About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sun 1st Oct. Last talk by Sumedho till next year! Fancy Coming?

Last chance to see Sumedho: do a Sunday talk: at Amaravati till next year!
I think a bunch of us are going. He's VERY cool. You have to be there to 'get it'. Its a very 'experiential' (as opposed to intellectual) learning experience. He's a very advanced human being. Not sure if he is enlightened as such, but he's gone a VERY long way. I only say that because I've been in the presence of more amazing teachers than him, but who knows? I'm not exactly an expert on these things!!! Basically I have no clue! But (for me) he is outdone by the likes of the Dalai Lama:, and other Senior Lamas and of course Thich Nhat Hanh: who I see as being very special. A jewel.
But he is a fine teacher, and you will earn something that goes FAR beyond words. Please go, as it will be a lot of fun. Hopefully!
I haven't been up there for ages, but even I fancy a trip up there for old times sake!
We can all meet at Euston and share a cab on the way up. See you there!

Take a good all round multivitamin if you're new

When people are new, they have probably been eating really badly. Even people who have been around for a while often have poor eating habits. It's actually quite difficult to get all the stuff you need from food.
For instance, because I eat meat sparingly, I need to take iron supplements, and I think I eat pretty well.
So get into the habit of suggesting a good multivitamin for new people, or take one yourself if you're quite new, or not eating properly.
I take Floradix liquid which I get from health food shops for iron. But choose whatever you like. Its quite expensive, but I think the body absorbs iron better in a liquid form.
But the rule is, that until you have learned how to eat well, you should be taking a GOOD multivitamin. Living on biscuits and packets of crisps is pretty useless!!
The super expensive vitamins are the solgar range. But you can get them online too, pretty cheap. Another luxury brand is Cantamega 2000. I'm no expert but you could find an 'ok' one in a high street health food place. For the luxury brands, buy from the states!
But take one every day if you are still living on rubbish food.
*Not all new people are eating rubbish I might add, some have got their food sorted out already.

After 11months Sober, attend a Phone Duty workshop

You'd be a FOOL to miss out on phone duty. Its a very powerful from of service and has many benefits. I'll try listing some here.
Firstly you get to meet some really nice AA people who are walking the walk instead of talking the talk. Ie they put their money where their mouth is, and show up for the newcomer.
Social advantage. The other AA's you meet are often people you are glad you got to know. I find them essentially kind.
Enlarges your AA network of both social opportunity and support from others.
Very 'real', because you get to talk to people in pools of vomit in their front room. They are right in the epicenter of their disease. Its very humbling.
It teaches you to become really efficient at telling newcomers what to do. There's no time to fanny around as, if you stay on the cal too long, you may be blocking another desperate alcoholic from getting through.
It's a real feel-good service. It's impossible to leave without feeling better.
It teaches you good communication skills like no other. Assertiveness, how to not get fobbed off by callers whose minds wander aimlessly.
It is a fabulous opportunity to be helpful, so scores you lots of good karma points.

Normally you try to join a team that works once a month in the evenings. They are divided into intergroups. I used to serve on a Chelsea intergroup team simply because that's where a lot of my mates were, and I liked the idea of seeing familiar faces. Some teams are more popular than others and you'd have to wait AGES on a waiting ist to get onto.
You can also just volunteer to fill in gaps during the day, if you are freelance or unemployed.
The busiest shift is Monday morning, and that one is the most demanding. Its a fabulous workout!
I did it once one Christmas day, or boxing day (can't remember) and it was surprisingly good.
So basically, there's a slot that you will be able to do no matter what your schedule.
Don't miss it once you have a years sobriety! You' know what I mean once you have done it...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cool thing I found..

I'm old enough to be satisfied with what I have, and young enough to still want more; Lucky enough to have been really stupid and lived to tell about it — cursed enough to have a good memory; Intelligent enough to understand that I still have a lot to learn, and ignorant enough to continually prove to myself that I still haven't.

Well I like it! I identify with it a LOTs

Monday, September 18, 2006

EVERY time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with US

My favorite old timer used to always say this quote, so I thought I'd mention it. It's from Step 10 in the 12 x 12. I'd forgotten how embedded in my brain this whole passage is, so I'd thought I'd repeat it here.

"It is a spiritual axiom that EVERY time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with US."

These are my favorite bits from the following paragraphs..
emotional "dry benders"
When we speak or act hastily or rashly, the ability to be fair-minded and tolerant evaporates on the spot.
Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen.
We must avoid quick-tempered criticism and furious, power-driven argument.
big shot.
Here we need only recognize that we did act or think badly, try to visualize how we might have done better,
There are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified conduct which was really wrong. The temptation here is to imagine that we had good motives and reasons when we really didn't.
when our real motive was to win a useless argument.
our true motive was to feel superior by pulling him down.
We were depressed and complained we felt bad, when in fact we were mainly asking for sympathy and attention.
this perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one,
This subtle and elusive kind of self-righteousness can underlie the smallest act or thought.

Here are the paras in their entirety
If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What about "justifiable" anger? If somebody cheats us, aren't we entitled to be mad? Can't we be properly angry with self-righteous folk? For us of A.A. these are dangerous exceptions. We have found that justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it. Few people have been more victimized by resentments than have we alcoholics. It mattered little whether our resentments were justified or not. A burst of temper could spoil a day, and a well-nursed grudge could make us miserably ineffective. Nor were we ever skillful in separating justified from unjustified anger. As we saw it, our wrath was always justified. Anger, that occasional luxury of more balanced people, could keep us on an emotional jag indefinitely. These emotional "dry benders"

The quick inventory is aimed at our daily ups and downs, especially those where people or new events throw us off balance and tempt us to make mistakes. In all these situations we need self-restraint, honest analysis of what is involved, a willingness to admit when the fault is ours, and an equal willingness to forgive when the fault is elsewhere. We need not be discouraged when we fall into the error of our old ways, for these disciplines are not easy. We shall look for progress, not for perfection. Our first objective will be the development of self restraint. This carries a top priority rating. When we speak or act hastily or rashly, the ability to be fair-minded and tolerant evaporates on the spot. One unkind tirade or one willful snap judgment can ruin our relation with another person for a whole day, or maybe a whole year. Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen. We must avoid quick-tempered criticism and furious, power-driven argument. The same goes for sulking or silent scorn. These are emotional booby traps baited with pride and vengefulness. Our first job is to sidestep the traps. When we are tempted by the bait, we should train ourselves to step back and think. For we can neither think nor act to good purpose until the habit of self-restraint has become automatic.

Disagreeable or unexpected problems are not the only ones that call for self-control. We must be quite as careful when we begin to achieve some measure of importance and material success. For no people have ever loved personal triumphs more than we have loved them; we drank of success as of a wine which could never fail to make us feel elated. When temporary good fortune came our way, we indulged ourselves in fantasies of still greater victories over people and circumstances. Thus blinded by prideful self confidence, we were apt to play the big shot. Of course, people turned away from us, bored or hurt. Now that we're in A.A. and sober, and winning back the esteem of our friends and business associates, we find that we still need to exercise special vigilance. As an insurance against "big-shot-ism" we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are today sober only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours. Finally, we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong, and then we approach true tolerance and see what real love for our fellows actually means. It will become more and more evident as we go forward that it is pointless to become angry, or to get hurt by people who, like us, are suffering from the pains of growing up.

Here we need only recognize that we did act or think badly, try to visualize how we might have done better, and resolve with God's help to carry these lessons over into tomorrow, making, of course, any amends still neglected. But in other instances only the closest scrutiny will reveal what our true motives were. There are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified conduct which was really wrong. The temptation here is to imagine that we had good motives and reasons when we really didn't. We "constructively criticized" someone who needed it, when our real motive was to win a useless argument. Or, the person concerned not being present, we thought we were helping others to understand him, when in actuality our true motive was to feel superior by pulling him down. We sometimes hurt those we love because they need to be "taught a lesson," when we really want to punish. We were depressed and complained we felt bad, when in fact we were mainly asking for sympathy and attention. This odd trait of mind and emotion, this perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one, permeates human affairs from top to bottom. This subtle and elusive kind of self-righteousness can underlie the smallest act or thought.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Even the Dalai Lama eats meat sometimes

I've decided to eat meat. Just not a lot. Or as little as I can get away with for health reasons basically. So I've revised my position on meat. I was thinking of once a month or something. I forgot to take my multivitamins and am a little anemic. Doh! But I feel better now i've had some good quality protein. I'd much prefer to be able to go without meat altogether, but the body works the way the body works. Oh well. I would be alright with humanely reared and killed animals, or roadkill. I opted for mackerel as its wild as opposed to farmed. I only decided to change after I checked it out with some oool healthy people who told me that's what they do. So I figured, well if it's alright for them, well I'll opt for that as well.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday talks at Amaravati. Three left till next year!

Sun 10 Being Nobody
Sun 17 Meaning Without Words
Sun 24 True Love

All are from 2 - 4pm in the Sala

Sister Santacitta

Santacitta is the guest nun at Amaravati, and I got to know her ages ago. She's lovely. Has great energy. If you see her at Amaravati, tell her I said hello.
Its acceptable to bring gifts for the nuns if you feel the urge. ? Its not always easy trying to figure out what they actually need. I used to bring sanitary products, as I don't think people always think to donate them. I don't know if they are allowed to actually ask for anything. They depend on donations for everything. Bras, pants, you name it! Its a weird life, that's for sure.

Some blurb about Santacitta..
Born in Austria in 1958. After graduating in hotel management she studied cultural anthropology at Vienna University and worked in avantgarde dance theatre as a performer and costume designer. From 1981-85 she was part of the ‘Serapions Theater’ ensemble based in Vienna and touring mainly in Europe. Beginning of the 80’s she was founding member of a community of ecologists, artists and social workers near Vienna, which is still thriving today.
1988 she met her first teacher Ajahn Buddhadasa and spent several years in Thailand before coming to Amaravati in 1992. After becoming an Anagārikā in 1993 she stayed part of her training (1996-97) with the mae chi (nuns) of Wat Pah Pong and some branch monasteries. In 1998 she received Sīladhāra ordination with Ajahn Sumedho as her preceptor. Currently she is the guest nun, looks after school visits and teaches meditation classes and retreats.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Jack the 'Stripper'

A Path with Heart: by Jack Kornfield

Jack Kornfield's book is an EXCELLENT account of the type of meditation an the type of Buddhist meditation you will find at amaravati, or any other of the forest Sangha chain monasteries.

He was a monk on and off for AGES in this chain of monasteries. He robed and disrobed so often that the other monks affectionately took the p*** by referring to him as Jack the stripper.
I got to know 2 monks at Devon Vihara that used to know him while he was a monk.
NB. By the way, it would be considered disrespectful and rude to refer to him using that term. Its ok for his 'mates' to call him that, but its not ok for any old person to call him that. You'll understand once you find out a bit more about the monastic path. It can make being in the marines look like a walk in the park! No kidding. It's a hothouse in every sense, and can push you to your absolute limits, if you let it. Mentally emotionally and physically. It can be a doss too. It just depends on the approach you take.

Anyway, he's basically a product of that 'lineage' of teaching, and so this book (apart from being a spiritual classic) tells you a lot about what might be in store for you, if you were to try and practice meditation in the 'style' that is done in Amaravati.
So basically its a roadmap for how to do it, and what you might end up having to deal with as a result of doing it.

Making sense of the changing mental landscape..

Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis Stanislav Grof

If you have started meditating at one of the suggested places on this blog, you may being experiencing upheavals in the mind of one sort or another. In order to make sense of these changes in the mental landscape, you will need to seek out Buddhist teachers or monastics to help you out. My stabilizers was good mediation groups and monastics. But they are not terribly accessible so you may end up having to figure some stuff out yourself, or from books.

Examples of effects of (Buddhist) meditating can be:
Increase in the mental object of doubt. Vacillating from one opposing belief to another in increasingly rapid succession.
Increased emotional awareness of the true meaning of uncertainty. You just 'feel' what the reality of uncertainty IS. (it takes a bit of getting used to!)
Feelings becoming more like a physical sensation in the body.
Increased awareness of movement of energy in the body.
Karma 'speeds up'. Bad decisions 'ripen' more quickly than usual.
Bad motives or unhealthy actions 'ripen' more quickly. Basically you can't get away with anything!
'stuff' starts coming up for air. Your past comes to 'visit' in the form of either fully felt emotional recognition or distinct uncomfortable feelings in the body.
The world and the people are more fully felt. Everything can seem more intense and overwhelming. And much more personal.
Increased dreams and more symbolic dreams.
More intense emotions.
Decrease in ambition and materialistic desire
Increase in disillusionment and the perceived emptiness of the 'secular' life.
You start to get more of a feel for things and people. This is because your sensitivity increases.
Your tolerance for bullshit and loudmouths or phonies gets very small. Its almost painful being in the same room as them.

And that's just the first things that come into my head!!
Basically meditation is very powerful, and realy moves things around in the mind.

Also A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield is very good. He was a monk.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Surrendered single book is ok

Having looked through the surrendered single, it looks alright. The only bit I wasn't convinced about was the bit at the end about getting married. But that's because I don't like the legal framework in this country around divorce laws. That's a very personal viewpoint. Personally, I would not bail if someone didn't want to get legal. All this stuff about 'people are more committed because they get married', I just found a bit patronizing. And although she goes to great trouble to emphasize that she's neither being manipulative or offering an ultimatum when she suggests saying you will bail if there's no marriage in the offing. Well I thought it was a bit lame. If that's not an ultimatum, I don't know what is.
But then its not just the divorce laws and dodgy settlements that I have problems with. I think relationships between men and women need to be reviewed and overhauled generally. In order to have some integrity. Whatever. So basically im not a fan of society's norms in this regard as in most others.

But anyway, her advice is alright. Just seems like common sense to me now, but if its all new to you, you may as well check this book out.
My god, the bookshops are FULL of dating advice these days. There are loads of books on how to do internet dating as well now.
I didn't see anything new or interesting in what she said, but then I'm difficult to please in that sense. It all seems like very ordinary advice. Nothing new. No ideas I haven't come across before. But a good summary nonetheless of standard dating advice.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bad reasons to be in a relationship

Because you're frightened of being alone
Because you think no one else will love you. Or be as nice to you. (even though you don't really like them that much)
Because you're lonely
Because its a habit. You are just always in a relationship
Because its better than nothing. Apathy. You don't really like it, but you've pretty much given up on relationships, so this one will do..
Because you think you will never love another person
Because of financial stability
Because you think you can fix them
Because you are holding out that they will change and come round to your way of thinking
Because this time it will be different. Deluded optimism!
Because you are dependent on them. Financially, emotionally
Because it is a comfortable rut
Because you cant imagine anything better than what you have.(meaning you are jaded and resigned to what you have become accustomed to)
Because you are afraid they will kill themselves if you leave!
Because you are afraid they will kill you if you leave (!)
Because 'what's the point'. Meaning you see no better future. You are relentlessly pessimistic!
Because you fancy their best friend. Hahaa.
Because you like them, but you don't love them.
Because you're sexually frustrated and past caring who with.
Because you had sex with them for no particular reason, and ended up feeling like you ought to be going out with them.
Because you have great sexual chemistry, but the rest is rubbish. Ie.he is abusive or drinking/drugging himself to death. Or just a bit crap or lame.

Generally if you are 'hiding' relationships are bad. In my opinion. They should be quite challenging. In a good way. Not a crap (Ive wee'd the bed again/ shagged your mate again) kind of way. I suppose all relationships are challenging. Even the rubbish ones. You can learn from any experience really, so you can chalk it all up to experience I suppose. Oh well. I have found that people end up doing what they want to do. Anyway it truly is none of my business what choices you make. I have to learn how to let people learn from their own mistakes. Its a personal failing of mine. Besides, I believe our futures are mapped out anyway, so it makes no difference what I say.
Ill have to do a post on some dating books. Its a big industry, the books on how to date. I've read loads, and I think you should too, if you haven't done so already. Unfortunately they wont save you if it is your destiny to take a fall. But it all helps. One thing that has been useful for me has been having readings done. I ignore them anyway! And let the problem play itself out, but looking back, the readings I had were accurate. By readings I mean tarot readings by people who did it full time. Ah, if only we could see things with the benefit of hindsight BEFORE we do them. Oh well. That's life for you...

A 'neutral' Oracle: The I Ching or Book of Changes by C.G. Jung, Richard Wilhelm

In order to do this you will need to buy the book: I Ching or Book of Changes by C.G. Jung, Richard Wilhelm, and Cary F. Baynes. About 10 quid on amazon.

Its always handy to learn how to consult some sort of oracle. The I ching is a steady, very neutral choice. Not entirely easy, but simple in many ways.

One of the reasons I managed to stay away from really crummy guys I was attracted to BEFORE I got to AA, was because I always ran it past the I ching. The answer was always a resounding no! And in hindsight I think it very often showed me my upcoming rock bottom. Even though that's not realy what I was asking about most of the time.
Anyway. I'm just mentioning this as a way to make sense of what's best for us when we are attracted to someone in recovery. Its a useful frame of reference in addition to our conscience and the feedback we get from others. Its a third party endorsement, so to speak. An impartial advisor.
Mind you, just because it doesn't say 'run for the hills' doesn't mean the guy is right for you. Just because they are not serial killers, isnt good enough! It helps if they are not in an imminent path to destruction via drink or drugs, but hopefully we will be looking for somewhat more to life than that in a future partner. A wonderful and satisfying partnership would be nice! A safe place to confront our fears of holding back. Whatever. Something slightly better than someone who is not a complete arse or heading toward an early grave, or mental institution.

If you don't feel comfortable with this then fine, don't do it.
I might add that when I used the I ching before coming to aa, I was VERY respectful of the process and did exactly what the instructions suggested. I went to a lot of trouble to store them correctly, and use as instructed.
This is probably because I had been using other divinatory methods such as palmistry and playing cards etc etc since the age of 12. But the I ching is a sort od 'official' divining tool. Quite respectable, and long in the tooth. Also very 'neutral' for want of a better word. I know a former nun that used the I ching, so I feel it is ok to mention it here. I see it as 'not allied with any sect' or something. Who knows. Im not sure how to explain it.
With all these things, I recommend that you use them carefully and respectfully.

Astrology. Which sign for a partner?

Star Quality by Marjorie Orr is a book I have found to be VERY accurate in the past. You can buy used copies from amazon. She just always gets it right for me, and the other people I have spoken to.
Trust me, I've bought plenty of other astrology books, but this one comes out tops. Yes. Love signs. I bought that one too. It doesn't work for me. And a load of other ones. And they didn't work for me either.
I HATE bad astrologers and I LOVE the good ones. I LOVE Jonathan cainer, so I have him in my links menu. He's my sort of guy. A fellow Sagittarian of course! But seriously, I really relate to the way he talks about things. It's a personal preference I know, but he speaks my language, or something. He's one of 'the nice people' I try to learn from. Each to their own, but for me, he's fabulous.

What does happy joyous and free look like? -A smile on the heart

What does happy joyous and free look like? I like Thich Nhat Hanh's description. He say's it's more like 'a smile on the heart' rather than a smile on the face. This works for me. Although there is nothing wrong with a smile on the face. But a lot of women, due to their wimpy/ spinelessness and general nervousness, can have a very insincere nervous smile. So generally, a smile on it's own doesn't mean much.
When I talk to someone who smiles nervously, I feel uncomfortable. II also find that I am compelled to smile nervously in return. It actually requires quite a force of will to NOT do that. So I consider it a favor to refuse to smile nervously in the company of others.
The face stores up SO much tension, that a smile from an uncomfortable person, can be really quite unpleasant. For me anyhow. I'm not sure if other 'civvies' notice it to the extent I do, but I think non alcoholic 'normal' people notice it.
The more useless you think you are, the more there can be a desperate desire to be liked manifesting in a people-pleasing ingratiating nervous grin.

Also you should NEVER smile when you are discussing something that is not amusing or pleasant. This is called MIXED MESSAGES.
If you are someone whose expression is almost permanently fixed in a smile, you are probably just a very nervous person. People who smile a lot when they talk regardless of what they are talking about look a bit odd. Even comedians don't smile much. There's a clue.
So please, if you are in the 'nervous smile' category, try NOT to smile. You will make everyone MUCH more comfortable. If you INSIST on having a PERMANENT GRIN, opt for the 'smile on the heart' instead. Its a LOT nicer.

I'm afraid I consider women to be the worst offenders in the nervous smile category. Once you decide to try NOT smiling, you'll realize just how difficult it is. I still don't find it easy when im in nervous company.

Here's some other dodgy looking smile type stuff that sprung to mind...
Maniac laughing
Fixed grin. Really bad with fixed eye contact!
Strained smile. I'm trying to be polite, but I hate you, sort of thing.
Weary (never mind eh?) smile. Betrays 'poor me' thinking, and a boatload of self pity.
Nervous laugh
Look how much I'm enjoying myself REALLY!! Laugh
Obsequious smile
Ingratiating smile
The 'buoy you up' or 'Jolly you along' grin. This says much more about the other persons inability to tolerate what looks like a more 'real' expression. Its a control freak trying to cheer you up!
The 'positive thinking' (I'm in complete denial of my shadow) grimace
Smug smile. Yuk! It's SO full of ego. Very patronizing to boot.
Smarmy smile. Just looks really phony.

Bleh! Nervous smiles SUCK! Don't do them!!! They look REALLY uncomfortable, ingratiating, insincere, and nervous! And NEVER get into the habit of having a permanent smile when you are speaking. That's the worst. Looks really dodgy. Even if your mouth is permanently tipped up at the end. That's just as bad. In my opinion anyway. Apart from that, I really like them!
Look at top models on catwalks. Are they smiling? No! Yet they are the epitome of attractiveness. Models go to great lengths to rid them selves of facial tension, so that they look more attractive. So please learn from them!
Try to be sincere, instead of giving in to habit. It may feel 'clunky' at first, but its do-able

By the way. Don't go to the other end of the spectrum and conclude that the only sincere expression is a miserable one. It isnt. Its just not a permanent grin!
That remind me how after a 'unremitting doom' chair, punctuated by fits of weeping, is often met with sharing from the floor along the lines of, 'That was SO honest'. !! In other words, misery is held in high esteem in aa as being 'real', and a balanced disposition goes unnoticed or just doesn't ever attract the same type of comments from the floor. Why? Cynicism! The embedded belief that life is shite and could not possibly be enjoyed. Oh well. Enough about my pet hates! Hahaa. Right I'm off. Too long as usual...