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, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year :) 22yrs tomorrow! And Cainer says you can cast positive resolutions in concrete tonight.


Right. Yeah, another ! year on the sober block, as opposed to up some alcoholic creek without a paddle. Hehehe A creek I got to know ALL too well before I decided to take the advice of some friendly alcohol counselors and put the drinking on hold and go to aa meetings. Cool. Now all I need to do is maintain (what I consider to be) a respectably low fat percentage, then I will have !! everything! ...Just kidding.. But yeah its always work staying the weight you want to be. There are "no days off" with that one either! Shame! I have to undo the December excesses. Oh well.

More importantly. Cainer says your thoughts will become things that STICK this new year. Enabling you to cast a positive resolution in concrete. So to speak. Great!

Cainer said yesterday:
Tomorrow brings the awkward convergence of an earthly tradition and a cosmic apparition. Normally, New Year’s Eves come and go without too much fuss. We celebrate. We sing. We make our resolutions then we carry on. But what if some heavenly force were secretly listening in to our every vow, offering full celestial support in ensuring those promises were completely carried out? Tomorrow night, Saturn turns stationary. Such conditions favour those who wish to make a decision and ‘cast it in concrete’ so that it can never be changed. Be very careful not to make a ‘negative’ resolution.
And today he said:
It’s rare to have New Year with a stationary Saturn. Resolutions made under this cosmic climate will prove particularly powerful and unnervingly easy to keep!

Hehe I know what resolutions I want this year.
There are study ones, career ones, fat percentage ones, gym ones, and nearest and dearest ones. Loads! So I am getting busy formulating my desired destinations in my mind today to garner momentum and staying power from the freakishly rare unmoving hulk of Saturn. Cool.

So I hope you all have a peaceful new year and for those of you that are newer to sobriety, don't suffer to much from peer pressure that convinces you that you OUGHT to be doing ?? Something expensive overcrowded and unfunny, just because you feel imposed upon by ? nameless social conventions. Life is too !! short. Do whatever you fancy and don't feel guilty about it. If you don't want to stand for 40mins in a !! freezing queue to get in to some sort of 'exclusive' club only to find it full of lurching unintelligible alcohol sodden, or 'wired' people functioning only on the most reduced limbic brain state, well, you will be glad !! to hear that you ! don't ! have ! to! Thank god. Leave that 'luxury' to the active alcoholics, and THEY can pay 50 quid to stand in an overcrowded bar with slightly overweight red faced lurching individuals who have difficulty forming sentences. :) Trust me, you'll meet a MUCH nicer bunch in the gym. Or basically ! anywhere where the main form of entertainment is NOT being anesthetized, and out of control. Basically. Hehe

Right well you can tell how much I enjoy the company of active alcoholics on their home turf. Not much basically. They are bearable when they are sober but get repetitive and dull after a few so I make my excuses and leave when their social skills get clumsy which sadly can happen quite quickly. I manage to enjoy those sorts of occasions by just seeing what I can do for others while I'm there. Without being a doormat that is. As there are plenty of awkward ! social moment due to the disihibiting affects of alcohol, there are plenty of opportunities for service to change the subject quickly and gloss things over in a social sense.
There are loads of AA new years nights here if you like that kind of thing. They can be quite sweet. Like a wedding disco or something. A wide mix of people catching up with each other, throwing a few shapes, and not taking themselves too seriously.
Plus they have seriously great fireworks by the river and millennium wheel over here, and smaller displays all over. If you can bear the cold!

Or, you can enter the new year with 5 - 20 mins of meditation.
Ajahn Chah used to say, "If you want to change the world learn to make your mind still. To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders."

Brahmavihara Meditation (Boundless Equanimity, Love, Appreciative Joy and Compassion) - mp3, 20mins
World Peace Meditation - mp3, 15mins
You can use any of these to enter the new year meditating...or simply sit in receptive silence.
As part of the meditation session it will be good to focus loving, peaceful thoughts to the troubled regions in our world today.
"Khanti paramam tapo titikha"
Patient endurance is the supreme austerity.
Wishing you an equanimous new year.

Right. Gym. Essays.
Have a good one, whatever you do :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Increased sensitivity toward others AND acceptance means: "It hurts you more but it bothers you less"

On a relative level, it hurts you MORE. On an absolute level, it bothers you LESS
"There is a GREAT freedom from the suffering that you feel. Much MUCH more intensely."
Quote at 6.15 of the video.

This is like a master class on emotional intelligence by Ken Wilber. Bless im.
This is for those of you that tend to get steamrollered by your emotions or fear that life will tear you apart unless you close your eyes to the suffering in the world. Ken has a very good explanation as to how more advanced practitioners view that ongoing tension.

My words:
Firstly. He distinguishes between what he calls RELATIVE reality, and ABSOLUTE reality.
Lets call the relative reality the ? world. 'People places and things', such as emotions, patterns of the mind. Al the emotional and mental 'traffic' we experience.

Then lets call the ABSOLUTE reality ? ..God, HP the power of AA as a whole. ? Whatever. Just something beyond the daily push and pull. Doesn't really matter what you call it. Its that place that feels ? beyond the surface of things. ? ..Gawd knows what it is, but it is beyond people, places and things. Including the capacity of the thinking mind.

In retrospect, I think this ? 'dual' reality he describes, of both a 'relative' and 'absolute' nature, (Buddhists call it 'conditioned' and 'unconditioned' reality, but it doesn't really matter what you call it) is the thing I was ! trying to describe in the July 2007 post called: The Spiritual Life: One foot in the 'World', One foot in the 'Ether' And another Dec 2006 post called: A strange 'dual' mind space shared by myself and my Sponsees. (And their Sponsees)

Anyway. regarding RELATIVE reality: Ken says at 5.06 of the video:
"The more awakened you become, the more INVOLVED you become, the more you actually FEEL, and the more painful it becomes. So the pain increases. (So do the positive emotions BTW.)
You become SO sensitive you can feel EVERYTHING that's arising for everybody. All that becomes something that you TASTE and you FEEL CONSTANTLY.

He then says at 6.03 of the video:
"On the ABSOLUTE side, it bothers you LESS.
So there is a GREAT freedom from the suffering that you feel. Much MUCH more intensely.

We have to give ourselves PLENTY of room to feel BOTH:
The ABSOLUTE PERFECTION in everything that arises.
..And yet see ONE person starving and you will start crying so hard it will kill you.
And if you are not doing BOTH, you are doing something WRONG."

My words:
AA's learn to see 'perfection' in this way by developing the spiritual principle of Acceptance p417 of the Big book
""When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation-some FACT of my life unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I ACCEPT that person, place, thing or situation as being EXACTLY the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

NOTHING, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes."

(p417, AA Big Book) you can view the story this comes from called "Acceptance was the answer" here

*Apologies for the music on this vid BTW. Hey i didn't choose it!!.. but hey never mind.. :)

There is another ongoing tension with emotions between REPRESSION and INDULGENCE. But that's another post.
There are plenty of other Ken Wilber vids on Utube. Plus he has a website if you are interested..

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Which 'race' are you when push comes to shove? The decent or indecent man?

"From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two-the '"race" of the decent man and the "race" of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere, they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense no group is of pure race and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards."
p94 Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor E. Frankl was a therapist who was in the concentration camps. Its a very dignified exposition of the beauty of the human spirit and what makes us 'good' and 'bad'. Riveting. Fascinating.

LOVE this book. Very short very readable.

Some prisoners when their backs were against the wall became horribly ruthless and cruel in order to survive at !!!! any price. Others maintained their dignity despite the ravages of the situation and would offer their last piece of bread to another in the most frightful and despairing circumstances.
So you see. We CHOOSE the next right thing (moral restraint and impulse control) or giving in to our reptilian survival impulses, oblivious to the next man. Heedlessly following the instinctual, habitual path of least resistance. Which one would you like to be?

"Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted as wrongly as you are about to act now!"
p114 Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

I realized that I do the above without realizing when I speak to newcomers or sponsor people. I easily see the fork ahead in the road leading to an alternate destination were I to NOT explain to them how to dig themselves out of the hole. It is what motivates me to pass it on. The !!!! carnage and destruction down road B motivates me to TRY to educate them to travel down road A. so yeah I like this maxim.

..and describing a talk he gave his fellow prisoners after a !!! bleak and awful day:
"I asked the poor creatures listening to me attentively in the darkness of the hut (reminds me of Bill Wilson talking gravely to the assembled huddle of alcoholics in his kitchen) to face up to the seriousness of our position. They must not lose hope but must keep their courage in the certainty that the hopelessness of our struggle did not detract from its dignity and its meaning. I said that someone looks down on each of us in difficult hours-a frind, a wife, somebody alive or dead, or a God-and he would not expect us to disappoint him. He would hope to find us suffering proudly -not miserably....................The purpose of my words was to find a full meaning in our life, then and there, in that hut, and in that practically hopeless situation. I saw that my efforts had been successful. When the electric bulb flared up again, I saw the miserable figures of my friends limping toward me to think me with tears in their eyes."
p91 Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Fantastic book. Go get it. Takes an afternoon to read.
Have a fabulous Thursday!

I am oblivious to xmas so far. Just concentrating on study at the moment. Trust me. "Its just another day". Really. "There are no big deals" and all that. Hehe but I !! LOVE swerving all the seasonal palaver. Social ritual seems utterly meaningless to me. "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye" as they say.

Outward stuff is just 'stuff'. So I am not terribly interested in it. I try to make sure I have no ketchup stains on my shirt (heheh) and all that, but above and beyond presentation (for the purposes of being considerate), my interest in plumage and ? nest building is a big fat zero. Hehe
So yeah do all that stuff if you REALLY want to but Im telling you it means NOTHING to me. Absolutely nothing. Kindness never goes out of fashion, but the palaver and running around I can do without.

Right gotta go.!!! Mind your head! :) Especially if you are in your first year. (Because it's nearly xmas and people tend to go a bit mad if they are not vigilant)

Buy half price vitamins in November and December

Because they are FULL price in January.
I bought about a years worth of super !! high quality vitamins today at half price. I remembered that this time of year is a GREAT time to buy cheap vitamins as everyone is waaay too busy buying mince pies and things that make you fat. So yeah. Now's a good time. Just thought id mention that.
But who knows perhaps they will be cheap all year due to the economics? Gawd knows.
Whatever. Just thought I would share that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

AA is not a social club: Friendship in AA is a bonus, not a given.

Firstly let me say I DO know people in AA that are real friends and whose friendship I do value. What I mean here is that I do not use AA as a social club.
I do not go there to 'take', I go to 'give' and therefore "perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others" (p14, AA Big Book)
Because I want to 'survive the certain trials and low spots ahead" (p15, AA Big Book)
Because the big book tells me it is "imperative to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead" (p14, AA Big Book)
So yeah. Meetings are for doing SERVICE.
Everything else is secondary.

12 step meetings are for doing service. Not for making friends. As such. Would you look to make friends from people in a psychiatric ward? We are here because we have a VERY serious mental illness, of which one of the symptoms is a devastating recurring blind spot that conveniently forgets "the suffering and humiliation" (p24, AA Big Book) of past drinking. Amongst other things.

"We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink." (p24, AA Big Book)
Even though we "vaguely sense I was not being any too smart," (p36, AA Big Book)
We have the "curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink." (p37, AA Big Book)
So basically we are a pretty !! mad bunch. In SIGNIFICANT ways. Not minor ones.
Our blind spots are life threatening, until we rid ourselves of this "curious mental phenomenon" (p37, AA Big Book) by completing the first nine steps with the help of a competent sponsor. And keeping it in remission with steps 10 11 and 12.

Most are preoccupied with self. Few seriously think of others. We are all different. It takes ages to teach people how to think of others. 12 step progs can provide a great excuse to become terribly self absorbed whilst deluding oneself that one is a spiritual giant. Easy to do!

I look for friends outside AA mostly, and if friendship occurs in AA I see it as a bonus. Sponsees are good friends as they understand me better than most regardless of how little I see them or speak to them. (more like ex Sponsees at the moment as I am waaay to busy to sponsor at the mo)

I have found face to face is not necessary for friendship and support, but yes we are social animals and we tend to perform worse without the pressures and conflicts social interaction provide. Without these rough spots, we never grow tolerance patience or acceptance.
I find I need time spent being sociable with friends less and less, as I feel connected to them all the time anyway. But yes I need social stimulation to function well.

So I like being around others because I learn from them and am supported by them. But friendship and support comes from absent friends too. People who are not 'in the building'. Books can be friends. Books can be teachers.
Active imagination can feel as real to me as people are. Sometimes feels more real than physical presence. So I can get support without the other needing to be in the building. So to speak.

As regards general friendship. It is the norm that whomever instigates social functions inevitably deals with reluctance and flakiness from those they invite and organize for.
If you are naturally thoughtful of others, be grateful for this natural orientation of the mind that you possess, but do not expect to find it often in others. Do not think people feel and think the same as you and get surprised when you find out they are not. That would be a great recipe for disillusionment. You would be falling prey to Idealism.

My home group was very ? Girl guide aa. Meaning we did it by the book. Were very morally/ethically restrained. In the same way you might expect a paid professional to be. Restraint of tongue and pen. Etc. (Step 10 12x12) a basic ethics principle of 'do onto others as you would.."

10th step 12x12
“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.”

Most meetings do not work from a basic ethics principle of "Helping others IS the foundation of your recovery". (p97, AA Big Book) or "constant thought of others and how we can help meet their needs" (p20, AA Big Book)
so yeah, people can be very flaky and unreliable.
In the main, my home group members could be relied upon absolutely as they were expected to be in 'service mode' ! constantly. It just went with the territory. Service, service and !!! more service!!!!
"the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles* in all my affairs" (p14, AA Big Book)
*The principle here refers to: "to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others" (p14, AA Big Book) and "constant thought of others and how we can help meet their needs" (p20, AA Big Book)

So. For finding people who are capable of being good friends in AA, it is always a good idea to find the MOST SERVICE ORIENTATED members and meetings in your area that you can find, as they tend by and large to be more reliable and considerate than others. Stick with the winners as best you can. Principles before personalities*. Just go to where there is most recovery, and don't get sidetracked by other social trends such as similar background or other considerations.

*(Tradition 12: "ever reminding us to place principles BEFORE personalities.")

So if you want friends that better meet your needs I suggest:
Ask your HP to guide you to the people, places and things that support your spiritual growth the MOST.
And ask for the KNOWLEDGE and POWER to carry out that journey. No matter WHERE it takes you.

"praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." Step 11. (p59, AA Big Book)
Then do the footwork. You paddle. God steers.

Cool huh? Scary as well. But that's what growing up is about. We never know where we will end up..
TRUE open mindedness is not for the faint hearted!

Hey gotta go. Have a great Tuesday!!