Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Need One Now?

Are you thinking about giving up 5 minutes before the miracle happens? Well, guess what? It is coming, and it is here now!  Just don't drink today, and amazing things will happen.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Empty Your Cup or Are You Going To Drink That?

In Addiction Recovery it is said that you only need to change one thing, but that thing is everything. And everything is included in everything. Carl Jung stated that this recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body must be a "complete ego deflation, followed by a profound personality change". Sounds simple enough doesn't it? Yep, very simple, but not very easy. How do you precisely, go about changing everything?
I'm going to answer that question in a famous little Zen Koan, but this little Zen Koan has itself undergone an unprofound personality change of its own. What I mean by that is, that I have adapted some of my favorite Koans, removing hard to pronounce ancient Japanese names, places and customs, substituting with modern Recovery circumstances.
Empty Your Cup

Sarah had almost finished her college diploma in Addiction Studies.
For her practicum, she needed to talk to an 'old timer' in a 12 Step Program, so she arranged to visit with Old Moe at the local Alano club.
While Old Moe was pouring coffee, Sarah talked about all she had learned about the 12 Step Program and how she thought it worked. Old Moe filled Sarah's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. Sarah watched her overflowing cup until she could no longer restrain herself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" she blurted.
"You are like this cup," Old Moe replied, "How can I tell  you how AA works unless you first empty your cup?"
I don't think that Zen should really be explained, so I'll leave it at that.
 Oh, one more thing, since we are talking about filling cups: 
  • The Pessimist sees the glass filled half-way, and says, "that glass is half empty".
  • The Optimist sees the glass filled half-way, and says, "that glass is half full".
  • The Alcoholic sees the glass filled half-way, and says, "are you going to finish that?"

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Good News Bad News

Active addiction is a lonely business. Alcoholics know loneliness like few others. From Chapter 11 in the Big Book:

The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did -- then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen -- Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand! 
p. 151, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

This is a 'we' program :)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Zen Recovery

Zen Koans have been used for a couple of thousand years or so to help people reach enlightenment. They are little stories or situations that were designed to make people pause, scratch their heads, and say, "what?"
I love using Zen Koans in recovery work and generally people loved to be baffled by them. Sometimes though, I think (which is not condoned in Zen) that the ancient and hard to pronounce Japanese names and foreign customs serve to distract a more modern Western audience.  A parable or teaching story works best by meeting people exactly where they are and with what they are familiar with. Jesus told stories about shepherds and sheep, while Lao Tzu spoke of oxen and rice paddies. I've just brought some of our favorite Zen stories into Canadian culture in the 21st Century. Here is some Zen of Recovery, I hope you are scratching your head.
Bruce was fairly new to AA and sobriety, but he had been very successful in his business and active in his church. Bruce considered himself to be a humble and dedicated member of his new 12 Step Fellowship. Bruce scheduled regular meetings with his carefully chosen sponsor, Frank.
 One day during their weekly visit, Bruce asked his sponsor, "What is 'ego', according to AA's spiritual principles?" Frank's face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, "What kind of stupid question is that!?"
 This unexpected response so shocked Bruce, that he became sullen and angry. His sponsor then smiled and said, "That Bruce, is ego."

Friday, 25 November 2011

How To Avoid A Train Wreck

Most newcomers to AA are amazed at the incredible truths offered by those with even a bit of sobriety. One of the most astonishing to learn is that it is not the 3rd, 5th or 17th drink that causes the problems, but the very first one.  If you don't take the first drink, you won't get drunk. That is a promise and a guarantee.