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Posted by on in Other Addictions

Posted earlier by Me @ http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/meditation-for-the-average-person/

In my experience, one of the most challenging activities for people new in recovery is meditation. The only thing that gives newcomers to sobriety more difficulty is spirituality and finding a higher power. Many of us view meditation as a mystical practice, reserved for monks and clergymen. The truth is that our misconceptions about meditation are often the obstacles that prevent us from incorporating it into our lives. Learn the truth about meditation, and you will discover it is not as unachievable as you may think.

What is Meditation?

When many of us think of meditation we picture a person sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, unmoving. I define meditation as simply purposely paying attention to the present moment and involving intentional awareness of thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they occur. In a sense, meditation is a form of non-judgmental observation. The three primary elements of mediation, according to Buddhists teachings, are awareness, attention, and remembering.

How Do I Meditate?

There are no ‘rules’ or instructions on how to meditate. In other words, there really is no right or wrong way to try meditation. I will offer up some ways that I personally have found  are helpful ways of meditating and others experience with meditation. In the mornings I set aside time, either still in bed or before my morning coffee, for mediation. To begin I close my eyes, not required, and start focusing on my breathing. I take deep breaths in through my nose and slow exhales out through my mouth. Mindful breathing is a technique used in yoga and psychology to relax the body and mind. I then open my mind to incoming thoughts or feelings. When a thought or emotion arises I simply try and trace its cause. Why am I feeling impatient? What am I looking forward to today? The important concept is to identify these thoughts and emotions, reflect on them, and let them pass. Meditation teaches us to become tolerant of all our emotions and thoughts, thus taking away their influence on our lives. There is another form of mediation I incorporate into my recovery. I read a page or passage of recovery literature or a spiritual text and spend some quiet time really processing and reflecting on what I have just read. Reading spiritual or meditative guides can be a form of meditation in itself. In these practices we are quieting the mind and really examine ourselves. People have reported that physical activities such as walking, running, biking, or yoga can be a form of meditation. Sometimes doing exercise can help calm our mind and inspire thought. Whatever way works for you, just remember that meditation does not have to be this formal practice, it is just about taking time out of the day to quiet the mind and examine our thoughts and emotions.

 

The Benefits of Meditation

  • Meditation increases a person’s ability to manage stress
  • Mediation can treat and even prevent depression, freeing the person of their negative thoughts
  • Mediation has been proven to enhance the body’s immune system
  • People who practice mediation report better interpersonal relationships
  • Practicing mediation can help us spot the warning signs of a relapse
  • In recovery, meditation can improve spirituality and prayer
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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In this episode of "Together, We are a Force," Dan and Jeremiah confront the connection spirituality has with staying sober.

Click here for this podcast! http://bit.ly/spirituality_pdc2 

Find out how you can get your recovery into high gear!

Peace! Daniel Maurer "Dan the Story Man"

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Each one of us works our own individual program.  In twelve-step programs we are given many suggestions, but there is only one requirement: the desire to stop drinking.  Attending meetings or speaking with our fellows, we see how differently each of us works our program.  It is a beautiful thing that we are encouraged to work the program how it works for us, and there are always people more experienced than us who have different experiences to offer.  The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says on page 29, "Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God."

Our Own Higher Power

In my personal experience, the ability to choose your own Higher Power is one of the greatest examples of people working their own programs.  I have met people of all faiths and traditions in the rooms: Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, Atheist, and simply spiritual.  Regardless of your spiritual/religious beliefs, there is a place for you in twelve-step programs.

Although Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by Christians and on many Christian principles, it was created with an expressed intention to work for people of all belief systems.  I practice Buddhism myself.  My sense of a "Higher Power" or "God" is very different than a lot of my fellows.  I choose to utilize the Dharma as my Higher Power.  Rather than a supernatural or ethereal force or figure, I use the path of Buddhism as my Higher Power.  It works well for me, for I am able to turn my will and my life over to it.  I am able to pray and meditate, be grateful for my Higher Power, and not fully understand my Higher Power.

Whatever your beliefs are, the principles are the same: trust in God, pray, meditate, turn your will and life over.  I have met many atheists in my time sober, and have found the principles also apply there.  In Buddhism, there is the teaching that we all have seeds within us; we have seeds of doubt, anger, love, fear, acceptance, etc.  When we take action, we are watering these seeds within us.  Being of service waters the seed of compassion, love, etc.  Punching somebody waters the seed of anger, hatred, etc.  Speaking with atheists, I have heard a very similar account of things.  Even though they do not believe in a greater deity, they do believe they have a better person within them.  I see atheists in my home group be of service, share eloquently, relate to others, and be wonderful members of our fellowship.

As discussed in a recent post, it is important to keep religion out of twelve-step meetings.  I have heard speakers that truly move me that I find out have completely different beliefs than I do.  I have heard other Buddhists share that I do not especially relate to.  Religion (or lack of) is not important in twelve step meetings.  We are all sitting there for the same reason, and sharing our differences only separates us.  If somebody is Christian, Hindu, atheist, or whatever, it is their program, not ours.  It is my honest opinion that it is absolutely none of my business unless they are directly hurting me or the integrity of the program.  The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says on page forty-five about the program, "Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem."

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

The Tenth Tradition reminds us that we as a group do not have an opinion on outside issues.  This is an important principle, as it keeps our meetings focused on our primary purpose: to help others.  As a sober member of twelve-step programs and an active member of the local Buddhist center, I have some experience with keeping outside issues of mine out of the rooms.

Although my participation in this other organization is very helpful to me, has helped me connect with myself and the world, and is very important to my sobriety, it has no place in the rooms.  When I speak directly about my “religion” rather than my spiritual program of working the Twelve Steps, I am
minimizing my effectiveness to others.

When someone shares and makes clear his or her religious affiliation, I must admit I close my mind a tiny bit.  I am not proud of this quality, but it is the truth.  I think if I, with a few years of sobriety, have even the slightest amount of contempt for this, than it is probable that a newcomer also would.

The need to share religious affiliation in meetings baffles me.  I often wonder why somebody would share that kind of information.  My personal opinion is that it tends to come off in a demeaning way.  When somebody speaks about his or her intense religious practice, I feel contempt because I feel judged.  I often feel like it is a separating act, not a unifying.
Although at any given meeting there are possibly people with similar religious beliefs, there are generally far more people with different beliefs.  One of the
most beautiful things about twelve-step rooms is the unifying of addicts and alcoholics from all different walks of life.  Feeling a part of was one of the most wonderful feelings I felt upon entering the rooms.  Putting differences out there like religious beliefs is simply unnecessary and certainly unhelpful.

Knowing this, it is my opinion (based on my personal experience, as well as those that came before me), that any religious affiliation should stay out of a
regular meeting.  Where I live, there are twelve-step meetings that are designated for people of certain faiths or beliefs, just as there are gender-specific meetings.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous provides us with many great tools.  We suddenly are given an amazing support network, a spiritual program of action, and wonderful opportunity to grow.  Although Twelve-Step programs offer us so much, there are certainly things that we may find outside of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The stigma surrounding this prevents many people in the program from doing so, which is hurtful toward recovery.  There are several ways people look outside Alcoholics Anonymous for help, and none of them are wrong.

Professional Help

There are many professionals out there that offer great help to addicts of all kinds.  However, people tend to treat seeking professional help as taboo in twelve-step programs.  This attitude is extremely hurtful and close-minded.  Many of our fellows benefit from professional help of different kinds, and discouraging them or making them feel different because of it can change someone's life.

Physicians

Taking the example of physicians, there are many issues which we cannot ourselves handle.  Our physical health is of the utmost importance to our recovery, as the body's health can dictate the mind's health.  There are times where we must seek a physician's help.  Our physician may prescribe medications as he or she sees fit.  In my personal experience and opinion, we may take certain narcotic medications when they are absolutely necessary.  It is also always important to speak with a sponsor or mentor before doing so.  We must be careful in taking any medication of any kind, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary.  We cannot trust our own heads to make the decision on whether or not it is necessary, and this is why we speak to a sponsor.  Also, it helps substantially to have a doctor that is sober.

Psychiatrists

Another professional that we may seek help from is a psychiatrist.  Psychiatrists may help diagnose and treat mental illness.  Obviously medication comes into play here, and that is perfectly alright.  There are many addicts that suffer from mental disorders.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "Over 8.9 million persons have co-occurring disorders; that is they have both a mental and substance use disorder."*  Not seeking help can be an issue of life and death.

Although psychiatrists may prescribe medications, this is not a reason to shy away from them.  Dealing with co-occurring disorders is not easy.  Without treating the mental illness, sobriety is near impossible.  The addiction and mental illness create a vicious cycle, and without treating both simultaneously, the person has little chance of recovery.  Again, we should be careful of blindly accepting medications without speaking to those with more experience than us.

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