Recovery Just For Today

Reprinted from The 12 Step Prayer Book – Hazelden Foundation
By Bill P. & Lisa D.

Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make their minds to be.”
Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study; I will learn something useful; I will not be a mental loafer; I will red something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do-just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt, they may be but today I will not show it.
Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as good as I can, dress comfortably, talk low, act courteously, criticize not one bit, not find fault with anything, and not try to improve or regulate anyone except myself.
Just for today I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.
Just for today I will have a quiet half hour just for myself and relax. During that half hour I will not try to get a better perspective on my life.
Just for today I will be unafraid. I will enjoy that which is beautiful, and I will believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

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A Recovery Coach Answers Critical Questions

We see so much about addiction in the media and on TV, but many people have a lot of questions about sobriety, what it means and how it will change their lives. Here some answers anyone ready for a change needs to know.

What Is The Point of Sobriety?

Survival. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. The point of sobriety is ‘life over death’. Addiction is a chronic progressive disease that, if untreated, will end in death.

What Is Sobriety?

Sobriety is described as the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc.

What Is The Difference Between Sobriety And Recovery?

We can achieve sobriety by self-willed abstinence. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. The easier and undisciplined way, which is abstinence only, affords a less stressful lack of commitment. It does not involve much self-awareness or inner change.

Recovery is a planned change of lifestyle designed not only to prolong life, but also make it more joyous and free. If the point of sobriety is recovery; then we can have a quality of life with more enjoyment, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance

Questions To Answer When Making A Recovery Plan

We need to know some basic facts before working with a client as a Recovery Coach, the same facts suggested by The Bridge, a publication of the Addiction Treatment Technology Centers. These facts should be used to ascertain a plan, which the client will write him/herself based on what they have revealed about themselves and other facts of their lifestyle the RC must learn from them:

1. Full substance abuse history as well as current use
2. Age, gender, marital status, partner status (sexual activity) and educational status
3. Occupation & Financial Status
4. Culture & Ethnicity
5. Medical, Psychiatric, Psychology and treatment history
6. Self knowledge of substance abuse
7. Readiness and Motivation
8. Spiritual or Religious beliefs and activity
9. Personal-finances, job, housing, family, support

Are There Alternatives to 12-Step Programs?

Yes. Some people are not comfortable in the beginning of their recovery journey with the 12-step approach, but may come to it later on in recovery. Those who dislike the AA approach are especially vulnerable to relapse, as there may to be no other place to go for ongoing support. But alternatives do exist and include the following:

• Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART)
• A women’s group called WFS
• SOS a self help program that does not include spirituality
• Life Ring
• Moderation Management

There are many ways to change your life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need to be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need someone like a Recovery Coach, especially if they don’t go to AA meetings, to get them back on track.
See Spotlight on Marc Dunn and find him at www.marcjdunn.com

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Finding Inspiration In Recovery

By Kristin Reinink
Admissions Counselor
Sanfordhousegr.com

I remember sitting through my first AA meeting like it was yesterday. The first person to share was a seventy something year old man who announced that he was a “grateful recovering alcoholic.” He went on to explain that he had been clean for over twenty years and runs six miles a day. I thought to myself… these people make me sick.

As our disease progresses we find new and creative ways to maintain our active addiction. Our internal self-talk finds a way to rationalize why our using is “normal” and why we aren’t “addicts/alcoholics.” By doing this over a period of time we become internally conflicted with believing and therefore behaving in a way that does not align with our morals and values. This process is difficult because we start losing ourselves to our addiction. Our goals, dreams and ultimately our identity is slowly taken from us and replaced with a substance. Most alcoholics and addicts can identify with this process and often have a hard time articulating how this process happens or happened.

When someone stops using and gets sober finding inspiration and gratitude can be challenging. The act of getting sober is scary and for many a last resort. Our behavior and thought process has revolved around our using. The motivation behind what we do, say and feel supports our addiction and continued use.

In my experience waking up in a detox unit after a five year bender was not particularly inspiring. To be honest my disease continued to rationalize why I was not like all the others who had a “real drinking problem”. This thought process took time and patience. It involved accepting the help and guidance of others. Initially I found inspiration in treatment, from my peers, my counselors, mentors and books. I had to trust the process and I still do.

So what helped me find inspiration in recovery? Below is a list of suggestions and techniques etc. that helped me find and maintain sobriety.
• Create a gratitude list – Put a notepad next to your bed. If you are a morning person write a list of things you are grateful for in the morning; if you are a night person then write your list before you go to bed. If you are an over achiever do it both in the AM and PM. If you have a hard time knowing where to begin try making a gratitude list using the alphabet to provide as a guide. (Example: A is for AA Meetings, B is for Books, C is for my sister Chelsea and so on).
• Take in your five senses – Go somewhere quiet, if it helps close your eyes. And think what do I currently see, feel, hear, taste and smell. It is easy to move through your day on autopilot. It is healthy to bring yourself back to the present moment and feel grounded.
• Remember – One Day at A Time. In early recovery this saying got me through tough times. Often I would even break this down further and tell myself “one hour at a time.“ Before I knew it my one hours were turning into days, my days into weeks, and weeks into month and so on. It made time doable and helped me accomplish small goals.
• Get out into nature – This is very personal to me and I could probably write a book about it. However, finding the beauty in nature has enhanced the quality of my life…period. I remember talking to a very good friend and mentor who is also in recovery. At the time I was feeling stuck, it was winter and my attitude needed adjustment. I remember my friend saying “Don’t you enjoy skiing? When you are riding up the chair lift take a moment to really take in the beauty of the outdoors.” I have always remembered this advice. It is simple but has dramatically impacted my outlook. This would be a good time to take in your five senses.
• Appreciate the small/simple things – It is easy to take life for granted. One of my favorite quotes “That breath you just took… it’s a gift” by Rob Bell really summarizes what I mean by appreciating the small and simple things. Another favorite memory I have that exemplifies this was a time when I was facilitating a group at a residential treatment facility. One young woman in particular shared that she was grateful to see the sun for the first time sober in 10 years. This forever will be a perfect example of what I mean by finding gratitude.

Today, I am a little more than four and a half years sober. I am now the person who attends meetings and introduces myself, “Hi I am Kristin and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.”

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Constant Flame

And the fire upon the altar shall be kept burning thereby, it shall not go out. Leviticus 6:5
There is a tradition that interprets this verse as a specific warning against the fire on the altar going out even under conditions where one might reason that it should. No never, even if it travels or other obstacles present themselves we must be prepared and not allow ourselves to be forced into bad decisions. Much like our spiritual renewal, we must make the choices that keep it alive.
On a deeper level, this verse also speaks to the individual regarding the “flame” – that is the passion – that burns on an internal “altar” in our heart. We must always be enthusiastic in the service of our Maker. Apathy, depression, sloth and other “cold” emotional states are antithetical to being of true service to our Higher Power.
It is easy to keep the fire in our heart burning as long as we are in our routine and the comfort of home, but we cannot become complacent and think that s just because we are away, and it is more difficult that we can let it slide. After all who would know? We would and so would our God. We do it for the peace of mind we give by constantly having that flame alive to keep us in touch with the Power of the Universe.
We carry it wherever we go; there is no situation too lofty and none too bleak that precludes our constant need for exuberance, joy and warmth.

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Sacrifices

Sacrificial offerings on an altar are described in our ancient text are an atonement for sins; animals and foods were “burnt offerings”, expressions of gratitude were given in “peace offerings”, an expression of sorrow or remorse were given as “sin/guilt offerings”, and sometimes and an entire meal to express devotion.

Today it is common practice to substitute prayer for these sacrifices and to ask for God’s will in our life and build a relationship with Our Creator to atone for our transgressions.

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,” the Psalmist tells us (4:6) and indeed has a point. Just as the sacrifices are necessary to atone for various misdeeds, so are sacrifices required for us to remain good-sacrifices not of animals, not of money, but of ourselves. To reach any goal requires not only focus and determination, but also the foregoing of a part of us. As the saying goes, we can have anything we want, we just can’t have everything we want.

In our quick-fix society, instant gratification is the spiritual opposite of sacrifice. By taking the time and making the effort to seek a spiritual solution through prayer and meditation we get results that are more enduring and improve our quality of life.

Just as athletes in training forego many of life’s pleasures to achieve their goals, so we can learn to put doing what we need to do ahead of doing what we want to do. Living life on life’s terms may sometimes interfere with our living a “normal life,” but, then again, sacrifice is an offering of giving not receiving.

The bottom line is that if my spiritual renewal is to work, then I must do what is uncomfortable. Doing the right thing may not always be easy, but it is always the right thing. We have so much more to offer.

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My St Francis Prayer

This is a version that I came up with when I had trouble memorizing it. It has evolved over the years, but it expresses my establishment of a relationship with my Higher Power and it gives me TRUST. Hope you like it or make your own. It does strengthen my relationship with God.

God may it be your will that I be a messenger of your peace

May I bring love and the spirit of forgiveness to my fellow, may I know my truth and have faith

May I bring hope to others and live in harmony with all

May I share your joy and live in your Divine Light

Let me be of comfort without asking to be comforted

Let me be understanding without asking to be understood

Let me be loving without asking to be loved

It is by pardoning that we are pardoned and it is by giving freely of ourselves that we receive

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you my Lord, My Rock and my Redeemer

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Helping Others Not Preaching

The smarter a person is the more they need God to protect them from thinking they know everything.

Being on a spiritual quest requires caution. If we are confident about our journey it is not uncommon for our egos to get us into trouble. It is easy to become self-righteous.

We start out with good intentions wanting to help others and morph into teachers or worse, preachers. We treat others as our students and consider ourselves more knowledgeable. Slowly we are taking inventory of those we wish to help and judging their progress. Our mission becomes more about correcting then helping.

It is a subtle process, but it evolves into a retraction of our Second Step, I found myself playing God. Unfortunately I got good at it and it is dangerous.

It was subtle at first, but by the time I became aware of what had happened my sponsor was making some strong suggestions. There were meeting I was chairing that were becoming long-winded gabfests by me telling those in attendance what they needed to do to stay sober and recover from alcoholism. I had left the realm of sharing my experiences along the lines of what I did to stay sober and how I had learned to follow the suggestions of others. The lectern had become my pulpit to expound on the way to stay sober. It didn’t work for me or anyone else. It was suggested that we do another second step, and I was reminded of two very important lessons; there is a God and I am not it.

It is important to remind myself daily that I am doing God’s will by praying every mornings, asking for knowledge of the Power of The Universe’s will for me and that power to do it. I must check in constantly during the day to be reminded I am here to serve and at the end of the day it is important to review my day with my Higher Power. This will keep me on track and in the spirit of helping others, not teaching.

It is my choice to be guided on a path of spiritual renewal and it requires a power greater than myself to correct my life.

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Conscious Contact

by Darlene
Harmony House Yoga
Davie, FL

Our spring forward this weekend brings up time, particularly ‘lost’ time. Sixty minutes of life that seemingly evaporated and the adjustment period that now follows. As the collective conversation gathers around the concept of time, we pause to recognize its relevance.

Time is represented through what is consciously given. This is about how we serve – whether as a parent, a partner, a friend, or through our profession. It is of the highest honor to give. Generosity with our time extends our moments by giving life greater meaning. It is the way we embody prayer, by answering an external call to be present for each other.

Time is represented through how we receive. Being still enough to invite in each experience as relevant and beautiful enhances the way we embody meditation.

Time is measurable through the moments that captivate us. As love lodges deep within our psyche and threads the human story, it reminds us, there is nothing lost. There is simply this experience of what is called “yours” and what is considered “mine” inside of the eternal bond of that which is truly “ours.”

Extending us a conscious connection to all life and always…

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The Buddha and Bill W

By Regina Walker

http://www.thefix.com/content/buddha-and-bill-w

AA is often accused of being a Christian cult, but it has a lot more in common with Buddhism than many may realize. “Consider the eight-part
program laid down in
Buddhism: Right view, right
aim, right speech, right action,
right living, right effort right
mindedness and right
contemplation.

The Buddhist
philosophy, as exemplified by
these eight points, could be
literally adopted by AA as a
substitute for or addition to the
Twelve Steps.

Generosity,
universal love and welfare of
others rather than
 considerations of self are basic to Buddhism.” —from the Akron Pamphlet; “Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics Anonymous” (http://hindsfoot.org/AkrSpir.pdf) edited by Dr. Bob, co-founder of AA.

There appears to be much in common between Buddhist thought and the 12-step recovery program practiced by members of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and other programs aimed at aiding people who struggle with addiction. I had the opportunity to communicate with a number of Buddhist teachers and writers who addressed the possible positive connection between Buddhism and recovery from addiction.

But first, what is Buddhism?

The easiest way to think of it, if you’re encountering Buddhism and its teachings for the first time, is that Buddhism is all the different traditions, teachings, and practices that have grown up around the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who is thought to have lived and taught in India around 2,500 years ago.

Today, there are a huge number of different schools of Buddhist practice and thought, but almost all adhere to certain core teachings. These teachings include certain fundamental views such as the Four Noble Truths, the Three Treasures and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths, for instance, are as follows: the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the path. While this might sound alien or exotic at first, it simply means acknowledging that we all suffer, and that there are reasons for suffering, as well as the possibility of ending suffering through certain methods.

Interestingly, the word “suffering” is a translation of the original Indian word “dukka” which means something closer to “dissatisfaction.” The idea is that when we have pleasure, we get greedy and don’t want it to end, and that when we have pain, we want it to end as quickly as possible. But, in neither case do we have real inner peace.

Additionally, in Buddhism there is a description of a world in the afterlife, populated by beings, so-called “hungry ghosts,” whose appetites exceed their capacity for satisfaction. Their stomachs are huge, but their throats are tiny. No matter how much they attempt to eat, their hunger remains insatiate. The realm of the hungry ghosts is one of the “six realms of Buddhism,” which at first glance might seem like actual places—there is a “hell realm,” for instance, which could be thought of as a real hell.

Another way of looking at them is as descriptions of certain mental states. The hungry ghosts, or pretas, might be imagined as real beings, but in a larger sense they are simply sentient beings whose hunger defines and dominates their existence; we may call them alcoholics and drug addicts.

“The root cause of addiction is the survival instinct we are all born with. We are born into a body that craves pleasure and hates pain. Addictions are a maladaptive manifestation of trying to create pleasure and avoid pain.” said Noah Levine, a Buddhist Teacher.

“Buddhism’s whole teaching is directly related to recovery. The Buddha started his teaching by asking us to break the denial that we have about the suffering in our lives, an encouragement to turn toward and directly face the facts. He then pointed out the main cause of our suffering is craving for and addiction to sense pleasures. This craving can also manifest as aversion to pain and the cycle of escapism that leads to addiction to substances and behaviors,” Levine continues.

“He then taught that we can fully recover or be liberated from all of the suffering that addiction causes. We do this by renouncing the behaviors that we have become addicted to. In support of renunciation, we also take refuge in our potential to recover, a disciplined meditation practice and a community of recovery. The path that will lead to a full recovery has eight factors: Understanding, Intention, Communication, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness and Concentration.”

When I asked Mr. Levine if he believed the practice of Buddhism was complementary to the 12-step model of recovery he responded, “Most will find Buddhism to fit well with their 12-step process. It will depend on one’s concept of a Higher Power. If one believes that there is an all-powerful God that is the creator and controller of the universe, they may have difficulty understanding things like karma. But I think that most 12 steppers will find the universal principles like generosity, forgiveness, compassion and the meditative path of mindfulness as complementary to the steps. More importantly, those who have difficulty with the 12-step views on powerlessness and God, will find in Buddhism a recovery process that does not ask for belief, only encourages direct knowing.”

Byakuren Judith Ragir is the Guiding Teacher at Clouds in Water Zen. She shared with me some of her thoughts about the relationship between Buddhism and addiction recovery.

I asked her, “Is there a common root cause of addiction in Buddhism?” Ms. Ragir replied, All illusions are on a spectrum of addiction. From the habituated patterns of the way we think about “self” and “reality,” to small patterns that help us escape our problems, to overwhelming addictions; they are all based on the root that we can’t hold our present reality and we want to escape. We could also call it a spectrum of neurosis or compulsions.”

“In Buddhism, we seek to understand the underlying truth about life, a person, a life span and karma, which can start to unravel our tight grasp on who we are and what are problems are. ‘Relieve me of the bondage of self,’ our literature says. Meditation practice teaches us how to increase our capacity to stay with our negative emotions without acting out or repressing. This is incredibly important for addicts, otherwise we hit a feeling/emotion we don’t like and we escape through our addiction. It’s part of growing up. Life has suffering in i. Can we be present to our life as it is? Can we plant seeds of goodness in our current conditions, one day at a time, that will manifest positively in the future? Changing my relationship to suffering, which is a basic teaching in Buddhism, has radically changed my life. Buddhist practice and 12-step recovery are very complementary. They each deepen the other. Their strengths lie in different areas.”

Kevin Griffin is a Buddhist teacher and author of numerous books, says “Mindfulness and meditation practices help people in recovery be a little bit more peaceful, to feel a bit more calm, to relieve stress.”

In describing “mindfulness,” Mr. Griffin remarked, “In mindfulness practice, we explore our habitual thought patterns. This can help the addict see the ways they are undermining themselves with thoughts, with obsessive thoughts, with reactive thought patterns.” Mr. Griffin continued. “

A bit of negative thought or self-hatred is going to be another trigger for relapse. So, we can see that in mindfulness practice we can respond in a more intentional, conscious way to those habitual negative patterns and really question them. The bumper sticker, ‘Don’t Believe Everything You Think’ comes to mind. This describes, in a way, the cognitive-behavioral practice of challenging thoughts.”

Mr. Griffin expressed the belief that “Buddhism and 12-step programs, share an understanding that craving is the cause of suffering.”

Finally, Mr. Griffin remarked, “Most of my work and my writing is seeing the parallels between 12-step work and Buddhist teachings.”

Darren Littlejohn has studied Buddhism for over 30 years and is an author. Mr. Littlejohn has written extensively on the complementary relationship between Buddhism and the 12-step program and remarked, “Attachment gone wild is addiction.”

In The 12-Step Buddhist Mr. Littlejohn writes: “I believe that Buddhism contains immeasurably powerful methods for everyone, especially addicts. If these methods are understood and practiced in the context of a recovery program, they will help you understand and realize your spiritual nature, which is the true mission of the 12 steps. As the Alcoholics Anonymous literature states, ‘our job is to grow in understanding and effectiveness.’“

“The roads to recovery are many…AA has no monopoly on reviving alcoholics.” —AA Co-Founder, Bill W., September 1944

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Relationship With God

Being holy means being in a different kind of space. Special. Consecrated. Separate. But we don’t get there just because our Higher Power proclaims it or especially because we say it or think it. If we are on a path of spiritual renewal then we get there because we want to and we work it. God wants all of us to be there and opens the gates to all of us. “God helps those you come to purify themselves”.
We are setting our sights on a new Design for Living and are adopting a new code for living, as our ancestors received at Sinai. We are raising ourselves up with a new foundation and new support. In doing so, we are becoming closer to our Creator. This new relationship will require discipline and limits, things that may not be comfortable at first but because they are as our Higher Power wants we will adapt and become comfortable with what is uncomfortable. Our renewal requires searching for new people, places and things to associate with, ones that are good in the world, the holy.
Holiness is not to be confused with spirituality; it is an intimacy with God, a commitment to The Almighty in our life that encourages us to do the next right thing. It is faith. More than belief, it is doing, as our Higher Power would have us do. It is asking for the will of God in our lives and accepting it. The resulting feeling of ecstasy and relief is beyond understanding. It is.
The goal of spiritual renewal is to bring us closer to our Higher Power, so that we may have a relationship that enables us to trust, learn humility and to be of service to others.
Getting closer to our Higher Power is a driving feeling of contentment that is never satisfied, but the growth it inspires is satisfying enough to keep on working toward spiritual renewal.

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  • Disclaimer

    This Blog is about our primary purpose, “Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety”.

    It is my belief that the retelling of our experiences, what we have leaned from them and how we have changed our lives in recovery is key to helping others.

    If I can borrow from someone else, “I can tell you things that I have come to believe with every fiber of my being, and you can disagree with every syllable I utter, and yet both of us can be sober...both of us can be useful, productive members, not only of Alcoholics Anonymous, but of society. So, if anything I say bothers you, just dismiss it. If anything I say you disagree with, you're entitled to.”

    ……nobody speaks officially for the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, not even the founders.”

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