Wake up!

Before we pursue the topic of mindfulness, let’s see what mindfulness is not. We’ll call it mindlessness.

Mindlessness: A funny story

My wife was shopping at Winners the other day. When she got to the checkout counter, she handed the cashier her new credit card. The cashier looked at it and handed it back to her, asking that she sign it immediately. So she signed her credit card in front of the cashier and handed it back. After running her card through the machine successfully, the cashier asked my wife to sign the credit receipt – which she did, of course.  At that point, the cashier compared the signature on the card with the signature on the receipt… needless to say, they matched!

We do mindless things all the time. Like driving a car. A few years ago we (my family and I) moved to another town nearby. But after work, I often found myself pulling into the driveway of our old house! It took me a few times to get it right.

This is mindlessness. And it has everything to do with a conditioned mind. If you don’t practice mindfulness, you will default to mindlessness…

Our minds are malleable, like plastic. Over the years, our minds have been conditioned by parents and teachers. We’ve also been exposed to the media, trained by all of its various forms of advertising and news-making.

In fact, the ‘mind’ is a conditioned phenomenon. Which is to say: Our minds are the product of our environment. Habitual thinking forms the mind, setting it up to receive more of the same. An unexamined thought life will generate more thinking that is governed by habit and inattention.

Mindlessness (the default setting) causes us to suffer. When we remain unaware of our thought patterns, we are held captive in a room controlled by our false beliefs. As long as we remain unaware of these false beliefs, they have control over our lives. If you suffer emotionally it’s because of your mindless adherence to your false beliefs.

Are we going to remain powerless over our emotional suffering? I hope not! Is there a way we can awaken from our mindless slumber?

Next week we’ll talk about mindfulness, and how we can learn to wake up to the false beliefs that cause us to suffer.

“Mindfulness”

Everyone has a ‘map’ of reality. Do you know what I mean?

A map is something we use to help us navigate through a certain area. It represents the territory using lines to symbolize roads and rivers and dots to indicate cities and towns.

Your ‘map’ of reality is very useful. It’s how you navigate through life. It helps you remember how to get dressed in the morning. Without it you wouldn’t be able to drive your car or use your cell phone. I play guitar, and without my ‘map’ I would have to relearn the instrument every day.

This map also contains the ideals, beliefs and assumptions that help us make decisions.  Your mind is conditioned. It has adopted certain beliefs – assumptions – about things you may or may not understand.

But some of these beliefs don’t serve us very well. These are the hidden values, the unconscious agendas, that hold us back. They produce the thoughts that lead to unhappiness, bitterness, resentment, anger and depression – emotions that surface almost involuntarily.

Do we need to be limited by these unconscious beliefs that have control over our emotional life?

No – not if we’re willing to learn how to become aware of them. For there is a way in which we can become more aware; and if more aware, then better able to make better choices. And that way is by practicing mindfulness.

We are going to spend the next few weeks taking a look at mindfulness. We’re going to explore this thing called ‘map of reality’ and see how mindfulness can help us bring to our awareness the hidden things that hold us back.

Hopefully, we will learn how to make better progress in recovery.

 

Let God be your ‘Source’

Who is your Higher Power? Someone who is bigger? Stronger? Smarter? Wiser?

I call my Higher Power ‘God.’ I’ve come to define God as the Creator – the Universal Mind behind the created order.

It has been said that God is Love. I believe this goes way beyond our concept of “warm and fuzzy.” This divine Love is the creative Desire that brought our world into being. Love is the energy that fills the universe because Creative Love is the reason it is there in the first place.

But you may say, “This world is not full of love. This world is a scary place where I feel insecure and afraid to face the new day.” Even though you may feel this way, your belief is not based on truth.

If you are going to let go, you are going to need to believe that God exists, that God is Love, and that God – your Higher Power – is the one who brought this world into being.

And it seems reasonable to also accept the fact that this universe is a friendly place – created in Love. Your Higher Power is indeed your Source. And you need to let go, and let God be your Source!

If you have done step three of the 12 Step program, you have given yourself over to the care of God. In other words, you have made a conscious decision to let God meet your needs.

No longer are you going to take what you think you need. That’s how you got into addiction in the first place. Instead, you have decided to let God take care of you. Isn’t this what the spiritual awakening is all about – making a shift in our perspective by letting God take the rightful place as the Source of all you need and want?

You were created in Love, and you need this Love. Addiction will only cut you off from the Source of Love. Continually letting go and letting God will keep you connected to the One who has what you need.

Let God be your Source.

The Power of Surrender

I still remember the day when I learned to wind surf. The day was perfect. A warm sun shone brightly in the blue sky as a gentle breeze rippled the surface of the sparkling lake.

Although it seemed to be an impossible task, I’d seen others do it – so I persisted. But no matter how tightly I clutched the sail I was mercilessly blown off the board and into the lake.

Over and over, I got back up only to be blown off my unstable perch. Without a doubt, I spent more time in the water than on the board before I got the ‘hang’ of it.

As I look back, I realize that I was fighting the wind (the force). Of course, I was no match for this formidable ‘foe’ – wrestling with the power of the wind was getting me nowhere.

It wasn’t until I gave up trying to ‘teach’ the wind what I wanted, and learned how to respect this mighty force that I stopped thinking it was my foe and allowed it to become my friend. My ally! When I gave up resisting and surrendered to the wind’s force, I was then able to windsurf successfully – and stay high and dry!

There is a certain order to this Universe in which we live. The power that holds everything together is clearly seen in this divine order of things. As addicts we resist ‘what is’ and live in direct conflict with the order of the Universe. Consequently, we enter into chaos and suffering. But if we align ourselves with this order – if we surrender to the power of the Universe – we will experience this same power in our lives.

As addicts we lived in direct conflict with Higher Power and the order of the Universe. And our lives became more and more chaotic, spinning out of control. When we made the decision to hand over our will to God and let go of the addiction, we began to align ourselves with this power – Higher Power!

Step 11 shows us how to continually seek to live our lives in total surrender to the divine order of things. Knowing the will of God (the order of things) and nurturing our desire to live in accordance with it (surrender to God’s will) brings us power to actually live it.

 

 

This Present Reality

There is a reality that is presently with us. We are surrounded by its power and perfection. What is this present reality that surrounds us?

It is the “Will of God.”

Unfortunately, many of us are living in a fantasy world, and we are blind to this present reality. We created our make-believe world because we had to… we needed a coping mechanism in order to survive the lies – the false beliefs – we had about God and the world… lies we believed about ourselves.

“Is it possible to experience this present reality?” you may ask.

Absolutely! But if you remain focused on your own desires – allowing your self-will to run riot – you will not be able to see or hear the perfect Will of God… even though it is all around you.

You want to be free, and you have used your “freedom of choice” to try and get there. But somehow, you can’t seem to create this wonderful freedom for yourself. No matter how hard you try, it just never seems to materialize.

Here’s the thing: The more you try to take control and fix things for yourself, the less you will experience this present reality. Unless, by the grace of God, you are made to see just how powerless you really are – your life (the world in which you live) will continue to spin out of control.

Powerlessness is a gift. It’s a wake-up call for you to make some radical changes. Recognizing it is the first step you must take in order to leave behind your compulsive acting-out, and begin making healthy choices that are more in line with this perfect and present reality.

As you let go of your own desires, you will begin to see the power of this present reality – the perfect will of God for you in this present moment.

This realization of the will of God as a present reality is what drove Bill W. to create the 12 step program. It is the basic belief that supports the recovery structure.

Step 11 is continually recognizing this reality of the ‘Will of God’ and responding with prayer and meditation in order to remain in the flow of this divine order. This is where we find not only knowledge of God’s will but the power to live it every day.