Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SPIRITUALITY - We are all spiritual beings having a human experience

Time flies and another week is here.  Today let's talk about spirituality as a part of the six areas of balance.  As Carol Lynn Pearson says in her great little book, "Embracing Coincidence", "I have lived my life by faith, choosing to believe that life has to make sense, choosing to believe there is Spirit behind matter, choosing to believe consciousness survives death, choosing to believe there is a God and that God is good."  Today, I believe this with all my heart and mind.  As a child growing up I was taught to fear God if I was not "good enough" or if I was not perfect.  As stated in the title we are human beings here having a spiritual experience.  Being human, I learn and grow through trial and error.  I am not perfect, nor do I need to be.  It is enough to "always do my best".  Today, I know God's love is unconditional and that I can choose to live in love or fear.  I choose LOVE.  In his book, "The Four Agreements" Don Miguel Ruiz gives us four important truths to guide our life.  First, is be impeccable with your word and to cultivate faith.  "To have great faith is to have great power, because your intent, your will is undivided.  When your work isn't dissipated by doubt, the power of your work becomes even stronger."  Faith is not sure knowledge it is more a belief.  What do I believe?  Do I believe in God and his love for me and his desire for me to become the best me?  Do I believe there is a higher, best me and I can become better?  Do I believe that God or the Universe supports my growth?  Don Miguel Ruiz's fourth agreement is "always do your best". My "best" is differenct from day to day.  Ruiz states:  "You do your best when you are enjoying the action or doing it in a way that will not have negative repercussions for you.  You do your best because you "want" to do it - not because you "have" to do it; not because you are trying to please the judge, and not because you are trying to please other people."  Have you heard it said, "It is progress not perfection"?  Am I better today than yesterday, am I better this year than last year?  How is my progress? Spiritual balance indicates the need for progress and so recovery is about continual growth.  To me an important part of spirituality is gratitude, being grateful for all good gifts and grateful for my life just as it is today.  Do you have a gratitude list?  To increase spirituality, it is helpful to write down each day, five to ten things for which you are grateful.  It is a great reminder of how blessed I am and I try to do this daily.  Give it a try, perhaps it will work for you too.  In her book, "Lovingkindness", Sharon Salzberg reminds us:  We may look for that which is stable, unchanging, and safe, but awareness teaches us that such a search cannot succeed.  Everything in life changes.  The path to true happiness is one of integrating and fully accepting all aspects of our experience.  Ying and yang, circle half dark and half light....  Unity, integration, comes from deeply accepting darkness and light, and therefore being able to be in both simultaneously.  We must move from trying to control the uncontrollable cycles of pleasure and pain, and instead learn how to connect, to open, to love not matter what is happening.   I will close with the Serenity Prayer said at the end of 12 Step meetings.  "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.  Today, I choose LOVE and light even living amidst the darkness.
Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC
Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Another week has flown by and now we will be discussing social balance as a part of self-care in recovery.  Remember the old John Doone poem:  "No man is an island"?  The song adapted from the poem states:  "No man is an island; no man stands alone.  Each man is my brother; each man is my friend."  Humans are social beings.  We need social support. However, if my social support has been my using friends, it is important to find people that are supportive of my recovery efforts.  Letting go of using friends often is a concern for most people in recovery, however, it is often a safety issue early in recovery. 

Most often when we talk social support, people talk about family support and families can be a great support and help.  However, there are other support systems.  Twelve Step groups offer great support and also anonymity or the idea that I can go to a meeting, share, and feel safe.  As well as meetings, there are sponsored activities in which to participate, ie., dances, camping.  A sponsor is there to help me understand and work through the 12 Steps.  Some people find support through their church and some churches offer 12 Step meetings and workbooks to use to work through the 12 Steps.   There are several Christian workbooks and even a Native American workbook.  Let me know of others that you have used or like?  There are many paths to support.  I talked to a friend in SLC who went to a weekend retreat for women through a Christian group and had an amazing experience and recognized her sober women friends are a strong social support.  She talked about taking a Tai Chi class and how much she loved it.  I can meet other like minded people when I try a class and I am willing to learn.  TurningLeaf Wellness Center has offered yoga and Zumba classes.  How about Tai Chi?? 

People in my work environment can also be a support.  Another man I know in recovery likes to hire other people in recovery and make the workplace a part of their support system.  Are you having fun?  A big part of social balance is to enjoy life and have fun.  When is the last time you blew bubbles or bounced a pebble across the water.  Going to Zions Park is a close, fun retreat for all of us in the St. George area.  What is your favorite way to have fun and nurture the child within? 

I am going to share a story from Carol Lynn Pearson from her book "Embracing Coincidences" entitled STOP and START.   "So tired.  I had lain awake most of the night staring at the ceiling, racked with concern.  This morning I made myself walk to the park.  Coming back, despite the warm sun and the cheery bird calls, I found myself spiraling down, down....allowing the worst possible scenario to play out in my mind.  "Stop!"  The voice was loud and sure.  It was my own voice.....I took a few deep breaths and opened my eyes.  The first thing that appeared in my vision was a word, a work in large, white block letters only ten feet away from me on the asphalt path:  STOP.  The path was about to meet the street.  But I had been about to meet the abyss (mentally).  A warning sign.  Hours later, I was leaving my granddaughter's elementary school, where I had been with both the kindergarten and first grade classes, doing "creative drama" with Aesop's fables.  Still tired, I was hurrying to my car, cutting across the schoolyard.  There, under my feet, what was I standing on?  A word.  A word in large, white block letters on the asphalt playground:  START.  Start?  Playing? Learning?  Becoming a child?  Trusting?  An invitation." 

And so, my invitation to you this week is to play and have fun sober.  I would love to hear what you find to do and with whom??

Monday, August 1, 2011

EMOTIONAL BALANCE - Honoring Feelings and Emotions

Last week we discussed mental balance as one of the six areas of balance. This week the third area of balance to be discussed is emotional balance. The Level 1 Seminar is as important for emotional balance as it is for mental. Do you remember the Serenity Prayer said at the end of Twelve Step meetings? “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. How often do you feel peaceful and serene? Many of us try to avoid feeling emotional pain or discomfort. We may use alcohol and/or drugs to avoid feelings; to escape from feeling pain. Sometimes, we may even escape the joy or sabotage our own success if we are not feeling “good enough” or “worthy”. Sometimes we are feeling the guilt and shame of our thoughts or actions and this keeps us stuck in our addictions. Remember, feelings are not good or bad they are just feelings. They are clues to my emotional state moment to moment. I can accept and honor: “this is what I am feeling” and then choose how to work with the feelings. I can choose constructive or destructive ways to handle my emotions. For example, if I am feeling angry, I can go to the gym rather than “punch” a wall or someone. Galileo reminds us: “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.” Discovering and honoring feelings can be rewarding and it helps us identify with others as we all feel feelings . In Seminar, we learn there are two ways to live life: coming from love or coming from fear. A Course in Miracles states: Perfect love casts out fear. If fear exists, then there is not perfect love. But only perfect love exists. If there is fear, it produces a state that does not exist. And Emily Dickinson wrote: That love is all there is, Is all we know of love. I have found meditation most helpful in getting to know and honor my feelings. What have you found? Click the "Contact Us" tab at the top of the page and let me know. I would love to hear from you.

Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC
Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor