seem like winning. But it is in AA. Only after we have come to the end of our rope, hit a stone wall in some aspect of our lives beyond which we can go no further; only when we hit "bottom" in despair and surrender, can we accomplish sobriety, which we could never accomplish before. We must, and we do, surrender in order to win.

That seems absurd and untrue. How can you keep anything if you give it away? But in order to keep whatever it is we get in AA, we must go about giving it away to others, for no fees or rewards of any kind. When we cannot afford to give away what we have received so freely in AA, we had better get ready for our next "drunk." It will happen every time. We've got to continue to give it away in order to keep it.

There is no way to escape the terrible suffering of remorse and regret and shame and embarrassment which starts us on the road to getting well from our affliction. There is no new way to shake out a hangover. It's painful. And for us necessarily so. . . We suffer to get well.

That is a beautiful paradox straight out of the Biblical idea of being "born again" or "in losing one's life to find it." When we work at our Twelve Steps, the old life of guzzling and fuzzy thinking, and all that goes with it, gradually dies, and we acquire a different and a better way of life. As our shortcomings are removed, one life of us dies, and another life of us lives. We in AA die to live.

c. 2003 AAWS, Experience, Strength and Hope, p. 156

February 09, 2007

Resentments Rot; Forgiveness Heals

I must forgive injuries, not just in words, or as a matter of form, but in my heart. I do this not for the other persons' sake, but for my own sake. Resentment, anger, or a desire to see someone punished, are things that rot my soul.

Such things fasten my troubles to me with chains. They tie me to other problems that have nothing to do with my original problem.

c. 1990 AAWS, Daily Reflections, p. 88

The Power & Beauty of the 23rd Psalm

Over the centuries, millions of people have found solace and peace in the words and meaning of the 23rd Psalm. Its most familiar translation is from the King James version of the Bible:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

For a truly inspirational interpretation of the wisdom of the psalm, read or listen to a recording of The Lord Is My Shepherd by Harold S. Kushner

Experience the power and comfort of the 23rd Psalm in this Beliefnet.com audiovisual devotional.

Release the Shoulds; Keep the Want To's

When someone tells us we should do something, do we want to do it, or do we feel mad that someone else is telling us what we want to do? Sometimes we forget that these messages are not our own, but are the desires of others. It's important to listen to what we tell ourselves, to be aware of which messages we're giving ourselves and which come from others.

We can make a list of all our shoulds and identify where they came from: parent, boss, friend, self. Then we can decide which shoulds are want to's, and throw out the rest. Doing what we want to is very different from doing what we should, and we can usually do a better job of it.

Have I freed myself of shoulds today?

From Today's Gift: Daily Meditations for Families ©1985, 1991 by Hazelden Foundation.

Positive Thinking Leads to Positive Values

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors.
Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits.
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.


February 08, 2007

Progress not Perfection

Acceptance and faith are capable of producing 100 per cent sobriety. In fact, they usually do; and they must, else we could have no life at all. But the moment we carry these attitudes into our emotional problems, we find that only relative results are possible. Nobody can, for example, become completely free from fear, anger, and pride.

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by very heavy setbacks. Our oldtime attitude of "all or nothing" will have to be abandoned.

From "As Bill Sees It" Copyright AAWS

A Path to Faith

True humility and an open mind can lead us to faith, and every A.A. meeting is an assurance that God will restore us to sanity if we rightly relate ourselves to Him.


My last drunk had landed me in the hospital, totally broken. It was then that I was able to see my past float in front of me. I realized that, through drinking, I had lived every nightmare I had ever had. My own self-will and obsession to drink had driven me into a dark pit of hallucinations, blackouts and despair. Finally beaten, I asked for God's help. His presence told me to believe. My obsession for alcohol was taken away and my paranoia has since been lifted. I am no longer afraid. I know my life is healthy and sane.

From Daily Reflections ©Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.©

Seek & Reach Out to Your Sponsor

"We know we can look to our sponsor, but it is our responsibility to get in touch with them." IP No. 11, "Sponsorship"

What is a sponsor? You know: That nice person with whom you had coffee after your first meeting. That generous soul who keeps sharing recovery experience free of charge. The one who keeps amazing you with stunning insight regarding your character defects. The one who keeps reminding you to finish your Fourth Step, who listens to your Fifth Step, and who doesn't tell anyone how weird you are.

It's pretty easy to start taking all this stuff for granted once we're used to someone being there for us. We may run wild for a while and tell ourselves, "I'll call my sponsor later, but right now I have to clean the house, go shopping, chase that attractive. And so we end up in trouble, wondering where we went wrong.

Our sponsor can't read minds. It's up to us to reach out and ask for help. Whether we need help with our steps, a reality check to help us straighten out our screwy thinking, or just a friend, it's our job to make the request. Sponsors are warm, wise, wonderful people, and their experience with recovery is ours. All we have to do is ask.

Just for today: I'm grateful for the time, the love, and the experience my sponsor has shared with me. Today, I will call my sponsor.

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

February 06, 2007

The Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz's book, The Four Agreements was published in 1997. For many, The Four Agreements is a life-changing book, whose ideas come from the ancient Toltec wisdom of the native people of Southern Mexico. The Toltec were 'people of knowledge' - scientists and artists who created a society to explore and conserve the traditional spiritual knowledge and practices of their ancestors. The Toltec viewed science and spirit as part of the same entity, believing that all energy - material or ethereal - is derived from and governed by the universe.

Like many gurus and philosophical pioneers, Ruiz has to an extent packaged, promoted and commercialised his work, nevertheless the simplicity and elegance of his thinking remains a source of great enlightenment and inspiration. The simple ideas of The Four Agreements provide an inspirational code for life; a personal development model, and a template for personal development, behaviour, communications and relationships. Here is how Don Miguel Ruiz summarises 'The Four Agreements':

agreement 1
Be impeccable with your word - Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

agreement 2
Don’t take anything personally - Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

agreement 3
Don’t make assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

agreement 4
Always do your best - Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Sobriety is the Launching Pad of Recovery

We have found that for us recovery began with not drinking -- with getting sober and staying completely free of alcohol in any amount, and in any form. We have also found that we have to stay away from other mind-changing drugs. We can move toward a full and satisfying life only when we stay sober. Sobriety is the launching pad for our recovery.
c. 1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 4

Thought to Ponder . . .

The road to recovery is always under construction.

Break Free from Oppression and Victimization.

Before recovery, many of us lacked a frame of reference with which to name the victimization and abuse in our life. We may have thought it was normal that people mistreated us. We may have believed we deserved mistreatment; we may have been attracted to people who mistreated us.

We need to let go, on a deep level, of our need to be victimized and to be victims. We need to let go of our need to be in dysfunctional relationships and systems at work, in love, in family relationships, in friendships. We deserve better. We deserve much better. It is our right. When we believe in our right to happiness, we will have happiness.

We will fight for that right, and the fight will emerge from our souls. Break free from oppression and victimization.

Today, I will liberate myself by letting go of my need to be a victim, and I'll explore my freedom to take care of myself. That liberation will not take me further away from people I love. It will bring me closer to people and more in harmony with God's plan for my life.

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

February 02, 2007

The Spiritual Work of Gratitude

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.

Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.

From the Henri Nouwen Society

Be Yourself

Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now.

We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!

From the Henri Nouwen Society

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