- Choosing a home meeting and practicing spirituality

Choosing a home meeting and practicing spirituality




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Choosing a home meeting and practicing spirituality

Postby Sixkiller » Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:22 pm

I did a few searches and didn't find what I was looking for exactly so I thought I'd ask.
My first sober day was Jan 3. At my first meeting I asked a fella to be my 'temporary sponsor' and feel quite lucky. Though I didn't know him at all, he's very active in AA and to a lesser degree now NA. Works the steps actively and tells me often how much he's getting out of working the steps with me.
Among other things I'm doing at least 90 meetings in 90 days. I actually enjoy going to meetings (except for one, which my sponsor has asked me to continue to go to anyway - so alright). I am so ready to live differently.
So my first question is out of all of these meetings that I enjoy how do you folks pick a 'home meeting'?

My second question has to do with connecting to a Higher Power. In my case I'm going with God. I don't know how to pray and meditate so that it feels sincere to me. I listen pretty carefully when people talk about this in meetings. I've heard more than one person say that their relationship with their Higher Power is a very private matter. I think to myself, "Damn it you're not helpful."

I do have a couple of little books with daily reflections or prayers. After reading and thinking about it I try to meditate or 'listen' using the only technique I've heard about so far. Breathing in squares. That is - two breaths in, (side one of the square, then side two of the square) - followed by two breaths out (to complete the square). Its too early to say whether this will help or not. My first attempt resulted in me daydreaming after a short period of time - thoughts just seem to come.

So my question is what acts do others do to sincerely feel that connection to a higher power? By connection I guess I'm talking about the calm, serene way, with little or no fear, I see recovered alcoholics dealing with some pretty heavy duty problems.

Thanks
Mike[/code]
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Postby anniemac » Sat Jan 20, 2007 12:43 am

Hey Mike ~

So glad to see your post! Wow, over two weeks sober, that's awesome!! I was a big "question asker" early on, so you're a man after my own heart.

When I was looking to select a home group, I looked for several things:

1. a group that had at least 2 meetings a week, if not more
2. a group who had a fair amount of members with lengthy sobriety (10+ years or so)
3. a group where I admired the sobriety of a good amount of the members
4. a group that reaches out to the newcomer (has a greeter posted at the door, members approach a newcomer after the meeting to offer support, etc.)
5. a group where I felt comfortable
6. a group that my sponsor belonged to

Different folks probably have their own lists; that's just what mine was. I find myself now looking for a different home group and some of the items on the list have changed a bit for me over time; but that was what I looked for early on.

As for the "God thing", I came in to AA as an athiest, so developing this connection that I now have was no easy task at first. However, I wanted to stay sober, so I did certain things, even if they felt fake or silly.

I prayed every morning and every night. I mostly said the same memorized thing, and had a hard time feeling like I sincerely meant it, but I did it anyway. A few expressions come to mind with this concept, one of them being "bring the body, the mind will follow" another is "you can't think yourself in to right action, but you can act your way in to right thinking", along with "fake it til you make it" and "act as if". Those last two, by the way, only apply to spirituality for me. I can't act as if I haven't had a slip, if I have. Some expressions get spread too wide around AA in my opinion, but I digress.

I like that breathing in a square, good suggestion. I can see how the mind could wander, though, especially in early sobriety. What helped me with that was purchasing guided meditation/guided imagry CD's. That way I focused on what the speaker on the CD was saying and not my own thoughts.

Also, I love nature and feel close to God in nature, so I'd make times for early morning walks, or I'd sit outside after dark and stare up at the stars. Being solitary and still in the midst of the great outdoors just feels like God to me.

For me, it took a while in coming, that feeling of connection. In the interim, I just kept at what I was doing.

And the calm, serene way that some AA's face life? To me, that's a result of the spiritual awakening we get from working the 12 Steps. And the 12 Steps are a path to God. So, talk to your sponsor about getting started on working the Steps and you'll be on your way.

Here's to another sober 24!

Anne
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Feeling spiritual

Postby Dallas » Sat Jan 20, 2007 10:21 am

Mike,

You asked a bunch of great questions!!!

Anniemac, you gave some really great answers and you gave a bunch of terrific suggestions! Anyone would be real lucky to have you as a sponsor!

Sixkiller wrote:So my question is what acts do others do to sincerely feel that connection to a higher power?


Mike, I can't speak for others... only myself. My feelings are a direct result of the thoughts that I'm thinking. I can't have a feeling without first having a thought. The thoughts produce the feelings.

I don't intentionally do any actions to "feel" that connection. I've been down some long and searching paths to try to "feel" the connection, and when I've done that, sometimes I had good results and sometimes it was pretty frustrating results.

Since my feelings are not always based upon facts.... and my feelings can change faster than the weather ... I can end up in some confusing and undesirable places when I'm depending entirely on my feelings.

When I was new in A.A. and new to the 12 Steps... I thought I was supposed to be searching to find a particular kind of "feeling" and if I could discover that "feeling" then... I was going to be okay.

As I look back on it now... that was much like my alcoholic design for living. I was using alcohol to try to produce certain feelings... and I drank a whole lot of alcohol... producing different kinds of feelings... sometimes, good feelings and sometimes not-so-good feelings. However, regardless of the feelings that I would produce when drinking... my end results were often disastrous.

I don't remember exactly or specifically when it happened... but I do remember an old-time A.A. member planting a seed in my head, by asking me something like "Dallas, you do realize that Step 11 refers to a "conscious contact" and not a "feelings contact" with a God of your own understanding?"

His question to me caused me to step back and re-evaluate and re-think about what I had been attempting to accomplish.

I often had some "feelings like I was connected with God" during some pretty heavy drinking! However, the implication of "conscious contact" would require me to be "conscious"... and to be "conscious"... the only way that I could do that... would be to "be sober!"

So, the first acts that I had to accomplish... was to stay sober!

Of course, to a "non-alcoholic" it might sound fairly easy to stay sober! But, based on my experience... as an alcoholic... I knew that it would be difficult for me to stay sober!

My first objective was to find a way of staying sober. And, by taking those necessary actions... that would help me to stay sober... one day, I discovered that I had a God of my own understanding! Imagine that!

So, to answer the question "what acts do I do to sincerely feel a connection to a Higher Power?"

My answer would be: I do the same things that I've done for the last 20 years to stay sober! I've got a sponsor. I go to meetings. I study the Big Book. I've taken the 12 Steps and I continue to practice them. When I'm helping someone else take the 12 Steps, it almost becomes like me taking them all over again. And, what happens when I do that? It causes “an awakening as a result of these stepsâ€
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Postby Sixkiller » Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:18 pm

I think you two are very good at this... based entirely on how what you write seems to click for me. And though I understand a forum like this cannot take the place of meetings I'm finding it helpful that I can reread what's written. At meetings, sometimes so many poignant things are said I get a bit overwhelmed. I want to remember everything!
So, yup, I'm not too realistic.
That said I think you both told me that the serenity and the contact come through working the steps (only because that's pretty much verbatim what you wrote)!
Another thing that clicked was the 'alcoholic design for living'. A few weeks ago I could forget about how uncomfortable I was (that might be understated a little) relatively quickly.
This way will take more time - in God's time as someone said at a meeting last night. Also I don't know exactly how it'll turn out.
So this brings me to something that hit me this morning. Even though I've believed in God I do not have faith.
My praying wasn't feeling sincere because I do not have faith that God will do anything to help me! Other people yes, me no.
And I remember exactly when God and I had this falling out. I was 14 and ended that particular prayer with something like, "I'm done with You."
(Possibly used stronger language).
So God has just replaced me at the top of my resentment list. And for the first time this is feeling right, and sincere, and honest.
Dunno what's going to happen next but I actually feel good! Go figure.
Thanks again.
Mike
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Postby anniemac » Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:14 pm

I've heard quite a few folks share how they were really mad at God. I guess that's one advantage I had, in not growing up with a God or a religion -- I truly got to create my own when I came to AA. From what others have told me, though, as they broaden their views and beliefs of God, they begin to see how what they used to blame on God really had nothing to do with God at all. I guess that comes with time, and maybe not to all belief systems, I don't know.

I didn't believe that God was going to do things to help me, either. At the same time, I created a God for myself who was all things loving and was not punitive. Those two thoughts contradicted each other...so I had to choose which belief I'd rather hold on to. I live a much happier life believing that God is all things loving, so that's what I stick with. The reality of it just seemed to miraculously fall in line with the belief. Can't explain how that stuff happens, but it did!

As hard as this may be to embrace, try not to figure it all out right now. For me that was a recipe for disaster, thinking I could think through concepts like God. No way in my lifetime will I ever begin to understand what God is or how God operates.

Thanks for being here, Mike - it helps me to review these things.
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Postby Dallas » Sun Jan 21, 2007 2:25 pm

This topic sure reminds me of the difficulties that I had when I was newly sober!

I definitely needed God's help... but, my thoughts were, that if there was a God, He must dislike me much more than I had ever disliked Him! And, if there was a God... I was screwed... because He probably hated me! I had spent a lot of my life thinking that God had been punishing me.

I had become so hopelessly alcoholic that I was willing to do anything just for a chance at physical sobriety.... and an opportunity to stop destroying myself, and the lives of those that I loved, with alcohol.

I now consider it a blessing... that I was so screwed up that nothing less than a deep personality change was going to allow me to recover. And, as I understood it at the time, the only thing that would produce the kind of personality change that I needed... was a spiritual experience.

Based on the facts as I understood them, I was going to "have to" find a way to reconcile my differences with God, and with the rest of humanity.

One of my first ideas was... "well perhaps I can become an athiest and not believe in God and that will be a solution to my problem." That would have been okay... except that I had tried that before and wasn't successful at it.

Another thought was "well, perhaps I can become religious again and that will fix it..." except that I had tried that before... and was unsuccessful in that, too. Heck... at one time, I had gone so far as to learn Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, so that I could read and understand books that had been written thousands of years ago... in my attempts to sort things out with God and understand Him! And, I had failed at that, also!

The only place I hadn't tried... was to absolutely let go of any and all of my previous "knowledge about God" and start all over. And, once I got to that place... I began to make some progress.

Dallas
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