I went down to the banks of “Ma Ganga” (The Ganges River) to accompany my dear friend who had expressed his desire to dip into the sacred waters… we heard some chanting nearby… a small group gathered around a teacher chanting devotedly to God. In a few moments the chanting ended, and the teacher began to speak enthusiastically about relating to God: “When you are in the state of surrender, you will reject anything that gets between you and your relationship with God.” With this one sentence, my view of surrender had been transformed forever.
To quote one of our posts from earlier this year, Recovery Consciousness is “the mindful awareness and realization . . . that we can continue to uncover, discover, and recover that which is ours, but has likely been numbed out and presumed lost.” Lost to “alcoholic thinking” is implicit in that statement. What is alcoholic thinking? Allow our guest post today, curated from the Holistic Recovery Centers blog, to explain.
It was in this moment that I realized there was no way that I could do this alone. I closed my eyes and asked the universe for more strength. With every step I took I had to ask for the power to take another step. And every step granted to me brought me closer and closer to the top of that mountain. I know that it is not my own willpower that carried me to the top… I firmly believe that the universe knew how much I needed this victory to revive my motivation in my own life…. I have to draw power from a source greater than myself, a power that would not have brought me this far just to drop me on my head with the finish line in sight.
Step eleven, like step ten, is not a step that is worked once and then forgotten. Instead, it is part of an ongoing (usually daily) ritual of recovery. That said, recovering addicts often find “prayer” and “meditation” to be somewhat baffling concepts. And some, especially those who began the recovery process as agnostics or atheists, may still be struggling with the idea of having a higher power at all. For these reasons (and many others), step eleven can be a difficult one to work. If you find yourself struggling with this step, take heart in the fact that you are not alone. Even the most devoutly spiritual and/or religious members of twelve-step recovery groups sometimes lose their way here.
Coming to Step Nine of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous was somewhat daunting, yet easier, as I then had the experience of God on my side. The Fifth Step brought a sense of relief – the beginning of a serene life. For the first time since I was a small boy I felt the presence of God in my life. I knew then that sobriety by itself was not enough, that I desired to be recovered. I knew that the solution was and is a vital spiritual experience and having a relationship with God in whom I trust. Therefore, I had plenty of motivation and desire to adopt the humility necessary to make amends to the people I had harmed – Step Nine.
When I got sober I lived in a foreign country where being sober was basically unheard of. I didn’t know what any of this [stuff] meant – “pink cloud,” “90 in 90,” “sponsor,” “people, places, things.” I was truly on my own from the get-go with my sobriety. I paved my own way and I never considered that some people get sober and stay in a sober bubble, sometimes forever…
Several years ago at my recovery meeting the topic of discussion turned to prayer. It’s a hot button issue to people who are willing to start a minor skirmish over God and the definition thereof. I had opted to not share but then the meeting chair called on me to speak. Oh no! Briefly, I tried not to get into specifics by citing only the need for prayer in our programs. However, I made the mistake of saying that I do not make requests for God to fulfill my wants or desires. Immediately, I sensed the intensity of the man sitting next to me…
In order to deeply transform your spirit in addiction recovery, you have to also include balance in the equation. Meaning that you must treat the whole person and all aspects of your health, and all aspects of your life. If you zero in on spiritual practices alone then you may find that you have lost the forest for the trees. Meaning that you can get so laser focused on one aspect of your health that you neglect the other areas to the point that it causes you to relapse. I have watched this happen over and over again among my peers so I have taken measures to insure that I do not suffer the same fate.