I had already chugged several drinks before arriving at the restaurant for an office dinner party some years back. We were running late and arrived at last call on the cocktail hour, about to be seated for dinner. I grabbed one of the last drinks from the tray that was being passed, chugged it, and took a seat at the table. Within seconds I realized that I needed to get some food in me quick. The room was spinning, I couldn’t focus, and I knew if I opened my mouth, my words would be jumbled and lushy.
In a single AA meeting you might find a couple of Christians, a Buddhist, a Jew, maybe a Muslim, and a handful of people that identify as “spiritual but not religious.” They all believe different things but enjoy the same result: sobriety. This is because they all follow the same course of action. A pragmatic spirituality focuses on how you believe, not on what you believe, which can be difficult to grasp if you are accustomed to propositional religion.
Getting sober is just the beginning. Life rolls out the red carpet when we step fully into recovery. What can you add to this list? (1) Tell the truth. (2) Say YES to life and no to substances. (3) Stay connected to the invisible side of nature (not because we’re “supposed to” but because we enjoy it and it’s awesome.)
Noting the differences between religion and spirituality is necessary for recovering individuals and addiction recovery professionals. Both populations need to understand that spirituality is something that already exists within every person, just like emotions and cognitions. Religion, however, is an external force – a manmade and organized set of beliefs which are typically taught.
I am filled with calm knowingness today as I awaken to the essence of spring, new growth, seeing the world around me come to life as I shake off any residual slumber in me. I step out of the status quo of my comfort zone and onto my green growing edges. I am filled with gratitude as I easily turn my inner clock to make time for lightness, warmth, and energy. I stay fully present in the remarkable moment of now, using my breath to center me when I need to. It’s that easy and that available.
Sometimes it’s almost unfortunate that our Creator has endowed us with this thing called “free will.”Free will has gotten me into a lot of jams. God, if you knew me, you totally wouldn’t trust me to me. You know, the will that keeps telling you that you don’t have a disease called addiction. That you can stop anytime you want. That you have a plan and it looks like doing what you’ve always done. But if nothing changes, nothing changes.
Lately, that familiar yet relatively short list of guidelines that are “suggested” in Chapter 5 of the Big Book have been a focus for me. I am referring to The 12 Steps, comprised of a mere 203 words. That’s adding up all 12! But they go deep. If I were a painter I would mix and match colors on a palette to capture just the right brightness, boldness, and feel I wanted for my creation. Words are like that – even the most subtle shift in a word can sometimes give the right tone and get a teeny bit closer to the intention of my feeling.
Thanks to AA, I found my way to sobriety. Thanks to AA, I also found my way to New Thought spirituality. For nearly three decades, these two life-giving teachings have educated and sustained me. Every day. One day at a time. And it all comes down to the steps, first and foremost. I begin my day with steps 1, 2, and 3. This simple practice is the foundation of my happy, healthy life. Whether thing are going well or I’m having the worst day in history, the steps get me going and carry me through.