Step 11

Step 11 – “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Recent events have made me realise 3 things about conscious contact.

(1) My experience is, improving the contact between myself and my higher power (being spiritually awake) definitely takes a conscious effort.

(2) Contacting my self-will takes no conscious effort at all. Its my default position. Its what I wake upto every morning. I’ve never once thought “Right! Come on! I need to contact my self-will!”

(3) Point (2) confirms how important point (1) is.

‘.. the program is a road not a resting place’……’For life is not flat but a slope upwards’…

‘.. the program is a road not a resting place’……’For life is not flat but a slope upwards’…

I love this. It reminds me that I need to keep working in order for me to keep progressing.

Before recovery I was walking the road through Hell. Not that I knew it, my mind was entirely focused on self. Like tunnel vision I did not notice what was around. I did not notice the destruction that surrounded me, the view was too ugly to bear, I’d rather not look. Neither did I notice the glimmers of beauty that were trying to break through, I had no time to appreciate them, I had a purpose to fulfil. For many, many years I walked down the same road.

In February 2017 I came across a man, he was neither friend nor family but he was willing to help me. He assured me there was a another way and that I didn’t need to continue down the same dubious path. He had been shown another way, a road of recovery. He spoke of a new life, a life of serenity and happiness and he offered to walk with me as long as I was willing to walk the walk. I stood and looked in the direction he was pointing, I couldn’t see what lied ahead (the future is like that) but after decades of experience I knew where my old road was leading so I thought ‘what the hell’ and took a step into the unknown.

What I can say now, is that leap of faith has been the best decision I have made. So unlike me to make a decision like that, I often wonder if I was given a big nudge by a divine hand. Walking the walk has meant dilligent effort on a daily basis but boy it’s worth it, the views are gorgeous. No longer is my vison tunneled. My eyes have been opened and I now look around me with gratitude, I can see the beauty the world has to offer. So beautiful is the world it is often tempting to stop. But the man, who is still with me, tells me things get even better and the slope back down can get slippery if I stay too long. I still have no idea what lies ahead but my belief has turned into faith and my faith is fast turning to trust. I trust that there is a never ending road ahead of me and I trust that the road just gets more and more beautiful. The colours become more vibrant, the good in people becomes more evident, I become more joyous and free. All I need to do is keep walking the walk.

Cyclone Farmer

Back when I thought abstinence was the key to all my troubles, this ‘cyclone’ analogy fitted me perfectly. I genuinely believed once I was clean from gambling everything would be fine. I was definitely unthinking in terms of the extent of destruction I had left behind. Thankfully, I am no longer that farmer. I now work a program involving service, unity and recovery. This action is progressively clearing the debris, repairing the damage, mending broken hearts, strengthening relationships and replanting seeds of affection which now fill my home with love and kindness.

Daily Suggestions

Daily Suggestions

They are daily for a reason.

What if I don’t drink any water today? Does my body hydrate itself?

What happens if I don’t brush my teeth in the morning? Do they clean themselves?

What if I don’t wash my hands with soap? Does the bacteria just jump off?

No

These are but a few “suggestions” that better my physical health. If I don’t do them, it will be to my own physical detriment in some way or another. And the longer I neglect them, the more they disintegrate. They are all suggestions in a sense that nobody forces me to do them, yet I do them day after day. They have become non-negotiable habits.

But what of my spiritual health? The very thing that brings me serenity, humility, courage, acceptance, sanity, happiness, gratitude, honesty, faith, forgiveness and love. Why would I neglect my spiritual growth? Well I did for decades. I was stuck in ‘self’ and quite simply my life as a result wasn’t pretty reading. Not surprisingly, instead of living alongside the strengths above, I constantly lived in the spiritual malady with defects like resentment, fear, selfishness and dishonesty.

A quote on the word ‘spiritual’ from page 28 in the Orange Book reads ‘Simply stated, the word can be said to describe that characteristic of the human mind which is marked by the highest and finest qualities such as generosity, honesty, tolerance and humility.’

In my humble opinion, and bear in mind I know very little, this is what I get in return for embracing, taking advantage of and practicing each suggestion.

Prayer – humility, gratitude, thankfulness, selflessness, faith

Meditation – calmness, open-mindedness, serenity, mindfulness, high mindedness, spirituality

Gratitude List – gratitude, appreciation, serenity, happiness, contentment

Reading – wisdom, knowledge, open-mindedness, inspiration, motivation

Calling my Sponsor – honesty, willingness, commitment, humility, open-mindedness

Calling Two Members – selflessness, generosity, unity, service, love, compassion, kindness

Inventory – honesty, self-honesty, humility, self-evaluation, looking for the good

The Daily Suggestions, as they are fondly known, aren’t just thrown together without any thought. They are proven. They have worked for thousands of others. They each have the ability to take me out of self and better my spiritual health. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t want to go a day without sleeping, why would I want to skip on suggestions that give so much back?

Spiritual health is not something I can reach, collect the certificate, and then put down again. Like going to the gym, I can’t get spiritually fit, stop working it and expect to stay that way. I need to look after and nurture it. They say ‘faith without works is dead’, well so is my spiritual health. My illness does not stop. To quote a fellow, ‘my illness is always there in the background doing press-ups’ waiting for me to take my foot off the gas.

Hence these suggestions are daily.

Disclaimer – other than the quote from the Orange Book the views above are expressed by me, an addict who cannot manage his own life, they are not the view of any fellowship as a whole, so take it as you please with a big pinch of salt 😉

Terms and conditions – the daily suggestions work best when part of a bigger program including the 12 steps, 2 home meetings with service and sponsorship 😉

How It’s Working

How It’s Working

Today I am grateful I can completely give myself to this simple program

Today I am grateful I am constitutionally capable of being honest with myself

Today I am grateful I am naturally capable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty

Today I am grateful I decided I want what you have and am willing to go to any length to get it

Today I am grateful I am not trying to find an easier, softer way

Today I am grateful I was fearless and thorough from the very start

Today I am grateful I did not try to hold on to my old ideas

Today I am grateful I found Him

Today I am grateful I experienced half measures availed me nothing

Today I am grateful I stood at the turning point. I asked His protection and care with complete abandon

Today is a good day