Endigar 713 ~ No Ordinary Success Story

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 27, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 26;

A.A. is no success story in the ordinary sense of the word. It is a story of suffering transmuted, under grace, into spiritual progress.  (As Bill Sees It, page 35).

Upon entering A.A. I listened to others talk about the reality of their drinking: loneliness, terror and pain. As I listened further, I soon heard a description of a very different kind — the reality of sobriety. It is a reality of freedom and happiness, of purpose and direction, and of serenity and peace with God, ourselves and others. By attending meetings I am reintroduced to that reality, over and over. I see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices of those around me. By working the program I find the direction and strength with which to make it mine. The joy of A.A. is that this new reality is available to me.

 

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When you are trapped in any sense of the word, gaining the release that life’s passersby take for granted is a private miracle that is hard to describe. Only my fellow sufferers and those very close to us get how powerful living becomes in the face of this transforming program. When one ancient prison door after another begins to swing wide, the success of my journey in AA recovery is undeniable, even in my lowest moments.

Endigar 712 ~ The Challenge of Failure

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 22, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 25;

In God’s economy, nothing is wasted. Through failure, we learn a lesson in humility which is probably needed, painful though it is.  (As Bill Sees It, page 31). 

How thankful I am today, to know that all my past failures were necessary for me to be where I am now. Through much pain came experience and, in suffering, I became obedient. When I sought God, as I understand Him, He shared His treasured gifts. Through experience and obedience, growth started, followed by gratitude. Yes, then came peace of mind — living in and sharing sobriety.

 

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In one of my favorite Alanis Morisette’s songs called “Thank You,” there is a line ; How about not equating death with stopping. To me, failure is a small dose of death to help me acclimate to that part of me which is pure energy riding on an organic body. Often times, it is necessary to fail in the carbon-based interactive matrix in order for me to awaken to my spiritual reality. Then I connect with others in a way that grants permission for all of us to live in the magical realm of the spirit.

“Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence”

~ Alanis Morisette

 

Endigar 711 ~ A Thankful Heart

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 16, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 24;

I try to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one’s heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know.  (As Bill Sees It, page 37).

My sponsor told me that I should be a grateful alcoholic and always have “an attitude of gratitude” — that gratitude was the basic ingredient of humility, that humility was the basic ingredient of anonymity and that “anonymity was the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” As a result of this guidance, I start every morning on my knees, thanking God for three things: I’m alive, I’m sober, and I’m a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Then I try to live an “attitude of gratitude” and thoroughly enjoy another twenty-four hours of the A.A. way of life. A.A. is not something I joined; it’s something I live.

 

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My gratitude branches from relationships with my God, my others, and myself. Good relationships on all three fronts are possible because of my recovery from alcoholism through the 12 Steps of AA. These three points of connections are bells sitting side by side, and I cannot ring one without causing vibrations in the others. Yet, I am grateful that all three of my bells get rung, not just vibrated, and none are muffled with fear and shame.

Endigar 710 ~ Mysterious Paradoxes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 13, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 23;

Such is the paradox of A.A. regeneration: strength arising out of complete defeat and weakness, the loss of one’s old life as a condition for finding a new one.  (AA Comes of Age, page 46).

What glorious mysteries paradoxes are! They do not compute, yet when recognized and accepted, they reaffirm something in the universe beyond human logic. When I face a fear, I am given courage; when I support a brother or sister, my capacity to love myself is increased; when I accept pain as part of the growing experience of life, I realize a greater happiness; when I look at my dark side, I am brought into new light; when I accept my vulnerabilities and surrender to a Higher Power, I am graced with unforeseen strength. I stumbled through the doors of A.A. in disgrace, expecting nothing from life, and I have been given hope and dignity. Miraculously, the only way to keep the gifts of the program is to pass them on.

 

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I remember in my teen-aged years discovering the existence of paradox. I was amazed at the power of this one grammatical concept that would escort me from the childhood world of absolutes to the esoteric chambers of depth in thought. I even love the structure of the word that begins in the smooth feel of para- like some elegant seductress and ends with the authoritative command of -dox, as a tyrant’s boot slamming onto the floor of a raised stage.

When I walk up to a paradox, the first light of my consciousness only reveals contradictions.

“What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw

“I can resist anything but temptation.”-Oscar Wilde

“Men work together whether they work together or apart.” – Robert Frost

Then I see the secret door they are guarding and I push past them and enter the room to discover a mind altering idea that demands meditation in order to absorb. “She is drowning in the fountain of eternal life.” I push past the horror of impending death and the security of immortality and find hidden away a meditation on obsession.

There are many paradoxes I have been introduced to in the rooms of AA, such as the reality that accepting powerlessness is the first step in becoming powerful. Or that you have to give it away to keep it. Then there is the paradoxical reality that my recovery is a selfish program, and that I must be rid of “this” selfishness or kills me. Most spiritual pursuits are littered with paradoxical roots and the 12 Steps are no different. There is always more depth to discover as I meditate on the mysterious paradoxes of my own recovery.

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Endigar 709 ~ Guidance

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 22;

. . . this means a belief in a Creator who is all power, justice, and love; a God who intends for me a purpose, a meaning, and a destiny to grow, however . . .haltingly, toward His own likeness and image. (As Bill Sees It, page 51).

As I began to understand my own powerlessness and my dependence on God, as I understand Him, I began to see that there was a life which, if I could have it, I would have chosen for myself from the beginning. It is through the continuing work of the Steps and the life in the Fellowship that I’ve learned to see that there is truly a better way into which I am being guided. As I come to know more about God, I am able to trust His ways and His plans for the development of His character in me. Quickly or not so quickly, I grow toward His own image and likeness.

 

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Knowing God has generally been a tall order for me. I have greatly desired it but God seems to speak quietly while I listen loudly. For me He is energy in all its forms, and I am one of those forms. This undiscovered and thus still invisible energy is all pervading and continuously connective. My finite mind looks out into this boundless entity and pins abstract notions of connection such as justice and love and power on the Spirit’s kiss in my life. My knowledge of this Intimate Everything is peculiar to my created form and expression. My life is God-breath and my awareness of this reality is an ongoing process. Seeking sobriety was a major milestone in that journey, yet it is so much more than that. May our Higher Power, in its various forms, guide us all.

Endigar 708 ~ I’m Part of the Whole

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 21;

At once, I became a part — if only a tiny part — of a cosmos. . . . (As Bill Sees It, page 225).

When I first came to A.A., I decided that “they” were very nice people — perhaps a little naive, a little too friendly, but basically decent, earnest people (with whom I had nothing in common). I saw “them” at meetings — after all, that was where “they” existed. I shook hands with “them” and, when I went out the door, I forgot about “them.”

Then one day my Higher Power, whom I did not then believe in, arranged to create a community project outside of A.A., but one which happened to involve many A.A. members. We worked together, I got to know “them” as people. I came to admire “them,” even to like “them” and, in spite of myself, to enjoy “them.” “Their” practice of the program in their daily lives — not just in talk at meetings — attracted me and I wanted what they had. Suddenly the “they” became “we.” I have not had a drink since.

 

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To be honest this feeling of seeing others in the program as a “we” instead of a “them,” is an off and on experience for me. Sometimes I have moments, even periods of time, where I feel true unity with others in the Fellowship. I know how important connection is in overcoming that deadly brand of selfishness that festers in isolation. So I do my best to keep making meetings, keep making small talk, keep calling my sponsor and others in the network. This is something I desire and need, but is also something that is very difficult for me to achieve in the face of my recurrent social anxiety. The more face to face time I can embrace in this program of recovery the more my life becomes stronger in the group.

 

Endigar 707 ~ The Gift of Laughter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 5, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 20;

At this juncture, his A.A. sponsor usually laughs.  (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 26).

Before my recovery from alcoholism began, laughter was one of the most painful sounds I knew. I never laughed and I felt that anyone else’s laughter was directed at me! My self-pity and anger denied me the simplest of pleasures or lightness of heart. By the end of my drinking not even alcohol could provoke a drunken giggle in me.

When my A.A. sponsor began to laugh and point out my self-pity and ego-feeding deceptions, I was annoyed and hurt, but it taught me to lighten up and focus on my recovery. I soon learned to laugh at myself and eventually I taught those I sponsor to laugh also. Every day I ask God to help me stop taking myself too seriously.

 

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Laughter is a way of connecting. Apparently our brains respond to true laughter with a shot of dopamine as a reward for making human connections, which has been a big part of our evolutionary success.

“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.” (Psychology Today).

I know that there are social connections that help ensure my survival, strengthen my durability, and point me toward prosperity. The gatherings that help me stay sober are the ones I want to be a safe haven for the dopamine trigger of laughter. Taking myself too seriously will make my brain believe it must hide, and I do not need that fearful isolation. I have often been given AA’s Rule 62 when I am falling prey to morbid self-reflection; “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.”

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