“Have you discovered the 3 steps to Higher Power?”

You can tap into the strength of your Higher Power.

In fact, there are three steps that will introduce you to this power:

  • Admit
  • Believe
  • Surrender

The first step is perhaps the hardest, and certainly the biggest.  Without the first step, we will never know or experience “higher power.”  If you are unable to admit and recognize your powerlessness, your attempts at receiving this “higher power” will never materialize.  If  you refuse to ‘own’ this part of your condition, you will remain in your addiction forever.  If you think that you can make it on your own, you won’t have any need for a higher power.  If, on the other hand, you know that you are hopelessly lost in your addiction, and powerlessly enslaved to it, you will become willing to believe.

Belief in a “higher power” isn’t something we were born with.  What we were born with is a human condition called “powerlessness.”  Left to our own means, we will try to get our own needs met in whatever way we can.  It’s how we learned to  survive.  And most of us (actually, all of us) fall into some form of addiction.

You will never know or believe in something greater than yourself – not until you are faced with your own personal defects, and the insanity that results from a “will run riot.”  For it is our imperfections that cause us to realize – and believe – that we need a higher power.  It is our own hopeless condition – our human condition – that causes us to accept the fact that there is a power greater than ourselves that can strengthen and sustain us.

It’s been said that insanity is repeating the same thing, over and over, expecting a different result.  The addictive cycle – the cycle of shame – is the insane repetition of an action that will never bring about any change… just more of the same.  In order to experience significant transformation, you need to change what you are doing.  This may seem obvious, but so many of us fail to understand this simple truth.

In Sunday school, I was taught the word “repentance.”  It means to turn around 180 degrees and walk in the opposite direction.  And that is what is expected of you if you take step three:  You hand over the controls of your life – your will – to your higher power.  This leads to massive change, not just some subtle shift in attitude.

When you have taken all three steps – admit, believe and surrender – the stage is set for you to experience higher power.

“Fellowship and Higher power”

I’ve been thinking a lot these past few weeks about “higher power.”

Even though I was raised in the Christian faith and went to church on a regular basis, I do realize that ‘religion’ is not a prerequisite for solid recovery.  In my case, I hid behind my religion; so it wasn’t doing me any good in terms of keeping me sober.  But don’t misunderstand:  It’s not that I feel there was anything wrong with my religious beliefs.  But there was something wrong with me; I wasn’t on the level with my fellow Christians.  I lied a lot.  I knew how to fly well below the Christian ‘radar.’

Early on in my recovery, when “higher power” was the topic of discussion, I typically assumed that we were talking about my God… the Christian God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost).  But lately, I’m coming to understand that ‘higher power’ has more to do with ‘inner power’ – the power within – and not the God up there or out there.  No matter what divinity we happen to believe in, the fact remains that we all have a higher power within us.  This is our compass giving us direction; it’s our source of inner wisdom that has been buried under a load of addiction.

When we gather together, we share together in this collective wisdom known as higher power.  We stimulate one another to do better, to draw upon our own inner resources, our inner power.  I realize that everyone has their own ideas about God – the One in charge of the Cosmos; but whether we believe in a Supreme being or not, we can learn to access an inner power that seems to be within each of us (I say ‘seems’ because I am not an expert).  For it is the fellowship that helps us to access the strength to climb out of the hole we dug for ourselves and reach for the stars.

For those who struggle with this concept of a higher power, I hope this helps.

“Can I get a witness?”

Let’s begin with yesterday’s definition of mindfulness:  “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment.”

I am in the process of trying to understand what ‘mind’ is.

I know it’s more than just intellect or rational thought.  It’s more than emotions.  It does involve matters of the heart (however you wish to define ‘heart’), the will and the intentions of the heart.

The Holy Scripture says that the heart is desperately wicked – “who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV)  According to the Word of God, the heart cannot be relied upon to make good decisions.  It’s almost as if the heart has been taken hostage and is now held captive by false beliefs.

“Mind” is part of the soul of man.  The mind is a ‘conditioned phenomenon’ capable of taking ‘what is’ and building upon it.  The mind can only respond to what it understands, what it perceives as truth.

So, in a way, the mind can’t be trusted either.

What, then, can be trusted?  Is there anything upon which we can rely?  I believe there is.  It’s something called “awareness.”  This awareness is who we are.  Thoughts, intentions, feelings, emotions are part of our construction as a human being, but they are not who we are.

“I think, therefore I am” would be better stated, “I am aware; therefore, I am.”  What does this mean?

It means that, not only can I think; I can also think about my thinking!  I can step out of my stream of thought and observe my thoughts as they go floating past.  It means that I can be a “witness” to all my thoughts, moods, feelings – even my intentions.

I can do this because, fundamentally, I am awareness.  I’m not always aware; but I can learn to awaken to my own creations of thought and feeling.  I don’t have to be ‘lost’ in thought.  Anyone who trusts his own thinking is a fool.  Anyone who assumes that his/her thinking is superior to another is delusional.

The ‘witness’ can observe all that’s going on with curiosity, and without judgment.  The witness can be our refuge from all that threatens to undo us.  The witness can allow us to detach from false beliefs – that which causes us to act in opposition to what we know we really need.  Learning to ‘witness’ is the beginning of wisdom.

Three Magic Words

I decided to prepare a workshop/seminar on the practice of mindfulness.  I put it together for one reason:  To show how mindfulness practice can and should be used in our 12 step programs.

I entitled it, “Three Magic Words.”

I begin with a definition of mindfulness:  “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment.”

 In other words – Mindfulness is the practice of observing everything that’s going on with curiosity – as it happens – and letting it be okay.

The discussion then turns to ‘Mindlessness’ and ‘Resistance.’  These two ideas are products of the conditioned mind.  Our minds are like plastic and can be conditioned.  And it would appear that ‘mindlessness’ and particularly resistance is our default setting.

We are conditioned to resist.  Our brains are almost hardwired to pursue pleasure and avoid pain.  We have done this since we first began to crawl.  Although naturally curious, we learned to resist what we discovered as children.  We learned to fear, to hide, to shut down.  Childhood trauma can do that to a person.  And many of us spend the rest of our lives in a kind of “Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome.”  We resist.

Resistance causes suffering.  It’s not our circumstance that causes us pain; it’s our reaction to it.  Our resistance.  It’s not the rain that causes us to be disappointed; it’s our reaction to it.  Our resistance.  It’s not the insensitive words that you heard in a conversation that made you angry and resentful; it’s your reaction to them.  Your resistance.

We are so lost in our thoughts that we think they are true.  That’s because we never question them.  We never examine them.  We know we are right.  And that’s because we need to be right.

There are three magic words that can release us from our resistance:  “Accept What Is.”

Acceptance is the antidote for resistance.  It’s an attitude, but much more.  Acceptance is also the practice of mindfulness.  It’s a practice.  You must do it.  In order to undo the conditioning that governs your mind – your thoughts and feelings – you must practice acceptance.

There is a way to practice mindful acceptance.  It’s called ‘the witness’…

Playing the blame game

Sometimes I screw up.

I’m not perfect, and I screw things up.  I could have the purest intentions, and “make the right moves” but I still manage to screw things up.

Can you relate to what I am saying?

Sometimes my partner and I will get into it – you know – argue about how I messed things up.  During our heated discussion, I try to protect myself by taking a more aggressive stance with her.

And I blame her for something.

Usually I try to blame her for my mistakes.  Somehow I manage to turn things around and put my ‘failure’ on her.  If I fail to see the error of my way, we continue to argue and our heated conversation starts to escalate.

I don’t like to self-loath.  So, I look for another on which to place my ‘burden.’  Unfortunately, it seems to be my beloved partner that takes the blame.

Fortunately, she is in recovery, and knows what the blame game is…

This means that I can’t play it with her.  Unconsciously, I invite her to play it with me when I’m upset and starting to self-loathe.  But she knows better than to accept my ‘skunky’ competition.

I wouldn’t have to play this game if I would simply let go of what I am grasping so tightly.  You know – I think it’s called perfectionism.  I want to be right.  I have this deep-seated belief that I can’t be wrong;  I can’t screw up.

I want to be perfect.  And I want others to think I am perfect.  It’s one of those false beliefs that seem to be hard-wired in my brain.

I feel ashamed when I screw up.  And other shame-faced people have no problem reminding me of my shortcomings, which I feed into even more.

Shame (feeling worthless and un-loveable) starts to feel like anger and resentment.  As I continue to resist this feeling (instead of letting it go), I fall right into the same pit where I was in my addiction.  And, man, it stinks in there!

I know better than to play the blame game; but sometimes I screw up…