February 24, 2014Daily Meditation
"Personality change was what we really needed. Change from self-destructive patterns of life became necessary."
Basic Text, p. 15
In early life, most of us were capable of joy and wonder, of giving and receiving unconditional love. When we started using, we introduced an influence into our lives that slowly drove us away from those things. The further we were pushed down the path of addiction, the further we withdrew from joy, wonder, and love.
That journey was not taken overnight. But however long it took, we arrived at the doors of NA with more than just a drug problem. The influence of addiction had warped our whole pattern of living beyond recognition.
The Twelve Steps work miracles, its true, but not many of them are worked overnight. Our disease slowly influenced our spiritual development for the worse. Recovery introduces a new influence to our lives, a source of fellowship and spiritual strength slowly impelling us into new, healthy patterns of living.
This change, of course, doesn't "just happen." But if we cooperate with the new influence NA has brought to our lives, over time we will experience the personality change we call recovery. The Twelve Steps provide us with a program for the kind of cooperation required to restore joy, wonder, and love to our lives.
Just for today: I will cooperate with the new influence of fellowship and spiritual strength NA has introduced to my life, I will work the next step in my program.
February 25, 2014Daily Meditation
"It would be tragic to write [out an inventory only to] shove it in a drawer These defects grow in the dark and die in the light of exposure."
Basic Text, p. 31
How many times have we heard it said that we are only as sick as our secrets? While many members choose not to use meetings to share the intimate details of their lives, it is important that we each discover what works best for us. What about those behaviors we have carried into our recovery that, if discovered, would cause us shame? How much are we comfortable disclosing, and to whom? If we are uncomfortable sharing some details of our lives in meetings, to whom do we turn?
We have found the answer to these questions in sponsorship. Although a relationship with a sponsor takes time to build, it is important that we come to trust our sponsor enough to be completely honest. Our defects only have power as long as they stay hidden. If we want to be free of those defects, we must uncover them. Secrets are only secrets until we share them with another human being.
Just for today: I will uncover my secrets. I will practice being honest with my sponsor.
February 26, 2014Daily Meditation
"The Eighth Step offers a big change from a life dominated by guilt and remorse."
Basic Text, p. 38
Remorse was one of the feelings that kept us using. We had stumbled our way through active addiction, leaving a trail of heartbreak and devastation too painful to consider. Our remorse was often intensified by our perception that we couldn't do anything about the damage we had caused; there was no way to make it right.
We remove some of the power of remorse when we face it squarely. We begin the Eighth Step by actually making a list of all the people we have harmed. We own our part in our painful past.
But the Eighth Step does not ask us to make right all of our mistakes, merely to become willing to make amends to all those people. As we become willing to clean up the damage we've caused, we acknowledge our readiness to change. We affirm the healing process of recovery.
Remorse is no longer an instrument we use to torture ourselves. Remorse has become a tool we can use to achieve self-forgiveness.
Just for today: I will use any feelings of remorse I may have as a stepping-stone to healing through the Twelve Steps.
February 27, 2014Daily Meditation
"We examine our actions, reactions, and motives. We often find that we've been doing better than we've been feeling."
Basic Text, p. 42
Imagine a daily meditation book with this kind of message: "When you wake up in the morning, before you rise from your bed, take a moment for reflection. Lie back, gather your thoughts, and consider your plans for the day. One by one, review the motives behind those plans. If your motives are not entirely pure, roll over and go back to sleep." Nonsense, isn't it?
No matter how long we've been clean, almost all of us have mixed motives behind almost everything we do. However, that's no reason to put our lives on hold. We don't have to wait for our motives to become perfectly pure before we can start living our recovery.
As the program works its way into our lives, we begin acting less frequently on our more questionable motives. We regularly examine ourselves, and we talk with our sponsor about what we find. We pray for knowledge of our Higher Power's will for us, and we seek the power to act on the knowledge we're given. The result? We don't get perfect, but we do get better.
We've begun working a spiritual program. We won't ever become spiritual giants. But if we look at ourselves realistically, we'll probably realize that we've been doing better than we've been feeling.
Just for today: I will examine myself realistically. I will seek the power to act on my best motives, and not to act on my worst.
February 28, 2014Daily Meditation
"Our newly found faith serves as a firm foundation for courage in the future."
Basic Text, p. 93
When we begin coming to meetings, we hear other addicts talking about the gifts they have received as a result of this program, things we never thought of as "gifts" before. One such "gift" is the renewed ability to feel the emotions we had deadened for so long with drugs. It's not difficult to think of love, joy, and happiness as gifts, even if it's been a long time since we've felt them. But what about "bad" feelings like anger, sadness, fear, and loneliness? Such emotions can't be seen as gifts, we tell ourselves. After all, how can we be thankful for things we want to run from?
We can become grateful for these emotions in our lives if we place them in their proper perspective. We need to remember that we've come to believe in a loving Higher Power, and we've asked that Power to care for us - and our Higher Power doesn't make mistakes. The feelings we're given, "good" or "bad;" are given to us for a reason. With this in mind, we come to realize that there are no "bad" feelings, only lessons to be learned. Our faith and our Higher Power's care give us the courage we need to face whatever feelings may come up on a daily basis.
As we heard early in recovery, "Your Higher Power won't give you more than you can handle in just one day." And the ability to feel our emotions is one of the greatest gifts of recovery.
Just for today: I will try to welcome my feelings, firm in the belief that I have the courage to face whatever emotions may come up in my life.
March 1, 2014Daily Meditation
"[The] Power that brought us to this program is still with us and will continue to guide us if we allow it."
Basic Text, p. 26
Ever had a panic attack? Everywhere we turn, life's demands overwhelm us. We're paralyzed, and we don't know what to do about it. How do we break an anxiety attack?
First, we stop. We can't deal with everything at once, so we stop for a moment to let things settle. Then we take a "spot inventory" of the things that are bothering us. We examine each item, asking ourselves this question: "How important is it, really?" In most cases, we'll find that most of our fears and concerns don't need our immediate attention. We can put those aside, and focus on the issues that really need to be resolved right away. Then we stop again and ask ourselves, "Who's in control here, anyway?" This helps remind us that our Higher Power is in control.
We seek our Higher Power's will for the situation, whatever it is. We can do this in any number of ways: through prayer, talks with our sponsor or NA friends, or by attending a meeting and asking others to share their experience. When our Higher Power's will becomes clear to us, we pray for the ability to carry it out. Finally, we take action.
Anxiety attacks need not paralyze us. We can utilize the resources of the NA program to deal with anything that comes our way.
Just for today: My Higher Power has not brought me all this way in recovery only to abandon me! When anxiety strikes, I will take specific steps to seek God's continuing care and guidance.
March 1, 2014Daily Meditation
"Our disease has been arrested, and now anything is possible. We become increasingly open-minded an open to new ideas in all areas of our lives."
Basic Text p. 102
For many of us, our first few months or years in NA are a wonderful time. We're willing to try anything, and our eyes are constantly opened to new joys and new horizons. Finally freed from active addiction, our recovery young and fresh, anything seems possible.
With a little clean time under our belts, however, there may be less urgency to our program. We might not be quite as willing as we once were to put to use the experience of others. We may have encountered a few seemingly intractable defects in our character, whittling away at the boundless optimism of our early recovery. We know too much to believe that anything is possible.
How do we restore enthusiasm to our recovery? We pray about it; we share about it; and we seek out the enthusiasm we are lacking. There are members - some with more clean time than ourselves, some with less - who have the enthusiasm we seek, and who would be happy to share it with us if we ask them to. To gain the benefit of their experience, however, we must practice open - mindedness and become teachable again. When we become open to new ideas and willing to try them out we'll find that, once more, anything seems possible.
Just for today: There is always more to learn and someone to learn from in my recovery. Today, I will be open to new ideas and willing to try them out. As long as I am, I know that anything is possible.
March 2, 2014Daily Meditation
"Any form of success was frightening and unfamiliar."
Basic Text, p. 14
Before coming to NA, few of us had much experience with success. Every attempt to stop using on our own had ended in failure. We had begun to give up hope of finding any relief from active addiction. We had grown accustomed to failure, expecting it, accepting it, thinking it was just part of our makeup.
When we stay clean, we begin to experience success in our lives. We begin to take pride in our accomplishments. We start to take healthy risks. We may take some knocks in the process, but even these can be counted as successes if we learn from them.
Sometimes when we fulfill a goal, we hesitate to "pat ourselves on the back" for fear that we will seem arrogant. But our Higher Power wants us to succeed, and wants us to share with our loved ones the pride we take in our accomplishments. When we share our successes with others in NA, they often begin to believe that they can achieve their goals as well. When we succeed, we help lay the groundwork for others who follow in our path.
Just for today: I will take time to savor my successes. I will share my victories with an "attitude of gratitude.
March 3, 2014Daily Meditation
"There will be times, however, when we really feel like using. We want to run, and we feel lousy We need to be reminded of where we came from and that it will be worse this time. This is when we need the program the most."
Basic Text, p. 78
If we're contemplating a relapse, we should think our using through to the bitter ends. For many of us, those ends would include severe medical problems, imprisonment, or even death. How many of us have known people who relapsed after many years clean, only to die from their disease?
But there is a death that accompanies a return to active addiction that may be worse than physical death. That is the spiritual death we experience when we are separated from our Higher Power. If we use, the spiritual relationship we have nurtured over the years will weaken and perhaps disappear. We will feel truly alone.
There is no doubt that we have periods of darkness in our recovery. There is only one way we can make it through those troubling times: with faith. If we believe that our Higher Power is with us, then we know that all will be well.
No matter how badly we may feel in our recovery, a relapse is never the answer. Together, we find recovery. If we stay clean, the darkness will lift and we will find a deeper connection to our Higher Power.
Just for today: I thank my Higher Power for the gift of NA. I know that relapse is not the way out. Whatever challenges I face, I will face them with the God of my understanding.
March 4, 2014Daily Meditation
"This program has become a part of me.... I understand more clearly the things that are happening in my life today I no longer fight the process."
Basic Text, p. 162
In active addiction, things happened seemingly without rhyme or reason. We just "did things"; often without knowing why or what the results would be. Life had little value or meaning.
The Twelve Step process gives meaning to our lives; in working the steps, we come to accept both the dark and the bright sides of ourselves. We strip away the denial that kept us from comprehending addiction's affect on us. We honestly examine ourselves, picking out the patterns in our thoughts, our feelings, and our behavior We gain humility and perspective by fully disclosing ourselves to another human being. In seeking to have our shortcomings removed, we develop a working appreciation of our own powerlessness and the strength provided by a Power greater than we are. With our enhanced understanding of ourselves, we gain greater insight into and acceptance of others.
The Twelve Steps are the key to a process we call "life": In working the steps, they become a part of us—and we become a part of the life around us. Our world is no longer meaningless; we understand more about what happens in our lives today. We no longer fight the process. Today, in working the steps, we live it.
Just for today: Life is a process; the Twelve Steps are the key. Today, I will use the steps to participate in that process, understanding and enjoying myself and my recovery.
March 5, 2014Daily Meditation
"When a need arises for us to admit our powerlessness, we may first look for ways to exert power against it. After exhausting these ways, we begin sharing with others and find hope."
Basic Text, p. 79
We've sometimes heard it said in our meetings that "rude awakenings lead to spiritual awakenings." What kind of rude awakenings do we have in recovery? Such an awakening might occur when some undesirable bit of our behavior that we thought safely hidden away is suddenly revealed for all the world to see. Or our sponsor might provoke such an awakening by informing us that, just like everyone else, we have to work the steps if we expect to stay clean and recover.
Most of us hate to have our covers pulled; we don't like being laid naked in full view. The experience delivers a strong dose of humility. Our first reaction to such a disclosure is usually shock and anger, yet we recognize the truth when we hear it. What we are having is a rude awakening.
Such awakenings often disclose barriers that block us from making spiritual progress in our recovery. Once those barriers are exposed, we can work the steps to begin removing them from our lives. We can begin experiencing the healing and serenity which are the preludes to a renewed awakening of the spirit.
Just for today: I will recognize the rude awakenings I have as opportunities to grow toward spiritual awakening.
March 6, 2014Daily Meditation
"As a result of the Twelve Steps, I'm not able to hold on to old ways of deceiving myself."
Basic Text, pg. 176
We all rationalize. Sometimes we know we are rationalizing, admit we are rationalizing, yet continue to behave according to our rationalizations! Recovery can become very painful when we decide that, for one reason or another, the simple principals of the program don't apply to us.
With the help of our sponsors and others in NA we can begin to look at the excuse we use for our behavior. Do we find that some principals just don't apply to us? Do we believe that we know more that everyone else in Narcotics Anonymous, even those who have been clean for many years? What makes us think that we're so special
There is no doubt, we can successfully rationalize our way through part of our recovery. But, eventually, we must squarely face the truth and start acting accordingly. The principals in the Twelve Steps guide us to a new life in recovery. There is little room for rationalization there.
Just for today: I cannot work the steps and also continue deceiving myself. I will examine my thinking for rationalizations, revel them to my sponsor, and be rid of them.
March 7, 2014Daily Meditation
"The good times can also be a trap; the danger is that we may forget that our first priority is to stay clean."
Basic Text, p. 42
Things can get really good in our recovery. Perhaps we've found our "soul mate" built a rewarding career, started a family. Maybe our relationships with our family members have healed. Things are going so well, we barely have time to attend meetings. Perhaps we begin to reintegrate into society so successfully that we forget that we don't always react to situations like others do.
Maybe, just maybe, we've put some priorities ahead of themselves. Is meeting attendance still a priority with us? Do we still sponsor? Do we phone our sponsor? What step are we working? Are we still willing to drag ourselves out of bed at some ungodly hour for a Twelfth Step call? Do we remember to practice principles in all our affairs? If others in NA reach out to us, are we available? Do we remember where we came from, or have the "good times" allowed us to forget?
To stay clean, we must remember that we are only one drug away from our past. We stay grateful for the good times, but we don't let them divert us from our continuing recovery in Narcotics Anonymous.
Just for today: I'm grateful for the good times, but I've not forgotten from where I've come. Today, my first priority is staying clean and growing in my recovery.
March 8, 2014Daily Meditation
"What we want most is to feel good about ourselves."
Basic Text, p. 97
"We'll love you until you can learn to love yourself!" These words, heard so often in our meetings, promise a day we look forward to eagerly - the day when we'll know how to love ourselves.
Self-esteem, we all want this elusive quality as soon as we hear about it. Some of us seem to stumble upon it accidentally, while others embark on a course of action complete with affirmations made to our reflections in the mirror. But fix-it-yourself techniques and trendy psychological cures can only take us so far.
There are some definite, practical steps we can take to show love for ourselves, whether we "feel" that love or not. We can take care of our personal responsibilities. We can do nice things for ourselves, as we would for a lover or a friend. We can start paying attention to our own needs. We can even pay attention to the qualities that we cherish in our friends - qualities like intelligence and humor - and look for those same qualities in ourselves. We're sure to find that we really are lovable people, and once we do that, we're well on our way.
Just for today: I will do something today that helps me recognize and feel love for myself.
March 9, 2014Daily Meditation
"In the past, we made simple situations into problems; we made mountains out of molehills."
Basic Text, p. 87
Making mountains out of molehills seems to be our specialty. Have you heard it said that to an addict, a flat tire is a traumatic event? Or how about those of us who forget all pretense of principle when confronted with a bad driver? And what about that can opener that won't work—you know, the one you just threw out the second story window? We can relate when we hear others share, "God, grant me patience right now!"
No, it's not the major setbacks that drive us to distraction. The big things—divorce, death, serious illness, the loss of a job—will throw us, but we survive them. We've learned from experience that we must reach out to our Higher Power and others to make it through life's major crises. It's the small things, the constant day-to-day challenges of living life without the use of drugs, that seem to affect most addicts most strongly in recovery.
When the little things get to us, the Serenity Prayer can help us regain our perspective. We can all remember that "turning over" these small matters to the care of our Higher Power results in peace of mind and a refreshed perspective on life.
Just for today: I will work on patience. I will try to keep from blowing things out of proportion, and walk with my Higher Power through my day.
March 10, 2014Daily Meditation
"The steps are our solution. They are our survival kit They are our defense against addiction, a deadly disease. Our steps are the principles that make our recovery possible."
Basic Text, p. 19
There's lots to like in Narcotics Anonymous. The meetings, for one, are great. We get to see our friends, hear some inspiring stories, share some practical experience, maybe even hook up with our sponsor. The campouts, the conventions, the dances are all wonderful, clean fun in the company of other recovering addicts. But the heart of our recovery program is the Twelve Steps—in fact, they are the program!
We've heard it said that we can't stay clean by osmosis—in other words, we can't just attend meetings, no matter how many, and expect to breathe recovery in through the pores of our skin. Recovery, as another saying goes, is an inside job. And the tools we use in working that "inside job" are the Twelve Steps. Hearing endlessly about acceptance is one thing; working the First Step for ourselves is something very different. Stories about making amends may be inspiring, yet nothing will give us the freedom from remorse that taking the Ninth Step ourselves will give. The same applies to all twelve steps.
There's much to appreciate about NA, but to get the most from our recovery we must work the Twelve Steps for ourselves.
Just for today: I want everything my personal program has to offer. I will work the steps for myself.
March 11, 2014Daily Meditation
"It will not make us better people to judge the faults of another It will make us feel better to clean up our lives."
Basic Text, p. 37
Sometimes we need something tangible to help us understand what holding a resentment is doing to us. We may not be aware of how destructive resentments actually are. We think, "So what, I have a right to be angry;" or, "I might be nursing a grudge or two, but I don't see the harm."
To see more clearly the effect that holding resentments is having in our lives, we might try imagining that we are carrying a rock for each resentment. A small grudge, such as anger at someone driving badly, might be represented by a pebble. Harboring ill will toward an entire group of people might be represented by a enormous boulder. If we actually had to carry stones for each resentment, we would surely tire of the weight. In fact, the more cumbersome our burden, the more sincere our efforts to unload it would be.
The weight of our resentments hinders our spiritual development. If we truly desire freedom, we will seek to rid ourselves of as much extra weight as possible. As we lighten up, we'll notice an increased ability to forgive our fellow human beings for their mistakes, and to forgive ourselves for our own. Well nourish our spirits with good thoughts, kind words, and service to others.
Just for today: I will seek to have the burden of resentments removed from my spirit.
March 12, 2014Daily Meditation
"Many times in our recovery, the old bugaboos will haunt us. Life may again become meaningless, monotonous, and boring."
Basic Text, p. 75
Sometimes it seems as though nothing changes. We get up and go to the same job every day. We eat dinner at the same time every night. We attend the same meetings each week. This morning's rituals were identical to the ones we performed yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. After the hell of our addiction and the roller-coaster craziness of early recovery, the stable life may have some appeal—for a while. But, eventually, we realize we want something more. Sooner or later, we become turned off to the creeping monotony and boredom in our lives.
There are sure to be times when we feel vaguely dissatisfied with our recovery. We feel as though we're missing something for some reason, but we don't know what or why. We draw up our gratitude lists and find literally hundreds of things to be grateful for. All our needs are being met; our lives are fuller than we had ever hoped they'd be. So what's up?
Maybe it's time to stretch our potential to its fullest. Our possibilities are only limited by what we can dream. We can learn something new, set a new goal, help another newcomer, or make a new friend. We're sure to find something challenging if we look hard enough, and life will again become meaningful, varied, and fulfilling.
Just for today: I'll take a break from the routine and stretch my potential to its fullest.
March 13, 2014Daily Meditation
"A sponsor is not necessarily a friend, but may be someone in whom we confide. We can share things with our sponsor that we might not be comfortable sharing in a meeting."
IP No. 11, "Sponsorship, Revised"
We've asked someone to sponsor us, and the reasons we have for asking that particular person are as many as the grains of sand on a beach. Perhaps we heard them share at a speaker meeting and thought they were funny or inspiring. Perhaps we thought they had a great car and we would get one by working the same program they work. Or maybe we live in a small town and they were the only person who had the time available to help.
Whatever our initial reasons for getting the sponsor we have, we're sure to find that our reasons for keeping them are quite different. Suddenly they'll amaze us with some stunning insight, making us wonder whether they've been sneaking peeks at our Fourth Step. Or maybe we're going through some sort of life crisis, and their experience with the same problem helps us in ways we never dreamed possible. We call them in pain, and they come up with a special combination of caring words that provide genuine comfort.
None of these remarkable feats on the part of our sponsor are mere coincidence. They've simply walked the same path before us. A Higher Power has placed that one special person in our lives, and we are grateful for their presence.
Just for today: I will appreciate that one special person in my life — my sponsor.
March 14, 2014Daily Meditation
"Also, our inventories usually include material on relationships."
Basic Text p. 29
What an understatement this is! Especially in later recovery, entire inventories may focus on our relationships with others. Our lives have been filled with relationships with lovers, friends, parents, co-workers, children, and others with whom we come in contact. A look at these associations can tell us much about our essential character.
Often our inventories catalog the resentments that arise from our day-to-day interactions with others. We strive to look at our part in these frictions. Are we placing unrealistic expectations on other people? Do we impose our standards on others? Are we sometimes downright intolerant?
Often just the writing of our inventory will release some of the pressure that a troubled relationship can produce. But we must also share this inventory with another human being. That way, we get some needed perspective on our part in the problem and how we can work toward a solution.
The inventory is a tool that allows us to begin healing our relationships. We learn that today, with the help of an inventory, we can start to enjoy our relationships with others.
Just for today: I will inventory the part I play in my relationships. I will seek to play a richer, more responsible part in those relationships.
March 15, 2014Daily Meditation
"The get-togethers after our meetings are good opportunities to share things that we didn't get to discuss during the meeting."
Basic Text p. 29
Active addiction set us apart from society, isolating us. Fear was at the core of that alienation. We believed that if we let others get to know us, they would only find out how terribly flawed we were. Rejection would be only a short step away. When we come to our first NA meeting, we are usually impressed by the familiarity and friendliness we see other recovering addicts share. We, too, can quickly become a part of this fellowship, if we allow ourselves to. One way to start is by tagging along to the local coffee shop after the meeting.
At these gatherings, we can let down the walls that separate us from others and discover things about ourselves and other NA members. One on one, we can sometimes disclose things that we may be reluctant to share at the group level. We learn to make small talk at many of these late-night gatherings and forge deep, strong friendships as well.
With our newfound friends in NA, we no longer have to live lives of isolation. We can become a part of the greater whole, the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.
Just for today: I will break free of isolation. I will strive to feel a part of the NA Fellowship.
March 16, 2014Daily Meditation
"The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to sort through the confusion and the contradiction of our lives so that we can find out who we really are."
Basic Text p. 27
Using addicts are a confused and confusing bunch of people. It's hard to tell from one minute to the next what they're going to do or who they're going to be. Usually, the addict is just as surprised as anyone else.
When we used, our behavior was dictated by the needs of our addiction. Many of us still identify our personalities closely with the behavior we practiced while using, leading us to feel shame and despair. Today, we don't have to be the people we once were, shaped by our addiction; recovery has allowed us to change.
We can use the Fourth Step inventory to see past the needs of the old using life and find out who we want to be today. Writing about our behavior and noticing how we feel about that behavior helps us understand who we want to be. Our inventory helps us see beyond the demands of active addiction, beyond our desire to be loved and accepted—we find out who we are at the root. We begin to understand what's appropriate for us, and what we want our lives to be like. This is the beginning of becoming who we really are.
Just for today: If I want to find out who I am, I'll look at who I've been and who I want to be.
March 17, 2014Daily Meditation
"Those who make it through these times show a courage not their own."
Basic Text p. 82
Before coming to NA, many of us thought we were brave simply because we had never experienced fear. We had drugged all our feelings, fear among them, until we had convinced ourselves that we were tough, courageous people who wouldn't crack under any circumstances.
But finding our courage in drugs has nothing to do with the way we live our lives today. Clean and in recovery, we are bound to feel frightened at times. When we first realize we are feeling frightened, we may think we are cowards. Were afraid to pick up the phone because the person on the other end might not understand. We're afraid to ask someone to sponsor us because they might say no. We're afraid to look for a job. We're afraid to be honest with our friends. But all of these fears are natural, even healthy. What's not healthy is allowing fear to paralyze us.
When we permit our fear to stop our growth, we will be defeated. True courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to walk through it.
Just for today: I will be courageous today. When I'm afraid, I'll do what I need to do to grow in recovery.
March 18, 2014Daily Meditation
"There is a special feeling for addicts when they discover that there are other people who share their difficulties, past and present."
Basic Text p. 53
The wealth of our recovery is too good to keep to ourselves. Some of us believe that when we talk in meetings, we should "remember the newcomer" and always try to carry a positive message. But sometimes the most positive message we can carry is that we are going through difficult times in our recovery and are staying clean in spite of them!
Yes, it's gratifying to send out a strong message of hope to our newer members. After all, no one likes a whiner. But distressing things happen, and life on life's terms can send shock waves even through the recovery of long-time members of Narcotics Anonymous. If we are equipped with the tools of the program, we can walk through such turmoil and stay clean to tell the tale.
Recovery doesn't happen all at once; it is an ongoing process, sometimes a struggle. When we dilute the fullness of our message by neglecting to share about the tough times we may walk through on our journey, we fail to allow newcomers the chance to see that they, too, can stay clean, no matter what. If we share the full message of our recovery, we may not know who benefits, but we can be sure someone will.
Just for today: I will honestly share both the good times and the difficult times of my recovery. I will remember that my experience in walking through adversity may benefit another member.
March 19, 2014Daily Meditation
"A simple, honest message of recovery from addiction rings true."
Basic Text p. 50
You're in a meeting. The sharing has been going on for some time. One or two members have described their spiritual experiences in an especially meaningful way. Another has had us all rolling in the aisles with entertaining stories. And then the leader calls on you.., gulp. You shyly introduce yourself, apologetically stammer out a few lines, thank everyone for listening, and sit out the rest of the meeting in embarrassed silence. Sound familiar? Well, you're not alone.
We've all had times when we've felt that what we had to share wasn't spiritual enough, wasn't entertaining enough, wasn't something enough. But sharing is not a competitive sport. The meat of our meetings is identification and experience, something all of us have in abundance. When we share from our hearts the truth of our experience, other addicts feel they can trust us because they know we're just like them. When we simply share what's been effective in our lives, we can be sure that our message will be helpful to others.
Our sharing doesn't have to be either fancy or funny to ring true. Every addict working an honest program that brings meaningful recovery has something of immense value to share, something no one else can give: his or her own experience.
Just for today: I have something valuable to share. I will attend a meeting today and share my experience in recovery from addiction.
March 20, 2014Daily Meditation
"Most of us have no trouble admitting that addiction had become a destructive force in our lives. Our best efforts resulted in ever greater destruction and despair. At some point, we realized that we needed the help of some Power greater than our addiction."
Basic Text p. 24
Most of us know without a doubt that our lives have been filled with destruction. Learning that we have a disease called addiction helps us understand the source or cause of this destruction. We can recognize addiction as a power that has worked devastation in our lives. When we take the First Step, we admit that the destructive force of addiction is bigger than we are. We are powerless over it.
At this point, our only hope is to find some Power greater than the force of our addiction—a Power bent on preserving life, not ending it. We don't have to understand it or even name it; we only have to believe that there could be such a Higher Power. The belief that a benevolent Power greater than our addiction just might exist gives us enough hope to stay clean, a day at a time.
Just for today: I believe in the possibility of some Power that's bigger than my addiction.
March 21, 2014Daily Meditation
"Addiction is a disease that involves more than the use of drugs."
Basic Text p. 3
At our first meeting, we may have been taken aback at the way members shared about how the disease of addiction had affected their lives. We thought to ourselves, "Disease? I've just got a drug problem! What in the world are they talking about?"
After some time in the program, we began to see that our addiction ran deeper than our obsessive, compulsive drug use. We saw that we suffered from a chronic illness that affected many areas of our lives. We didn't know where we'd "caught" this disease, but in examining ourselves we realized that it had been present in us for many years.
Just as the disease of addiction affects every area of our lives, so does the NA program. We attend our first meeting with all the symptoms present: the spiritual void, the emotional agony, the powerlessness, the unmanageability.
Treating our illness involves much more than mere abstinence. We use the Twelve Steps, and though they don't "cure" our illness, they do begin to heal us. And as we recover, we experience the gift of life.
Just for today: I will treat my illness with the Twelve Steps.
March 22, 2014Daily Meditation
"In our addiction, we were dependent upon people, places, and things. We looked to them to support us and supply the things we found lacking in ourselves."
Basic Text pg. 67
In the animal kingdom, there is a creature that thrives on others. It is called a leech. It attaches itself to people and takes what it needs. When one victim brushes the leech off, it simply goes to the next.
In our active addiction, we behaved similarly. We drained our families, our friends, and our communities. Consciously or unconsciously, we sought to get something for nothing from virtually everyone we encountered.
When we saw the basket passed at our first meeting we may have thought, "Self-Support! Now what kind of odd notion is this?" As we watched, we noticed something. These self-supporting addicts were free. By paying their own way, they had earned the privilege of making their own decisions.
By applying the principle of self-support in our personal lives, we gain for ourselves the same kind of freedom. No longer does anyone have the right to tell us where to live, because we pay our own rent. We can eat, wear, or drive whatever we choose, because we provide it for ourselves.
Unlike the leech, we don't have to depend on others for our sustenance. The more responsibility we assume, the more freedom we'll gain.
Just for today: There are no limits to the freedom I can earn by supporting myself. I will accept personal responsibility and pay my own way today.
March 23, 2014Daily Meditation
"We do the footwork and accept what's being given to us freely on a daily basis."
Basic Text pg. 46
Our relationship with our Higher Power is a two-way street. In prayer, we speak and God listens. When we meditate, we do our best to listen for the will of our Higher Power. We know that we are responsible for our part of the relationship. If we do not pray and listen, we shut our Higher Power out of our lives.
When we think about our relationship with our Higher Power, it's important to remember which one we are: the powerless one. We can ask for guidance; we can ask for willingness or strength; we can ask for knowledge of our Higher Power's will-but we cannot make demands. The God of our understanding-the one with the power-will fulfill the half of the relationship by giving us exactly what we need, when we need it.
We need to take action every day to keep our relationship with a Higher Power alive, One way we do this is by applying the Eleventh Step. Then we remember our own powerlessness and accept the will of a Power greater than ourselves.
Just for today: In my relationship with my Higher Power, I am the powerless one. Remembering who I am, today I will humbly accept the gifts of the God I understand.
March 24, 2014Daily Meditation
"It is not where we were that counts, but where we are going."
Basic Text, pg.22
When we first find recovery, some of us feel shame or despair at calling ourselves "addicts." In the early days, we may be filled with both fear and hope as we struggle to find new meaning in our lives. The past may seem inescapable and overpowering. It may be hard to think of ourselves in any way other than the way we always have.
While memories of the past can serve as reminders of what's waiting for us if we use again, the can also keep us stuck in a nightmare of shame and fear. Though it may be difficult to let go of those memories,each day in recovery can bring us that much farther away from our active addiction. Each day, we can find more to look forward to and less to punish ourselves for.
In recovery, all doors are open to us. We have many choices. Our new life is rich and full of promise. While we cannot forget the past, we don't have to live in it. We can move on.
Just for today: I will pack my bags and move out of my past into a present filled with hope.
March 25, 2014Daily Meditation
"From the isolation of our addiction, we find a fellowship of people with a common bond... Our faith, strength, and hope come from people sharing their recovery..."
Basic Text, pg.94-95
Admit no weakness, conceal all shortcomings, deny every failure, go it alone-that was the creed many of us followed. We denied that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable, despite all evidence to the contrary. Many of us took our First Step only when we had evidence that addicts could recover in Narcotics Anonymous.
In NA, we find others who've been in the same predicament, with the same needs, who've found tools that work for them. These addicts are willing to share those tools with us and give us the emotional support we need as we learn to use them. Recovering addicts know how important the help of others can be because they've been given that help themselves. When we become a part of Narcotics Anonymous, we join a society of addicts like ourselves, a group of people who know that we help one another recover.
Just for today: I will join in the bond of recovery. I will find the experience, strength, and hope I need in the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.
March 26, 2014Daily Meditation
"In seeking a sponsor, most members look for someone they feel they can learn to trust, someone who seems compassionate…"
IP No. 11, "Sponsorship, Revised"
The idea of sponsorship may be new to us. We have spent many years without direction, relying only on self-interest, suspecting everyone, trusting no one. Now that we are learning to live in recovery, we find we need help. We can't do it alone anymore; we must take the risk of trusting another human being. Often, the first person we take that risk with is our sponsor-someone we respect, someone we identify with, someone we have reason to trust.
As we open up to our sponsor, a bond develops between us. We disclose our secrets and develop confidence in our sponsor's discretion. We share our concerns and learn to value our sponsor's experience. We share our pain and are met with empathy. We get to know one another, respect one another, love one another. The more we trust our sponsor, the more we trust ourselves.
Trust helps us to move away from a life of fear, confusion, suspicion, and indirection. In the beginning, it feels risky to trust another addict. But that trust is the same principle as apply in our relationship with a Higher Power-risky or not, our experience tells us we can't do without it. And the more we take the risk of trusting our sponsor, the more open we will feel about our lives.
Just for today: I want to grow and change. I will risk trusting my sponsor and find the rewards of sharing.
March 27, 2014Daily Meditation
"In accordance with the principles of recovery we try not to judge, stereotype, or moralize with each other"
Basic Text p. 11
How many times in our recovery have we misunderstood the behavior of another, immediately formed a judgment, applied a label, and neatly tucked the individual into a pigeonhole? Perhaps they had developed a different understanding of a Power greater than themselves than we had, so we concluded their beliefs were unspiritual. Or maybe we saw a couple having an argument; we assumed their relationship was sick, only to find out later that their marriage had prospered for many years.
Thoughtlessly tossing our fellows into categories saves us the effort of finding out anything about them. Every time we judge the behavior of another, we cease to see them as potential friends and fellow travelers on the road to recovery. If we happened to ask those we are judging if they appreciate being stereotyped, we would receive a resounding "no" in response. Would we feel slighted if this were done to us? Yes, indeed. Our best qualities are what we want others to notice. In the same way, our fellow recovering addicts want to be well thought of. Our program of recovery asks us to look positively at life. The more we concentrate on the positive qualities in others, the more we'll notice them in ourselves.
Just for today: I will set aside my negative judgments of others, and concentrate instead on appreciating the favorable qualities in all.
March 28, 2014Daily Meditation
"We may fear that being in touch with our feelings will trigger an overwhelming chain reaction of pain and panic."
Basic Text p. 29
While we were using, many of us were unable or unwilling to feel many emotions. If we were happy, we used to make us happier. If we were angry or depressed, we used to mask those feelings. In continuing this pattern throughout our active addiction, we became so emotionally confused that we weren't sure what normal emotions were anymore.
After being in recovery for some time, we find that the emotions we had suppressed suddenly begin to surface. We may find that we do not know how to identify our feelings. What we may be feeling as rage may only be frustration. What we perceive as suicidal depression may simply be sadness. These are the times when we need to seek the assistance of our sponsor or other members of NA. Going to a meeting and talking about what is happening in our lives can help us to face our feelings instead of running from them in fear.
Just for today: I will not run from the uncomfortable emotions I may experience. I will use the support of my friends in recovery to help me face my emotions.
March 29, 2014Daily Meditation
"God's will for us consists of the very things we most value. God's will... becomes our own true will for ourselves."
Basic Text p. 46
It's human nature to want something for nothing. We may be ecstatic when a store cashier gives us back change for a twenty though we only paid with a ten. We tend to think that, if no one knows, one small deception won't make any difference. But someone does know—we do. And it does make a difference.
What worked for us when we used, frequently doesn't work long in recovery. As we progress spiritually by working the Twelve Steps, we begin to develop new values and standards. We begin to feel uncomfortable when we take advantage of situations that, when we used, would have left us gloating about what we had gotten away with.
In the past, we may have victimized others. However, as we draw closer to our Higher Power, our values change. God's will becomes more important than getting away with something.
When our values change, our lives change, too. Guided by an inner knowledge given us by our Higher Power, we want to live out our newfound values. We have internalized our Higher Power's will for us—in fact, God's will has become our own true will for ourselves.
Just for today: By improving my conscious contact with God, my values have changed. Today, I will practice God's will, my own true will.
March 30, 2014Daily Meditation
"Gradually as we become more God-centered than self-centered, our despair turns to hope."
Basic Text p. 92
What a glorious thing to have hope! Before coming to Narcotics Anonymous, many of us lived lives of utter hopelessness. We believed we were destined to die from our disease.
Many members speak of being on a "pink cloud" their first months in the program. We've stopped using, made some friends, and life looks promising. Things are going great. Then reality sets in. Life is still life—we still lose jobs, our partners still leave us, friends still die, we still get sick. Abstinence is no guarantee that life will always go our way.
When the reality of life on its own terms sets in, we turn to our Higher Power and remember that life happens the way life happens. But no matter what occurs in our recovery we need not despair, for there is always hope. That hope lies in our relationship with our Higher Power.
This relationship, as expressed by the thought in our text, develops over time: "Gradually we become more God-centered." As we rely more and more on the strength of our Higher Power, life's struggles don't have to drag us into the sea of despair. As we focus more on God, we focus less on ourselves.
Just for today: I will rely on my Higher Power. I will accept that, regardless of what happens, my Higher Power will provide me with the resources to live with it.
March 31, 2014Daily Meditation
"Our real value is in being ourselves."
Basic Text p. 101
As we work the steps, we're bound to discover some basic truths about ourselves. The process of uncovering our secrets, exposing them, and searching our characters reveals our true nature. As we become acquainted with ourselves, we'll need to make a decision to be just who we are.
We may want to take a look at what we present to our fellow addicts and the world and see if it matches up with what we've discovered inside. Do we pretend that nothing bothers us when, in truth, we're very sensitive? Do we cover our insecurities with obnoxious jokes, or do we share our fears with someone? Do we dress like a teenager when we're approaching forty and are basically conservative?
We may want to take another look at those things which we thought "weren't us:" Maybe we've avoided NA activities because we "don't like crowds!" Or maybe we have a secret dream of changing careers but have put off taking action because our dream "wasn't really right" for us. As we attain a new understanding of ourselves, we'll want to adjust our behavior accordingly. We want to be genuine examples of who we are.
Just for today: I will check my outsides to make sure they match my insides. I will try to act on the growth I have experienced in recovery.
April 1, 2014Daily Meditation
"Some of us first saw the effects of addiction on the people closest to us. We were very dependent on them to carry us through life. We felt angry disappointed, and hurt when they found other interests, friends, and loved ones."
Basic Text p. 7
Addiction affected every area of our lives. Just as we sought the drug that would make everything alright, so we sought people to fix us. We made impossible demands, driving away those who had anything of worth to offer us. Often, the only people left were those who were themselves too needy to be capable of denying our unrealistic expectations. It's no wonder that we were unable to establish and maintain healthy intimate relationships in our addiction.
Today, in recovery, we've stopped expecting drugs to fix us. If we still expect people to fix us, perhaps it's time to extend our recovery program to our relationships. We begin by admitting we have a problem—that we don't know the first thing about how to have healthy intimate relationships. We seek out members who've had similar problems and have found relief. We talk with them and listen to what they share about this aspect of their recovery. We apply the program to all our affairs, seeking the same kind of freedom in our relationships that we find throughout our recovery.
Just for today: Loving relationships are within my reach. Today, I will examine the effects of addiction on my relationships so that I can begin seeking recovery.
April 2, 2014Daily Meditation
"Our public image consists of what we have to offer: a successful, proven way of maintaining a drug-free lifestyle."
Basic Text p. 72
Yes, we are attracting new members. More and more addicts are finding Narcotics Anonymous. But how do we treat our newest members when they arrive, worn out from their struggles with addiction? Do we reach out to newcomers who are standing by themselves at our meetings, confused and uncertain? Are we willing to give them rides to meetings? Do we still work one-on-one with the addict who suffers? Do we give out our phone numbers? Are we eager to go on a Twelfth Step call, even if it means getting up from our comfortable beds in the middle of the night? Will we work with someone who has a different sexual orientation or is from another culture? Are we generous with the gift of our time?
No doubt we were met with love and acceptance by our fellow addicts. What attracted many of us to Narcotics Anonymous was the feeling that we had finally found a place where we belonged. Are we offering that same sense of belonging to our newer members? We cannot promote Narcotics Anonymous. But when we put principles into action in our lives, we attract newer members to the NA way, just as we were attracted to recovery.
Just for today: I will work with a newcomer. I will remember that I was once a newcomer myself. I will seek to attract others with the same sense of belonging I've found in NA.
April 3, 2014Daily Meditation
"The idea of a spiritual awakening takes many different forms in the different personalities that we find in the fellowship."
Basic Text p. 48
Though we all work the same steps, each of us experiences the spiritual awakening resulting from them in our own way. The shape that spiritual awakening takes in our lives will vary, depending on who we are.
For some of us, the spiritual awakening promised in the Twelfth Step will result in a renewed interest in religion or mysticism. Others will awaken to an understanding of the lives of those around them, experiencing empathy perhaps for the first time. Still others will realize that the steps have awakened them to their own moral or ethical principles. Most of us experience our spiritual awakening as a combination of these things, each combination as unique as the individual who's been awakened.
If there are so many different varieties of spiritual awakenings, how do we know if we've truly had one? The Twelfth Step provides us with two signs: We've found principles capable of guiding us well, the kind of principles we want to practice in all our affairs. And we've begun to care enough about other addicts to freely share with them the experience we've had. No matter what the details of our awakenings are like, we all are given the guidance and the love we need to live fulfilling, spiritually oriented lives.
Just for today: Regardless of its particular shape, my spiritual awakening has helped me fill my place in the world with love and life. For that, I am grateful.
April 4, 2014Daily Meditation
"Remember that we... are ultimately responsible for our recovery and our decisions."
Basic Text p. 99
Most of us will face choices that challenge our recovery. If we find ourselves in extreme physical pain, for example, we will have to decide whether or not we will take medication. We will have to be very honest with ourselves about the severity of our pain, honest with our doctor about our addiction and our recovery, and honest with our sponsor In the end, however, the decision is ours, for we are the ones who must live with the consequences.
Another common challenge is the choice of attending a party where alcohol will be served. Again, we should consider our own spiritual state. If someone who supports our recovery can attend the event with us, so much the better. However, if we don't feel up to such a challenge, we should probably decline the invitation. Today, we know that preserving our recovery is more important than saving face.
All such decisions are tough ones, requiring not only our careful consideration but the guidance of our sponsor and complete surrender to a Higher Power Using all of these resources, we make the best decision we can. Ultimately, however, the decision is ours. Today, we are responsible for our own recovery.
Just for today: When faced with a decision that may challenge my recovery I will consult all the resources at my disposal before I make my choice.
April 5, 2014Daily Meditation
"Someone finally knew the crazy thoughts that I had and the crazy things I'd done."
Basic Text p. 175
Addicts often feel terminally unique. We're sure that no one used drugs like we did or had to do the things that we did to get them. Feeling that no one really understands us can keep us from recovery for many years.
But once we come to the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, we begin to lose that feeling of being "the worst" or "the craziest." We listen as members share their experiences. We discover that others have walked the same twisted path that we've walked and still have been able to find recovery. We begin to believe that recovery is available to us, too.
As we progress in our own recovery, sometimes our thinking is still insane. However, we find that when we share the hard time we may be having, others identify, sharing how they have dealt with such difficulties. No matter how troubled our thinking seems, we find hope when others relate to us, passing along the solutions they've found. We begin to believe that we can survive whatever we're going through to continue on in our recovery.
The gift of Narcotics Anonymous is that we learn we are not alone. We can get dean and stay clean by sharing our experience, our strength, and even our crazy thinking with other members. When we do, we open ourselves to the solutions others have found to the challenges we face.
Just for today: I am grateful that I can identify with others. Today, I will listen as they share their experience, and I'll share mine with them.
April 6, 2014Daily Meditation
"On a practical level, changes occur because what's appropriate to one phase of recovery may not be for another."
Basic Text p. 101
When we first came to Narcotics Anonymous, many of us had no legitimate occupation. Not all of us suddenly decide we're going to become honest and productive model citizens the moment we arrive in NA. But we soon find, in recovery, that we are not so comfortable doing many of the things we once did without a second thought when we were using.
As we grow in our recovery, we begin to be honest in matters that probably hadn't bothered us when we used. We start returning extra change a cashier may have given us by mistake, or admitting when we hit a parked car. We find that if we can begin to be honest in these small ways the bigger tests of our honesty become much easier to handle.
Many of us came here with very little capacity to be honest. But we find that as we work the Twelve Steps, our lives begin to change. We are no longer comfortable when we benefit at the expense of others. And we can feel good about our newfound honesty.
Just for today: I will examine the level of honesty in my life and see if I'm comfortable with it.