Thursday, June 11

Step 12 – Uncovering Your Light

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs”

Step 12 is the step of fellowship. It’s the step where we take everything that we’ve experienced and everything that we’ve learned and we share it with other people. It is often said that we can only help others with things that we have experienced ourselves. This step is where we do just that.

If you look back at your own progress you will see the amazing journey that you’ve taken, in just this one area that you’ve decided to focus on, and the incredible progress that you’ve made. When we started this journey, more than likely, you were afraid, worried, and maybe even a little disbelieving. And yet, now, you can see what you’ve managed to accomplish. You can feel the new lifestyle that you’re working to create.

The best thing to do right now, the best encouragement you can give to yourself, is to share your journey with someone else. Notice, I’m NOT telling you to give them advice or tell them what to do, just simply share what you’ve gone through and the journey you took to change. That will be enough to help them, if they want it.

The biggest thing right now is to not let that wicked feeling of shame to enter into your thoughts. True, you may have been in a rough place when you finally started to work but that’s OK. It is NOTHING to be ashamed about. Remember, that everyone has had rough times, and keep focused on the fact that you had the faith and courage to DO something about it. That’s more than most people can lay claim to.

“The selfless service of this work is the very principle of Step Twelve. We received our recovery from the God of our understanding, so we now make ourselves available as His tool to share recovery with those who seek it. Most of us learn in time that we can only carry our message to someone who is asking for help. Sometimes the only message necessary to make the suffering addict reach out is the power of example. An addict may be suffering but unwilling to ask for help. We can make ourselves available to these people, so that when they ask, someone will be there.

Learning the art of helping others when it is appropriate is a benefit of the N.A. Program. Remarkably, the Twelve Steps guide us from humiliation and despair to a state wherein we may act as instruments of our Higher Power. We are given the ability to help a fellow addict when no one else can. We see it happening among us every day. This miraculous turnabout is evidence of spiritual awakening. We share from our own personal experience what it has been like for us. The temptation to give advice is great, but when we do so we lose the respect of newcomers. This clouds our message. A simple, honest message of recovery from addiction rings true.”
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text

I hope that one of the things that you learn from your journey through the 12 Steps is that you are NEVER alone. No one in this life is ever completely alone. All it takes is for you to lift your head and look around. Others may be going through the same thing right at this moment, or they may have survived what you are going through, and if you don’t see anyone nearby, there is ALWAYS your Higher Power that is looking out for you.

Keep this step at the forefront of your thoughts. It reminds us to practice the steps in EVERY aspect of our lives and to ALWAYS help when it is right to do so. I believe that this is a true blessing of the 12 Steps. The willingness, confidence, and ability to help another person, no matter what their situation might be.

Step 12 is that daily encouragement that we all sometimes need. We are reminded that BECAUSE of the spiritual awakening we have experienced in going through our own steps, we are able to take and share that same experience with others in desperate need of it. Indeed, BECAUSE of our spiritual awakening, we will be better each and every day and apply the lessons learned from our journeys.

Today I’m going to leave you with two of my absolute favorite quotes. :-) The first I’ve used before because it is simply awesome and gives me chills every time I read it. The second is from the movie Holy Man with Eddie Murphy. It is his goodbye blessing to a man who made his own spiritual journey and came to see the world with new eyes.

May your own eyes come to see the real world and your place in this beautiful story.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Marianne Williamson

And always remember this one…my own blessing for you each and every day.

“Your good is better and your better is blest.”
- G – Holy Man

Monday, June 8

Step 11 – The Buddha Step

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out”

Ohh…prayer AND meditation. Everyone’s favorite things to do, right? :-)

So…this step is all about getting in touch with your inner monk. Shaving your head is optional, as is the vow of celibacy. Ha Ha. Really, it’s OK to keep reading this one. I’m not going to hold you to anything.

What is this step all about? It’s rather simple really. It’s about getting in closer contact with your own spirituality. That inner core of who you are that is just waiting to help you make the next right choice. No matter what you call your Higher Power, now is the time to start working on THAT relationship.

You’ve got the tools now to work on any part of your life and make it better. You’ve got the tools to make yourself better in so many different ways. You’ve opened up to the ability of self evaluation and true self improvement.

This step is about more than just yourself. It’s about opening yourself up to the possibility that your Higher Power has a plan for you. That it wants the absolute best for you and is determined and able to assist you in reaching that goal.

“When we first come to the Program, we usually express a lot of things which seem to be important wants and needs. As we grow spiritually and find out about a Power greater than ourselves, we begin to realize that as long as our spiritual needs are truly met, our living problems are reduced to a point of comfort. When we forget where our real strength lies, we quickly become subject to the same patterns of thinking and action that got us to the Program in the first place. We eventually redefine our beliefs and understanding to the point where we see that our greatest need is for knowledge of God's will for us and the strength to carry that out. We are able to set aside some of our personal preference, if necessary, to do this because we learn that God's will consists of the very things we care most about. God's will for us becomes our own true will for ourselves. This happens in an intuitive manner which cannot be adequately explained in words.

We become willing to let other people be what they are without having to pass judgment on them. The urgency to take care of things isn't there anymore. We couldn't comprehend acceptance in the beginning-now we can.”
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text,

But…I don’t know the right way to pray! Yes, I’ve actually heard that as an excuse to NOT talk to God. The funny thing is, I’m pretty certain that He doesn’t care about the “right way”; He just wants to talk to you.

Have you ever sat for hours with a close friend and talked about everything that’s going on in your life right now? The things you’re happy about, your fears, concerns, dreams, everything? See, I think that’s how you should talk to God. And why not? Think you’re too insignificant for that kind of conversation? Hopefully you’re beginning to think a little different now, after the work you’ve been doing.

“If we have had little or no experience with prayer, we should probably begin in a simple fashion. That means putting aside perfectionistic concerns about praying "the right way." We should pray simply and forthrightly to God as a loving Father, not worrying about what we should and should not say.

Over time, as we become comfortable with God, we will talk with Him as with a trusted friend. He will be the Person with whom we can conduct our daily inventories of grief and confession issues. And we will begin to sense His answers to our prayers...”
- Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery

The most important part of this step is that you realize that you are fundamentally “good”. You are. Regardless of anything that might have happened before. If you don’t take joy and pleasure in torturing cute little puppy dogs, then you’re fundamentally good. :-)

This step is about getting you in conscious contact with that part of you that KNOWS that and bringing that to the surface. The great thing is…it’s all already inside you. Probably buried under a mountain of shit, but that’s what the steps are for. The steps are your shovel to get at that buried treasure. Your awareness of your Higher Power is another tool, another set of hands to help you shovel. So take some time today and say “Hi!” you never know what you might find.