About Me

My photo
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 30, 2009

You are Lovable

It might take a while, but eventually you will realize that you are actually alright, a lovable human being, ..and it will be utterly !! heartbreaking to see all the wasted years that you thought you ought to hate/diminish yourself for all your 'wrongs'.
If you think you feel sad now, just wait! ..this will wound you to your very centre. But in a good way. Each time we get a bit better, we grieve for the wasted days, months, decades, when we were 'blind and could not see' and thought it was acceptable to loathe ourselves and our weaknesses.
It ? might be a long time coming, but it will show up eventually..
The sooner you 'get' this, the less time you will squander. -As a fully lived life is impossible if you believe deep down that you deserve to be hated, even if only by yourself.
(I prefer the word hate to the word resentment btw, I see them as interchangeable in case you are wondering..)

If you hate your ‘character defects’, or castigate yourself for having them, reading about the Shadow may help.
Understanding the Shadow is a great way to embrace ones ‘wrongs’ wholeheartedly, without following them heedlessly. It is very respectful toward the presence of destructive impulses, yet accepts them as part of ones humanity.

Have a fabulous Wednesday :) Gosh where did the year go?..

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Peace on earth. Good will to all men

As a belated Christmas present to you I include a poem that I think is really ! beautiful to share with you, and a very short youTube link I particularly like.
Be Happy by H.E. Situ Rinpoche

The best scholar is the one who realises the meaning of non-self
The best practitioner is one who has tamed their own mind
The best quality is a great desire to benefit others
The best instruction is to always watch the mind
The best remedy is to know that nothing has any inherent reality
The best way of life is one that does not fit with worldly ways
The best accomplishment is a steady lessening of negative emotions
The best sign is a steady decrease of desires
The best generosity is non-attachment
The best discipline is a peaceful mind
The best patience is to take the lowest place
The best diligence is to give up activities
The best concentration is to not alter the mind
The best wisdom is not to grasp at anything at all

Atisha: 982–1054ce
The Indian scholar from the university of Vikramashila who spent the last ten years of his life in Tibet, where his teachings emphasized the basic practices of taking refuge and training the mind in love & compassion.

We are lucky. There are some ! beautiful souls on the planet to help show us how to live well. Their gentleness, kindness and skilfulness is a blessing to the world. I am grateful for them and the work they are doing on our behalf.

Anyway..Hello there :), I have had !! waaaaay too may things to do so just haven't dared distract myself by posting.. This was the first thing that sprung to mind about the christmas ? 'whatever it is'..‘

Very often I just want to be alone because I find other people's presence needy and draining. Christmas can be a very difficult period for a lot of people, they have high expectations, they feel ambivalent or conflicted about having to spend time with family members they haven't seen for some time, there are lots of social pressures to conform to, financial pressures of one sort or another due to the expectation that people are supposed to buy gifts for one another. Generally I find that people are not at their best at Christmas, it is a time when people feel ‘not that great’. So by and large unless I have a very good reason to be anywhere around christmas, I prefer to avoid it. I would rather be around people when they are feeling a little bit more positive. There is a lot of loneliness and old grief floating around at Christmas. A lot of people who have to go without. Old people who don't get to see relatives. The old wounds come back to haunt people at Christmas and New Year. That's probably where the xmas tradition of getting drunk comes from. If we weren't all such idealists and accepted life on life’s terms, then there would be no emotional wounds to attend to. Unfortunately most people aren't that self-aware, so habitually and unconsciously fall into idealism and wishful thinking and its consequent misery, or drunkenness and heedlessness. So avoiding unnecessary social gatherings becomes more appealing during Christmas and New Year for that particular reason.

The most popular time for people to go on retreat is Christmas and New Year, and I can see why that is the case. They sell out the fastest and are almost impossible to get places on. Rampant commercialism, overeating, frenzied social ritual, and the obligation to spend time with people they don't really like, or who get drunk and are antisocial, it's a lot of palaver. But if you have kids, well that's another thing. You have obligations that cannot be avoided.

AA is full of people who want to drink over Christmas, so the obligation to take care of people in need is much higher than at other times of the year. Quite a demanding service obligation but yes, very satisfying. There are some very nice Buddhist rituals of the New Year. One consists of an evening of chanting ending at midnight on New Year's Eve blessing all in attendance. I have been to those in the past and found them incredibly satisfying. Parties have their place too, but I can only do them in moderation, because if I do them too much I find them wearisome and sad. To be honest the only time I feel truly comfortable in the company I am keeping, is when I am around people who are utterly reconciled to the cracks in their psyche, the contradictions, irrationality and unreasonable drives that compel them to act in ways that utterly oppose their deepest wishes. Basically people who are by and large accepting of theirs and others humanity. There are people who fit that description who are members of AA and other 12 step organisations, but I also meet people who fit that description in Buddhist communities and similar mind body spirit groups, so they are a welcome refuge also. People like this are my true refuge. Perhaps not them as such, but what they are doing. It shows me the way out, so to speak. The Buddhists would call it the way out of samsara. AA's would call it the way out of "restless irritable and discontent".

So yes, the upshot is that I had a very peaceful and unencumbered Christmas which even by my standards was quiet. I feel better for it, and that's what's important. I suppose what I was having was a retreat at home, instead of at a retreat centre. I have for a good few months been in close proximity to a small group of students who by and large are stressed, irritable, anxious, frightened, socially awkward, and this has taken its toll, so avoiding social obligations has been valuable recharging time.

I have also rediscovered the joys of having a personal trainer. My old personal trainer nonetheless. So I'm very happy to be back at the gym doing a 'proper' workout to increase muscle mass. I'm no good at organising my workouts so I need someone else to give me workout schedules. I tend to be a bit adrift left to my own devices in the gym, so I am very lucky to have such a good trainer close by. It's so much easier to maintain gym attendance when somebody is monitoring your progress. I'm very comfortable with a personal trainer-type relationship. I ! love being pushed to do uncomfortable demanding routines. I love it. I don't want people to go easy on me. I find it condescending and irritating. Plus I love people who KNOW what they are talking about telling me what to do. I love being the student instead of the teacher for a change. It's like a holiday.

Anyway, I hope you find the courage to practice “to thine own self be true" over the period of Christmas and the New Year, in ? whatever form that takes, ..rather than get swept along by the tide of habit and social pressure.
(By the way that's not an excuse to be defiant just for the sake of it :) What I am talking about here, is a very skilful application of the principle "to thine own self be true". Not a blank cheque to retaliate or punish by being defiant.) Right well, I'd better be off :)

Peace on earth. Good will to all men ..as they say.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I find that Senior Step 11 practitioners seem to mirror exactly what it says in the Big Book

I thought I would share with you my most recent inspiration. I manage to find a new one fairly regularly these days. I found this video on the Internet, whilst looking for something else, and I really liked the way she spoke to the group. I suppose if you have experienced bossy women this might not seem so appealing, but I particularly liked her no fuss approach.

At about 27 minutes in, she describes how you don't need to give up all your worldly possessions and live a simple life in order to be a 'spiritual' person. This is in response to a question by a man in the audience who says "if people places and things cannot make people happy, then what is the point of trying to acquire them?" Her response is that you can have your cake and eat it. Meaning it's not the people places and things that you have to get rid of, but your attitude towards the people places and things that is the problem. This reminds me of the phrase used to describe AA which is altered attitudes.

The next question at about 28 minutes in is about how to tell the difference between the unavoidable pain of real suffering and the avoidable pain of real suffering. She describes how she witnessed the Dalai Lama weep upon talking about his deceased mother, but that it was the expectation that the person place or thing would remain indefinitely that was the source of the problem, not the loss of the cherished people, place or thing in itself.

This is the same way that I was taught to analyse resentments in step four. If I felt aggrieved because a person place or thing had not done what I thought it ought to have done. - Such as a friend rejecting me, losing your job and not getting what I wanted basically. My step four consisted of three columns, and in my third column this type of resentment would have included self-centredness. Wanting things to go "my Way".

My analysis of this type of resentment was that there was an expectation that things would go my way, and this led to huge disappointment when things rarely did. - Because everything is completely beyond my control, people places and things cannot be relied upon to give me what I think I need. They will continue to live according to their own will, and to the extent that I am self-centred in my attitude towards people places and things (whom I have no control over), is the extent to which I will be frustrated and disappointed and aggrieved at the outcome, as it can only ever do what it was going to do anyway, regardless of what I think I want them to do.

In another question she talks about the difference between self-centred and a self forgetting attitude in response to difficult circumstances. In AA we hear the slogan that we ought to treat every problem as an opportunity to demonstrate God's will in all our activities.
Her way of describing the distinction is, you either think "what a terrible person that is, how dare they do that", or else you stop and ask yourself "What can I do about that?" which I interpret as being the same question as "how can I help?", or "how can I be of service in this situation?"

In AA we are told that helping others is the foundation of our recovery, and that we are no longer be running the show, and that in response to difficult circumstances we are to say to ourselves "this is a sick man, how my May I be helpful?" This seems to exactly mirror her response here.

So basically I found many parallels between what AA tells us we should do, and her very authoritative and thorough experience about how she is able to be ‘happy joyous and free’ under all circumstances. I'm always very inspired when I see parallels between senior spiritual practitioners and the things I have learned in AA. This has happened many, many times. I have lost count of how often I hear basic AA suggestions from very senior step 11 practitioners. The more step 11 I do the more I have learned to appreciate what AA taught me, because it has shown me how rarefied and impressive the tenets of AA are.

There is a lot more in the talk that I am not going to go into more detail, as this post will just get too long. No change there!
Anyway I'm going to head off to the gym now, because I have a busy day and I need to stay comfortable and not get stressed out by many things I have to do.
So I hope you all have a lovely Monday and I'm sure I will be reading your blogs in the near future :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What is unreasonable?: The more polite you are, the more you second-guess yourself

I spoke to a woman less than five years sober recently about difficulties she was having a relationship. I would not describe her as a shy person, but to some degree she suffers from (what I call) spinelessness and lack of confidence in standing up to unreasonable behaviour. I do not think this is because she is a spineless person, I think this is because she doubts herself, in that she is not sure whether or not she is justified in rejecting unreasonable behaviour. I think this is because she questions herself constantly. This is because she is so incredibly polite. It is part of her nature to think extremely carefully about what she says in case it causes offence. This makes her very pleasant company and very polite company. I think she is afraid of labelling another person's behaviour untoward, for fear of appearing Draconian or rigid. She is so busy minding her p’s and q's and terrified of appearing domineering and unfair. This approach is like a ball and chain around her feet when asserting her preferences in a relationship.
When I meet people like this I label this behaviour "Catholic guilt". I don't know if it is Catholic guilt or not, as it's just a label I use so that people see this pattern when it repeats itself more clearly. Normally when people present themselves in this way,

racked with self-doubt whilst unwittingly permitting (or enabling) unacceptable behaviour,

the first thing I say to them is something like "That's Catholic guilt". Along with some comment to the effect that as far as I know they are not catholic etc, so why are they suffering from Catholic guilt? I probably know some Catholics but their religion is irrelevant as so many people suffer from this particular trait.

When I meet somebody who has difficulty assessing another person's behaviour as unreasonable, because they are essentially a "nice" person. I start questioning them along the lines of

'If the roles were reversed, would YOU behave the way this person is treating you?' ..If not, why not?

So for instance if the other person is being very demanding, and the doormatty/polite person is doubting themselves and making excuses for their friend/partner, I just say to them something like "well so and so, if the circumstances were different and you were in the position you find your partner in, would YOU act in this particular way? For instance "would you be demanding and needy at unreasonable moments?" Meaning would YOU behave the way your partner/friend is behaving? If not why not?
The person I am talking to invariably looks back at me with complete shock, because it would never ! occur to them to behave in such a manner. And in that time, it becomes clear to them that they have been making excuses for their partner, for something they would never !! dream of doing themselves, because this type of behavior would be completely out of character for them.
This type of analysis, only really works with the type of woman who is polite, reasonable, and quite generous, as these are the types that are more likely to be bullied and dominated by friends and partners. This reasoning would not apply to a person who was a bully himself or herself.

I identify much more closely with women who are bullied than with women who bully, as this tends to be what happens to people who are reasonable. I find that the more unreactive I am, that the safer others feel in presenting their irrational emotional states. So sometimes people ‘blow a gasket" simply because they know they can, and that I will not retaliate or punish. This unfortunately is the burden of being reasonable under emotional pressure. The nicer you are, the more people feel they can say pretty much whatever they like to you. This means that I have to be prepared to enforce my boundaries at any time. Thankfully I have learned how to do this over the years, so I am not so easily hijacked. Occasionally I get a unexpected rapidfire attack from out of nowhere, which if peculiarly unpleasant leaves me feeling quite unpleasant until I recover. But other than that people do not get much of a chance to treat me unfairly or cruelly for very long, because I do not let them.

Anyway I have a rather ! tedious shopping trip to get done before I make my way to a meeting that serves coffee after which I think is the part of the meeting I like best. Anyway have a lovely Saturday :) I hope to achieve as much as I can today, as I am catching up with loose ends regarding chores at home that have taken a back seat since study consumed most of what was left ! of my free time.

By the way, PG made a comment about speed reading in relation to reading my post. I know !! exactly how she feels :) It is precisely because of this that I invested in a acereader pro software. I think it costs about $20 or something. That means I can read online material by cutting and pasting into the software at a rate of about 1000 words a minute. Basically I really like this piece of software and it helps me to read a lot of the blogs that I do, even if I don't manage to comment on on them as much as I would like. So that's my speed reading tip for the day. Have a lovely weekend! ☺

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The ‘anti-something’ brigade: AA Politics, and people who rant generally..

Sorry for the long post but I decided to use my old dictation software instead of typing.. ☺

I recently had the misfortune to bump into a very new and very ! angry member of AA. He was about three months sober, I think he had relapsed regularly before. He said he had been feeling suicidal, and generally was not having a great deal of success with the AA program. My first impression of him was that he was incredibly angry and restless simultaneously, and that these two things in combination may very well be major contributors to his reasons for relapsing previously. I did not ask as to the circumstances of his last relapse, but I have to admit that I find those stories very interesting, because they reinforce, or educate me as to why people relapse. As it happens I didn't get the opportunity to discuss this with him in more detail because he proceeded to talk ‘at’ me in machine-gun style delivery about why he thought certain meetings were ‘wrong’.

Just so you know, I gave up on the whole notion of (what I call) ‘politics’ a very long time ago. Perhaps politics is the wrong word. When I say politics, what I'm referring to is criticism, moral superiority and backbiting from certain AA members who feel it is their ? moral duty to take AA individuals or groups inventory. Perhaps as a means of ? declaring their own self-righteousness?, or identifying (what they see as) an undesirable trait, they believe they have a moral duty to be angry, indignant, contemptuous or self-righteous about? Their anger justifies trumping the AA tenets of both ‘Live and let Live’ and the principle of Unity. I assume they feel justified in breaking with these AA suggestions due to what they see as a ‘wrong’ way of practicing the AA programme. I see this as going against the tradition that each group is autonomous. But hey. They seem to be ! blissfully unaware of these things..

Even before I came to AA, I was never terribly attracted to people who were easily preoccupied with criticising others. Nor did I surround myself with friends who took pleasure in running other people down. I have never liked ridicule, even in its most watered-down forms. This is unchanged since I came to AA. I am as an interested in slagging off ‘people places and things’ as I was long before I came to AA. So if you're looking for a ? fight, or an argument, or to prove some ? theoretical point, or prove (!) how ‘wrong’ another person, or group is, I am afraid you have come to the wrong place. ☺

It is hard for me to appreciate what pleasure is derived from this activity. I have simply never wanted to do it or enjoyed doing it. I suppose when I was drinking I enjoyed being a nonconformist, and was accustomed to receiving criticism for looking nonconformist back in the day. I had always thought of myself as a bit of an ‘artist’ and so I hung around with other artists and people on the fringes of society. Perhaps now they might be seen as quite ordinary, but back then they were thought of as a bit 'out there'. They were certainly people who ! looked as though they were living on the fringes of society! In truth I had a wide range of friends from both wealthier and slum-type homes, but I was very drawn to the people who looked as though they did not fit, and who were thought of as slightly odd. Personally, I didn't find them odd at all. It was people who looked ‘normal’ that gave me the creeps or were harder to figure out.
So back in my drinking days, I thought it was incredibly shortsighted to judge people based on looks, or immediate impressions, without knowing more about their lives. I suppose what I mean is that there are two sides to every story, so I do think there is a little bit more to it than first meets the eye. So when certain people were judgemental or scathing or made assumptions about me, I just thought they were terribly unintelligent and unobservant and not nearly curious enough about these people they were putting down.

I can only guess as to why they do it, as I have not found myself doing the same, so I have ? no idea why people get so much pleasure from slagging off other people. I just don't know why people do it. I'm ? guessing there is some self-righteous satisfaction derived from declaring one's superiority at the expense of another person's. I think it's more likely that they are unaware of their superiority and self-righteousness in such moments and that's why they are carried by a wave of resentment justified by what looks like a very self-righteous motive, which blinds them to the uselessness of their anger. Gawd knows. I think most that are regularly hijacked by their anger do not ‘see’ their anger very clearly at !! all.

Don't get me wrong, I get irritated just like everybody else, but I don't ! believe my anger. Nor would I follow heedlessly the inclination to take another persons inventory or talk to them as though there was a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ position, where I held the ‘right’ position they held the ‘wrong’ position. I just don't think life is that simple, nor is life that rigid. In some cases it is possible to be very definite but usually only about the most basic elements of the programme. For instance it is generally a good idea to try and get enough sleep, to try to talk to people and eat fairly regularly in the first 90 days. Hanging around in bars isn't generally a good idea in the first 90 days. You know, stuff like that.

This guy was a sort of real-life ‘troll’. Spouting vitriol of an anti-? Something nature. I think I will have to call these people be anti-something brigade. In cyberspace we call these people trolls. But there is no ? equivalent word for a person who behaves this way in real life. So I am going to call them the anti-something brigade.

Not that it matters, but the upshot of the story is, I felt sorry for him, because there was a strong possibility that the anger he was feeling might make him drink again. So instead of ignoring him, and ending the conversation, I think I managed to succeed in showing him how this anger was ultimately unkind and inconsiderate, and that there might be an alternative interpretation rendering his perception merely relative as opposed to an absolute truth. Basically, when I left him he did not look like he was frothing at the mouth, which he did ! look like when I first started talking to him. But I have to say it was a very unpleasant conversation, and not one I particularly want to repeat regularly.
Thankfully it is very uncommon for me to be on the receiving end of bile and resentment in such large quantities. People are not usually that angry. But this guy was.
In the course of the conversation he told me that his sponsor condoned his resentment towards certain AA members and groups. I may ask his sponsor what he makes of this, and see whether there is any truth in this. As I know his sponsor, and I haven't got the impression that his sponsor thinks it's okay to hate! certain meetings or people. But who knows? I could be wrong. I'm sure if I ask I will find out…

What I'm trying to say is that life is too !!!! short to spend your time wasting your valuable mental and emotional energy is pitting yourself against a battle you cannot win. That battle being the imperfections of people places and things. And even if you DO identify a cruel and unpleasant trait in another person or another group, you are sure to find something very similar inhabiting your own consciousness, so there is no !!! moral victory. Besides, it looks terribly ! unattractive to be pre-occupied with ‘anti-something’ thoughts. You look like a ranting person. Frothing around the mouth. It doesn't look good.
Whatever. The bottom line is that I am powerless over AA members who choose to ‘contend against’ or hate each other and gossip and badmouth each other. There will always be people in AA who do this, and I will always find them terribly ! unattractive. They will not be my buddies in AA. They will not be the people I spent time with in AA. And I will never be able to stop it occurring. Basically AA has always been full of very resentful people, so it's hardly surprising that it attracts people who rant or like to prove themselves ‘right’ in some way or form. But there you go. Nothing I can do about it. I will help the occasional newcomer who looks like they are about to drink because of it, but other than that I won't be hanging around those people for very long.
God knows we all get annoyed with AA, and AA members, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t! But when this is ‘acted out’, manifesting outwardly as behaviour such as overt ? slagging off, attacking, criticising, publicly running down, bitching or badmouthing, well that’s another thing altogether. Well I think so anyway.
I choose NOT to contend with the ‘world’ a day at a time. Or to make a problem out of things, despite encountering those practicing the opposite very ! regularly.
Hey ho. Well it’s a gorgeous day over here so I’m going to go out run to the shops in the sun to pick up a few things.. See you all later..

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Motive: It's not what you say. It's where you're coming from.

Hello there. Thanks for your kind comments and well wishes re study grief :) I feel a LOT !! less stressed about my crazy ol study schedule as I think I have FINALLY stumbled across a method of processing the workflow that matches the content and requirements. Phew. A method that seems to work :)
Takes me a while but I figure it out in the end. Now all I need to do is apply the strategy to all the work I have bumbled around doing so far.. Oh well. Better late than never. I had a nice little routine worked out last year which matched the requirements very nicely, but this material is much more scattered and hard to keep track of. I use my computer a LOT when I study so nearly all my work is done reading on the puter. Very little actual reading of Books. But hey. There you go. There is some catching up to do which is a bit scary, but I hope I can catch up fairly easily.

Anyway. About the heading. "It's not what you say. It's where you're coming from"

I really think that it doesn't really matter what you say, but it matters MUCH more WHY you are saying it.
Ie. What is your MOTIVE for saying that?
Ie. What is your MOTIVE for doing that?

"he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful"
(p18, AA Big Book)

as opposed to being CHRONICALLY SELF OBSESSED about 'what's in it for me?' when you are engaging with others, that life is INFINITELY simpler. You can make stupid errors of judgment and get it wrong, and others sense that its 'ok' because your heart is in the right place.
That's not a license to be kack-handed and heedless BTW. No. what I mean is your inevitable errors will not be taken badly by the other. But if you are just too lazy to pay attention to what you are saying, then I'm not sure this will get you off the hook :)

Btw when I say " your heart is in the right place." I mean there is NO ATTACHMENT TO ANY OUTCOME. Or as the buddhists would say .'No clinging'
you are not being a control freak
you are not trying to score points
you are not trying to wangle a friendship
you are not trying to be 'a better aa member'
you are not trying to become enlightened
you are not trying to 'do good'
you are not trying to 'get rid of your anger'

No. you are just doing what you do (being kind or nice to people) BECAUSE THAT S WHAT YOU DO. Because experience has shown you that it fosters wholesome mind states which make it easier to approach the problems life throws at you with equanimity. Or as the aa's call it 'acceptance'.

So you see. Theres no self centred/ self obsessed motive for being NICE
You just do it because the book tells you you should, and experience suggests that this approach helps you practice the principles in all your affairs.

So. Next time you hate someone
Are pissed off with someone
Are jealous of someone
Are really irritated by someone
Feel contempt for someone
Secretly hate that persons mannerisms. Or their laugh.
Hate the way they speak
Feel repulsed by them
Feel outraged by how un-spiritual' they are
Get hugely irritated by how drippy and overly-spiritual they are
Hate them because of the WRONG way they are working their programme..

Stop trying to be nice, because it doesn't work. They can tell you hate them. Really.
So go away and really ask yourself

You cant bullshit a bullshitter.

Don't think they don't know you hate em. They do.
So you would do more good if you go away and try to speak to them later WHEN YOU HAVE CALMED DOWN AND YOU ARE COMING FROM A BETTER PLACE.
Don't just say nice stuff through gritted teeth. Trust me, they KNOW how you feel.

Al I know is that my life turns to CRAP if my motive is OFF
So I check my motive if I think I am on thin ice, or coming up to a difficult bend in the road.
My motive is my protection. Provided I am willing to pay attention and go to any lengths to practice these principles in all my affairs.

That's why the first 100 members whisper in your ear on page 102..
“Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed.”
(p102, AA Big Book)

See? WILL, not might. There's a BIG difference.
Its never !!!! let me down yet. Nor other old timers I knew from waaaay back when I was new.
My fave old timer used to say (bless im)

"Feeling without action is sentimentality
Action without feeling is an empty gesture"

"Service is gratitude in Action"

So yeah. Get yourself a REALLY NICE motive, and let that motive 'abide' in you when you connect with those difficult people. REALLY hang on to the motive. Nomatter HOW much they annoy you. :)

And sit back and watch the miracles happen :) hehe
A self centered motive turns your world to CRAP
A SELF FORGETTING motive makes the world a magical place, nomatter what is happening.

So yeah. That's my experience anyway. So go out there motive-shopping and find yourself a shiny new one to practice on your guinea-pig friends. :)

BTW this is a very PRIVATE exercise
NOBODY REALLY knows what your motive is except YOU
It is INVISIBLE to the naked eye
It will NOT be evidenced by certain words or actions
Its about WHAT YOU REALLY FEEL INSIDE. Do you wish them well? Do you want them to find their still centre while the world spins? Do you want them to understand that they are LOVED? That they are OK? Do you want their suffering to end? Can you empathise with their excuses and habitual negativity? Do you want them to die sober? ..thankful of the connections they made while they were alive?
THESE are the thoughts I cultivate when I want to engender a good motive.

And that's why it is such a PRIVATE and INTERIOR matter
You are looking at your INTERIOR LANDSCAPE. Nothing more.
Not really at the words
Not really at the actions. Although that doesn't mean 'be heedless'
Just keep the PRIMARY focus on WHERE YOU ARE INSIDE
Contempt? Bitterness? Tightness? Irritabilty? Jugement?

"he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful"
(p18, AA Big Book)

Focus just on the interior landscape. Do you mean well? Or are you trying to punish with indifference or in a passive aggressive way by sounding like you don't really care? 'yeh whatevea'

So go on. Give it a whirl and tell me what happens :)
The tricky bit is 'holding your centre' when buffeted by outward 'unpleasant' words or behaviors.
This is a much more PRIVATE and UNKNOWN aspect of service than making the tea' or 'setting up the meeting' (Not that there's anything wrong with making the tea..)
I like it because it is 'secret' and only I !!! know when I am doing it hehe
Plus I love watching the effect it has on people :)

So there you go. Try it. I love it. You will LOVE the effects :( its very cool. In my opinion. Plus the first 100 member seems to rate the idea too ;) and they have yet to give me a bum steer :)
Right well Im off to do some study prep. Have yourselves a fabulous Wednesday :)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

FadeText: Put your favorite slogans into a screensaver on your desktop (Macs only)

This is for Macs only I'm afraid, but its freeware and I'm sure there is a PC software that does the same thing.
I found this. I love slogans but forget them easily so like to be reminded. This screensaver (if you have a Mac) is freeware, so no cost which is nice :)

Its called fadetext and you can download it from here..

Anyway hope you all are well and dealing elegantly with all the very un-elegant (!!) things that life has a habit of throwing at you :)
I'm up to my EARS in a new year of study. Different from last year. HARD!! I am in the process of figuring out how to ?? keep up with the relentless !! pile of new stuff. :)
So yeah, that's what I'm up to. Hence the silence online. When I have !!!! tons of stuff to do I don't want to go to many meetings because I feel I never have enough time to study, but I just end up getting stressed and not actually being very productive because I can't settle on any one thing. So its swings and roundabouts. The hardest thing about study is not getting freaked out by it. The subject itself isnt so bad, but the mind games are pretty relentless. It feels very overwhelming starting a pile of new material in a more demanding format.

Us AA's wear our hearts on our sleeve. We verbalize our anxieties and broadcast how difficult it seems, while most others keep all this to themselves so you get a lopsided view of how you are doing compared to everyone else. Its hard to get a handle on how you are doing in relation to everyone else and if I am doing enough.

I know enough to know that I always fear utter defeat and that this has proved to be baseless in the past, but each time it feels the same no matter how many times I get it right. My brain is hardwired to anticipate failure. I'm not sure there is a cure for this as no amount of reassurance from others or previous success seems to make any difference. Other old-timers with TONS of success have told me they feel the same..
I just have to keep on keepin on and not listen to what my head tells me, or mistake my fears and anxieties for any kind of reality, present or future.


Whatever. Another ! roller-coaster of a year begins. !!!! Thank god I know enough to not listen to my head!
I seem to swing between fear that makes me very restless and concentration difficult, and complacency!! I would like to inhabit the middle ground, but until that happens, I will have to just not listen to what my head tells me :)

I have been watching videos of Ajahn Chah on Utube
to help chill me out a bit :) What a cool guy :) He looks GREAT in Videos. So free. So unfettered. There is no 'burden'. He is full of joy. Thank god for these living examples as otherwise I would have no clue ! what I was trying to achieve.. Step 11 always points me in the right direction. It gives me an example of the things I learned about in AA. Here Ajahn Chah shows me what 'happy joyous and free' looks like. This is useful as there are not nearly enough examples in the world to learn this from. BTW the video called The Buddha Comes to Sussex - Part 1 and 2 is very cool. I love monks and nuns :)

Here's a quote
Venerable Ajahn Chah "The mind of one who practises doesn't run away anywhere, it stays right there. Good, evil, happiness and unhappiness, right and wrong arise, and he knows them all. The meditator simply knows them, they don't enter his mind. That is, he has no clinging. He is simply the experiencer." - Ajahn Chah

Anyway thanks for listening and hope you have a great Tuesday :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

When everything is going wrong

There is so much drama accompanying this recession. Work, health. You name it.

I was listening to this talk called Fearless Mountain on the way home yesterday, and it is PERFECT for these recession-hit times. Amaro talks about how to accept when things fall apart, go completely wrong. He explains it so well, I really 'got it' about how the 'imperfect' IS 'perfect' just as it is. Was very refreshing. So I just thought I would mention it.
Have to head off to work, so have yourselves a ! fabulous day, even if it is riddled with events that fall short of your expectations.
Perhaps I have very low expectations?, or I have high levels of acceptance?. Either way, i tend to take all the chaos with a pinch of salt. But then I have newcomers to thank for that, as they bestow the gift of perspective (!) on my predisposition toward negativity. Gawd knows. All I know is that I find it all a bit of a laugh. Could be the running, newcomers, Amaro or service. i don't know. but it is a great privilege to feel good when so many others at work are suffering with various insecurities. Bless em.
Right I'm off.

Fearless Mountain
June 6th, 2006
Ajahn Amaro

PS. Even better! ..my wizard new diet software tells me I am a half stone lighter, so I am very happy with my ? 20 dollar investment :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

60 hour work weeks and waaay too much to do :)

This so called restful summer has turned into quite an eventful and full-up one! Trouble !! at work, unscheduled revision to remind myself of what I have learned and forgotten!, applications that would always involve a very high rate of rejection are even more so! Thankfully I have met enough people who are a lot more experienced than me in these matters to help me figure these things out. (BTW they are 'A power greater than me' in that regard.) I still find I meet MANY 'Powers greater than me' every day. Thank God.

I have been putting in a lot of hours for the last ? 6 weeks or so, and there isn't much let up. And I have been going to more meetings to reduce stress. Plus I discovered two !!!!! great pieces of diet software which means I am losing the weight I gained while spending too much time sitting reading books instead of charging about as usual. I LOVE watching the graph nosedive over the weeks :)
And I've got a whole ! pile of new stuff to do in Sept. It never ends!
so basically my life contains all the stuff that many other people are going through at the moment. Staff reductions at work, job insecurity, trying to steer into more secure jobs, and dealing with the additional demands that creates, such as learning new skills and the extra curricular study, applications, rejections and everything else :)
I am very grateful for AA at times like these, and the newcomers. It really is the pub with no beer :) It makes this demanding period much more manageable.
I better go off and make some lists! That and a good strong mug of tea!

I have a busy day in front of me :)
Have a lovely Monday!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sexual misconduct: Sexual inappropriateness is par for the course

Sexual misconduct: Sexual inappropriateness is par for the course
At work
With friends
At meetings
With Sponsees

Sexual inappropriateness is par for the course and is actually quite normal if you know what I mean. Meaning I am not very surprised when I see it. I see no reason to make a big deal of it. Its human nature after all. What did you expect? Even KIDS can be inadvertently sexually inappropriate for gods sakes. Part of being a good parent is learning how to skillfully manage misplaced sexual behavior in children. Eg That some nudity or inadvertently sexual behaviors are best reserved for the privacy of ones room, as opposed to ! mealtimes. Or whatever. I'm sure you know what I mean. (Not bizarre overly sexual actions as a result of sexual abuse, just boundaries relating to nudity and physicality that kids are not aware of.)

Certainly with AA's they are very often off kilter with regard to their sexual instincts, because they are by and large compulsive creatures and so tend to keep going back to destructive behaviors again and again, thinking 'this time it will be different'. Of course this is delusional. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The area of sexual behaviors is no different. This is why SLAA is full of people who are unable to rein in their compulsive sexual acting out (affairs, casual sex etc) despite recurring damaging effects such as Hepatitis or whatever, losing significant relationships, to name but a few.

In AA this inappropriateness can take many forms. At its most extreme this will involve rape of a newcomer woman by a longer time sober AA member posing as a trusted ally to the new female.

Less extreme, a 'consensual' sexual affair with a very vulnerable new woman by a longer time sober AA member who sees the affair in an utterly different light later in recovery. This is what we call 'thirteen stepping'.

Less extreme. Sexual irresponsibility between those that are not new but are just plain compulsive. That would involve affairs and betrayal of their significant others, possibly disease and unwanted pregnancy to boot.

Next: the openly verbalized sexualization of friendship by one person which is out of step with the sexual intentions of the other. Ie one is reading this as a sexualized friendship, and the other isn't.

I am afraid to say I have heard of all these scenarios.

And last but not least, This one is not a problem as such, but one I prefer to not have to deal with. This is the NON-verbalized sexualisation of friendship by one person which is out of step with the sexual intentions of the other. Ie one is reading this as a sexualized friendship, and the other isnt.
This is very common and arises as a by product of friendships. If I find the other persons sexual interest ? 'slimy' for want of a better word, I will not make time for that person even if their words and actions contain no openly culpable act of Sexual inappropriateness. They are not at 'fault', as such. Its just I find their company a bit 'slimy', and their reasons for wanting to maintain the friendship somewhat hypocritical. Ie they have an undisclosed or unacknowledged sexual interest which is not mentioned. This is 'their stuff', and is no big deal, its just I prefer not to be around it unless I have to. To some degree there will always be sexual tension in friendships, so to bar all such interactions would mean you avoided just about everyone! We all have sexual instincts, so it is entirely a personal matter at which point one decides the EXTENT of non-verbalized sexual attention one feels comfortable with. I can find sexual interest a bit intrusive. ? Or something. I don't really analyze it. I just do what is comfortable for me.
Disclosed sexual interest is not 'slimy' in that it is open and guiltless, but I would avoid that one too as I prefer not to be pestered by inappropriate requests.
BTW having spent at least 3yrs up to my neck in study, work and other commitments, that does not mean that when I have no free time, that the cause is this! The longer you are sober the more protective you get of your free time, and I am no different. So don't assume that my absence means there is a sexual subtext behind it all :)

So there you go. The whole bandwidth of sexual ? weirdness. The stuff people try to avoid anyway...
Just get used to the idea that most are very disappointing when it comes to the way in which they manage their closest relationships with respect to their sexual instincts, and you will not be too far off. :)
Sorry to puncture your idealism of AA and human nature generally, but there you have it. Who said human nature was flattering? It isnt! Its very ego puncturing. And it stays that way no matter how long sober you are. The skill is in how you manage it, so that you do not harm others. Until you do step 8 it is hard to grasp what harming others means to any great extent.

And no, not that it matters, but I have not been involved with an AA member. Ever. The ones that appeared on my 'radar' always looked a bit too ? Crazy to me. Probably because they were. Bless em. Besides, I much prefer non alcoholics. Who knows? Perhaps I will meet an AA I feel inclined to become involved with? ..but as yet that has not happened. Not even when I was very, ! very new. Non alcoholics always seem much more appealing. Certainly a LOT more sane by comparison. To me anyway. Plus I have heard many ! horror stories of AA relationships. Far !!! more than I would have liked to..
PS This does NOT mean that I think all non-alcoholics are incapable of having mental problems. Of !! course they can. One has to use ones common sense in these matters.

Oh yes and don't assume that you have the moral high ground if you have managed to avoid various affairs, diseases and ! whatever. It is just as morally culpable to be repressed as is it is to indulge destructive behaviors. Sexual repression can be just as destructive in the long term. So no cozy moral hilltop to view this sorry mess from I'm afraid :)

Right well I'm off. I have scary written submissions to do!!
Have a fabulous Sunday. It is gorgeous over here thank god :)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Criticism and Hostility: Whose Feedback do I pay CLOSE !! attention to?

FaintOrbsJuly09, originally uploaded by Irish friend of Bill.

I read about some nasty feedback someone received, started a reply, which ended up so long I though I may as well do a post. :) Here it is.

If people 'do not have what I want' I consider their feedback (good, bad or indifferent) worthless. The blind cannot see. Why credit them with insight and wisdom if their vitriol and hostility communicates VERY clearly that they have NONE. ..Well none at that moment anyway. They are merely held hostage by the transient tide of resentment sweeping over them. We all suffer from this condition to SOME extent, so the comparison is always RELATIVE. Not 'he is BAD, and I am GOOD, ..type thing. That is just BS and an lame excuse to not PAY ATTENTION to what is REALLY happening.

We are by and large very similar. In terms of the component aspects within us. How we end up depends on WHAT WE FOCUS ON. Not whether we are 'good' or 'bad' people. But yes. Someone who habitually focuses on REVENGE, POWER DRIVEN ARGUMENT, self righteousness etc etc may eventually act in criminally violent ways. But it is their BEHAVIOUR that is 'wrong', not THEM as such.
Hate the sin not the sinner, as they say

This is why I am such a strong advocate of RESTRAINT OF TONGUE AND PEN
PRECISELY because we are ALL capable of great cruelty with words.

The people who behave in a HOSTILE way, or SPEAK in a cruel manner, are telling you EIGHT things about themselves VERY !!! CLEARLY.
Why? Because actions speak MUCH LOUDER than words. Every time.

They are telling you:
That they have ZERO self restraint. And probably have a pretty low level of restraint UNDER EMOTIONAL PRESSURE generally. Not !!! Nice people to be around when things do NOT go their way!!

That they are NOT WILLING TO GO TO ANY LENGTHS to 'Practice these principles in all their affairs.'

That they are INCAPABLE of being OPEN MINDED

That they have very poor levels of WILL POWER

That they are VERY INCONSIDERATE because they either:
Do TOO LITTLE service work,
Or the 'service work' they do contains significant SELF SERVING or EGO MASSAGING habitual tendencies. Therefore CANNOT deliver what the big book promises IF CONDUCTED IN THE MANNER SUGGESTED in the big book.

They really do not understand what 'acting out' means."

They PROBABLY have done a pretty shoddy step 8. Ie not even remotely ! thorough.

They are not very good at recognizing or dealing with their resentment. This is either because the step 4 method they used was ineffective, OR they used an effective method but have stopped maintaining it by using step 10, allowing the resentment to build up to dangerous and antisocial levels.

Right well I have a ton of stuff to do so I am OFF. Have a LOVELY weekend :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Orbs heading for the church bell tower at midnight

If you do a google image search for Orbs, you will see lots of images just like this. White round things. Some big some small. They are actually rather common and show up in photos. I was randomly photographing a church while on my way through town and a load of them showed up on my pictures. I can never see them through the viewfinder, but become visible when you see the pics properly later. Normally I don’t see them in pics I take. I’ve seen them show up on friend’s pictures. I don’t think they mean something ‘special’. I think they’re just random.
But anyway I was happy to catch some as I was making my way though town as I randomly stopped to photograph a church. I will have to go back and see if they show up at the same place every midnight. (!)
Spooky huh? Well not really. Well I don’t think so. I like them. I like having visual reminders of ? dimensions I am not able to see. I know loads of ‘stuff’ is out there but I can’t ! see it. ..I’m not sure I want to, to be honest ☺ My church pics are full of these blobs, all different sizes, but I included these ones as they were pretty dense.
It only occurred to me later that their movement is towards the bell tower which is about to strike midnight. The second picture was of a bigger one at the front of the church just as the clock bell tolled midnight. Cool.

I always say to Sponsees, ‘life gets a bit ..WEIRD (!) after step 9’, because it .!.does. But thankfully I am not scared by it. Instead I feel the old page 84 maxim..

“We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected.” (p84, AA Big Book)

..And for those of you that have not yet reached a point where you feel like that and are a bit freaked out by the pics..
“Keep on the firing line of life with these MOTIVES and God WILL, (not might) keep you unharmed.” (p102, AA Big Book)
Remember, Do good ‘stuff’ and good ‘stuff’ happens right ! back. Well that’s what I think..

I have a busy Sunday. One (apparently) very easy exam paper, another admission test paper to submit monday and a difficult 2000wd application form for monday. And its REALLY hot here.. I will just have to drink TONS of tea :)
Have a lovely Sunday !

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Disappointing return to 'regular' meetings..

LondonTreeJune09, originally uploaded by Irish friend of Bill.

I thought I should write because I haven't for awhile.
I'm still supposed to be doing important paperwork due end of June and July, so I feel obligated with various fairly dreary and difficult tasks. They never really go away.
I haven't looked around much for new women to sponsor, but the few I did meet did not seem too interested. Either they have sponsors or they are giggling round the under 5yrs males in AA who look like AA has become a useful resource when it comes to picking up women. Whatever. I haven't bothered to find out one way or another, but as I hear of new women getting pregnant and seeking abortions, and worse.. I generally assume that 13th stepping is alive and well across most of AA.
I'm not much good with giggly women, it has to be said. Thankfully I know just enough women who have been around longer to not have to listen to it very much.
Its a bit depressing seeing the state of AA one way or another. The people who show up in different meetings asking for money so that people will not realize they do it every week, the 13th stepping, the lax and ineffective sponsorship, and of course the low recovery rate and high relapse rate. Very depressing. My experience tells me it is avoidable if they are willing to follow suggestions you see. That's why its hard to watch.
I haven't looked very hard to be honest, but I suppose I have been attending a meeting that is mostly very new people, and the sense of misery and despair is palpable. That and the chronic dependence on relationships.
So yeah I am a bit shocked by the degree of (what I see) as 'acceptable' negativity.
Perhaps if I invest in one meeting a bit I will start to see a different side or I can try to be a positive influence on the 13th stepping, relapse rate and general levels of anguish. Who knows.
But thing is. I know the only way I will see a real and satisfying change in an individual is if I sponsor them properly. Otherwise its very piecemeal.
I am not very motivated to look for new women to reject me in favor of some low life AA bloke on the pull, but I will carry on looking.

In theory one always learns something new about oneself, but I dislike rejection as much as the next alky. And I take great offence at being labeled (wordlessly of course) as some kind of man hater, because I do not recommend relationships with men in aa. Quite wrong. Never mind. The only reason that rankles is because I have yet to meet a woman who understood what the HELL I meant by that till they go out with a reasonably sane non alcoholic. Whatever. I'm not even going to even TRY to explain that one.
But alkys are pretty sick. Pretty maudlin, negative creatures. I much prefer people without the same kind of mental illness, albeit in remission. Nah.

Anyway. It just goes to show that I am wrong even about having nothing (apparently) to say. Quelle surprise!
Being wrong is pretty ordinary. So nothing new there.

Right well the sun is shining and I am off to burn 1000 cals in the gym :)
Have a nice Tuesday out there :)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Just a hello. Nothing in particular

Just a brief hello. I have caught up on some sleep. Not enough. I have caught up with some former Sponsees. Again not enough. I hope to catch up with family sometime this week and hopefully other former Sponsees and AA members. I find my family quite needy. Energy vampires! But I can handle them in small doses. I have important courses to apply for and applications to do. A backlog of paperwork. Lots of cleaning up! And I need to resume my fairly strict diet and exercise routine. Lots to do!
I would love to spend time with some monastics, and work permitting, I will. My body and nervous system is gradually winding down from its nervous energy for the last three months.
As for AA, I haven't given it much thought. Meetings for me are "the pub with no beer" so I enjoy going just to catch up with everybody and say hello, try to be useful, drink too much coffee etc. I might do a service commitment this summer and use the weekly meeting as an opportunity to catch up with people I haven't seen for a long time.
I will go to a meeting later today where I always see people I know and is socially pleasant. My mind feels relatively blank. I have no particularly obsessive thoughts. Nothing that is stuck on repeat. My head feels very empty at the moment. There are lots of problems at work, but I have no reaction to it, same as many other people I work with, simply because none of us are worried any more. There is simply no point in being worried. There is plenty of things wrong with AA, as always, but that doesn't bother me either. I'm sure I disagree with many people on many points about how AA runs itself, but this doesn't concern me. Basically I suppose I must be feeling very equanamous.
I am looking forward to spending time with people this summer who dwarf my limited experience. I thoroughly enjoy being around my elders and betters, even if I feel very foolish. Which happens quite a lot in their company. I intend to challenge myself in other ways this summer. So I will push myself out of my comfort zone. Diet and exercise should do that, amongst other things. If a senior Lama is visiting London this summer I will try to attend, but I will have to arrange it around my work commitments.
Well I better be off. Where there is seriously gorgeous over here. Really hot! So I hope you have a lovely Monday, and perhaps I will have something more interesting to say when I get back to you :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

See you after Wednesday :)

Wow its so GREEN !! round here these days. Summer is HERE!! yaaaay.
Im just posting to say my enforced absence will be temporarily suspended as of Wednesday 27th. Cross your fingers for me for the Wednesday as that's my last scary exam. (Till next time!)
Hope you are all well :) I am sure you all are :)
I'm fine. Same ol same ol. Just less sleep, and heightened nerves. The two go rather well together as it happens..
As for AA. Haven't given it much thought. Time permitting, I will see if I can find a express-Sponsee to do steps with in the summer in double quick time. But its pure luck whether one shows up that is suitable for that sort of thing. Will be nice to catch up with you all. :) I am already drifting into holiday mode as I anticipate the reduction in workload after Wednesday. But in truth another pile of obligations show up that need attending to that I have put on the back burner. I might take a needed dharma-break and hang out with some monks/nuns. They are sooooooooooo relaxing to be around. Its like you have a MONTHS holiday in a week, or a weeks holiday in a day. Plus I just really like ! being around them. Even if I feel like a complete fool. Hehe. Its VERY !!!!!! ego puncturing, I can tell you. Still the ritual humiliation and subsequent humility will be what I call 'good uncomfortable'.
I will have to check if I have any time off work left.. Hopefully.
Right well I look forward to having some TIME do do STUFF. I have LOTS to catch up with. Oh well.

RIGHT. Must not!!!! Get distracted!!!! Back to work!! I find it VERY hard sustaining the effort to the bitter end, so I must take my leave and get back to you after Wednesday :)
Have a LOVELY Sunday :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

There's always SOME truth in criticism

There's always some truth in criticism. ..well apart from 'shape shifting reptile' !! baloney!

It is tempting to think that the more one accumulates information, and the more success one has at passing on the message of recovery to people with less experience, that the more infallible one becomes, or more impenetrable to stupid mistakes, projections, misplaced blame, and various forms of 'justified' moral superiority.

But I have found that not to be the case. One of the reasons I am intrigued by personal and moral superiority, is because I find those pitfalls are much more readily available to anybody who has successfully managed to stay sober for some time. Yes of course arrogance exists in many forms and I have met my fair share of arrogant newcomers. But I'm just saying that for those who are lucky enough to have managed to overcome a compulsion to drink for a long period of time, and also have overcome a lot of personal obstacles, then there is a very strong temptation to occupy the moral high ground when one encounters people who are clearly less able. Either because they cannot stop drinking, because they have little or no grasp of how arrogant they are.

One of the things I frequently tell Sponsees, if they follow the path of steps that way I was shown them, is that they will enjoy (as described on page 83) "a feeling of neutrality safe and protected", "the drink problem has been removed, it does not exist for them". Whilst that might not seem very impressive to a non-alcoholic, unfortunately due to the unwillingness of many AA to follow suggestions, it's not common for people to feel like that in AA recovery. I find that most members of AA that I meet do not feel as though they are "in a position of neutrality safe and protected". Because this is the case, it would be easy to feel superior in some way to these people.

It's because of this that I tell Sponsees and when they start, the they will have to work very hard in order to overcome arrogance and superiority at a later date. It's easy to feel humble when everything you do you turns to crap. It's much harder to stay humble when most of what you do succeeds. Of course not everything succeeds, that's not what I mean. What I mean is, we have a good chance at life. And things really start to work. Often for the very first time. We start getting along with our family. We start getting along with the people we work with. We start to be of real help to the people we meet. Our friends and family start relying upon us for our assistance. The people we have helped in the past, come back because the thing we passed onto them, really worked for them. And seeing all these nice things to happen is really lovely.
But none of these things make me or anybody else less prone to error, or faulty judgement. There is no critical mass of life experience or information that can shield either you or I from our own stupidity, or carelessness.
And blindness doesn't leave us simply because we did well yesterday. So basically we never get to put our feet up. Life has nasty way of reminding us when we take our eye off the ball. You snooze you lose.

So when I am on the receiving end of criticism, there may very well be some truth in it. It's highly likely I'm doing something wrong, and that I may be contributing to the problem unwittingly in some way or other. Mainly because none of us can lay claim to EVER being ENTIRELY free of error.
Of course some criticism is expressed in a way that is difficult to take on board, but that does not make the content of the criticism any less valid. Alternatively, a form of criticism may be expressed very eloquently, yet its content is utterly misplaced. The same is true of compliments. A compliment could be very skilfully expressed, yet have no basis in truth. Or a compliment could be expressed really poorly, yet reflect a real virtue of some sort.

I regularly receive criticism of some sort another from AA's I meet. Misery loves company. And if I communicate that I believe (on almost cellular level) that happiness is an inside job, that understandably ruffles some people's feathers, who haven't had the good fortune to have that experience.

"We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, even though it was once just that for very many of us"

so yeah, people get pissed off. It's the nature of the beast. I don't take it personally. I'm not saying I like it, I just don't take it personally.

Basically I'm just saying that criticism goes with the territory. Especially if the results you are getting are not very similar to that of the majority membership of AA. So long-term sobriety is in some respects can be pretty thankless. Until of course others get grips with your approach, and get to see the benefits of it first-hand. Only then, are people able to genuinely put their prejudices and reservations to one side. I think that's fairly normal. I don't think makes them difficult, obstructive, or worse in some way or other. I think I was the same. I think I only really understood how powerful a program was after I had completed the first nine steps. The longer I am sober the more I see what an extraordinarily powerful vehicle the AA program is for all kinds of self-realisation.

When I encounter criticism from Sponsees and newcomers I completely understand that they don't understand. I find it unpleasant to be on the receiving end of their negativity. It actually feels like little arrows are physically piercing me. Not nice! Quite toxic. And very draining if I stick around too long. But what I mean is, regardless of all the things I've learned, and regardless of all the experiences I have overcome, I don't assume that I'm right, or without fault, when something goes wrong. Perhaps I make too many allowances for people's genuine reservations about what I am telling them. Who knows? All I know is that that's how I feel when things go wrong. When someone reacts badly to what I'm saying. (apart from total !! crazy nutters)

But by and large I would say defensive, critical reactions are very common in AA. AA is full of touchy, restless, irritable and discontent people so it's hardly surprising people disagree in ways that are not terribly !! skilful! As you may already know from reading this blog, I have very low expectations generally of others. I don't expect people in AA to be gracious when they encounter something they don't like. I expect mudslinging and other such childish reactions. So it's hard to disappoint me by behaving childishly, but like I said before, I don't have a heart of stone, so yes I feel the consequences of attacking comments just like everybody else.

Anyway I just thought I would share that. Basically nothing is as simple or as comfortable as you would like it to be. And there is no point at which you stop questioning yourself. Anyway I better be off. I'm only doing this because I'm avoiding another task! So have a fabulous Tuesday, and I hope your weather is as nice as ours :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Almost instant cure for RSI: The Mind/Body Prescription

Well I've been suffering from what I'm going to call "the 12 days of RSI."
I've had it in the past, and successfully used Australian bush flower essences which pretty much fixed it. Anyway, I've used the same bush flower essences that I used the last time, and thank God they worked! Phew!

But whilst I was doing a little bit of extra research on the Internet for RSI, I stumbled across what looks like a fabulous resource which pretty much sums up my interpretation of how RSI arises in the first place. I had always taken the view that it was some sort of stress arising due to an unresolved dilemma of some sort, but I particularly like the way in which it is articulated by the woman describing how she recovered using Dr Sarnos's approach.

There is a link to it here. Another related page is here. And the Amazon book page references is here. Australian bush flowers are here.

What I mean is, but I thought I had an instinctive understanding of this, but I am really impressed by the clarity and straightforward explanation provided by this interpretation of how RSI arises. So, I listened to the the online recordings which summarise the method, and have been trying to consciously implement its suggestions, and although I was feeling good already, I feel even better than I did before I listened to the audio.

The gist of it goes:
Unresolved conflicts bringing to light parts of oneself one doesn't like to acknowledge. But the tension between the view one likes to have of oneself, (I am a good caring person who makes time for other people), and the view revealed by testing circumstances, (I don't have time to take care of you and everybody else because quite frankly I have got TOO MUCH TO DO right now), create internal tension, and unless you are prepared to look at this dilemma SQUARELY in the eye, and see the UNFLATTERING truth about oneself, the body creates a CONVENIENT DISTRACTION from the daunting, unflattering issue. RSI is useful because it creates an almost total distraction, because just about every movement is affected by it. This way, you have almost 24 x 7 distraction.

The cure? Simply to remind oneself when pain arises, that the pain is a convenient fiction to distract oneself from the dilemma, and to basically go straight to the heart of the dilemma and solve that, or at the least acknowledge it. Basically, if you face the demon, then there is no need for the body to ameliorate your stress by providing you with the painful distraction.

Cool. My conflict, or cognitive dissonance to give its true name, was the conflict between,
1. being a responsible person in my family, who does whatever they can to provide solutions to family problems.
2. Having too much on my plate right now to deal with the ENERGY VAMPIRES in my family who are currently in enacting various stages of drama, in response to one family member who has cancer. their drama, my current workload, their inability to understand my lack of drama, their inability to understand the extent of my current workload, is just too much work for me to take on at this moment in time, and at some point this problem will require me to tell them so, in a way that doesn't cause them harm, or shift blame onto them, for what is essentially MY personal limits of patience and tolerance, and mental and emotional energy.

Unsurprisingly, I do not like to see myself as somebody who does not have a great deal of patience and tolerance for the demands placed upon myself because of a 'cancer drama' presenting itself to a family member. Nor do I like to see myself as somebody who has to exert almost every available ounce of energy into my current workload, in order to achieve a satisfactory result.

Helping my family, is much more exhausting than helping a newcomer. As my family are much less open and receptive to new ideas. They are very conventional. So whereas an hour helping a newcomer might invigorate me and refresh my mind, an hour trying to help my family member, is straining, frustrating, testing, seemingly intractable. Like pulling teeth basically. Yes it can be done, but it's slow arduous work. I know because I've done in the past, and I've seen gradual improvement. But that kind of work takes moment to moment, unwavering focus, in order not to drift into habitual negativity, blame, fixed ideas. The only thing I can compare it to, is like dealing with a newcomer who doesn't want to get sober, who thinks they know best, who thinks they are right, and that I am stupid. I can help newcomers who fit that description, but it's HARD work, and one has to deal with ongoing slights and undermining remarks of one sort or another which is draining.

So that's why being there for my family in a non bullshitty kind of way, takes !! work, and because I'm at a !! PARTICULARLY busy point in my workload, my mind is pretty full !! up with that right now, so I don't have mental space for a pile of other concerns, which to me seem entirely self-inflicted and avoidable. I know that they want me to be there for them in what I would call a "conventional" way. But I am more accustomed to being there for other people, in what I would call a fairly nonconventional way. When I am concerned about another human being. I feel that in some way benefits them. Some would say that was delusional, to me it is nothing more than the power of prayer. I think that ANY good thought directed towards another human being benefits them, and I don't think it matters whether you call it prayer or anything else. So I feel as though I am doing my bit, albeit not in a way that I think makes sense to them. In this way the spiritual life is a bit of a curse, because one ends up dealing with people who are not on a spiritual path who think you think you're being a complete A*SE. The answer is in the St Francis prayer where it says:

"It is better to understand, than to be understood"

(yeah I know it's not exactly the same, but that's how I remember hearing it in aa meetings) Meaning, life is a great deal simpler, when instead of trying to make everybody else understand YOUR perspective, you behave in a way, and speak in such a way, that you are sure their limited viewpoint WILL be able to understand. It's as if we are talking two COMPLETELY separate languages, and in order to be understood I have to adopt THEIR language.

Obviously, I'm no doctor, I am not saying that I think you ought to adopt the same viewpoint, I'm just telling you this is what I make it today. don't for God's sakes assume I expect you to agree with me :)
Right well much as though I would love to stay and chat!, The gym is calling :) Have a relaxing cosy Sunday wherever you happen to be :)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity

Well, after all those kind comments you alcoholic bloggers left for me in the last post, I think I'm going to have to do buy this book, and commit it entirely to memory :)
..no, seriously, this book does appeal to me, but I confess I haven't read it yet.
Its called: Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity

Personally, I think the ego is extraordinarily insidious. Never really goes away. Best you can do, is learn to tolerate it gracefully. Some people, do manage to have very impressive absence of? Ego. Not nearly enough unfortunately.
There is that whole, "false humility" thing, which I find a little bit distasteful. I'm not very good at tolerating it, because I find it embarrassingly transparent. If it was less obvious, then it wouldn't bug me so much. But as it is, it's sort of stands out like a sore thumb, and it's very difficult to not notice.

Also, this subject has significance for either someone with long-term sobriety, or someone with less sobriety who is able to enjoy a high standard of of emotional stability, for want of a better word. When I say emotional stability, I don't mean that they somehow experience that sort of "flat line" emotional life. What I mean is, that they don't take their emotional state personally. Meaning their relationship to their varied, unpredictable, and conflicting states, is "no big deal".
And of course, this applies to all those that by default have a confident demeanour, and a tendency towards complacency.

Personally, I find when things are going well, that's the time I'm most likely to get lazy and complacent. So success for me, is a sort of minefield. You'd be surprised how easy it is to wreck things, by just letting things slide. So, the more success you experience, the easier it is to become complacent. Well that's what I find anyway.

So, I think this book looks quite promising. There is nothing more unattractive than grandiosity. And how easy! it is to think oneself slightly better than the next man, especially when the next man is in a particularly sorry state, for one reason or another. Like someone said, "it's easy to love the lovable ones".

I must admit, I find those things I learned from having to deal with success of one sort or another, quite interesting. Because so much of my life before was about failure after failure. So, I never really had to learn how to be responsible when good things came my way. Now I am in a fortunate position in many ways, life is a lot better than it was. I have more luck than I deserve. And yes, in this impermanent world, nothing is certain. "This too shall pass". The good things pass, and the bad things pass. But in the past all I had was lots of bad things. At least, that's the way it seemed. I daresay I have a slanted perception of my past, so they that may not be entirely accurate! But yes I became very good at different forms of crisis management. Whereas now, my challenge is to maintain the good things, so that I do not allow them to slip through my fingers. Nor hold on to them so tightly, that I squeeze the life out of them. And this is an entirely new lesson. For me.

So anyway, it I just thought I would mention this book, because us alcoholics are a bit ! weak on the ego front. Even those of us who consider ourselves to be uniquely awful. ..So much so that we are 'special and different', in a worse way, than other aa's. Which is bull.

Right I'm off. And thank you so much for your kind comments on my birthday. If I'm honest, compliments make me slightly uncomfortable, As I subscribe more to the Kipling review of criticism and compliments From be poem called if

If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

Meaning I think of both criticism and compliments as imposters. Because neither of them tell the whole story. And no matter how nice the thing you are telling me is, I know that there is another side to that. And that feeling never really leaves me, so on the one hand it is only polite to say thank you, but I don't feel as though I am a better person because I have those compliments. the nagging reality of my varied nature is all too apparent, unfortunately. I don't mean that in a disparaging sense, because I wholeheartedly believe that all humans contains shades of light and dark, so when I say that, it has no 'good' or 'bad' meaning. it's like saying 'I am just like you'. So there is no sense of shame or criticism, for me when I think those thoughts.

One thing I like about long-term sobriety, if that every now and again, life pulls you up short, in no uncertain terms, and lets you know absolutely that you don't know everything. So I kind of know that a moment that feels just like that, lies ahead. And that's why it easier to not take success or failure personally, and to see it all as shades of experience. Neither good nor bad. Right or wrong.

There I go again. I had every intention of writing a very short post. Just mentioning the book and the author and leaving it at that. Typical.
Well have a fabulous day, wherever you are :)