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.
April 7, 2014Daily Meditation
"This firsthand experience in all phases of illness and recovery is of unparalleled therapeutic value. We are here to share it freely with any addict who wants to recover."
Basic Text p. 10
Most of us came into the program with some serious regrets. We had never finished high school, or we had missed going to college. We had destroyed friendships and marriages. We had lost jobs. And we knew that we couldn't change any of it. We may have thought that we'd always be regretful and simply have to find a way to live with our regrets.
On the contrary, we find that our past represents an untapped gold mine the first time we are called on to share it with a struggling newcomer. As we listen to someone share their Fifth Step with us, we can give a special form of comfort that no one else could provide - our own experience. We've done the same things. We've had the same feelings of shame and remorse. We've suffered in the ways only an addict can suffer. We can relate - and so can they.
Our past is valuable - in fact, priceless - because we can use all of it to help the addict who still suffers. Our Higher Power can work through us when we share our past. That possibility is why we are here, and its fulfillment is the most important goal we have to accomplish.
Just for today: I no longer regret my past because, with it, I can share with other addicts, perhaps averting the pain or even death of another.
April 8, 2014Daily Meditation
"We come to know happiness, joy and freedom."
Basic Text p. 88
If someone stopped you on the street today and asked if you were happy, what would you say? "Well, gee, let's see... I have a place to live, food in the refrigerator, a job, my car is running... Well, yes, I guess I'm happy" you might respond. These are outward examples of things that many of us have traditionally associated with happiness. We often forget, however, that happiness is a choice; no one can make us happy.
Happiness is what we find in our involvement with Narcotics Anonymous. The happiness we derive from a life focused on service to the addict who still suffers is great indeed. When we place service to others ahead of our own desires, we find that we take the focus off ourselves. As a result, we live a more contented, harmonious life. In being of service to others, we find our own needs more than fulfilled.
Happiness. What is it, really? We can think of happiness as contentment and satisfaction. Both of these states of mind seem to come to us when we least strive for them. As we live just for today, carrying the message to the addict who still suffers, we find contentment, happiness, and a deeply meaningful life.
Just for today: I am going to be happy. I will find my happiness by being of service to others.
April 9, 2014Daily Meditation
"We learn to experience feelings and realize they can do us no harm unless we act on them."
IP No. 16, "For the Newcomer"
Many of us came to Narcotics Anonymous with something less than an overwhelming desire to stop using. Sure, the drugs were causing us problems, and we wanted to be rid of the problems, but we didn't want to stop getting high. Eventually, though, we saw that we couldn't have one without the other Even though we really wanted to get loaded, we didn't use; we weren't willing to pay the price anymore. The longer we stayed clean and worked the program, the more freedom we experienced. Sooner or later, the compulsion to use was lifted from us completely, and we stayed clean because we wanted to live clean.
The same principles apply to other negative impulses that may plague us. We may feel like doing something destructive, just because we want to. We've done it before, and sometimes we think we've gotten away with it, but sometimes we haven't. If we're not willing to pay the price for acting on such feelings, we don't have to act on them.
It may be hard, maybe even as hard as it was to stay clean in the beginning. But others have felt the same way and have found the freedom not to act on their negative impulses. By sharing about it and seeking the help of other recovering people and a Power greater than ourselves, we can find the direction, the support, and the strength we need to abstain from any destructive compulsion.
Just for today: It's okay to feel my feelings. With the help of my sponsor, my NA friends, and my Higher Power, I am free not to act out my negative feelings.
April 10, 2014Daily Meditation
"We must use what we learn or we will lose it, no matter how long we have been clean."
Basic Text, p. 82
After putting some clean time together, some of us have a tendency to forget what our most important priority is. Once a week or less we say, "I've gotta get to a meeting tonight. It's been.. " We've been caught up in other things, important for sure, but no more so than our continued participation in Narcotics Anonymous.
It happens gradually. We get jobs. We reunite with our families. We're raising children, the dog is sick, or we're going to school at night. The house needs to be cleaned. The lawn needs to be mowed. We have to work late. We're tired. There's a good show at the theater tonight. And all of a sudden, we notice that we haven't called our sponsor, been to a meeting, spoken to a newcomer, or even talked to God in quite a while.
What do we do at this point? Well, we either renew our commitment to our recovery, or we continue being too busy to recover until something happens and our lives become unmanageable. Quite a choice! Our best bet is to put more of our energy into maintaining the foundation of recovery on which our lives are built. That foundation makes everything else possible, and it will surely crumble if we get too busy with everything else.
Just for today: I can't afford to be too busy to recover. I will do something today that sustains my recovery.
April 11, 2014Daily Meditation
"A new idea cannot be grafted onto a closed mind... Open-mindedness leads us to the very insights that have eluded us during our lives."
Basic Text p. 93
We arrived in NA at the lowest point in our lives. We'd just about run out of ideas. What we needed most when we got here were new ideas, new ways of living, shared from the experience of people who'd seen those ideas work. Yet our closed minds prevented us from taking in the very ideas we needed to live.
Denial keeps us from appreciating just how badly we really need new ideas and new direction. By admitting our powerlessness and recognizing how truly unmanageable our lives have become, we allow ourselves to see how much we need what NA has to offer.
Self-dependence and self-will can keep us from admitting even the possibility of the existence of a Power greater than ourselves. However, when we admit the sorry state self-will has gotten us into, we open our eyes and our minds to new possibilities. When others tell us of a Power that has brought sanity to their lives, we begin to believe that such a Power may do the same for us.
A tree stripped of its branches will die unless new branches can be grafted onto its trunk. In the same way, addiction stripped us' of whatever direction we had. To grow or even to survive, we must open our minds and allow new ideas to be grafted onto our lives.
Just for today: I will ask my Higher Power to open my mind to the new ideas of recovery.
April 12, 2014Daily Meditation
"All spiritual awakenings have some things in common. Common elements include an end to loneliness and a sense of direction in our lives."
Basic Text p. 48
Some kinds of spiritual experiences take place when we confront something larger than we are. We suspect that forces beyond our understanding are operating. We see a fleeting glimpse of the big picture and find humility in that moment.
Our journey through the Twelve Steps will bring about a spiritual experience of the same nature, only more profound and lasting. We undergo a continual process of ego-deflation, while at the same time we become more conscious of the larger perspective. Our view of the world expands to the point where we no longer possess an exaggerated sense of our own importance.
Through our new awareness, we no longer feel isolated from the rest of the human race. We may not understand why the world is the way it is or why people sometimes treat one another so savagely. But we do understand suffering and, in recovery, we can do our best to alleviate it. When our individual contribution is combined with others, we become an essential part of a grand design. We are connected at last.
Just for today: I am but one person in the entire scheme of things. I humbly accept my place in the big picture.
April 13, 2014Daily Meditation
"...approval-seeking behavior carried us further into our addiction..."
Basic Text p. 14
When others approve of what we do or say, we feel good; when they disapprove, we feel bad. Their opinions of us, and how those opinions make us feel, can have positive value. By making us feel good about steering a straight course, they encourage us to continue doing so. "People-pleasing" is something else entirely. We "people-please" when we do things, right or wrong, solely to gain another person's approval.
Low self-esteem can make us think we need someone else's approval to feel okay about ourselves. We do whatever we think it will take to make them tell us we're okay We feel good for awhile. Then we start hurting. In trying to please another person, we've diminished ourselves and our values. We realize that the approval of others will not fill the emptiness inside us.
The inner satisfaction we seek can be found in doing the right things for the right reasons. We break the people-pleasing cycle when we stop acting merely to gain others' approval and start acting on our Higher Power's will for us. When we do, we may be pleasantly surprised to find that the people who really count in our lives will approve all the more of our behavior. Most importantly, though, we will approve of ourselves.
Just for today: Higher Power, help me live in accordance with spiritual principles. Only then can I approve of myself.
April 14, 2014Daily Meditation
"Do we really want to be rid of our resentments, our anger, our fear?"
Basic Text p. 33
Why do we call them "shortcomings?" Perhaps they should be called "long-goings" because that's often what it takes for them to fade from our lives. Some of us feel that our shortcomings are the very characteristics that saved our lives when we used. If this is true, then it is little wonder that we sometimes cling to them like old, dear friends.
If we are having trouble with resentment, anger, or fear, we may want to envision what our lives could be like without these troubling defects. Asking ourselves why we react in a certain manner can sometimes root out the fear at the core of our conduct. "Why am I afraid to step beyond these aspects of my personality?" we ask ourselves. "Am I afraid of who I will be without these attributes?"
Once we have uncovered our fear, we are able to move beyond it. We try to imagine what our lives could be like without some of our more glaring shortcomings. This gives us a feeling for what lies past our fear, providing the motivation we need to push through it. Our Higher Power offers us a new vision for our lives, free of our defects. That vision is the essence of our own best, brightest dreams for ourselves. We need not fear that vision.
Just for today: I will imagine what my life would be like without my character defects. I will ask for the willingness to have God remove my shortcomings.
May 1, 2014Daily Meditation
"Being involved in service makes me feel worthwhile." - Basic Text, p. 212
When most of us arrived in Narcotics Anonymous, we had very little self-worth left to salvage. Many members say that they began to develop self-esteem through being of service early in their recovery. Something just short of a miracle occurs when we begin to have a positive impact on others' lives through our service efforts.
Most of us don't have a lot of experience, strength, or hope to share at thirty days clean. In fact, some members will tell us in no uncertain terms that what we can do best is listen. But at thirty days, we do offer something to that addict just coming into the rooms of NA, struggling to get twenty-four hours clean. The very newest NA member, the one with only the desire to stop using and none of the tools, can hardly imagine anyone staying clean for a year, or two years, or ten. But he or she can relate to those people with thirty days clean, picking up a keytag with a look of pride and disbelief emblazoned on their faces.
Service is something that is our unique gift—something that no one can take away from us. We give, and we get. Through service, many of us start on the sometimes long road back to becoming productive members of society.
Just for today: I will be grateful for the opportunity to be of service.
May 2, 2014Daily Meditation
"There is one thing more than anything else that will defeat us in our recovery; this is an attitude of indifference or intolerance toward spiritual principles." - Basic Text, p. 18
When we first came to NA, many of us had great difficulty accepting the spiritual principles underlying this program—and for good reason. No matter how we'd tried to control our addiction, we'd found ourselves powerless. We grew angry and frustrated with anyone who suggested there was hope for us, because we knew better. Spiritual ideas may have had some bearing on other peoples' lives, but not on ours.
Despite our indifference or intolerance toward spiritual principles, we were drawn to Narcotics Anonymous. There, we met other addicts. They'd been where we'd been, powerless and hopeless, yet they'd found a way not only to stop using but to live and enjoy life clean. They spoke of the spiritual principles that had pointed the way for them to this new life of recovery. For them, these principles were not just theories but a part of their practical experience. Yes, we had good reason to be skeptical, but these spiritual principles spoken of by other NA members really seemed to work.
Once we admitted this, we didn't necessarily accept every single spiritual idea we heard. But we did start to think that, if these principles had worked for others, just maybe they'd work for us, too. For a beginning, that willingness was enough.
Just for today: Just maybe the spiritual principles I hear spoken of in NA might work for me. I am willing, at least, to open my mind to the possibility.
May 3, 2014Daily Meditation
"My gratitude speaks when I care and when I share with others the NA way." - Gratitude Prayer
The longer we stay clean, the more we experience feelings of gratitude for our recovery. These feelings of gratitude aren't limited to particular gifts like new friends or the ability to be employed. More frequently, they arise from the overall sense of joy we feel in our new lives. These feelings are enhanced by our certainty of the course our lives would have taken if it weren't for the miracle we've experienced in Narcotics Anonymous.
These feelings are so all-encompassing, so wondrous, and sometimes so overwhelming that we often can't find words for them. We sometimes openly weep with happiness while sharing in a meeting, yet we grope for words to express what we are feeling. We want so badly to convey to newcomers the gratitude we feel, but it seems that our language lacks the superlatives to describe it.
When we share with tears in our eyes, when we choke up and can't talk at all—these are the times when our gratitude speaks most clearly. We share our gratitude directly from our hearts; with their hearts, others hear and understand. Our gratitude speaks eloquently, though our words may not.
Just for today: My gratitude has a voice of its own; when it speaks, the heart understands. Today, I will share my gratitude with others, whether I can find the words or not.
May 4, 2014Daily Meditation
"Each group has but one primary purpose - to carry the message to the addict who still suffers." - Tradition Five
Our home group means a lot to us. After all, where would we be without our favorite NA meeting? Our group sometimes sponsors picnics or other activities. Often, home group members get together to see a movie or go bowling. We have all made good friendships through our home group, and we wouldn't trade that warmth for the world.
But sometimes we must take inventory of what our group is doing to fulfill its primary purpose—to carry the message to the still-suffering addict. Sometimes when we go to our meetings, we know almost everyone and get caught up in the laughter and fun. But what about the newcomer? Have we remembered to reach out to the new people who may be sitting by themselves, lonely and frightened? Do we remember to welcome those visiting our group?
The love found in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous helps us recover from addiction. But once we have gotten clean, we must remember to give to others what was so freely given to us. We need to reach out to the addict who still suffers. After all, "the newcomer is the most important person at any meeting."
Just for today: I'm grateful for the warm fellowship I've found in my home group. I will reach out my hand to the still-suffering addict, offering that same fellowship to others.