Daily Practice of Spiritual Principles

I did anything for my alcohol or other addiction(s). Today, I do everything for my recovery. At the beginning of my recovery, I didn’t want anything to do with it; a magic pill to make the pain and suffering all stop and go away was fine with me. Instead, a program of recovery was provided to me. All I had to do was “practice the principles in all my affairs”; I had to develop a daily practice.

What we have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.

Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 85

When I wake up in the morning my mind is racing with thoughts. First thing I do – grab the coffee. Second – put the headphones with some soothing, relaxing, meditative music on. Third – I meditate.

The first technique I ever learned for meditation is simple. Slow down your breathing – count backward from five to one, repeat if necessary. Imagine yourself in a movie theater with a big blank white screen in front of you. Watch those thoughts race across the screen in front of you. Don’t stop them; just let them go. At some point, the screen will slow down and stop. This may be a minute to as long as five or ten minutes and you will feel relaxed. It takes practice and patience. Just let things happen. Personally, if I get stressed during the day and I feel overwhelmed, I take a walk and use this meditation while walking. It works!

Many people in meetings mentioned reading things in the morning – the Daily Reflection, a passage from the Bible, a reading from this or that. It took me many years before I developed my own “Daily Readings” in the morning. Why? What do they do? The Daily Reflection is a book of passages relating each month to one of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (i.e. January – Step 1, February – Step 2, etc.) The Black Book or “Though of the Day” is another passage, a “suggested” meditation, and prayer. Then I have several other readings I post. All these readings provide me something to think about in my recovery during the day. It sets my mood for the coming day.

It was told to me, “Meeting makers make it”, a common slogan in recovery. I only have to look at my own experience to believe this is true. I had ten years of recovery when I was attending meetings regularly. When I stopped going to meetings, I relapsed. Now I attend one, if not two or three, meetings a day. Meetings provide me a place where people understand who I am, what I’m dealing with, and have “suggestions” if I listen, or I share my experiences, strength, and hope of how my recovery works in my life.

Throughout the day, I tend to take a short inventory. Did what just happen “practicing these principles in all my affairs”? If not, what’s going on? Do I need to take a walk and meditate? Do I need to apologize for my behavior because I hurt someone directly or indirectly? What do I need to do differently next time? Is there a lesson to be learned?

By the time I go to bed, on most days, I feel relaxed and satisfied I’ve done the things I needed to do to stay sober. But I also recognize some days I’m not perfect. This program of recovery is something I have to live to the best of my ability. Bill Wilson and others wrote this in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its suc­cessful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.

Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 25

As long as I am willing to use these spiritual tools in my daily spiritual practice, I will stay sober. If I follow the instructions shown to me in their program of recovery called the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I will stay sober. Every day I stay sober is a miracle because I’m “honest, open-minded and willing” to “practice all these principles in all my affairs.”

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