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Happy Birthday to Me! Wait, Which One?

Posted by AlisonFSmela
AlisonFSmela
Alison Smela, is in long-term recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder follo
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on Sunday, 01 December 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

I am honored to be the December Expert particularly because this first day happens to be my birthday. Yet the date does not mark the only time I was shifted from a place of comfort to a visceral shock to the system.

I’ve been given the most precious gift of life three times. I was physically born in December of 1961, almost died in 2001 and then tested fate again in 2008. The 46-year journey was a roller coaster of addiction, emotional chaos and nonstop searching for a way out.

Although I can't remember the first few celebrations of the date I entered this world, all accounts indicated they were joyous, happy and fun. I’ve been told people poured attention on me with beautifully wrapped boxes to open and cards read by others with messages for a future far better than their own.

 

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*Thanksgiving In Recovery is a day of Gratitude*

Posted by kitcatlyon
kitcatlyon
I live life in Recovery, but my PASSION is writing and blogging to help others a
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on Thursday, 28 November 2013
in Other Addictions 0 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving Addictionland & Recovery Friends & Readers,

.

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Unconditional Contentment

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 25 November 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Deer Park MonasteryThis past weekend, I stayed at Deer Park Monastery, a monastery founded by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. At the monastery, we did not sit in meditation as much as I am accustomed to while on retreat. Instead, the focus of my stay was living mindfully in a variety of daily activities. My mentor at the monastery, Brother Wisdom, urged me to find a state of unconditional contentment, and to not allow my happiness to be swayed by anything.

Sitting in meditation, it is relatively easy for me to be mindful of what is going on in the present moment. When I notice a sound, sensation, or thought, I am able to turn my attention toward it more easily. When I am attentive, I am generally able to treat things with more equanimity. With equanimity, my contentment is not as easily affected by anything going on. It is more sturdy and stable.

Although I may find this unconditional contentment at times in my meditation practice, I think it is important to look for it in daily life. I don't have to strive for perfection, but I can strive to have a more resolute happiness. I worked this past weekend on finding this contentment in my daily life. We sang, danced, chanted, washed dishes, gardened, rested, and hiked in mindfulness. Although we also meditated, I found that bringing my practice off the cushion was greatly insightful and beneficial. I think I began to dig a little deeper into the roots of my contentment.

Brother Wisdom pointed out to me the irrational logic that we use when we rest our happiness on conditions. Everything is impermanent, including our feelings, thoughts, and everything outside of us. We often have the habit of resting our happiness on these same things. We say or feel things such as, "I'd be happy if she loved me," "I can't be happy until my body isn't sore," or "I am happy because it is sunny out." However, all of these conditions are impermanent and changing. Can we be happy when she doesn't love us anymore? Will we actually be fully happy when our bodies feel better? Will we be sad when the clouds cover the sun? When we rest our happiness on impermanent conditions, our happiness is bound to change as the conditions change.

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Which Jobs Lead to Substance Abuse?

Posted by jgwhite
jgwhite
jgwhite has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 18 November 2013
in Drug Addiction 0 Comments

Did you ever consider if your job made you prone to drug and alcohol abuse? With 77% of illegal drug users working full or part-time jobs, you have to wonder what kind of effect it has on their work habits. Many drug users admit that high stress, low job satisfaction, long or irregular hours and isolation at work contributed to their substance abuse problem.

In fact, 3.1% of employed adults actually used illicit drugs before reporting to work or during work hours at least once.

This motion graphic will highlight which work places are causing people to stumble into substance abuse a little harder or more often than some others. It will also look at the different areas of drugs that are being used and how much money is spent on them.

 

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RAISING HEALTHY CHILDREN IN FAMILIES WITH ADDICTION

Posted by CoachCaroline
CoachCaroline
Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP, is an internationally-known coach, author, educator
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on Saturday, 16 November 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

4. What is your suggestion for raising healthy children, despite family predisposition toward addiction?

If you can educate children about their predisposition to addiction, at least they'll be armed with awareness.  Also, if you maintain a strong recovery program that role models coping tools to avoid addiction, that will definitely help them if they ever have their own struggles with addiction.  I also think that praising the effort they put into their goals, and not just the outcomes, will teach them that hard work is more valuable than easy wins.  There has also been a slump in the ability to self-regulate in recent decades, so kids need to learn how to delay gratification so that they understand that enduring discomfort eventually leads to bigger rewards than getting what they want right away.
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WOMEN OVER 40 WITH EATING DISORDER

Posted by CoachCaroline
CoachCaroline
Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP, is an internationally-known coach, author, educator
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on Saturday, 16 November 2013
in Food Addiction 0 Comments

3. Why are so many women over 40 developing eating disorders?

I suspect that with the "fifty is the new thirty" mantra, there are pressures to try to be fit, beautiful, successful and happy in ways that have not been seen before.  I also know how difficult it was for me to get better back in the 1980s because there were few role models and very few treatment centers, so I suspect that some people just went in and out of their disorders without ever stringing together long-term health.   Recovering from an eating disorder and staying better is especially hard, too, because food is a necessary part of being alive, and temptations and triggers are everywhere, regardless of where you go.  So I think that there are a huge number of women who have been dealing with some version of disordered eating for decades, and that there could be others who are feeling disoriented by upheavals in their lives – divorce, unemployment, empty nest, poor health, changing hormones – and focusing on their body distracts them from coping with other problems.  I also don't think that there is a widespread belief that long-term recovery exists, so there might not be enough hope for people to persist through the setbacks they encounter.

 

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Using the Word "God"

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way has not set their biography yet
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on Saturday, 16 November 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Buddhist Dharma WheelSomebody mentioned on our Instagram that they have a problem with the word "god." Their question read, "I notice I have some resistance with the word "God." I have a Christian/Catholic background and have come to a more open spirituality in the last few years. I typically use Universe and God interchangeably, but prefer Universe or other words. Do you have some suggestions, insight or wisdom on how to release any charges with this?"

I, too, have struggled with the word "god." I grew up with a Jewish family and ended up at a Catholic high school. When I was a young teen, my dad gave me a few Buddhist books, and my interest began in Buddhism. In college in Portland, Oregon, I used copious amounts of hallucinogens, and experienced quite a few "spiritual experiences" where I felt the presence of something greater. In short, my spiritual/religious beliefs have been all over the map.

When I got sober, I accepted the program as my "higher power." I then began to see my higher power as more of a spirit of the universe, an energy, or simply love. I didn't have a clear view of what it was, but I felt it, and knew it wasn't a man in the sky for me. As my Buddhist practice began to develop, I moved quite a bit more to the atheistic side. Now, I don't necessarily consider myself an atheist. I simply believe that everything we believe to be a higher power actually has a scientific explanation. We once thought stars, the ocean, and the wind were gods. Now, we understand them scientifically. Similarly, I think that our thoughts may affect the external world (like thinking positively or with affirmations), but there is a scientific explanation to this that we will someday understand. Many consider this atheistic, and maybe it is.

I do have a higher power, which for me is the Three Jewels of Buddhism. I use the Buddha-seed within me, the Dharma (Buddhist way), and the Sangha (community) as my higher power. To read more about it, read the Three Jewels and Step Three piece I wrote. This is a rather unconventional understanding of a higher power, especially since part of it is actually internal. This is a little background of why the word "god" is difficult for me to use.

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Learning to Sponsor

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way has not set their biography yet
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on Friday, 15 November 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

19976_258044793945_4340661_nA user recently asked us on Instagram about being a first time sponsor, and how to deal with the fear of not doing it right. As with most of the questions we receive, there doesn't seem to be a clear, objective answer. However, we can offer our experience.

Being a first time sponsor was quite scary for me. I had about 4 months of sobriety, and absolutely did not feel ready. I had gone through the steps with my sponsor and was told to begin sponsoring others. Even though I did not feel like I had much to offer, I found myself taking a young man through the steps. There are four things that were important to me in my early days of sponsorship.

First, I took my first few sponsees through the steps almost exactly how I was taken through. At that point, I had gone through the steps only once fully. I had a single, clear-cut way of going through the Big Book and working the steps. My sponsor, who has over 30 years of sobriety, has a very routine way of taking people through the steps. With my first few sponsees, I emulated what my sponsor did for me.

Second, I often say that my first sponsee was really being sponsored by me and my sponsor, as I went to my sponsor with everything my sponsee brought to me. It is natural that we don't have all the answers. That is what our sponsors are there for. It is important to utilize the fellowship and community, and ask questions when appropriate. Although there is no hierarchy in twelve-step programs, people who have been sober longer than us do have more experience that we do. The fellowship of recovering addicts is one of our greatest tools, and it is there for our using!

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Traveling to Find Spirituality

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way has not set their biography yet
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on Friday, 15 November 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

191_9147353945_4308_nRecently, an Instagram user asked us, "Will traveling and putting myself in nature make myself more spiritual? Or do you just need to be wherever you're comfortable?" It is my pleasure to answer this question, as I have personally thought about this many times. For many of us, we look for spiritual insight and growth by going on retreat, traveling to holy places, or even taking a simple walk in nature or on the beach.

I have sought spirituality in this way many times. I frequently enjoy time in nature, attend several silent meditation retreats a week, travel to the Arizona desert every year for a retreat, and even walk to the beach to meditate sometimes. I also practice my spiritual program in my own apartment and daily life, and this is the key for me.

One of my Buddhist teachers reminds me that the bell ringing at the end is the most important part of the meditation. It is the point in which we bring our practice from the formal sitting meditation into our daily life. The bell is the bridge where our practice becomes part of our life wherever we are. Although a sitting meditation practice is wonderful and can lead to great insight, it is just as great to practice mindfulness in daily life.

Similarly, traveling or being in nature may absolutely be of great benefit. For me, I find great power in nature, whether in solitude or with others. I have traveled to Buddhist temples and monasteries as well. In traveling and putting myself into nature, my mind is quieted, and I often connect better with my heart. Insight comes more easily. I feel more genuine and connected with the world around me. Many of the deepest and most profound insights I have had have been while traveling or in nature.

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Intuitive Thoughts from Our Higher Power

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 14 November 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

istock_000005940786xsmallyogaRecently we were asked by a user on Instagram, "How do we know when it's our higher power giving us an intuitive thought?" I believe this question is a reference to page 86 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous where it states, "Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision." What a wonderful question. I have had sponsees ask me this same question many times, and I am honestly not sure I can provide a definitive answer to this one. All I can offer my personal experience with it, and what I share with my sponsees.

In order to answer this question for myself, there are two things I must do. First, I must first look at what my Higher Power is, or at least what characteristics it has. I do have a bit of an unconventional Higher Power (the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha), but I think this holds true regardless of what yours is. I know that my Higher Power is compassionate, loving, and forgiving. If I receive a thought that has any aspect that is not compassionate, loving, and forgiving, I know it is not from my Higher Power. For example, if the intuitive thought I receive in meditation is to lie to somebody, I know that this is not compassionate or loving and must be my own habit energies, not my Higher Power's will.

Although this may seem overly simplistic, I find it to be a fairly strong course of action. Inevitably, thoughts arise that I am not sure if they are from my Higher Power. Sometimes, I simply cannot tell the source of a thought. In this case, I let the thought go. I don't act upon it. If I do need to take action or make a difficult decision, I remind myself that I don't have to do it alone. Page 60 of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions reads, "The second difficulty is this: what comes to us alone may be garbled by our own rationalization and wishful thinking. The benefit of talking to another person is that we can get his direct comment and counsel on our situation, and there can be no doubt in our minds what that advice is."

For this reason, I think the second thing I must do when receiving an intuitive thought is bring it to a spiritual mentor or sponsor. When I bring the thought to a mentor, I often gain a lot just from saying it out loud. If I am humble enough to truly listen, I often learn a great deal from somebody else's perspective. Because they don't have the exact same mind as me, they may see the though slightly differently. In this way, I am able to see the thought more clearly.

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