Thursday, May 24, 2012

Another Slice Of Humble Pie?

In my last blog post, Surrender was the flavor of the day. Surrender is a key element in asking for, and receiving, a Spiritual Healing that removes all desire for alcohol or drugs. In order to surrender our addiction to a Higher Power effectively, however, we must ask humbly. You might want to blow the dust off your old album collection and listen to a little Humble Pie as you read along.

For your listening pleasure, here's one of my personal Humble Pie favorites that never fails to remind me of my month-long vacation in Club Rehab every time I hear it.

When we talk about surrendering one’s will, we’re not talking about surrendering our will to live or the positive things that make us who we are in life. We’re simply surrendering the issues that we’ve locked away behind the walls our ego has built around them. Those issues serve no purpose, are the source of our pain, and need to get out of Dodge.

Imagine yourself taking your fears, childhood abuse, anger, addiction or other negative issues you’ve been carrying inside and placing them in your hands. You no longer have any use for them and you ask your Higher Power to take them from you. When you are working the 3 Steps, you are doing just that – placing all your problems in your Higher Power’s hands. Your Higher Power will be more than happy to take them away and replace them with peace, love, and contentment.

But in order for it to happen, you and your Higher Power must be able to connect, one-on-one. This is where the word “humbly” becomes important. Being humble doesn’t mean we must tremble in fear or bow our heads in shame before a Higher Power. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A Higher Power consists of nothing but divine love and never judges or punishes us. Our Higher Power is our best friend.  Asking humbly simply means that we must lower our guard, tear down the ego-driven walls we’ve built to protect us, and open ourselves to the hand that reaches out to us. Think of it as the Law of Attraction, where similar energies are attracted to one another. In this case, the energy is universal love. In order to attract love, we must open our hearts to receiving it, with no ego thoughts, no pride, or other obstacles to block the flow of energy. Imagine humility as being stranded alone on a desert island and seeing a rescue boat heading your way. You would be too lost in the moment to wonder how the captain found you or to question the rescue process. You would feel a combination of deep despair for having been stranded and an overwhelming sense of gratitude at the same time. This example defines a state of humbleness, or humility, in a nutshell.

Anyone that has ever experienced a sudden, intense spiritual healing will tell you that there are no words to describe the feeling. Gentle, yet intense waves of pure warmth and love flow through one’s entire body and years of sadness, shame, guilt or other negative emotions are wiped away in an instant – these fear-based emotions are replaced with a sense of calm and quiet strength that never leave us again. As a result, issues such as addiction, depression, loneliness, and other common ailments also disappear. We later realize that the pain we experienced were merely symptoms of deeper issues, and not the source of the problem. Do we become perfect people after a spiritual healing? Absolutely not – we will still have good days and bad ones and we will still have our faults. But the way we react to them will improve on a large scale. 

How does this happen? When we experience a spiritual connection with a Higher Power, we allow pure healing energy to enter into our being. This love displaces the shame, guilt, and other negative emotions that have ruled our thoughts in the past.

Think of ego as a man-made dam, holding back the water of love. When we open the floodgates (surrender our will), we allow that water to flow into us and through us, which is how divine love works. Love’s very nature is to flow purely and endlessly.

The way we open the floodgates and unblock the dam is through admitting powerlessness, humbly and sincerely surrendering our own will to a power greater than our own, and simply asking a Higher Power to remove the issue(s) that we have been unable to overcome using our own willpower. We must be very specific when we ask, however. For example, if you’re asking for help with an alcohol addiction, it’s important to ask your Higher Power to please remove the urge to drink. Asking only for your life to change is too general a question. By asking for your most urgent problem to be removed, we allow our Higher Power to form a stronger connection with us and to “zoom in” on a particular need.

Like most things in life, practice makes perfect, and we don’t always make the connection with our Higher Power the first time around. We often must ask many times a day over a period of days, weeks, or even months before we experience an intense spiritual healing. But as long as we follow the basics – surrender, sincerity, and asking humbly – it’s not a question of whether it will happen, but when. The energy is always here, with us, waiting to flow to us. We simply need to meet it halfway and our Higher Power will do the rest.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Does SURRENDER Mean In Addiction Recovery?

Anyone familiar with AA's 12 Steps has heard the word Surrender used more than once. But how many of us truly understand what it means, and why are so many of us reluctant to surrender to a power greater than our own?  

Truth is, no one likes the idea of surrendering to anyone or anything. We’ve been taught to view surrender as a sign of weakness. Society teaches us that only a coward surrenders to the enemy, while the strong and brave defeat their enemies – or, so we have been led to believe. But is that an accurate perception? Actor John Wayne never surrendered to one bad guy in the movies, but that only happens in our fantasies, of course. In real life, he lost his battle with cigarette addiction and died of lung cancer. His own willpower was not powerful enough to quit smoking on his own – more accurately, it was not powerful enough to overcome the issues that drove his addiction to cigarettes.

Sometimes, however, the only choices we have are to surrender or die. When the enemy holds a gun to your head, as sometimes happens during war, any soldier would be foolish to challenge the aggressor without a weapon of his own. It is a do or die situation, and the soldier surrenders in order to survive. In the process, many prisoners of war discover new strengths they never knew existed and become stronger than ever. He surrenders in order to fight his enemy another day. 

Surrendering our problems to a Higher Power is similar to surrendering to the enemy, but in reverse. The difference is that, unlike an enemy army, our Higher Power wants only the best for us. Hand over your troubles to a power greater than your own and your Higher Power will replace them with a new strength we never thought possible.

We all surrender to many things every day, although we don’t give it much thought. How many of us would be foolish enough to cross the street without waiting for an oncoming bus to pass by first? Would we refuse to surrender to gravity by leaping out of an airplane without a parachute or decide to step outside for a stroll during a tornado? Of course we wouldn’t do those things. We surrender to gravity, the weather, the air we breathe and passing traffic in order to live and survive. We surrender to them because we have no power to control them and because they are a power greater than our own.

Yet, many of us refuse to surrender to a Higher Power, even when we’re told that a power greater than our own consists of nothing but pure, unconditional love and only wants to help us.

Why do some people refuse to surrender? There is one word that best sums it up – fear. People are afraid to connect with a Higher Power for two main reasons. Fear of losing control and fear that they will be punished or judged by the powers that be, rather than loved and forgiven. These fears are based on past experiences, of course, and were instilled in us by abusive people that have hurt us in the past. We’ve been taught to shut up and keep our problems to ourselves, unless we want more of the same. We’re told that surrender is for the weak and to put on our big boy/girl pants and deal with our problems alone. And boy, do we ever try. We come up with all kinds of ways to ignore trauma and other painful experiences of the past. We work hard to earn money, diet and exercise to look and feel better, physically, or try to outrun our fears by staying busy in other ways. Many a workaholic is driven by fear of the past and fear of the future, for example.

Or we try more self-destructive forms of escape. We overeat, drink ourselves into oblivion, and/or become addicted to drugs, sex, relationships, or gambling. While working out, eating right and earning money might be better for your physical health and state of mind than eating or drinking yourself to death, they do nothing to ensure we feel happier about ourselves on a spiritual level.

Surrendering to a Higher Power is not about throwing in the towel and giving up on our self. We don’t surrender our best qualities when we surrender – we are simply surrendering the negative emotions, trauma and pain that have been holding us back from true happiness for years. It’s really more of a merger than surrender. We are actually joining forces with a Higher Power’s energy. We’re surrendering our issues to a Higher Power in the belief that a power greater than our own can, and will, remove the issues and problems that we cannot remove using our own power.

A Higher Power not only can and will do this for us, but does remove them every day for someone, somewhere.

Surrender is a mutual, joint effort, where people and universal love work together, one surrendering to the other on a constant basis. When a baby draws its first breath of air, for example, the universe is surrendering to the baby. When our bodies die, we surrender our final breath to the universe and the cycle is complete. For the entire time we are alive, here on earth, we exist in a constant state of give and take with a power greater than our own. Those that choose to take a deep breath and make a leap of faith with a Higher Power no longer view life as a battlefield. Instead, they join with and embrace life in a way that most people will never know.

Once again, we don’t give up the best parts of ourselves when we surrender to a Higher Power. We join forces with it. Our Higher Power is our best friend. In successful long-term relationships, couples don’t surrender to one another's demands (ego-driven wants and needs). If you've ever been in that type of relationship, you know it's a recipe for failure. Instead, they surrender to a Higher Love, both collectively and as individuals. They surrender to a Higher Love as one and learn to accept, compromise and love each other on a higher level.

Although one person might temporarily surrender to their partner’s will, rather than a Higher Power’s will, neither party will know happiness for very long. When we surrender to a power greater than our own, the negative emotions within us are not only removed, but are replaced with acceptance, tolerance, patience and other traits that allow us to love others in the truest sense of the word.

We can choose to hold onto painful memories of the past and remain sad, angry, guilty and unhappy or we can choose to surrender them to a Higher Power and live a free and contented life. Franklin Delano Roosevelt once stated that “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” and he was correct. When we hand our childhood issues and other trauma over to a Higher Power, it is actually our deepest fears that we are surrendering. Ask anyone that has experienced a sudden, intense spiritual healing and they will tell you that their fear was the first to go. Imagine a bridge with a town called Fear on one side and Happiness on the other. Surrender is the name of the bridge that allows us to cross from one side to the other.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spiritual Water Of Love

Don't be confused by the title. We're talking spiritual waters here, not holy water in the religious sense. I have absolutely nothing against religion, for those that choose it, but this post is about connecting with divine love on a spiritual energy level.

As someone that was trapped in the darkness of addiction for more than 20 years, this song especially strikes a chord with me, as I often visualize love/light to be like water, in the sense that one of its main properties is to flow to and fill everything in its path. To me, these song lyrics represent a man that believes his water of love has run dry and he can't find it anywhere... he doesn't yet realize that his ego is his own little dam and if he'd just open the floodgates the water would flow through and fill him with love.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thought Of The Day

I wonder how many lives and billions of dollars could be saved every year if treatment professionals adopted a spiritual approach to addiction recovery vs. throwing prescription drugs at the problem. Handing out prescriptions for addiction-related issues seems an awful lot like putting out a fire with a bucket of gasoline.