Help and Guidance for Newcomers and
For Those struggling with the concept of spirituality and a Higher Power
If you Google the terms “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” you will get different definitions for what these terms mean. But in 12 step programs these term are synonymous. I just wanted to get that clarified.
I want to talk about spirituality as it pertains to 12 step programs, because this can be a major hang up for people right from the get-go. Spirituality is NOT synonymous with religious. Although your religious beliefs and views can definitely be your source of spiritual grounding and inspiration. Atheists, agnostics, and those who are just not sure can still achieve a life of sobriety from the 12 steps. He steps still have to be worked the same way and the program must be taken full advantage of. The program is not designed to be a smorgasbord of ideas and concepts for the recoveree to pick and choose from. So then how are you supposed to do that if you don’t believe in God or are unsure of what God actually means to you? After all, in step two we “come to believe that a power greater than ourselves” can restore us to sanity, right? And in step three we need to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. So if your initial reaction is skepticism or that this just doesn’t work for you…HOLD ON! Wait, let me finish my tangent before you made your decision. Actually, before you really make your decision, give it 90 days. Yes, I said 90 consecutive days of your life. During this time, jump into the program feet first. Do all the things you are supposed to do starting with getting to a meeting. They are everywhere, don’t tell me you can’t find one. You can open the yellow pages and call the AA main office, you can google a meeting finder, there are meeting-finder aps for smart phones…
actually here’s a link to a list of the central offices all over the world and its very self-explanatory and easy to use: http://anonpress.org/phone/ Here are some more resources for NA, AA, MA, and more: http://www.12step.com/meetingdirectory.html
Once you get to a meeting you need to reach out, introduce yourself and make it clear that you are a newcomer and need guidance. They will take you under their wing and show you the way. Meet people before and after the meeting and start doing what they tell you to do. And GET A SPONSOR. And then give it 90 days. What do you have to lose? You found the problem, let the program show you the solution.
So now, back to the God issue. Every time the word God is mentioned in text or a meeting, you need to actively replace that meaning with what it means TO YOU. A Higher Power of your understanding. This can be the fellowship of NA, AA, CA, or MA. I had an atheist client who made nature his Higher Power. That makes sense to me, there are countless forces at play in nature, it is so vast and amazing. Getting in touch with that power can really help you to get outside yourself, look inside yourself and realize that greater things are possible, including long-term sobriety and a wonderful new way of life. This new way of life will come with bumps and sometimes hole. But there’s always a way to climb out if you’ve built up a network of recoveree that have your back. Don’t use religion or lack of as an excuse to not get clean or to try to do it your way. That just doesn’t work. Your best thinking got you to this point. Now it’s life or death. This isn’t play time! The sooner you get moving on recovery the better!
What is a “Spiritual Experience” or “Spiritual Awakening?”
As I mentioned before, these terms are synonymous in the 12 step program. I’ve heard a lot of people ask “what does a spiritual awakening feel like?” or “how will I know I had one?” Well, I’ll tell you! First of all, it is not something that happens overnight. It’s a graduate process that takes place as you work the steps. For most people it doesn’t happen in an instant. There are very few that describe a “sudden awakening.” Although, moments of clarity and enlightenment will happen along the way. Those in recovery are in a unique position to experience this life changing process that will bring a whole new level of contentment, happiness, appreciation, and understanding to their life and journey of self-discovery. This is an experience that anyone can have, but very few people actually embark on the journey to achieve a spiritual wakening unless prompted by a program such as the 12 steps. I suggest talking to several different people who have long-term sobriety and having them explain to you what their spiritual experience was like. You will hear a lot of stories in meetings as well. It will bring a whole new level of acceptance and gratefulness into your life as you recover and learn how to live life on life’s terms.
“TWELVE SIGNS OF A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING
1. An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
2. Frequent attacks of smiling.
3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
4. Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
7. A loss of ability to worry.
8. A loss of interest in conflict.
9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
10. A loss of interest in judging others.
11. A loss of interest in judging self.
12. Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.”
Author unknown. Retrieved from: http://12stepgroups.com/12-signs-of-a-spiritual-awakening/
Daily Reflections May 23, 2014 SPIRITUAL HEALTH
Quote:When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p 64
It is very difficult for me to come to terms with my spiritual illness because of my great pride, disguised by my material successes and my intellectual power. Intelligence is not incompatible with humility, provided I place humility first. To seek prestige and wealth is the ultimate goal for many in the modern world. To be fashionable and to seem better than I really am is a spiritual illness.
To recognize and to admit my weakness is the beginning of good spiritual health. It is a sign of spiritual health to be able to ask God every day to enlighten me, to recognize His will, and to have the strength to execute it. My spiritual health is excellent when I realize that the better I get, the more I discover how much help I need from others.
From the book Daily Reflections © Copyright 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
Daily Recovery Readings – May 22, 2014
Just For Today May 22, 2014 Symptoms Of A Spiritual Awakening
“The steps lead to an awakening of a spiritual nature. This awakening is evidenced by changes in our lives.” Basic Text, p. 48
We know how to recognize the disease of addiction. Its symptoms are indisputable. Besides an uncontrollable appetite for drugs, those suffering exhibit self-centered, self-seeking behavior. When our addiction was at its peak of activity, we were obviously in a great deal of pain. We relentlessly judged ourselves and others, and spent most of our time worrying or trying to control outcomes.
Just as the disease of addiction is evidenced by definite symptoms, so is a spiritual awakening made manifest by certain obvious signs in a recovering addict. We may observe a tendency to think and act spontaneously, a loss of interest in judging or interpreting the actions of anyone else, an unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment, and frequent attacks of smiling.
If we see someone exhibiting symptoms of a spiritual awakening, we should be aware that such awakenings are contagious. Our best course of action is to get close to these people. As we begin having frequent, overwhelming episodes of gratitude, an increased receptiveness to the love extended by our fellow members, and an uncontrollable urge to return this love, we’ll realize that we, too, have had a spiritual awakening.
Just for today: My strongest desire is to have a spiritual awakening. I will watch for its symptoms and rejoice when I discover them.
Retrieved from: http://www.justfortodaymeditations.com/tag/daily-meditations-aa/