Sunday, 31 July 2016

AA Speaker - Johnny H. from Long Beach, CA #essentialsofrecovery



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Daily Reflections #essentialsofrec


A PRAYER FOR ALL SEASONS

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. Courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 125

The power of this prayer is overwhelming in that its simple beauty parallels the A.A. Fellowship. There are times when I get stuck while reciting it, but if I examine the section which is troubling me, I find the answer to my problem. The first time this happened I was scared, but now I use it as a valuable tool. By accepting life as it is, I gain serenity.  By taking action, I gain courage and I thank God for the ability to distinguish between those situations I can work on, and those I must turn over. All that I have now is a gift from God: my life, my usefulness, my contentment, and this program. The serenity enables me to continue walking forward.  Alcoholics Anonymous is the easier, softer way. 
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Just For Today #essentialsofrec


Freedom From Active Addiction

“Narcotics Anonymous offers only one promise and that is freedom from active addiction, the solution that eluded us for so long.”

Basic Text, p.102

NA offers no promises other than freedom from active addiction. It is true that some of our members meet with financial success in recovery. They buy nice houses, drive new cars, wear fine clothes, and form beautiful families. These outward signs of prosperity are not the lot of all of our members, however. A great many of us never achieve financial success. This does not necessarily reflect on the quality of our recovery.

When we are tempted to compare ourselves to these other, seemingly more affluent members, it is good to remember why we came to the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous. We came because our lives had fallen down around us. We were emotionally, physically, and spiritually defeated. Our Basic Text reminds us that “in desperation we sought help from each other in Narcotics Anonymous” We came because we were beaten. For addicts, even one day clean is a miracle. When we remember why we came to Narcotics Anonymous and in what condition we arrived, we realize that material wealth pales in comparison to the spiritual riches we have gained in recovery.

Just for today: I have been given a spiritual gift greater than material wealth: my recovery. I will thank the God of my understanding for my freedom from active addiction.


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Twenty-Four Hours A Day #essentialsofrec

A.A. Thought For The Day

This leaves only one day – today. Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. it is only when you and I add the burden of those two awful eternity’s, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.  Am I living one day at a time?

Meditation For The Day

Give God the gift of a thankful heart. Try to see causes of thankfulness in your everyday life. When life seems hard and troubles crowd, then look for some reasons for thankfulness. There is nearly always something you can be thankful for. The offering of thanksgiving is indeed a sweet incense going up to God throughout a busy day. Seek diligently for something to be glad and thankful about.  You will acquire in time the habit of being constantly grateful to God for all His blessings. Each new day some new cause for joy and gratitude will spring to your mind and you will thank God sincerely.

Prayer For The Day

I pray for a truly thankful heart. I pray that I may be constantly reminded of causes for sincere gratitude. 
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As Bill Sees It #essentialsofrec


Faith and Action, p. 212

Your prospect’s religious education and training may be far superior to yours. In that case, he is going to wonder how you can add anything to what he already knows.

But he will be curious to learn why his convictions have not worked and yours seem to work so well. He may be an example of the truth that faith alone is insufficient. To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self-sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action.

Admit that he probably knows more about religion than you do, but remind him that, however deep his faith and knowledge, these qualities could not have served him very well, or he would not be asking your help.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Dr. Bob did not need me for his spiritual instruction. He had already had more of that than I. What he did need, when we first met, was the deflation at depth and the understanding that only one drunk can give to another. What I needed was the humility of self-forgetfulness and the kinship with another human being of my own kind.

1. Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 93
2. A.A. Today, p. 10 
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Walk In Dry Places #essentialsofrec


Group Intelligence
Getting Ideas

“All of us know more than any one of us” is the saying that applies to 12 Step groups. No matter how much experience any single individual has, it’s surpassed by the collective knowledge of the group.

That’s a good reason in itself for drawing upon these groups. And there are others as well. We need the pool of intelligence that the groups build up over time. We need the group’s strength when our own is waning.

We also learn help that comes in surprising ways. The person in the group who seems just knowledgeable may express an idea that is just what we need at the time.

The group can meet many of our needs if we give it a chance. Regular attendance at meetings will keep us in touch with the group’s ideas.

I’ll stay in touch today with ideas that come from members of my group. Joined together, we have lots of knowledge. 
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Walk In Dry Places #essentialsofrec


Group Intelligence
Getting Ideas

“All of us know more than any one of us” is the saying that applies to 12 Step groups. No matter how much experience any single individual has, it’s surpassed by the collective knowledge of the group.

That’s a good reason in itself for drawing upon these groups. And there are others as well. We need the pool of intelligence that the groups build up over time. We need the group’s strength when our own is waning.

We also learn help that comes in surprising ways. The person in the group who seems just knowledgeable may express an idea that is just what we need at the time.

The group can meet many of our needs if we give it a chance. Regular attendance at meetings will keep us in touch with the group’s ideas.

I’ll stay in touch today with ideas that come from members of my group. Joined together, we have lots of knowledge. 
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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation #essentialsofrec


TEMPTATION

“What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is that they don’t want to discourage it completely.”

–Franklin P. Jones

Usually I am tempted because I want to be. I allow myself to get too close to the object of my desire or I invite the problem into my life knowing that I will not resist it. Then I use my “imperfection” as an excuse! In this way I manipulate my spiritual program and become dishonest.

When I first got sober, I did not allow alcohol in my house; I did not go to bars; I did not spend time with heavy drinkers; I avoided airplanes or places that I would associate with alcohol. This disciplined approach to sobriety worked. If you don’t invite the enemy in, you won’t get beaten up. I need to continue to remember these simple rules and not get complacent in my sobriety.

Let me keep temptation out of my life by avoiding it. 
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A Day At A Time #essentialsofrec


Reflection For The Day

One of the most serious consequences of the me-me-me syndrome is that we lose touch with practically everyone around us — not to mention reality itself.  The essence of self-pity is total self-absorption, and it feeds on itself.  Rather than ignore such an emotional state — or deny that we’re in it — we need to pull out of our self-absorption, stand back, and take a good honest look at ourselves.  Once we recognize self-pity for what it is, we can begin to do something about it.  Am I living in the problem rather than the answer?

Today I Pray

I pray that my preoccupation with self, which is wound up tight as a Maypole, may unwind itself and let its streamers fly again for others to catch and hold.  May the think, familiar wail of me-me-me become a chorus of us-us-us, as we in the fellowship pick apart our self-fullness and look at it together.

Today I Will Remember

Change me-me-me to us-us-us. 
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One Day At A Time #essentialsofrec


NEGATIVE THINKING

“Condemn the fault and not the actor of it.”

William Shakespeare

How many times do we beat ourselves because we have failed to attain the goals we have set? We are human and we suffer from a disease that renders us helpless and out of control. Is it any wonder that we fail in trying to conquer such an unforgiving beast?

It is not ourselves we should be angry with, but the disease and how it affects our actions and reactions. Our inability – or unwillingness — to realize that we cannot achieve recovery alone is our only true failure. We need help. Without it we are weak and defenseless. This disease would have us believe we are failures ~ but in reality, all we have done is open the doors to our enemy. These doors can be closed again. Our disease not only manifests itself in the form of uncontrollable eating, but also in our negative thoughts and actions towards ourselves and towards the people around us.

It takes no more time to think positively than it does to think negatively. Our only job is to remember that we have a disease. We can choose to forget it, we can choose to beat ourselves up when we leave the door ajar, or we can choose to forgive ourselves and begin again.

One day at a time…

I will work on forgiving myself.  I am worth forgiving.  You are too.

~Sue 
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Elder’s Meditation of the Day #essentialsofrec

Look behind you. See your sons and your daughters. They are your future. Look farther and see your sons’ and your daughters’ children and their children’s children even unto the Seventh Generation. That’s the way we were taught. Think about it: you yourself are a Seventh Generation.”

– Leon Shenandoah, ONONDAGA

The Creator designed us with a free will. That means we function from choices and consequences. It is important that we practice thinking about consequences before we make decisions about choices. Every choice I make is like setting up dominos one after the other that produce consequences. Not just for me but also for my children and for the children that are unborn. My choices and decision today will have consequences for seven generations. For example, if I work on my own spiritual development and I walk the Red Road, the odds are that my children will. They will marry and their children will follow the Red Road and so will my grandchildren even up to the seventh generation. This will happen because of the choices and decisions that I make today.

Great Spirit, grant that the choices and decisions that I make today will honor Your laws and values. May I live in peace today that will ripple into the seventh generation. 
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Today’s Gift #essentialsofrec

Sometimes it’s worse to win a fight than to lose.

—Billie Holiday

We all see things differently. It is part of the wonderful variety of the world that we all have different points of view. We’ve all seen baseball players arguing with an umpire over a close call, but, in order to play the game, they must accept the umpire’s judgment.

When we stubbornly refuse to let friends or family members speak their ideas simply because we disagree with them, we risk the loss of a friend or the understanding of a family member. It is when we allow others to disagree that we take a step forward–a step that opens our ears and our hearts to all sorts of people and ideas.

How well can I accept other’s opinions today? 
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Step by Step #essentialsofrec

“The old (drinking) pattern reasserted itself, but it was no longer once every six months. The intervals grew shorter. The binges were longer. They were harder to get off. …
“That type of drinking is not pleasant. It is no longer enjoyable. You no longer get the kicks. It is desperation drinking. I was drinking to keep away the shakes …I was drinking to try to hold on to a job, to try and hold on to my home, to try to hold on to my wife, to try to hold on to my sanity.” 


– Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, Part III (“They Lost Nearly All”), Ch 8 (“Desperation Drinking”), p 514.

Today, I muster the honesty to accept the possibility that I have a problem if drinking is my answer to any desperation I feel, be it for a situation I desperately want not to face, or the talk with my spouse, partner or employer, the constantly ringing telephone that I will not answer because someone might be calling about my drinking or some problem it has caused. If drinking is my solution to any problem in my life, let me hear the voices of experience that my solution has become a crisis bigger than the problem I’m avoiding by drinking. And if I have not drank for any significant number of 24 Hours, chances are I now cannot remember the problem I drank to avoid. But, in so doing, I and I alone created one of the most critical crises that was far worse than any problem I faced sober. Today, alcohol will not be my solution to any problem that I may encounter; my answer is in the Twelve Steps. And our common journey continues. 


Step by step. – Chris M. 
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The Eye Opener #essentialsofrec

In our drinking days, we were ready to take a poke at anyone who suggested we couldn’t handle our “likker.” It was a very sore spot with us, as we all kidded ourselves into believing that our over-indulgence was a well-guarded secret when, actually, we knew it was not.

Upon our entrance in AA, we soon made a public confession of our alcoholism and, to our surprise, we lost some of the sense of stigma and we could learn to laugh at our affliction and at ourselves. Our sense of guilt was lessened by our acknowledgment of its existence.

Hazelden Foundation 
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Daily Tao / 212 – Form #essentialsofrec

At first, form is needed.
Then doubt and inhibition must be dispelled.
Eventually, form is celebrated with joy,
And expression becomes formless.



In all fields of endeavor, including spirituality, one must start out with certain structures, procedures, and forms. Even though one admires the seemingly effortless virtuosity of the masters, it will take some time before one can reach that level.

Take dance, for example. The novice student must drill constantly on the basics, isolating each step and movement with meticulous attention. Although the emphasis on structure may add to the beginner’s inhibition, it must be done. Eventually, the dancer will learn to let go. The steps will have become a natural part of movement. Then dance can be celebrated joyously. Our now mature dancer may even dance in a way that seems so spontaneous, so magical, that it will seem formless — or more precisely, the form will emerge with fluidity, grace, originality, and beauty.

The same is true of spirituality. At first, all the restrictions and practices seem quite constricting. Eventually, you reach a stage where meditation flows quite spontaneously. Every day is new, fresh, and full of wonderful insights. The beauty of the world then shows itself as it is, doubts fade away, and the banality of ordinary life is replaced by the awe and grandeur of the soul. This is true formlessness.
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DAILY ZEN #essentialsofrec


If you want to know the past, to know what has caused you, look at yourself in the present, for that is the past’s effect. If you want to know your future, then look at yourself in the present, for that is the cause of the future.

-Majjhima Nikaya

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Which Came First, the Drink or the Disease? #essentialsofrecovery



SOMETIMES, in speaking to an AA group, I depart from the standard opening, and start with:

"My name is E-- , and I have alcoholism. Putting it this way helps me remember something I must never forget: I have a progressive, incurable, and unless arrested, fatal illness, and I will have it to the day I die. Alcoholism is a sickness which happens to some people through no fault of their own. It happened to me."
And always, I wonder how many of the AA members sitting there, nodding agreement, actually believe it with real conviction.

I was new to AA the first time I heard a speaker say, "I became an alcoholic as the result of drinking too much too long." Even in the chaotic condition of my mind in those early weeks, that struck me as illogical. Was he saying that everyone who drank a considerable amount over an extended period was bound to develop alcoholism? We need only look around us to disprove that.

I could look at my own kin, typical of thousands of American families. Of the twenty-seven assorted parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins who made up our clan, I don't know of any who didn't partake of and enjoy alcoholic beverages. On the theory that drinking causes alcoholism, we should have produced twenty-seven alcoholics, but we didn't. We produced three: me and two of my cousins.

I was to hear variations of the drinking-causes-alcoholism theme repeatedly as time went on. The most recent was at an AA conference, almost twenty-four years after my first one. "I drank myself right into alcoholism!" the speaker declared.

In my opinion, that man was getting cause and effect mixed up. He didn't get alcoholism because he drank too much. He drank too much because he had alcoholism.

To attribute our alcoholism to drinking, rather than our drinking to alcoholism, as I see it, is to hold on to one of our old ideas we need to let go of absolutely. It is, in effect, to deny that our compulsive drinking is the result of an illness for which we are in no way to blame.

How patiently and resolutely we try to set straight the mixed-up thinking of the newcomers who say, "I drank because my husband (or wife) nagged me all the time," or "I drank because I had so much stress at work," or "I drank because I was worried sick over my debts."

"No," we tell them. "Those are the excuses you make to justify your excessive drinking, but they were not the reason for it. The reason you drank alcoholically is that you have alcoholism. The world is full of people who have problems just as serious as yours, but their drinking doesn't go out of control. They aren't any better or stronger than we are, but they are different from us. They don't have alcoholism, and we do."

Shouldn't we go on to convince our new members that their drinking didn't cause their alcoholism, any more than their problems did? For if they say, "I developed alcoholism because I drank," they are also saying, "If I had not drunk, I wouldn't have become an alcoholic. So it comes back to being all my fault, after all." Most of us reach AA bowed down under a heavy load of guilt. We don't need any more.
Clinging to the notion that alcoholism is caused by excessive drinking or, worse, that alcoholism is excessive drinking, presents two grave dangers.

First, the general public is slow to give up the belief that alcoholism is an immoral condition, that heavy drinking is a "bad" thing to do, and those who do it must be "bad" people. Still-drinking alcoholics who haven't reached us yet are a part of that general public, and very likely just as misinformed. They find themselves in an impossible situation.

They hear from all sides that they "ought" to stop drinking, and that their failure to do so is the result of their own weakness, depravity, and lack of willpower. And they believe it. Yet they know they literally cannot control their drinking by their own efforts (only God and the alcoholics know how hard they've tried!), and they know that in no other area of their lives are they either weak or depraved. The only way they can see out of the dilemma is to deny that they are alcoholics--and all too many of them do to the day they die, of alcoholism.

We can reach more of these suffering alcoholics if we persuade them to believe the truth--that they have developed an illness the exact cause of which is still unknown--and if we can also convince their spouses, doctors, bartenders, ministers, and all the others in a position to point them in our direction. We can do this more effectively if we believe it ourselves.

The second danger of confusing the symptom, compulsive drinking, with the illness, alcoholism, is that it can hamper new arrivals in their efforts to get a grip on the AA program of recovery. Many times, in AA talks, we hear this:

"I came to AA and stopped drinking. I was on top of the world. I knew I would never drink again. As long as I was sober, there didn't seem to be any reason for taking the Steps, or going to a lot of meetings. So I started to skip meetings. In three months, I was drinking again. And it took two sick, miserable, drunken years before I got back. You were right--it is a progressive illness."

Whenever I hear something like that, I wonder whether it might have been avoided if the speaker's early mentors in AA had talked less about alcohol and more about alcoholism--if they had dinned it into the newcomer that stopping drinking does not constitute recovery but is only the absolutely essential beginning of a recovery process that changes each of us into the kind of person we can live with contentedly, sober. Given the belief that drinking causes alcoholism, it is easy to con ourselves into thinking that stopping drinking is all we need.

It would be impossible to overestimate the importance of getting the drinking stopped. That must come before any real recovery can take place. A still-drinking alcoholic, I firmly believe, can make no progress in taking the Twelve Steps of AA, or in spiritual growth.

But becoming dry is the starting point, not the stopping point. Just as drinking didn't cause our alcoholism, stopping drinking doesn't deal with it. I came into AA as a confused, self-centered, egotistical, defensive person who drank excessively. I then became a confused, self-centered, egotistical, defensive person who didn't drink. I was still sick, but from alcoholism, not from alcohol.

The real difference was that now I could start to recover. I could set out on the difficult, exciting, often discouraging, but always rewarding experience in living that we call the AA program.

E. E.
Tulsa, Oklahoma -Grapevine May 1983

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Sharon C. Alcoholics Anonymous Speaker #essentialsofrecovery


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Daily Reflections #essentialsofrec

GIVING BACK

. . . . he has struck something better than gold. . . . He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product.

 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 129

My part of the Seventh Tradition means so much more than just giving money to pay for the coffee. It means being accepted for myself by belonging to a group. For the first time I can be responsible, because I have a choice. I can learn the principals of working out problems in my daily life by getting involved in the “business” of A.A. By being self-supporting, I can give back to A.A. what A.A. gave to me! Giving back to A.A. not only ensures my own sobriety, but allows me to buy insurance that A.A. will be here for my grandchildren. 
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Just For Today #essentialsofrec

 Regular Inventory

“Continuing to take a personal inventory means that we form a habit of looking at ourselves, our actions, attitudes, and relationships on a regular basis.” 

Basic Text, p.41

Taking a regular inventory is a key element in our new pattern of living. In our addiction, we examined ourselves as little as possible. We weren’t happy with how we were living our lives, but we didn’t feel that we could change the way we lived. Self- examination, we felt, would have been a painful exercise in futility.

Today, all that is changing. Where we were powerless over our addiction, we’ve found a Power greater than ourselves that has helped us stop using. Where we once felt lost in life’s maze, we’ve found guidance in the experience of our fellow recovering addicts and our ever-improving contact with our Higher Power. We need not feel trapped by our old, destructive patterns. We can live differently if we choose.

By establishing a regular pattern of taking our own inventory, we give ourselves the opportunity to change anything in our lives that doesn’t work. If we’ve started doing something that causes problems, we can start changing our behavior before it gets completely out of hand. And if we’re doing something that prevents problems from occurring, we can take note of that, too, and encourage ourselves to keep doing what works.

Just for today: I will make a commitment to include a regular inventory in my new pattern of living.
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Twenty-Four Hours A Day #essentialsofrec

A.A. Thought For The Day

The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise, and perhaps its poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.  Tomorrow’s sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is as yet unborn. Do I still worry too much about tomorrow?

Meditation For The Day

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is not seeing, but believing. Down through the ages, there have always been those who obeyed the heavenly vision, not seeing but believing in God. And their faith was rewarded. So shall it be to you. Good things will happen to you. You cannot see God, but you can see the results of faith in human lives, changing them from defeat to victory. God’s grace is available to all who have faith-not seeing, but believing. With faith, life can be victorious and happy.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may have faith enough to believe without seeing. I pray that I may be content with the results of my faith.
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As Bill Sees It #essentialsofrec


Reaching for Humility, p. 211

We saw we needn’t always be bludgeoned and beaten into humility. It could come quite as much from our voluntary reaching for it as it could from unremitting suffering.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“We first reach for a little humility, knowing that we shall perish of alcoholism if we do not. After a time, though we may still rebel somewhat, we commence to practice humility because this is the right thing to do. Then comes the day when, finally freed in large degree from rebellion, we practice humility because we deeply want it as a way of life.”

1. 12 & 12, p. 75
2. Letter, 1966 
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Walk In Dry Places #essentialsofrec

Founders with clay feet
Sound thinking

With any organization or society, the time comes when people find fault with the founders. The faults of these pioneering leaders are examined and perhaps even used to discredit them.

Founders are only human beings, and they are likely to exhibit the human shortcomings all of us have. If these founders turn out to have clay feet, perhaps the fault is ours for idolizing them in the first place.

The real role of a founder is to lay the foundation for further building. Unless the society grows, improving over what the founder had in mind, it is not likely to survive. Its real work should be to surpass the fonder so as to be of greater service to others.

I’ll be careful not to put anyone on a pedestal and then complain about his or her clay feet.
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Keep It Simple #essentialsofrec

Beauty may be said to be God’s trademark in creation.
—Henry Ward Beecher

Our addiction was like a veil over our heads. We saw the world as an ugly place.

We saw people as trouble. We thought our drinks and drugs were beautiful. But even they became ugly over time. Life became ugly because we had put distance between our Higher Power and ourselves.

Now we are blessed because the veil is lifted, and we are part of the healing process. We help others step into the beauty of recovery.

Our spirits are again free to seek a relationship with God and others. Through these relationships, we get our hope back. This hope help us focus on the beauty of the world. Hope is the rain that helps our souls grow.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, the world is both beautiful and ugly. For to long I only saw the ugly. Help me focus on the beauty.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll keep an eye out for the beauty recovery holds for me. Throughout the day, I’ll pray for this. 
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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation #essentialsofrec

 WORDS

“Hear the meaning within the word.”

–William Shakespeare

When I hear or see the word “sobriety”, I am made to think of relationships: my relationship with God, man and, more importantly, myself. Sobriety means humor, hope and joy. It means a silence at the center of my being that “wonders” at it all. Sobriety means a sexuality that is both noble and free — that risks rejection and criticism.  Sobriety argues against prejudice and bigotry. It builds a bridge to “the different” and reflects on the creative variety of man. It allows me a God as I understand Him but also respects tradition and the ancient philosophies of the world.

Sobriety evokes a feeling that is beyond words. It echoes the spiritual life.

Let me learn to pray beyond words. Let my relationship with You grow in silence.
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A Day At A Time #essentialsofrec

Reflection For The Day

When we first come to The Program, the most common variety of self-pity begins:  “Poor me!  Why can’t I (fill in your own addiction) like everybody else?  why me?”  Such bemoaning, if allowed to persist, is a surefire invitation for a long walk off a pier — right back to the mess we were in before we came to The Program.  When we stick around The Program for a while, we discover that it’s not just “me” at all;  we become involved with people, from all walks of life, who are in exactly the same boat.  Am I losing interest in my comfortably familiar “pity Pot?”

Today I Pray

When self-pity has me droopy and inert, may I look up, look around and perk up.  Self-pity, God  wills, vanishes in the light of other people’s shared troubles.  may I always wish for friends honest enough to confront me if they see me digging my way back down into my old pity pit.

Today I Will Remember

Turn self-involvement into involvement. 
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Elder’s Meditation of the Day #essentialsofrec

“You want to know who’s a real medicine man? He’s the one who doesn’t say ‘I’m a medicine man.’ He doesn’t ask you to come to him. You’ve got to go and ask him. And you’ll find he’s always there among his own people.”

– Louis Farmer, ONONDAGA

The Medicine Man is a role model of what it is like to live in harmony and balance with the Creator. It takes a long time, a lot of sacrifice and discipline to become a Medicine Man. A Medicine Man is humble and never crass about anything. He knows he lives to do the will of the Great Spirit. He knows he is to help the people. He lives very low key – the more low key he lives, the more people seek him out – and such is life. The more one serves the people and is quiet about it, the more he is sought out. The quieter he is, the more powerful is his medicine.

Great Spirit, allow me this day to be humble. Allow me this day not to seek attention, but to live quietly and keep my focus and attention on serving You.
-
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Today’s Gift #essentialsofrec

The hopeful man sees success where others see failure, sunshine where others see shadows and storm.

—O. S. Marden

When wise men say, “Hope springs eternal,” they are reminding us that no matter how great are the obstacles, the hope of winning out in the long run still exists. Hope is our friend when all else has failed. When we have strength of character and an energetic mind, hope always flourishes.

We discover that, at the very brink of despair, we will find courage to keep trying as long as there is hope for success. After all, what have we got to lose? Without hope, we have no chance, anyway. Our chance for glory comes when we keep trying even though all seems lost. Our hearts remain strong and brave when hope reminds us that challenges last until a game is over.

What light of hope can I keep burning within me today? 
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Step by Step #essentialsofrec

Today, I must realize that the character defects I identified in my Fourth Step probably existed before my drinking days and that alcohol simply developed them to their destructive zenith. My Sixth and Seventh Steps of first admitting to God and then asking that He remove my defects assume paramount honesty in my recovery program for I am likely to be challenged to release defects that have had a lifetime to take root – more so than those that those that were born of my drinking days. And if my defects are lifelong, simply stopping to drink will not give me the recovery and quality of sobriety for which I strive. Today, I am an alcoholic and abstaining from drinking is not enough. I consider myself a part of the AA program; today, as I talk the talk, I will walk the walk. And our common journey continues. 

Step by step. – Chris M. 
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The Eye Opener #essentialsofrec


No pleasures of our drinking days even compensated for those horrible nights of wakeful tossing. The interminable pacing the floor; those night sweats; the endless hours when we couldn’t sleep and at the same time dreaded falling asleep. The hours that seemed to stretch into eternity as we lay in bed with remorse as a bedfellow. Then the Hell of the goof-balls that made our nights better and our days worse.

The physical pain we might have endured for many more years, but the anguish of the heart and soul was unendurable.

Hazelden Foundation 
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Daily Tao / 211 – Absolute #essentialsofrec

They say, “You are god.”
But everyone is.
They say, “All is god.”
Then why are there differences?
They say, “All is an illusion.”
But does that include god?



Those who follow Tao declare that there is no evidence that a god created our world. They have not found any empirical proof, and they cannot accept the idea philosophically. They reason that god must be absolute and this means oneness, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Naturally, anything separate and distinct would not satisfy this criteria. If there was a god and a world that god created, then there would be two things — and god could not then be considered absolute. If there were an absolute god, there could not be anything separate from god.

Everything is god. We are also god. However, we fail to realize this. Why? Because we look for god outside of ourselves. We make the mistake of taking ourselves as the viewer and then seek god as the object of our examinations. Unfortunately, everything we perceive is tainted by our subjectivity, and anything that we define as god “out there” cannot be god because it is not absolute. All you’ve found is something that exists in relation to your perceptions.

You are god. The only way to confirm this is to remove the barrier of subjectivity that prevents you from realizing your essential oneness with all things.
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DAILY ZEN #essentialsofrec

Central to the Buddha's teaching is the doctrine of anatman: "not-self"." This does not deny that the notion of an "I" works in the everyday world. In fact we need a solid stable ego to function in society. However, "I" is not real in an ultimate sense. It is a "name": a fictional construct that bears no correspondence to what is really the case. Because of this disjunction all kinds of problems ensue. Once our minds have constructed the notion of "I," it becomes our central reference point. We attach to it and identify with it totally. We attempt to advance what appears to be its interests, to defend it against real or apparent threats and menaces. And we look for ego-affirmation at every turn: confirmation that we exist and are valued. The Gordian Knot of preoccupations arising from all this absorbs us exclusively, at times to the point of obsession. This is , however, a narrow and constricted way of being. Though we cannot see it when caught in the convolutions of ego, there is something in us that is larger and deeper: a wholly other way of being.

On the Doctrine of Non- Self," with John Snelling -- from Elements of Buddhism, John Snelling (Elements Books, Inc., 1990)
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Friday, 29 July 2016

Random Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous #essentialsofrecovery


Chapter 10    To Employers (pg 144 & top 145)

We suggest you draw the book to the attention of the doctor who is to attend your patient during treatment. If the book is read the moment the patient is able, while acutely depressed, realization of his condition may come to him. 

We hope the doctor will tell the patient the truth about his condition, whatever that happens to be. When the man is presented with this volume it is best that no one tell him he must abide by its suggestions. The man must decide for himself. 

You are betting, or course, that your changed attitude plus the contents of this book will turn the trick. In some case it will, and in others it may not. But we think that if you persevere, the percentage of successes will gratify you. As our work spreads and our numbers increase, we hope your employees may be put in personal contact with some of us. Meanwhile, we are sure a great deal can be accomplished by the use of the book alone. 

On your employee’s return, talk with him. Ask him if he thinks he has the answer. If he feels free to discuss his problems with you, if he knows you understand and will not be upset by anything he wishes to say, he will probably be off to a fast start.  
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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Walk In Dry Places #essentialsofrec

 Spiritual guidance.

If we go through the day with a confidence that our Higher Power is with us, events will go better than they would if we hadn’t held to this belief. We will be more effective in everything we do. We will actually have more power in all activities.

This is what is meant in the Eleventh Step; “the power to carry that out.” Knowing that the Higher power is in our lives, we also find the power to do what we believe to be God’s will for us. As this confidence strengthens and is seasoned by experience, it becomes part of our nature.

Eventually, we’ll sense our Higher Power working in our lives. We can learn to accept this with the same sure belief that we accept the sun’s rising and the changing of the seasons. And we’ll have the power to do whatever must be done by us.

A conscious contact with God can raise my daily activities to higher levels, giving me the power of achievement.
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Sunday, 17 July 2016

Just For Today #essentialsofrecovery


The Light Of Exposure

“These defects grow in the dark and die in the light of exposure.”

Basic Text p.31

The Fifth Step asks us to share our true nature with God, with ourselves, and with another human being. It doesn’t encourage us to tell everyone every little secret about ourselves. It doesn’t ask us to disclose to the whole world every shameful or frightening thought we’ve ever had. Step Five simply suggests that our secrets cause us more harm than good when we keep them completely to ourselves.

If we give in to our reluctance to reveal our true nature to even one human being, the secret side of our lives becomes more powerful. And when the secrets are in control, they drive a wedge between ourselves, our Higher Power, and the things we value most about our recovery.

When we share our secret selves in confidence with at least one human being-our sponsor, perhaps, or a close friend-this person usually doesn’t reject us. We disclose ourselves to someone else and are rewarded with their acceptance. When this happens, we realize that honest sharing is not life-threatening; the secrets have lost their power over us.

Just for today: I can disarm the secrets in my life by sharing them with one human being. 
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Daily Tao / 239 – Youth #essentialsofrec

You’ve left home too soon:
Dunks frighten you, profligates paw you.
What good is a hermit’s jewel?



Young people need compassion and guidance, not obscure mysticism. Here are some guidelines for young people :

Remember that you are always your own person. Do not surrender your mind, heart, or body to any person. Never compromise your dignity for any reason.

Maintain your health with sound diet, hygiene, exercise, and clean living. Don’t engage in drugs or drinking.

Money is never more important that your body and mind, but you must work and support yourself. Never depend on others for your livelihood.

Choose your friends and living situation carefully, for they will influence you. Find a mentor you can trust, one who can answer your every question, but never give up responsibility for your own life. No one lives your life for you.

A good education is always an asset.

Emotions are transitory and are not a good way to make decisions.

Every day, you must make decisions. Everything you do will have irrevocable effects upon your life. Before you go down any path, consider carefully. Rivers very rarely reverse course.

Know evil, but do not do evil yourself. Remember, there is a way out of the delusions of life. When you weary of the world, find someone who will show you Tao.
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Daily Reflections #essentialsofrec #Pride


FALSE PRIDE, p.209

Many of us who had thought ourselves religious awoke to the limitations of this attitude. Refusing to place God first, we had deprived ourselves of His help. 12 & 12, p. 75

Many false notions operate in false pride. The need for direction to live a decent life is satisfied by the hope experienced in the A.A. Fellowship. Those who have walked the way for years–a day at a time–say that a God centered life has limitless possibilities for personal growth. This being so, much hope is transmitted by the elder A.A.s.

I thank my Higher Power for letting me know that He works through other people, and I thank Him for our trusted servants in the Fellowship who aid new members to reject their false ideals and to adopt those which lead to a life of compassion and trust. The elders in A.A. challenge the newcomers to “Come To”–so that they can “Come to Believe.” I ask my Higher Power to help my unbelief. 
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Twenty-Four Hours A Day #essentialsofrec #Recovery

 A.A. Thought For The Day

The new life of sobriety that we are learning to live in A.A. is slowly growing on us and we are beginning to get some of that deep peace of mind and serenity that we never thought were possible. At first we may have doubted that this could happen to us, but after any considerable length of time in A.A., looking at the happy faces around us, we know that somehow it is happening to us . In fact, it cannot help happening to anyone who takes the A.A. program seriously day by day. Can I see my own happiness reflected in the faces of others?

Meditation for the Day

God does not withhold His presence from you. He does not refuse to reveal more of His truth to you. He does not hold back His spirit from you. He does not withhold the strength that you need. His presence, His truth, His spirit, His strength are always immediately available to you, whenever you are fully willing to receive them. But they may be blocked off by selfishness, intellectual pride, fear, greed, and materialism. We must try to get rid of these blocks and let God’s spirit come in.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may remove all blocks that are keeping me from God. I pray that I may let God come into my life with power.
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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Just For Today #essentialsofrec #Apologies #NA

 “I’m Sorry”

“The main thing the Eighth Step does for us is to help build awareness that, little by little, we are gaining new attitudes about ourselves and how we deal with other people.”

 Basic Text, p.38

To say “I’m sorry” probably isn’t such a foreign idea to most of us. In our active addiction, it may have been a very familiar phrase. We were always telling people how sorry we were, and were probably deeply surprised when someone, tired of our meaningless apologies, responded with, “You sure are. In fact, you’re the sorriest excuse for?” That may have been our first clue that an “I’m sorry” didn’t really make any difference to those we harmed, especially when we both knew that we’d just do the same thing again.

Many of us thought that making amends would be another “I’m sorry.” However, the action we take in those steps is entirely different. Making amends means to make changes and, above all, to make the situation right. If we stole money, we don’t just say “I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again now that I’m clean.” We pay the money back. If we neglected or abused our families, we don’t just apologize. We begin to treat them with respect.

Amending our behavior and the way we treat ourselves and others is the whole purpose of working the steps. We’re no longer just “sorry”; we’re responsible.

Just for today: I accept responsibility for myself and my recovery. Today, I will amend some particular thing I’m sorry for. 
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Daily Tao / 187 – Artist #essentialsofrec #Recovery #Tao #Zen #Buddhism


Facing blank paper
Is an artist’s terror.



When an artist creates, he or she is like a shaman. Inspiration comes as a gift. Those who follow Tao are the same. Their awareness of Tao is not something they have cleverly formulated, nor is it something that they possess. Tao comes to them like a gift. That is why the arts and Tao are so closely allied : The act of receiving and expressing is the same.

Just as an artist dreads not being able to make art, so too does one who follows Tao dread not feeling Tao.

There are many times when we are called upon to be creative : an athlete on the field, a lecturer before an audience, a musician on stage, a cook at the stove, a parent with a child. How do we keep the channel open? Some people try by maintaining tidy and regular lives, others by being constantly active. We are all different, and there is no right or wrong. The only thing that counts is feeling Tao in your own life and maintaining that feeling as much of the time as possible. If you find those special things that are latent in you and learn to express them, then you will know Tao.
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Daily Tao / 185 – Point #essentialsofrec #Tao #Zen #Taoism #Buddhism

Make the mind.
A single point.


The key to any meditation is to concentrate the mind into a single point. There are many methods for doing this, from singing, to listening to holy words, to contemplative procedures. But the end result is the same : to focus our minds sharply.

A point has a definite position in space but neither size not shape.
A point marks an actual place in time, such as a point of departure.
A point is the very essence of something, as in the point of an idea.
A point is a coordinate for navigation.
A point is the dominant center, as in the principle point of perspective.
A point determines our outlook, as in point of view.


Once the mind is made into a single point, it takes on the above attributes. In contrast, a mind that is not focused is dispersed over a wide area. Its thoughts are scattered, its energies are in disarray, and it cannot move clearly in any direction. It is at the mercy of a thousand influences and is easily disoriented. The result is confusion, ignorance, unhappiness, and helplessness. A mind that is clearly focused, however, receives all things and can abide in utter tranquility. It is no exaggeration to say that its world revolves around it. It no longer has to chase after all that appears before it.
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Daily Zen #Zen #Buddhism



There is really nothing you must be and there is nothing you must do. There is really nothing you must have and there is nothing you must know. There is really nothing you must become. However, it helps to understand that fire burns, and when it rains, the earth gets wet.

-Zen saying

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Just For Today #essentialsofrec #Recovery

Exploring Spiritual Options

“The nature of our belief will determine the manner of our prayers and meditation.” Basic Text, p.43

How do we pray? For each NA member, this is a deeply personal matter. Many of us find that, over time, we develop a manner of prayer and meditation based on what we learn from others and what we are comfortable with.

Some of us arrive in NA with a closed mind toward a Power greater than ourselves. But when we sit down with our sponsor and discuss our difficulty, looking at the Second Step in depth, we are pleased to find that we can choose any concept of a Higher Power that appeals to us.

Just as our definition of a Power greater than ourselves differs from addict to addict, so does our manner of achieving a “conscious contact” Some attend religious services; some chant; some sit quietly or talk with whatever is out there; some find a spiritual connection by communing with nature. The “right way” to pray and meditate is whatever way helps us improve our conscious contact with our own Higher Power.

Asking others how they found their spiritual guidance is always a good place to begin. Reading literature before we enter periods of meditation can also help us. Many have gone before us on this search. As we seek spiritual growth, we can greatly benefit from their experience.

Just for today: I will explore my options for improving my conscious contact with the God of my understanding.
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Twenty-Four Hours a Day #essentialsofrec #Delusion


AA Thought for the Day

Until we came into AA, most of us had tried desperately to stop drinking. We were filled with the delusion that we could drink like our friends. We tried time and again to take it or leave it, but we could do neither. We always lapsed into ceaseless, unhappy drinking. Wives or husbands, families, friends and employers threw up their hands in hurt bewilderment, in despair and, finally, in disgust. We wanted to stop. We realized that every reason for drinking was only a crazy excuse.

Have I given up every excuse for drinking?

Meditation for the Day

Many things can upset you, and you can easily get off the track. But remember that God is near you all the time, ready to help you if you call on Him. You cannot forever stand against God’s will for you, nor can you forever upset God’s plan for your life, even though God’s plan may be postponed by your willfulness and deliberate choice of evil. A whole world of men and women cannot permanently change God’s laws nor His purpose for the universe. The sea of life may look very rough to us, but we can believe that our Captain steers the boat on a straight course.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may try to steer a straight course. I pray that I may accept God’s direction in my life’s journey.

Hazelden Foundation 
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As Bill Sees It #essentialsofrec #AA

“The Only Requirement. . .”, p. 186

In Tradition Three, A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, “You are an A.A. member if you say so. You can declare yourself in; nobody can keep you out. No matter how low you’ve gone, no matter how grave your emotional complications–even your crimes–we don’t want to keep you out. We just want to be sure that you get the same chance for sobriety that we’ve had.”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

We do not wish to deny anyone his chance to recover from alcoholism. We wish to be just as inclusive as we can, never exclusive.

1. 12 & 12, p. 139
2. Grapevine, August 1946 
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Walk In Dry Places #essentialsofrec #Inventory #Change


What brings change?
Inventory.

In human affairs, vast changes sometimes take place almost spontaneously, bringing on revolutionary upheavals. What brings about such change?

These visible changes, for good or bad, occur because people come to accept new ideas. It’s easy to see how this works in one person’s life, but it works in the same way with societies.

The 12 Step movement is a most dramatic form of such change. We’ve become effective because we have new forms of thinking to replace the old destructive forms that caused so much harm. Our movement will grow and develop only as long as we retain the new ways of thinking that first brought about this change.

I’ll hold to the idea that my life can only be as good as the thoughts I choose. 
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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation #essentialsofrec #Recovery #Forgiveness


FORGIVENESS

“Without forgiveness life is governed by . . . an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.”

–Roberto Assagioli

So much of what I resent in others springs from my unhappiness with self. I hate in others what I know to be in myself: arrogance, pride, narrow-mindedness, snobbery and dishonesty.

Today I am learning that as long as I refuse to forgive others, I am not capable of forgiving myself. Part of my denial is reflected in my attitudes towards others. Those character traits I refuse to forgive in others are buried within myself. I know that without forgiveness there is no freedom — and I wish to grow in freedom.

Today I am learning the difference between forgiveness and acceptance. I can forgive other people without accepting their lifestyle. I can forgive myself and still see the need for change. In my forgiveness is the hope for tomorrow.

Master, You taught that without forgiveness, there can be no pure love. Help me grow in the forgiveness of self and others.

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