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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Defensiveness and Blame: My response to life is NOT 'their' fault. Admitting uncomfortable truths and shedding the 'rose tinted' view

I love this subject of alcoholic blame. Blame for drinking. Blame for WHATEVER.
You know, I really KNOW that my alcoholism is nobody else's fault.
But what's STILL very challenging for me and can STILL feel VERY opaque sometimes, is that MY RESPONSE TO *LIFE* IS NOT 'THEIR' FAULT.
Basically casting blame. Looking for JUSTIFICATIONS for my unhappiness with what they are doing.
All resentment is BULLSHIT in my opinion. But its difficult to 'see' that when I'm caught up in something, when something 'rattles my cage', or I just can't handle something, and decide to be 'better than', or 'right' instead. Basically finding fault. Looking down my nose, instead of 'changing my mind' to 'their' view.

(This refers to when I KNOW I am dealing with a person with more knowledge of life than I have. This does NOT refer to when somebody with no impulse control lashes out. This is about TRYING to come to terms with what are essentially uncomfortable truths. Not attempts to control by another)

I 'believe' the triggers in their behavior, and I secretly suspect I am right even though I am reluctant to admit it to them in person as I KNOW judgment is wrong. To me its all about the STUBBORNESS and RELUCTANCE to CHANGE MY MIND about things, and BE PREPARED TO LOOK AT IT FROM ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW. When I am disturbed by something, I don't want to change the entrenched beliefs of a lifetime, and the comfortable self righteous 'better than', that goes with it. I can feel as though my house is built in rock, when the uncomfortable truth is that it IS built on SAND and changes CONSTANTLY, and involves admitting scary truths about myself.

Being honest with myself is one of the hardest things in the world. I want to see WHAT I WANT TO SEE. I don't want to 'see' reality, when it involves 'seeing' DISTURBING truths about reality and myself. Basically, what I call 'embracing uncertainty' and dealing with the 'shadow'.

For me, the battle is about NOT BEING RIGHT. NOT BEING BETTER THAN. (Which all comes from the ego). And being willing to SEE IT ANOTHER WAY. Which is ego again.
E Gads! The ego puncturing aspect of this disease, just NEVER ENDS! But that's ok because I would LOVE to have less ego. But the process of reducing it, is HORRIBLE. Its a real 'CLIMB DOWN'. I ALWAYS find that challenging. No matter HOW long I am around. The 'climbing down' part feels HORRIBLE, at the time. But VERY liberating afterwards.

Plus it actually feels very sad to see the world how it IS sometimes, because it means giving up the 'rose tinted view' of humans, and ANY semblance of certainty. There is NOTHING to hold on to! Giving up a fantasy of how the world works involves a period of grieving the loss of the deluded fantasy.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mobile phone theft. Stuff I learned!

I've never had a mobile phone stolen before, but I did yesterday, and apparently this is what you are supposed to to. I thought you might find this useful if you don't know it already. I didn't know this stuff!

Call the provider (you will need to be able to remember your mobile number to get through, so make sure you remember it!). 118118 will tell you their number.
Report it stolen
Ask the provider to Block the sim cad
Ask the provider to Deactivate the handset.
Ask the provider to send you a new sim card. Usually about £10.
Ask the provider for your IMEI number, if you don't know it already.

Drop in to your nearest police station. Fill in a form including IMEI number.
Go to immobilise.com. and register your stolen goods.

When buying a replacement handset.
If buying on ebay. Ask the seller for the IMEI number. If they don' supply it, they are probably dodgy.
If they do supply it, (as far as I know) you will not be able to check the IMEI number yourself to see if it is stolen. The police can, but you can't.

Also you can look on ebay to see if your phone is for sale on it!

For future reference:
The police tell me that it might very well be useful to use the track-a-mobile web services, such as:
The accuracy of these services is between 50 and 500 meters. You can tell the police the location details, and this will help them find the stolen goods.

Oh yeah, and always back up your phone to your pc and that way you don't lose any data or numbers. Well that's ONE thing I got right!

What is the IMEI number?
To find your phones IMEI see under the battery or key in *#06# The number will be between 15 and 17 digits

Dang and blast!
Moral of the story: When running in busy streets in daylight hours with the ipod on full blast, be VERY conscious of your bum bag (or whatever place you keep your valuables) when you wait at lights at junctions and road crossings.
I'm so used to running before dawn that I just FORGOT that I am at VERY CLOSE PROXIMITY to other people when I pause at busy junctions during daylight hours.

Ah well. You live and learn!
A new phone is gonna cost me 300 smacks! Ah well. I think this is what you would call a 'high class problem!''

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vigilance: Recovery is like snakes and ladders

Early recovery is a bit like snakes and ladders. You can build up a nice little patch of serenity for yourself, and blow the whole thing by just ONE thoughtless act. Its like the snake part where you end up back at the bottom of the board again, and it seems like it takes AGES to get back up to where you were.

Well its like that in the beginning anyway, as people are a lot more unstable in their outlook, and susceptible to outside influences generally.

If you are checking in with a sponsor, and talking about your decisions (big and small) to others, you are in far less danger of doing something foolish.

Mind you, thoughtless acts can wreak havoc at ANY stage of recovery. You'd be surprised at how much harm you can do with just ONE thoughtless remark, for instance. You can destroy an ENTIRE relationship with one poisoned remark. Its amazing how powerful words are.

Reminds me of that boomerang quote:
The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.
Florence Shinn

Which is really just another way of saying:
You move towards, and become like, that which you think about, whether it is good for you, or bad for you

Why stay away from wet places when you are new?

When in doubt, don't.
"If you hang around a barbershop long enough, eventually you'll get a haircut."

It's just not worth it while those 'strange mental blank spots' are in danger of appearing when you LEAST expect them. While you are STILL at risk of selective amnesia at unpredictable intervals, best to stay AWAY from wet places.
Once your 'mental defense' is restored, (due to a 'spiritual experience as a result of doing the steps'), you can go wherever you dam well please! But for the time being its too much of a risk.

The Gift of Desperation, E.E., Sharing for the Newcomer, and Wise as Serpents

Yeh, sometimes they call it 'The Gift of Desperation'.
It IS a gift. Trust me! I was lucky. I had it.

Ii always say. "I was a member of EE before I was a member of AA, 'Everything Else'. Yeah. NOTHING !!!! worked.

Not therapy.
Not self help books.
Not all the self knowledge I got from all those self help books.
Not success at work.
Not friends at work.
Not al anon. **(see bottom of post)
Not having a higher power in al anon
Not working the 'hazeltwig' steps in al anon. (Sorry all you 'hazeltwig' fans out there!) It just didn't work for ME, ok? :)
Not going to al anon meeting every day
not helping people in al anon.
Not kindnesses and concern from people in al anon
Not having fellowship in al anon
Not 'just not drinking'.
Not 'trying to be a better person'.
Not throwing myself into work to take my mind off it.
Not stopping eating sugar.
Not crying hoping the tears would eventually run out.
Not staying in bed thinking I needed some rest.
Not time off.

Diddly squat. Nothing.
I was back at square one.

I fell apart anyway.

I was losing my mind. PROPERLY losing my mind. In a really NOT FUNNY way. In a scary 'One flew over the cuckoos nest' way. And it was getting WORSE.

So I KNEW when I got to AA, that there was a bit more !! to the steps than meets the eye.
I did NOT plan on repeating my errors in al anon.
It was like 'close but no cigar'. (But that's another post)

I was missing ! something. I KNEW it. There was something I had just !!! missed. Not noticed. I needed to look a LITTLE BIT HARDER, and be a LITTLE BIT SHREWDER in my approach. I needed to REALLY study the way different people were trying to get well.
I figured if I got it wrong a SECOND time. That would be IT. There was very little 'battery power' left. In retrospect I think that was a pretty accurate assessment. I KNEW I had to GET IT RIGHT this time.

That's why Jesus said to the disciples,
"Be as gentle as doves, BUT AS WISE AS SERPENTS"
Well, without realizing it at the time, THAT"S what I was doing. I STILL do it. I pay CLOSE attention to things. Well I try to anyway.

I looked at who was just talking for the sake of looking good, and who was actually speaking to ME when they shared. The (metaphorically) BATTERED and BLEEDING, raw newcomer.

'Luck' played a part in me finding my home group, but It was actually really easy to 'see'. My heart 'felt' the language spoken instantly. It soothed my emotional lacerations. It was like balm. It made me feel safe.

One person just REALLY stood out in that respect. I followed my nose. Yeah I checked him out too. He checked out fine. I wanted what he had, so I found out how he did the steps, and then I persuaded a female sponsor in the 'chain' of his Sponsees to take me through the steps.
I've been following my 'nose' ever since. I can just tell when people give a damm or not. Hey a lot of people are just too busy. Or ambivalent. Whatever. But I have always been drawn to those people who have an indefinable ?? something that tells me they care whether I live or die. It helps if in addition to that, they KNOW THEIR SUBJECT.
I confess, I get !!! Pretty irritated when people have a contradictory or muddled view of ANY doctrine. I LOVE clarity. Immediate simple answers. No 'fluff'. Like the big book says:

"The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight." Doctors opinion. PXXVI
Meaning NOT 'fluff'. Yeah I have a pretty low tolerance for what I call 'fluff'. I admit it. Heeheh

When I did what those people suggested, my burden became just SLIGHTLY lighter. That's how I KNEW these people weren't full of s**t. I tested their doctrine. And it worked. For the first time in my WHOLE GOD DAMMED LIFE, something WORKED. So that was it. I was sold. I remember how SHOCKED I was that something could actually lessen my pain. It was an AMAZING revelation. Blew me away.

**(by the way I LOVE al anon, don't get me wrong. Its just I needed to be in AA, NOT al anon, and that's why it wasn't working. If I have time, I try to get to an al anon meeting now. They're cool.)

Yeh I know I might sound like a judgmental B***H sometimes, Because I have a very DEFINITE ! way of expressing myself sometimes!, but you'll just have to take my word for it, (if that's what you're thinking) that actually you couldn't be further from the truth. I have the LOWEST of tolerances for what is known as 'taking a position', (which is basically the OPPOSITE of being OPEN MINDED), but I will have to explain that in ANOTHER POST. That's a WHOLE other doctrine!
Jeez so much stuff!

Right I'm OFF! See y'all.

Monday, March 26, 2007

If it feels 'free', then it's probably THE TRUTH

The TRUTH really does !! set you free!

You know how to tell if you are being truthful? If you feel FREE. If it feels contracted and twisted, then it isn't the truth.

We can SO easily DELUDE ourselves.
We can SO easily BULLSHIT ourselves.

When I feel 'free' I sense I am closer to the truth
When I feel 'not free' I sense I am in bullshit territory.

What 'not free' feels like:
Held in

What 'free' feels like:
Ease of movement
Not contracted
Not knotty
Not held in

Podcasts of Ajahn Munindo. (The Abbot at Harnham)

I just didn't realize they were doing Podcasts at Harnham. now, that's all.

This guy is COOL. Trust me! He KNOWS his subject, and just sounds like a nice guy who doesn't take any crap from people. Tough! But very gentle at the same time. I LOVE that combination. Excuses would NOT wash with a guy like this, but there is TREMENDOUS compassion as well.
Basically a cool bloke.
These guys are BLESSINGS to the world.

Thank you Universe, for the existence of these people!!

I don't know about you, but I NEED people like this to explain some things and 'show' me how to be kind and compassionate. I learn BEST from following other peoples example. Just being around cool people really. I do not find that I need to have endless conversations with them, or interact with them. I just need to hear them, or read their words, or be around them. I love the 'silent teaching' from just being in the presence of cool people. Its LOVELY.
Anyway, I digress. As usual!!
Better be off! Yeah I have a TON of stuff to do!!

View from the Monastery Kitchen: Blog by Jim the Kitchen Manager

It's called View from the Monastery Kitchen. Cool.

I must get up to Harnham sometime!!!
I LOVE this silly blog about kitchen requirements!

I LOVE the photos of Harnham, but then I love these chain of monasteries in the main. But this one looks LOVELY.

The poor guy who is effectively being asked to write lists of stuff that they need like ONIONS and other !! Fascinating stuff, is actually a rather entertaining read. Im not sure if he is a novice or a 'proper monk'. I think he might be a proper one. Cool!

Ah. Reminds me of the old days, down at the Devon monastery.. What a COOL place that was! But that's emotionally living in the PAST. Nostalgia, is just a sneaky way of dragging us out of the present moment. Easy to do!

Oh yeah, and all the Theravadas have finished their winter retreat as of the end of Feb, so its back to 'business as usual' at Amaravati and what have you.

Sat 31st March 2-8.30pm. Monthly Retreat at the Turnham Green Vihara

Just a reminder in case you forgot!
This is totally free and is a WONDERFUL place. Here's the link. Click on the meditation 'button' listed uncer the heading 'Classes on Buddhism'.
Bring some food to share Apples? Cake? or a packet of PG. it's always nice to bring something instead of showing up empty handed.
Try to get there for 1.30 as the thing starts at 2. And try to stay for the whole thing as it's really quite a special place and had a wonderful vibe.
Its a 5min skip and a hop from Turnham green station, which is on the Piccadilly line. So its pretty darned easy to get to!
Don't plan anything 'over stimulating' afterwards as you will NOT be in the mood at all after this! You will be very chilled out!

London Buddhist Vihara.
• 2.00-2.15 Introductory Talk
• 2.15-3.30 Sitting Meditation Practice
• 3.30-4.00 Walking Meditation Practice
• 4.00-4.10 Tea
• 4.10-5.00 Sitting Meditation Practice
• 5.00-5.30 Walking Meditation Practice
• 5.30-6.00 Dhamma Talk
(Hopefully by the Abbot who is a VERY cool human being. Comes HIGHLY recommended. This is the BEST bit!!!!)
• 6.00-6.30 Tea & refreshment
• 6.30-7.30 Metta Bhavana (loving-kindness)
• 7.30-8.00 Questions and Answers, Discussion

Last Saturday of every Month. The next ones are..
28th April 2007
26th May 2007
30th June 2007

May very well have booked up already but: Easter Retreat at Jamyang Fri 6th-2.30pm Mon 9th April

I've not done a 'proper' retreat at Jamjang, but the reason I liked the sound of it was because of the cost and accessibility. Basically if you live near the centre anyway, this would (I think!) be less palaver than hiking up to Amaravati. It could be a but weird having to go home after a 'full on' day. Meaning it might be a bit 'rough; getting dumped back into the 'real world' at the end of the meditation day, but it might not be that bad. To get the full effect, it would probably be best to steer clear of your usual pals, till its over on Monday afternoon. Including discos bars clubs etc etc!!
You can always go AFTER the retreat!
Its 8am to 7pm!! Not for pansies!

Anyway, here's the details: Its £15 to £20 at day apparently. If you are not 'living in'. This is a BARGAIN for those of you that do not know!

Retreat with Teachings on Kindness, Compassion and Understanding
Led by Geshe Tashi

As a river to the sea,
As the sea to the clouds,
As clouds to the land,
So does bodhicitta beautify this world.

This Easter Retreat led by Geshe Tashi is a new addition to the programme, and we hope will become a regular feature in coming years. Previous participants have found retreats led by Geshe Tashi to be a profound and wonderful opportunity for peace and meditation. It is preferable to follow the entire retreat programme. The retreat is organised, however, so you can attend by the day, providing that you attend the full day from 8am to 7pm.

Daily Schedule
8.00 motivation & precepts
9.15 meditation
10.30 teaching
1.30 personal practice or reading lamrim
2.45 meditation
4.15 teaching
5.15 meditation
6.15 prayers and dedications

Please book as soon as possible by contacting the office, as places are likely to go very quickly.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hatred and Delusion don't 'go away' as such. They just stop being an (alarming) BIG ! DEAL

We ALL suffer from hatred and delusion. The worst possible kind. Its part of the human condition. They don't go away as such. The trick is to have a compassionate, non judgmental awareness of these terrible weaknesses, and have the ability to go to any lengths to practice 'restraint of tongue and pen'. I learned the former by doing step 4 and 5, and the latter was a standard suggestion right from the earliest days in AA.
Robert Bly is very good at describing what's known as 'the shadow'. I got into all that in step 11. Its DARK! But it's ok, if you learn how to handle it!

But its also true that what you dwell on Is who you become, But we all have the option of free will, so we are at liberty at any time to try to maintain focus on the solution rather than the problem. That's a different issue.

(Related slogans)
You move towards, and become like, that which you think about, whether it is good for you, or bad for you
The more you think about the problem, the bigger the problem gets. The more you think about the solution, the bigger the solution gets.

These abilities became 'normal' for me as opposed to VERY HARD work, as a result of doing the first 9 steps. I wanted them LONG before then, but they only materialized when I completed the first 9 steps and maintained with 10, 11, 12 afterwards. "The lift is broken, please use the steps", as they say.

(Related Big Book quote)
"If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered LONG ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did NOT save us, NO MATTER HOW MUCH WE TRIED.
We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with ALL our might, BUT THE NEEDED POWER WASN'T THERE.
Our human resources, as marshaled by the will, WERE NOT SUFFICIENT: they FAILED UTTERLY." p45

All I know is my mind is INFINITELY more stable than it was before completion of the steps.
That said, it is ALSO true that my ability to be non judgmental with various 'nasty' mind states, means that by and large, these 'weaknesses, are NO BIG DEAL.
I really LOVE the 'NO BIG DEAL' mindset. Its just another way of saying, This is NOT a 'problem', this is NOT a drama. ..Now where's the solution?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

SELF OBSESSED: Constant thought of SELF? Or constant thought of OTHERS?

I have yet to meet someone who is very preoccupied with themselves who is radiant or at peace. Or who 'has what I want', basically. I know how easy it is to confuse the (very necessary) self examination that is a VITAL component of the steps, with simply being preoccupied with oneself. Its a sophisticated and elegant balancing act to get it right. Anyway, that's why I've posted this.
The 'measuring stick' of how to get the right balance (with ALL things not just this issue) is the principle of 'Neither repression nor Indulgence"

See old post called Balanced Between Repression & Indulgence

Again, like most things in relation to alcoholism, the MOST powerful spiritual 'medicine' is helping others. As the big book quotes pretty much repeat below. If you want relief from ANY symptom, 'give it away to keep it'.
Anyway, here's the relevant big book quotes:

"OUR VERY LIVES, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our CONSTANT thought of others (as opposed to CONSTANT thought of OURSELVES!!!!) and how we may help meet their needs". **

"If an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and SELF-SACRIFICE FOR OTHERS, ** he could NOT survive the CERTAIN trials and low spots ahead".

"When ALL other measure failed, work with another alcoholic WOULD save the day. **

"Practical experience shows that NOTHING will so much insure immunity from drinking as INTENSIVE (as opposed to half-hearted, habitual rhetoric) work with other alcoholics".**

"A kindly act once in a while ISN'T ENOUGH. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be". **

"Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now".**

"the dark past is the greatest possession you have**-the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them."

"The spiritual life is NOT a theory. We HAVE to LIVE it." **

** means insert: (..As opposed to 'professional' feedback, attention, sympathy, 'friendly' advice, 'external validation', positive 'strokes', people telling us what we want to hear, people agreeing with us, people telling us we are right, compliments, ego massaging comments, expecting others to take care of us, simply showing up at meetings, fellowship alone, etc etc..)

If 'your way' doesn't appear to be working very well. Why not try doing what the first hundred members did instead?

You have two choices.
You can either practice 'Constant thought of YOURSELF."
'Constant thought of OTHERS".
What's it to be?
Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired Yet?
I'm afraid half measures REALLY do achieve ABSOLUTELY !!!! NOTHING. The first hundred members WERE NOT KIDDING when they wrote that. Funny enough.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Lazy Lama. 3 Little talks on Procrastination, and GETTING STUFF DONE

I really like this monk! He reminds me of the little guy in Star Wars. And I like these talks so I just thought I'd post them here. He will be in London on June 6th - June 8th

Monday, March 19, 2007

Basic daily roadmap for Newcomers. Read these first.

Have you got a pamphlet called 'Now that you've stopped', and the book Living Sober?
If you do not, GET THEM.
The 'Now that you've stopped' pamphlet is VERY USEFUL and contains LOTS of suggestions of things to DO in the early days. Use it as a roadmap.

Another GREAT roadmap, is the Just for today card.
Then the book Living Sober.
REALLY get to know these ones FIRST.

Its all about Action! Action! Action!.
Meetings!, as often as is necessary.
Picking up the phone, as often as is necessary.
Asking for help, as often as is necessary.
Reading AA 'directions', as often as is necessary.
..and then trying to DO them.

That's it really !! in the early days!
Don't worry. It DOES gets better!!
Just do your lousy best! That's all I ever do.

Regarding apathy and exhaustion: I find STRONG coffee, meetings and conversation wake me up. Getting enough sleep helps too!

Conflict resolution: NOTHING is black and white. ..So find the THIRD WAY

Arguing the toss. Fighting Fair. Conflict Resolution.
NOTHING is black and white,

So don't be INFLEXIBLE or STUBBORN when it comes to 'I want' or 'who's right'.

"Some of us have tried to hold on to our (DEEPLY INGRAINED) old ideas and the result was NIL until we LET GO absolutely." BB p58

"We "constructively criticized" someone who needed it, when our real motive was to win a useless argument." 12x12 Step Ten

"We must avoid quick-tempered criticism and furious, power-driven argument. The same goes for sulking or silent scorn". 12x12 Step Ten

"we thought we were helping others to understand him, when in actuality our true motive was to feel superior by pulling him down." 12x12 Step Ten

"We sometimes hurt those we love because they need to be "taught a lesson," when we really want to punish." 12x12 Step Ten

"We were depressed and complained we felt bad, when in fact we were mainly asking for sympathy and attention." 12x12 Step Ten

"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." 12x12 Step Ten

Let go or be dragged (Slogan from meetings)

It just takes a bit of CREATIVITY!
Which you should have in SPADES if you are a bit creative!

Well lets face it, we were ALL very CREATIVE when it came to FINDING WAYS TO GET TRASHED.
Well then. I rest my case!

If you both seem to have different outlooks regarding something,
Ask yourself if you can think of a way of 'managing' those seemingly opposing preferences,
Can you think of a bargain you can make between yourselves or boundaries that would allow for the needs of both in a CONSIDERATE way?

Most of life just requires a little bit of imagination! That's all!

When you don't know something. ASK! ..In ALL your affairs..

When you don't know something. ASK!
firstly, Well done for learning how to ask Aa's and sponsors for advice!.
But why stop there?
Basically why not 'practice this principle in ALL your affairs'
The world is full of MANY 'powers greater than yourself' in MANY areas of life.

So, if you are having a problem with a co worker. Don't just talk to your sponsor about it. Ask someone at work!

So, if you are having a problem with your car Don't just talk to your sponsor about it. Ask someone who knows about cars!

So, if you are having a problem with your other half, Don't just talk to your sponsor about it. Email a Relationship therapist!

So, if you are having a problem with your leaky roof, Don't just talk to your sponsor about it. Ask the guys at the DIY shop!

Etc etc.
Basically, what I am trying to say, is that:

Ie They are a HP IN THAT AREA.
So consult them!!

I do get a BIT !!! Annoyed when people start asking me about dry rot, mortgage advice, shopping queries !!!! And GOD KNOWS WHAT!!

Hey! Use all the MANY resources out there of people that are EXPERTS on their chosen field of expertise.
Just don't keep asking AA people, or your sponsor for SPECIALIST queries!!
Thank you!

Rule 1: The Rules are, there ARE no Rules

Rule 1: The rules are, there ARE no rules.
Basically you do WHAT WORKS on a CASE BY CASE basis.
There IS no 'right' and 'wrong' regarding any specific 'issue'.. Or anything really..(within reason!)

Jeez. I get REALLY fed up when people assume there is always ONE right answer, !!! hidden away somewhere, and that for some !!!!! Godforsaken reason, I OUGHT TO KNOW WHAT IT IS!!

PLEASE learn how to think for yourself!
Please learn how to NOT be a 'mental loafer' so that then you can FIGURE THINGS OUT FOR YOURSELF ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS.

Why? Because AFTER Step 9..
"Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use." p86


I am Impressed when new people DO AS THEY ARE TOLD

Not because I care. Because if they were doing any of this to impress anybody, that would be a complete ! disaster. No. I am impressed because it means they have a 99% chance of staying sober permanently if they do. Therefore making MY life SIGNIFICANTLY easier! Which is ALWAYS a good thing! (You see it's ALL about ME!) Just Kidding!!
THAT'S why I like it when new people learn that skill. It's NOT easy! It OFTEN involves going to ANY LENGTHS. Which is tough! But tough is good. It WORKS and that's the main thing

I call it Ninja-style recovery, when people submit to the wisdom of AA. Its VERY tough to do!! Not for pansies!

Being RESULTS-led as opposed to IDEAS-led

Forget your BRAIN (and all those 'clever' little ideas). Just follow what WORKS.

Although I LOVE the 'roadmap' the Big Book offers us, I think the MANY !!!! References to 'feelings' as being arbiters of spiritual fitness, guide me VERY CLEARLY to the 'wisdom of my feelings' as a rough guide to my current level of spiritual fitness.
What I'm saying is that I like to 'take my thinking out of the way' sometimes, and just be 'taught' by WHAT WORKS.
Don't analyze, don't cross reference various doctrines. Just follow what works. And don't follow the stuff that doesn't work.
Its like taking a mini-holiday from thinking. Its very humbling, because it removes all the opportunities for RATIONALIZATION, EXCUSES, and various other forms of ALCOHOLIC DOUBLE THINK that we ferret out to JUSTIFY and explain our way out of BAD behavior, BAD decisions, or entrenched prejudices and pet theories.

Looking at the results alone as a judge of the approach I am using is a VERY TOUGH doctrine. For me anyway. It cuts through all the crap. Removes ALL my excuses. (They no longer count).

Follow or Be guided by:
What is the most HELPFUL
What makes you feel COMFORTABLE. (Short term AND long term)

Do more of what works. Do less of what doesn't.
If it makes you feel good, do it more. If it makes you feel bad, do it less.

These are the kinds of questions I ask myself when I am using this method. (notice there is NO reference to ANY book, idea, teaching, what's 'right')
Who is this helping?
Is it helping me?
Is it helping anyone else?

Which would be MORE helpful? Choice A, or choice B?
Which would be MORE helpful to myself? Choice A, or choice B?
Which would be MORE helpful to this other person? Choice A, or choice B?

Which feels more COMFORTABLE? Choice A, or choice B?

By the way, when I say comfortable, I do not mean 'permanently blissful'. What I mean more is CONTENTMENT. Which is very like acceptance, or peace of mind. Its when I am not 'fighting' life. Accepting life on life's terms. It is a 'place of rest' amid the storm, as opposed to getting caught up in the storm.
But what I'm saying is that just following what creates those feelings in my body is a very advanced practice. In my opinion. I think feelings are FAR more 'informed' than our intellect. My emotions 'understand' my situation in ways that my mind simply cannot grasp. Basically, the heart is VERY wise. And it's great because I get to take a holiday from thinking. Which is very refreshing. So leave your brains at the door sometimes, and just be 'taught' by the unflattering !! results of your day to day habitual choices.
By the way this does NOT mean that I endorse never thinking or studying books. Reading and study have their place. I could not recover without the use of my mind, but you need to bE able to do both. Use your mind and have a rest from thinking.

Just so you know: this guidance stems from the instruction regarding (what I see as) gods will in the Big Book where it says:
"We are SURE God wants us to be happy joyous and free" p133.

Have a nice Monday!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Relationships MAGNIFY and confront you with your NEUROSES

Relationships can be INCREDIBLY powerful teachers if used wisely. They seem to magnify the weak !! areas.
Either you become increasingly neurotic and nosedive, or you bite the bullet and go to ANY LENGTHS to do the 'next right thing'.
I think they are very cool. I think it's great that you get the opportunity in relationships to see these neurotic tendencies so clearly in the way you relate to the 'other'.
It's not pretty seeing this stuff, but the alternative is just to keep blindly stumbling around on auto pilot.

Some neuroses that relationships can 'trigger' are:
I'm not good enough.
I don't deserve this (meaning its TOO good).
Insecurity. If I trust this good thing, the rug will be pulled from under me.
You 'see' harmful actions where none exist.
Basically the list is endless. I will have to think up a more exhaustive list in another post.

I know I can desire assurances of some sort, despite that I would never consider asking for one. But generally, I expect very little. My difficulty can be coming to terms with being offered 'more'. That can be very difficult for me.

Anyway. Have a great Sunday!

Compatibility: Ask yourself "Does it work?" NOT "Are they the same age?"

Everyone is different. I always seem to end up with younger guys.
In fact I have VERY VERY rarely ended up with older ones or same age ones.
Anyway. Yes I used to (and can still have) those moments of doubt. But it is ALL B**LS**T.
It is NOT the age of the person that is important. AT ALL.
It is whether or not they are a complete A**eh**e that IS important.

I know people the same age as me or older that I just CANNOT BE AROUND because their pathetic ! immaturity DRIVES ME NUTS.
And I ALSO know people MUCH younger than me who are FAR !! MORE TOGETHER THAN ME.

The moral of the story? Age doesn't tell you very much about a person. You have to learn how to be a MUCH better judge of character than that.

The upshot is: Choose someone 'well', not someone who is simply the same age as you. If they are WELL, TOGETHER, FOCUSED, ABLE TO COPE, INDEPENDENT THINKERS, EMOTIONALLY BALANCED, GOOD SOCIAL SKILLS. Oh yeah and not an alcoholic or addict in the middle of a nosedive.
To people who doubt the basis of relationships based on age alone I would say:
"Contempt prior to investigation!"
"Keep an open mind"
"What other people think of you IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS" (If you are worried about what other people will think)
"That doesn't sound very open minded to ME"

Like EVERYTHING in life, you don't REALLY know till you try.
If you have some concerns, ask the person concerned about them. Say I think you're lovely, but I'm unsure about the age difference causing a problem down the road in the form of x, y,, z.
And see what THEY say. Like I always say, If in doubt, ASK!

Don't be a BORING old CONFORMIST! To thine own self be true! If it WORKS, then who are you to argue the case against it?

Do more of what works. Do less of what doesn't.

By the way this post does NOT address those people in SLAA (or anywhere else) who think it is OK to have sexual relationships with minors!!!

How to get a LOVING concept of a Higher Power. If you do not already have one.

It HAS to be a LOVING concept of a HP. (see Trad 2.) If it is even a LITTLE bit judgmental, it’s no good. Generally, when talking to your higher power, ask for help with whatever ROADBLOCKS you are experiencing at present.
If the roadblock is that you have a PUNISHING or JUDGEMENTAL higher power, then this is not really in keeping with the 'instructions' in Tradition 2.
You can get very unstuck down the line, if you 'drift' into a punishing concept.
With AA It's ALL in the detail!! (Well that's what I think anyway.) I am AMAZED at how STUCK people can get at a later stage if they do not 'dot the I's and stroke the t's' if you know what I mean..

I ALWAYS say to new people..
Ask your higher power for the MOST loving concept of a POWER greater than you.
Ask your higher power for the MOST powerful concept of a POWER greater than you.
Self will isn't going to get you there! (See Big Book quote below) That's how I got my concept...

Why not try 'the power of AA as a whole' to begin with?
Or the power that makes the earth turn?

"If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered LONG ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did NOT save us, NO MATTER HOW MUCH WE TRIED.
We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with ALL our might, BUT THE NEEDED POWER WASN'T THERE.
Our human resources, as marshaled by the will, WERE NOT SUFFICIENT: they FAILED UTTERLY." p45

Have a nice Sunday! Weather is GLORIOUS here!

Control Freak: Being Self Centered and The Actor running the Show

"It was very simple. When I didn't get my OWN WAY, I took a RESENTMENT"
(My favorite old timers way of explaining Self Centeredness)

Not getting your OWN WAY, is a mini-lesson in the grand old art of SELF CENTREDNESS. Or 'being a CONTROL FREAK' for short.
Lovely eh? These things are just not even REMOTELY flattering. There's nothing 'cool' about being a control freak is there? Bleh!
Don't worry. It gets easier! It looks pretty ugly at the beginning when all you see is ONE flaw, then ANOTHER. Yuk!

In 'AA speak' we call being a control freak 'running the show' or 'the actor running the show' p60

"Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his OWN WAY.
If his arrangements would ONLY stay put, if only people would do as HE WISHED, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful.

What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right.

Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, HE IS SURE OTHER PEOPLE ARE MORE TO BLAME. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a SELF-SEEKER?

Our actor is SELF-CENTERED.
Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles."

Self centeredness therefore, (in my opinion) is a VITAL character defect to identify in ANY step 4. God help you if you FAIL to identify the part it played in ALL of your resentments! Its such a BIG part of resentment.
Anyway. That's why they say 'let go and let god'. Because that means pretty much being the OPPOSITE of a control freak.
Self centeredness is 'standard issue' stuff. We are SICK people getting well, NOT bad people getting good, and all that..
It DOES get better! Thank god!

FRUSTRATION is a classic Self centered position also, as the discomfort always stems from a DESIRED OUTCOME which has not arisen. Getting our OWN WAY means the same 'thing' as a 'desired outcome'. Frustration is when that desired outcome is felt very strongly and therefore its 'absence' is felt very strongly too.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

It's STILL very !! exasperating to be around STUBBORN denial in my Dad

Jeez. My dad STILL pisses me off! (sometimes!)
He's in complete denial.
I brought up something in passing I've thought about many times but didn't get round to saying and he did his 'usual'.
Its VERY exasperating!
I HATE illogical, skewed, entrenched mindsets!!
I have VERY little patience with denial in other people. And he is VERY entrenched in his 'head in the sand' view of this thing. He thinks my mother was 'the sanest of us all'. Just so you know. She was not even REMOTELY sane. In my opinion anyhow.
Dear God I've heard it all now.
He said he thought my view was DISTORTED. (!!!)
That really got my back up.
And he just wouldn't listen to ANY of my reasons why her being 'the sanest of us all', just MIGHT !!! not be the case, and volunteered to change the subject instead.
We agreed to disagree. As usual.
Anyway he's been living 'rent free in my head' for the last hour or so while I've been cleaning the kitchen.

I would SORELY love to talk some sense to him, but I do NOT want to WIND MYSELF UP by doing so. I have VERY little optimism regarding my ability to change his perspective, and I HATE exposing myself to such pitiful mental cowardice. It's just NOT worth it.

He is NEVER going to change.
He is in COMPLETE denial.
And I am NOT feeling GENEROUS enough to 'try to help him see it from another point of view'.

Sometimes I hate being 'the one who sees' things in my family. It's a BIG responsibility because in a way I get to control (via my efforts to communicate and explain what I have learned), how much others get to understand.
I have always felt like this. Since before I was five. I'm probably just feeling sorry for myself because sometimes I just want SOMEBODY else to 'pick up the slack'.

The GOOD news is, that even though (in my family) I have always felt the 'burden' of being kind of the 'ONLY sane one'. (Yeah I know that sounds arrogant, but it's the TRUTH about how I have always FELT.}
Well, like I say, even though I have felt like 'the person who 'sees' most' in the family since before I was five, and I get VERY tired of the isolation of that position sometimes.
Well OUTSIDE my family. Mostly in AA and the 'spiritual friends' I have met since recovery, I have been blessed with getting to know some of the the most wonderful 'elders' one could wish to meet. So in that respect I am EXTRAORDINARILY lucky.

I may be over dramatizing, but my family and my 'spiritual friends' can seem like utter, ! utter, opposites. Couldn't be more different.

So I suppose it's kind of swings and roundabouts.
I know enough about the flaws in perception to know that I may NEVER know 'what was what' in my family, but I must admit, that it is hard dealing with them sometimes. Basically, they are a bit toxic. A bit needy. I know they mean well, but I don't want to be around them very much at the moment.

Cool. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest! I feel better now!
I hate to speak like this because I think it could be interpreted as being VERY arrogant. But it was bugging me so I just thought I'd mention it.

Thank God !!! for our 'Spiritual family' That's all I can say!
Sorry for that uncharacteristic rant! But I actually feel MUCH better now, and you never know, it might be of use to someone else out there!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Insomnia: "If you can't sleep, don't count sheep, talk to The Shepherd!"

"If you can't sleep, don't count sheep, talk to the shepherd!"

And then there's always the all-time best cure for insomnia! Yep, you guessed it! The Big Book!
"It works when all else fails"

(By the way, the 'shepherd' trick DOES actually work..)
I find it works best 'out loud' as opposed to 'in your head'.
Just keep gasbagging away! Blah Blah blah.. Etc. I do it in bed. Not kneeling. And my focus is always to be as unflatteringly HONEST as possible. Ie. No BS. Not as easy as it sounds!! Trust me!

Oh yeah, and I don't know if you know this one, but this was a standard reply to any insomnia-related whinge in my old home group..
"No one ever died from lack of sleep"

(Mind you that geezer in the film called the Machinist had a damm good try!)
..But I think this applies to people who are not COMPLETELY mad like the guy in that film.. (bless im)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

How I help suffering alcoholic co-workers go to meetings WITHOUT breaking my anonymity

Regarding situations where I meet alcoholics looking for help to stop drinking AT WORK:

I tell them that I know a nice bloke who has stopped drinking for a while now, who goes to AA, and would they like it if I passed my friends phone number to him? (With that persons permission of course)
If they say no, I say that the AA friend I know said it was a good idea to call the telephone office sometime and speak to someone there.

Basically I feign knowledge of AA on the premise that I know a really nice guy who doesn't drink who has been to AA, that I can put them in contact with.
Sometimes I bring in a where to find, with the guys phone number on the back, and say, 'my frind said you could have this'.
You can bring in ANY amount of literature in under this premise. A newcomer pack, the living sober book. You name it!
Don't get TOO carried away though It will look a bit SUSS!

I call a guy I know in AA from my old home group, and clearly explain that this is a CO WORKER and I have told them that they are a friend. Ie please do NOT tell this person that I am a member of AA. Its very simple. As my friends are reliable, this is nothing for me to worry about. They are not flakes, so when they say they will do something, I can rely on them.

Dharma Talk Link: Acceptance by Ajahn Munindo

I was listening to the talk about 'Conscious Contentment' by Ajahn Munindo this morning and it touched on LOADS of stuff that AA's struggle with such as:

Perfectionism. Idealism.
Complaining. Disappointment.
Learning to be content with how things are instead of how we think they 'ought' to be.

I think what he might call 'contentment' AA's would call Acceptance.
It amounts to the same thing really. Just being comfortable with LIFE ON LIFE'S TERMS.
Anyway I particularly liked the UN NEUROTIC way he speaks about his failings and area where he needs to improve. He's a nice bloke.

Anyway, I've posted this Dharma Talk link on the right hand side under 'positive resources'.
I'm not crazy about ALL the monks, but this one I like. I've only spoken to him once. They are all pretty unusual in some way or other, but I just like this guy's approach. He's very ORDINARY or something. Who knows, but I just like him.

By the way. He is the Abbot at Harnham Monastery in case you are interested. Pretty easy to get to! (if you live in the London area)

Prayer: A Grovel-free Zone!

For those of you that have a tendency to get all 'inferior' when you talk to to your higher power...
Groveling obsequious 'prayer' is NOT good. Did you do any Dickens in school? Remember Uriah Heep? Bleh! You don't want to be like that do you? Well then! No more groveling pleas for 'redemption' from your 'terrible' iniquities!

All this being 'down' on yourself. It's all very 'drama queen', Chill! Wear life like a loose garment. not a hair shirt!


Pride is essentially BS. So when you think you are s**t, you are JUST as full of BS, as when you think you are better than everybody else!They are BOTH VERY arrogant positions.

When will you know when you have hit the balance JUST right?
When you are COMFORTABLE!
Be guided by the wisdom of your feelings (meaning what feels 'happy joyous and free') and you will ALWAYS be guided to gods will. Well that's what I think anyhow,..

Harmful Speech: Communicating problems (in order to seek help) WITHOUT Ranting or Dumping

The desire to rant stems from some sort of problem that has arisen.
Pretending the problem does not exist is NOT correct.
NONE of these are HONEST, so this choice does not comply with AA doctrine.

Addressing the problem.
Looking for a solution to the problem.
Asking for advice or feedback from others in relation to the problem.
Trying out different approaches that have been suggested,
..Are ALL PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS which are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to address whatever problem we encounter.

So when I say 'don't rant' I DO NOT mean
'Say NOTHING about this problem you have encountered'.
'Just pray. But don't talk to me about it'.
'keep this problem to yourself'.

Its NOT about THE CHOICE TO SPEAK about the problem or not.
Its about HOW you speak about the problem.

If something is 'skilful' it just means that your actions DO NOT HARM OTHERS.

This is usually because they HAVE NOT COMPLETED STEP 8.
Which is the first REAL education as to the EXACT nature of 'harm'.
Until then, AA;s rarely understand this concept.

They feel guilty for EVERYTHING
They feel guilty for not submitting to unacceptable demands
They are easily bullied into thinking they 'ought' to be doing something.

They can 'explode over a trifle'
They can INTERPRET MANY NEUTRAL OR HARMLESS comments or actions as an ATTACK
They are very inconsiderate in that they have VERY high expectations of others. They 'get the hump' when other people just DO NOT UNDERSTAND them.

So what I'm saying,
Is that they SEE harm where NONE EXISTS.
And they SEE NO HARM where harm REALLY DOES exist.

So. This is why it can be hard to explain to them how to,

The problem with ranting is the ATTITUDE of the speech.
Or the INCONSIDERATE NATURE of the speech.

I say to people who rant or dump.
"Do YOU like it, when people talk to you about a problem AS IF THE PROBLEM IS SOMEHOW YOUR FAULT. Or that there is an IMPLIED ATTITUDE that you are SUPPOSED to 'fix' them?"
"Do YOU like it, when people just go ON and ON about 'how crummy their life is', for HOUR upon HOUR, just ranting and bleating?"

They ALWAYS say no.
I say "Well then, why do you KEEP DOING THAT to other people?"
"Don't you care about the way you are making them feel?"

Its surprising what a revolutionary concept this can be for some alcoholics.
They act in a terribly selfish and inconsiderate way, and then they wonder why they are driving people away.
Its very simple
Life is pretty much about CONSTANT THOUGHT OF OTHERS.
Failure to behave in considerate and thoughtful ways, means you will feel VERY ALONE.
Obviously not all alcoholics are like this, but we ALL have this to some extent. To this day, I can STILL see 'blind spots' where I am not engaging with the needs of others IN CERTAIN AREAS.
Its an ongoing 'battle' against the 'self'. The 'ego'.
Learning to be unselfish and kind to our fellow men is a lesson we will NEVER stop learning.

Being 'well' is not a 'Get out of Jail Free' ticket, for those who are unwilling or reluctant to break unhealthy ties with the past

Sometimes newer people in AA, think that there is something 'wrong' with them if they get upset by unkind ot thoughtless comments. That if they just work their programme 'a little bit harder' they will somehow become IMMUNE to normal feeling responses.
That's not 'serenity', that's NUMB!

Well that's not really how it works! The point of being 'well', is NOT to develop immunity of some sort to toxic situations. It pretty much works the other way around actually. Meaning the longer I am around, the HARDER it is to be around crazy people.

Being 'well' is not a 'Get out of Jail Free' ticket, for those who are unwilling or reluctant to break unhealthy ties with the past. Serenity is not some sort of 'emotional immunity' to BAD life choices. I have found that sometimes, people think they can 'play with fire', or indulge destructive relationships with toxic family members or ex boyfriends, because they now feel 'better'. They soon find out that they start feeling pretty lousy the moment they choose to ignore the 'stick with the winners' suggestion.

They do NOT say, 'stick with the winners', except after you have done step 9, or except when you feel extremely grateful and serene' does it?

AA's with their own agendas, 'read' their own 'exclusion clauses' into every suggestion!

Basically. You can't have your cake and eat it too!
You pays your money, you makes your choice.
Choose toxic people, and you start feeling TOXIC. No matter HOW long you have been sober, or HOW many steps you have completed..

Saturday, March 10, 2007

WALK AWAY! Unless you have a heart of STONE, (or are completely NUMB), cruel words will ALWAYS hurt

Words can be INCREDIBLY hurtful. You can 'kill' with words. (Gossip in AA kills, for instance.)
It is VERY important to learn how to SKILFULLY AVOID argumentative and attacking comments, AND argumentative and attacking people.

When someone either thinks or says something POISONOUS toward us this is what is known as 'Psychic Attack'. Well I call it that anyway.
It can take the form of, Rant, bile, blame, digs, sarcasm, hurtful comments..

As part of taking care of myself I WALK AWAY from people who TRY to say toxic things to me. I simply DO NOT TALK to verbally attacking people. I do not know how NOT to be hurt by cruel words any more than I know how to NOT be hurt by a physical injury.
Unless you have a heart of STONE, (or are completely numb) cruel words will ALWAYS hurt.

Moral of the story? STICK WITH THE WINNERS.

And physically avoid verbal attacks when they arise unexpectedly.
ie just WALK AWAY or END THE PHONE CALL when they 'start up'. Or even better, when YOU CAN TELL THEY ARE ABOUT TO START UP but they haven't got round to saying anything poisonous YET.

There may be a temptation to 'address' their negativity, (to 'win a POINTLESS argument' as they say in the 12x12) but it is MUCH easier just to STAY AWAY.

Regarding 'arguments' and disagreement generally..
"Never wrestle with a pig: You both get all dirty, and the pig likes it."

"That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary. -- Major Kira Nerys

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
St. Thomas Aquinas quotes (Scholastic philosopher and theologian, 1225-1274)

“For those who understand, no explanation is necessary; for those who don't understand, no explanation is possible”

I do NOT try to 'convert' people to 'my way of thinking'.
It is NOT my problem, if they want to believe negative things!!!
I am under NO obligation to 'fix' them. Besides, it take FAR too much energy!

To me, all 'arguments' are essentially about a lack of faith in the other person. An EGO BATTLE of sorts. (Well that's how I interpret them in the role of sponsor anyway.) Outside that , I don't really know as I just do not find myself 'arguing' with people not in AA, because it is just too draining a form of communication for me. Life is too short.

This is basically another version of practicing 'Stick with the winners'.
Its probably one the MOST important things to do in recovery.
Negativity IS contagious. So is positivity.

Some happy UK life coaches I heard on the radio..

I heard these two do an interview on LBC radio, and I was very pleasantly surprised at how jolly, positive and solution orientated they were. Not intense, or earnest. Quite hippy-ish. They call themselves 'the Ministry of common sense', or Holly and Shirley. Apparently they are on TV over here, but I never watch the thing and I am in no hurry to.

I'm sure these two human beings are as deeply flawed and fallible as EVERY other human being, but I like their ability to speak very POSITIVELY, and they have figured out some good ideas for being positive along the way which I'm sure I can learn something from.
Do NOT put them on a pedestal, or think they 'know better' than you or I. they don't. (Just in case you are of that inclination)
But it's nice to listen to something positive every now and again. That's all. Its nice to be reminded of a positive way of looking at the world. I just don't see nearly enough people like this, so I like to focus in on them if I discover one along the way. That's all.

Here are the 'boxes' they tick for me..
(Seemingly) not materialistic. Attached to ideas of 'status'.
(Seemingly) not a lot of 'ego' going on.
Refuse to be a 'victim'
Really understand how helping other people makes you feel FANTASTIC. Hence the choice of being life coaches I suppose..
Belief in exercise as a way of staying positive.
Belief in healthy eating as a way of staying positive.
Belief in looking good and having fun.
Belief in meditation as a daily way of life.
Belief that drinking and drugging are a bit naff and boring. Smoking too probably.

If in future some terrible scandal arises as to some aspect of their lives, this will only prove that ALL humans are very fallible.
For some reason, I am a little uneasy about what I have a 'hunch' about regarding their sexual conduct, but IT IS NOT FOR ME TO JUDGE ANOTHERS SEXUAL CONDUCT. So there! Its NONE OF MY BUSINESS. ALL judgment is WRONG and actually says a LOT more about ME than it does other people.
So there! Besides they are single as far as I know so its no big deal. I'm just a bit of a wimp when it comes to some more modern relationship styles, that's all. And after all, it is only a HUNCH. Nothing more.
Anyway, just thought I'd throw that one in, because for whatever reason I have very compelling hunches about people quite a LOT of the time!
Also because I am very much against making anyone (including myself) a 'guru' or 'better than', so I like to draw attention to the (rather depressing) fallibility of ALL humans..

Disclaimer: Just so you know, I have got people TERRIBLY wrong in the past, so if these two turn out to be lying charlatans then its not my fault! Don't blame me! I just thought they sounded positive, that's all..
I tend to believe people because I pretty much tell the truth, so if these people are lying, it not my fault!!

Two Alaskan 'sacred space' sprays at the Homeopathic Hospital Pharmacy

They now sell these two sprays which I really like.
They are a handy way to 'transport yourself' into a 'better space' with very little effort! They will not have much of an effect if you have other very destructive life habits! But they can have a very pleasant improvement when your life is based on generous spirited principles and you would like a bit of a lift when something difficult has come along.

(No I do NOT have shares in these things!)

Calling All Angels.
(£12.50 or something for 150ml.) 
This one REALLY does connect you with a VERY NICE energy. I'm not an expert on Angels, but it DOES feel like angelic energy. Very SOFT. Beautiful actually.

Guardian (£12.50 or something for 150ml.) 
This one is protection. I feel 'safe' and 'contained' and 'not grubby' (like I have something 'grubby' stuck to me) when I use this one.

Royal London Homeopathic Hospital,
Great Ormond Street,
London WC1N 3HR
Pharmacy is open from 9 to 5. Monday to Friday.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Am I a FREAK or C**P at my AA programme if DIFFICULT people make me angry? NO.

It's PERFECTLY NORMAL to have your patience tested to it's LIMITS, when we are thrown unwittingly into having to deal with DIFFICULT people.

You are NOT a freak for being angry! It's how you DEAL with the anger that arises that 'sets you apart' in terms of our programme.

Beating yourself up for simply BEING HUMAN serves no useful purpose. Compassion! Anger has its own rhythm. You just have to let it run its course, WITHOUT ACTING OUT destructively.

Here's some stuff which is good if anger has 'arisen'.
Go scream into a bowl of water, (Quite fun actually!, even when you don't feel REMOTELY angry!!)
Strangle a towel!
Clean up..in a slightly ferocious manner!
Go do some weights in the gym.
go to a lake and throw stones into it. ?? Heheh. Well you know what I mean.

I'm a BIG fan of the old 'Taoist Arch' trick when emotions run high, but that's just me.

By the way. This is NOT a license to be ANGRY ALL THE TIME, or TO THINK IT IS NORMAL TO WANT TO KILL PEOPLE. (Yes, I have met MANY people in AA who subscribe to this view!) Jeez. Oh well..
NO that is NOT normal. If this is how you feel you have a BIG problem with anger and you are SERIOUSLY UNDERMINING your 'fit spiritual condition'. Why? Because "Resentment is the number one offender". p64
It is NOT 'ok' to act out on your anger. Why?
Because "If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink." p70

Just remember: "Restraint of tongue and pen.", "Restraint of tongue and pen.", "Restraint of tongue and pen."
Repeat it like a mantra! Until the desire to tell them what a USELESS WASTE OF SPACE THEY ARE, subsides! Heheh.
If I'm honest, the MOST powerful leveler of ANY yukky emotion is the old chestnut 'Constant thought of others' . Meaning service of some sort.

Just thought I'd put that in just in case! This post addresses people who have completed the first nine steps and are NOT a seething cauldron of contemptuous rage! (Hahahaa) or (one of my FAVORITE big book quotes) the sort of person who "explodes over a trifle". p126
Heheh. I LOVE that one.. Always conjures up the FUNNIEST pictures in my mind..

Monday, March 05, 2007

More stuff from a talk by Ringu Tulku .."Do it LIGHTLY"

Here's some stuff I typed from another talk so that I don't forget it. He is known as the Lazy Lama, but his name is Ringu Tulku. I like him a LOT.
This is in theory about 'practice' meaning meditation practice, but I see it as being useful 'in all my affairs' and PARTICURLY in respect to the Just for Today card instruction; "I will do at least two things I don’t want to do—just for exercise" Discipline I suppose..

(From Lazy Lama talk)
The real practice is about YOURSELF.
Its about TRANSFORMING yourself
Learning how to react.
How to work with your emotions.
How to work with your habitual tendencies.
THAT'S the practice.

The MOST important thing in the practice, is how to RELAX.
So, therefore I think its VERY important, for instance when you have to practice for four hours...You don't need to be NERVOUS for 4 hours. (Laughs.) (Acts INTENSE, and restless / flustered)
You should learn to RELAX for four hours.
Whether its four hours or not doesn't matter rally, The main practice Is about the practice, not the time spent.
It's extremely important to know HOW to practice, then time spent and all that, doesn't matter too much.

I always say, whenever I go ANYWHERE, .."Do it LIGHTLY"
Whether you do, one hour, 4 hours or ALL DAY. "Do it LIGHTLY".

For procrastinators! (like me!): the Lazy Lama's thoughts on overcoming resistance.

I procrastinate, so I was listening to some questions with the lazy lama, and typed out the jist of his answers so I can remember them better.

Here is some stuff the Lazy Lama (Ringu Tulku) said about dealing with resistance. I've put down the whole answer, but my favorite 'bits' are:

By discipline I do not mean that kind of 'forcing yourself to do things'

Like if I really DEEPLY see that this is good for me,
Then I say "OK, this is REALLY good. I need to let it happen."

Diligence is about inspiring yourself. Inspiring means: A DEEP understanding / learning / seeing things CLEARLY, that its REALLY useful, REALLY beneficial. THAT inspires you.

Its not good to push too much. To push too hard.

I tell myself, "You can NOT practice more than (so many) hours"
It makes you feel as though 'you are not doing enough.' The idea is to create the feeling that you are not doing enough.
You want to do more, but you do not allow yourself. "I will only do so much"
When you have the feeling 'I want to do more, but due to many reasons I cannot", then my interest in doing it is maintained.

Maintaining this 'kind of feeling' 'I am not doing enough'.
Creating that situation, is I think, very important, whatever it is.

You have to deal with the mind pretty skillfully, you cannot push too hard.

..Ok, here's the WHOLE answer:
(In response to the question 'How do you deal with resistance?)
I call it laziness. I don't know what it is!, but I call it laziness.

Maybe A bit of discipline?
But by discipline I do not mean that kind of 'forcing yourself doing things' That kind of discipline is not good. It is not good for me. Maybe not good for you.

The discipline that I prefer to use is that .
I ALLOW myself to do what I know is REALLY good for me.
THAT kind of discipline is good.
Like if I really DEEPLY see that this is good for me,
Then I say "OK, this is REALLY good. I need to let it happen."
(I don't need to do ANYTHING that I don't know is REALLY good for me.)
If I DEEPLY say that, sometimes I do it.

Its not good to push too much. To push too hard.

It is said in the dharma that diligence is about inspiring yourself.
Inspiring means: A DEEP understanding / learning / seeing things clearly,
that its REALLY useful, REALLY beneficial.
THAT inspires you.

Diligence is about inspiring yourself
Sometimes the best thing to do is rest.
The best way to generate diligence is to rest. Having a break.
Having a break is not stopping the practice but rejuvenating yourself.
So therefore having a break is recommended in the chapter of diligence.
So also that's another way.

This seems to work sometimes:
I tell myself, "You can NOT practice more than (so many) hours"
It makes you feel as though 'you are not doing enough.' The idea is to create the feeling that you are not doing enough.
You want to do more, but you do not allow yourself. "I will only do so much"
When you have the feeling 'I want to do more, but due to many reasons I cannot", then my interest in doing it is maintained.
But if you feel you are doing too much, then its very bad. Because then very quickly the reaction goes the other way, "Im doing too much" "I don't want to do that'

Maintaining this kind of feeling 'I am not doing enough'.
Creating that situation, is I think, very important, whatever it is.

We have to be skilful with this because the mind is very 'stubborn'. You push one way, the mind goes in the other direction!
You have to deal with the mind pretty skillfully, you cannot push too hard.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Purity is a quality of the heart, not something that comes from unquestioning adherence to a set of rules

"Purity is a quality of the heart, not something that comes from unquestioning adherence to a set of rules"
..And other observations, from Sister (now Ajahn) Candasiri when she talks about 'Jesus through Buddhist eyes' on a radio 4 webpage.
I saw this interview on a radio 4 webpage here.

That first quote reminds me of two things I heard from my favorite old timer, in relation to following AA 'rules'.
He used to say. "It's the SPIRIT of the law, not the LETTER of the law'. Another aa slogan he said which I LOVED was:
"Feeling without action is Sentimentality
Action without feeing is an EMPTY GESTURE."
I have always found that to be a very good 'rule' when practicing Step 12 (service) of some sort.

(On the crucifixion) "An extraordinary account of patient endurance - willingness to bear the unbearable. without any sense of blame or ill will."
Ajahn Candasiri
Me: I just love this as a definition of 'patient endurance', as I haven't heard a definition of this before. I suppose its a bit like what I was describing in my earlier posts about Becoming a strong vessel and Steady containment' is what I call enlightenment.

"The Truth, which the Buddha likened to an ancient overgrown path that he had simply rediscovered."
Ajahn Candasiri
Me: I like this because that's what the 'truth' feels like for me too. I haven't heard it described like this before.

(My heading) Happiness is an inside job:
"We ourselves create the conditions that either promote well-being and the growth of understanding, or cause harm to ourselves or others. We don't need a God to consign us to the nether regions of some hell realm if we are foolish or selfish - it happens naturally. Similarly, when we fill our lives with goodness, we feel happy - that's a heavenly state."
Ajahn Candasiri
Me: I love the way all religions say the same thing. Happiness IS an inside job. We create our own heaven and hell through either good or bad habits. Nothing more.

(My heading) Neither repression nor indulgence:
"There is a way between either following or struggling to repress harmful thoughts that arise. I learned that, through meditation, I can simply bear witness to them, and allow them to pass on according to their nature - I don't need to identify with them in any way at all."
Ajahn Candasiri
Me: This was one of the most valuable things I learned from going to talks at the monastery. It showed me the 'skilful means' for holding difficult emotions in consciousness without letting them go overboard or adding to them in any way. It was a VERY liberating truth.

(My heading) Personal responsibility: Save yourself!:
"Jesus and the Buddha are extraordinary friends and teachers. They can show us the Way, but we can't rely on them to make us happy, or to take away our suffering. That is up to us."
Ajahn Candasiri
Me: So many times you hear this!! Its NOT your sponsor that saves you. its NOT your therapist that saves you. No one can REALLY save you except YOU. This is what I am learning by NOT having a therapist OR a Sponsor. I had NO idea this was true until I tried it. Its a weird one because I am SO conditioned to think I need to rely on other peoples feedback, or that I am too 'damaged' to save myself. But ultimately, it is ME that does the work. I have to surrender. I have to trust. I have to 'give it away'. No one else can do that for me. I am not saying that you HAVE to do the same, I'm just saying that's what works for me at the moment.

REALLY accepting that there is NO immunity to profound and heartbreaking LOSS, even when everything is 'right'.

Another title I thought of for this post was:
The 'heavy' consequences of REALLY seeing impermanence. & Loss: Even the prettiest garden contains the shadow of death.

This is about mustering the courage to embark on hoped-for dreams when your perception of impermanence improves so that you 'feel' (?) 'all seasons in one day', (for want of a better word). Basically 'feeling', the beginning, middle and end from the off! Bleh! Not nice! Very sad! It calls for a whole new level of dealing with loss! Very difficult to explain. More like just an sustained knowledge of the heaviness that exists 'down the road'. The other thing that is difficult, is staying joyful about life, having a better view of impermanence, ie the eventual end of all things. Not easy! Yeh, I know it sounds a bit weird, but I'll explain it better as I go along..

What's the gateway to emotional healing? (For me anyhow)
Being 'open' to (REALLY painful) disappointment.
Ruin, death, endings, failure, impermanence, losing the love you have always wanted or craved. Knowing there will be an end to ALL things you cherish. BEING OK WITH THAT. BEING WILLING TO FEEL, WHAT THAT WILL FEEL LIKE, WHEN THAT ENDING COMES AROUND. Knowing you will eventually encounter this thing, even under the most IDEAL circumstances.

'Old age, sickness and death' as they say in the Buddhist monasteries..

Not deciding to hate the world or be bitter because THERE WILL BE AN END.
This is what the Buddhists call the 'challenge of the human realm'. This is something I am 'working' on at the moment.
I don't know why my soul craves infinite security. Why I want to hold on to 'good things' forever. Its crazy! Nothing lasts.

I hardly dare hope or dream or want, because I can 'see' the impermanence of ALL that I want. Its like I can see 'all seasons in one day' or something. It's heavy. But its real.
Its like when you see those fast forward pictures of a bowl of fruit. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. I like seeing the bowl of fruit when it is plump and ripe. I feel a bit sad when it is all grey mush. But that is how life is. I accept it, but I do not like it.

I have a background of death and loss, so I have always found it easy to anticipate those things, but this is different. The only way I can describe it as 'all seasons in one day' or something. It's only something that has developed in the last 2 years or so. Its REALLY heavy! But I'm glad I can 'see' it, whatever that means. I would describe it as a feeling more than anything. I have no desire to know exactly when things will happen. This is more a general overview of impermanence, experienced in a feeling way.

The practical reality is that I suppose I am coming to terms for the first time, not with the fear of death and loss, because that's an old 'tape', but of the NORMAL EVENTUAL LOSS OF ALL THINGS, good and bad, even in the VERY BEST HOPED FOR CIRCUMSTANCES.

In the past I would think of loss and endings as something that happened 'when things went WRONG'. Now things are going 'right' for me, and it has just dawned on me that ENDINGS WILL STILL OCCUR, even though everything is 'right' and I could ask for nothing more'. It's weird.

Before, when there was crisis after crisis, I 'dreamed' that a time would come when I would 'reach dry land', find a 'safe place', where I would be safe from the ravages of painful or cruel circumstances. I never knew that the pain of loss WOULD STILL HAPPEN, in fact it would feel WORSE, because you would TRULY be losing something of GREAT value, should my life and the circumstances change for the better.
It REALLY hurts when you have something valuable and you KNOW the limits of being human. That you will invariably do things you think are INCREDIBLY STUPID (in hindsight of course!) That you will hurt the ones you love, that you will fail MANY people, who you could have helped. That there will be SO MANY FLAWS AND MISTAKES that you CANNOT TAKE BACK, and that hurt other people.
Personally, I don't mind hurting people that were never very nice to begin with!, but I HATE that I cannot prevent myself from doing things that hurt people I admire.

I know there will come a time, when I can wear this 'truth' joyfully and happily 'like a loose garment', because I have seen it done by accomplished monastics. And I have 'digested big chunks of truth about myself' on MANY occasions already. Like when I first realized I was an alcoholic! I didn't like that much either at first!

This is all just about coming to terms with the unflattering limits of being a TERRIBLY FALLIBLE human, and the eventual loss of even the most wonderful and ideal circumstances. Like I say, I've seen this done by wiser people than myself, so I know it is possible. But it is an UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH. Its like breaking in a new pair of shoes, Eventually, the shoes will feel ok.

There is a grieving process that occurs when you 'see' reality and are forced to let go of an old 'fantasy'. It breaks your heart. And I have NO intention of being numb, so I will feel EVERYTHING.

My NEW 'truth' is:
Even when you have the most wonderful life, loss and decay ARE PART OF THAT PICTURE. So are the REAL hurts you inflict, knowingly or unknowingly, along the way. There is NOTHING you can do about this to make it 'less'. It will hurt. A LOT. When the time comes and the truth is revealed to you.
Choosing to enter into a 'good' life RESPONSIBLY, means ACCEPTING that and not 'taking it personally' or blaming or hating life for having 'failed' you when these things DO occur. There IS no 'ideal' set of circumstances that will protect you from this loss.

My 'punctured fantasy' is:
'If something really great came along. It would last forever, because it would be so 'good', it would be 'nice'. Not 'real'.
There would be less pain, because it 'worked' so well. Grief and loss, would be like an 'old chapter' you had left behind. It would be a safe refuge.'

The reason I need to learn this is:
Having experienced dealing with death, threat of death, and painful rejections growing up, I am VERY frightened of ANOTHER 'bereavement' or loss. My 'protection' is to stay emotionally 'at arms length' because I fear I will not 'survive' ANOTHER loss. It will be 'the straw that breaks the camels back'. Loss feels (for me) like annihilation. So I 'stay out'. Uninvolved.
Unfortunately I cannot FULLY participate in life if I am afraid to risk the disappointment of wanting something more than ANYTHING and at some point later losing that thing.
So in order to FULLY FUNCTION emotionally, I have to accept the reality of loss and risk the pain of disappointment. Even though it is VERY !!!! UNCOMFORTABLE. (That's why the monks say one of the most VALUABLE things you can develop in your practice is PATIENT ENDURANCE.)

The solution? (in terms of practical action)
I need to not be afraid to want something with all my heart, knowing I may NEVER 'have' it.
I need to not 'hold back' for fear of being hurt or disappointed.
I need to not be afraid of the feelings that accompany eventual loss of ALL things.
I need to resist the urge to protect myself emotionally with a wall of 'impartiality' or 'reasonableness'
I need to not hide behind 'serenity' as a way of disguising emotional un-involvement.
I need to not remain unaffected, indifferent or cut off from my feelings and call it being 'accepting' or 'serene'.
I need to understand that loss has a NATURAL and RIGHTFUL place in the very healthiest and best possible lives. And that the grieving process is NOT LESS heartbreaking because it is is experienced in a wonderful set of circumstances. I CANNOT realistically 'escape' this feeling, even when I do a LOT right.
I need to stop equating loss with 'failure', and a 'sick' life. Loss belongs to EVERY walk of life. The sick, and the incredibly healthy.
I need to not be afraid of hoping, and having those hopes dashed. I have to be willing to endure the pain of having my hopes crushed.

In the buddhist wheel of life, this is called 'finding your REAL refuge. There is NO refuge in worldly things. All is impermanent. The only permanence is in what sumedho calls the 'deathless realm'. The gates to the deathless'.
The 'answer' is non attachment to worldly things and taking refuge in 'the deathless'. I kind of thought I was doing that already, but the more I cherish my life, the more tough this reality becomes. It tears at my heartstrings, but I think this is healthy. To care for the things in your life and mourn their passing.

Basically loss IS A PART OF LIFE. It is not just something that happens when you are on a path of self destruction using alcohol and negative thinking. It is JUST AS REAL and has a RIGHTFUL PLACE in even the most blissful of circumstances. Even the prettiest garden holds the shadow of death. That is how it is supposed to be. This is what I am coming to terms with now.

Here Is a passage that I have been thinking about a lot lately, which I think sums up what I think I am in the process of learning. Its from a passage about the Buddhist wheel of life' on this webpage

Human Realm:
Characterized by:- Desire; Freedom of choice; Dissatisfaction.
"I don't want this, 1 want that".
In the Human Realm there is the constant attempt to maximise pleasure and minimise pain. But we find that no pleasure can be made permanent, and the unpleasant cannot always be avoided. We vacillate between the four pairs of opposites - gain & loss, fame & disgrace, praise & ridicule, elation & sorrow. This vacillation can lead to frustration which in turn may raise the question, "What is there that will truly satisfy?" It is this which motivates the religious quest. And so this realm is considered to be the best one for religious training. The Buddha in this Realm appears as a Monk to show beings the possibility of the religious path, the way of non-attachment.
Consider: Pursuit of the pleasurable, avoidance of the unpleasant; The ups and downs of our ordinary daily lives; No sooner is the desired thing gained than it begins to be scorned; The life of the monk;

Anyway I post this because I like finding identification, and I think It is a useful picture to those that are planning on doing some heavy step 11 practice later on, because It gives you an idea of the emotional condition one can find oneself in at a later stage in recovery, WHEN YOU ARE REMAINING 'OPEN' TO NEW AND UNCOMPROMISING TRUTHS. We are ALL a work in progress. This particular 'lesson' is a very uncomfortable one for ME because of my background of loss and disappointment. We all have slightly different backgrounds so this may not apply to you at all. But I just thought I'd put it out there in case anyone sees something they didn't already see.
Also I could never really explain this properly in a meeting, and I benefit from explaining my inner processes to others. This blog is a better platform for sharing this type of information than a meeting. I LOVE explaining my 'inner work' to others as it helps me clarify what I am learning. It ALL helps!

By the way if you are new, this 'heavy' stuff is OK. It will not make me drink because I choose to stay in FIT SPIRITUAL CONDITION. So do not be concerned, or think I cannot handle this. I CAN. It's just it's an uncomfortable !! stage of growth. That's all. Like discovering you are an alcoholic, but different.

Ok That's it! Hey, now you know why I NEED to stay in good humor! This is just one of many 'themes' I am 'processing' at the moment. I have plenty others! Hahaaa. Jeez. If you didn't know me you would think I was a miserable cow! I can assure you I am not!. Right I'm off. Have a FABULOUS weekend! The weather is truly GLORIOUS over here!