Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Spiritual Experience

 How does one describe a spiritual experience? According to Bill W, quoted in the Daily Reflections for August 24, you can't. You can tell the story, but you cannot adequately describe the actual experience, which is part of the mystery of recovery for each of us.

I sometimes describe my "psychic rearrangement" as feeling like an internal pencil snapped in two. There is the before, and the after - the need to alter my consciousness with drugs or alcohol every single day, and the seemingly instant release of that need/want. How to explain that? Can't, really, other than to say it was the magical confluence of pain and longing, that place where desperation and hope meet. As we hear in the rooms, "I was sick and tired of being sick and tired," though I didn't have that language at the time. I was shattered, full to the brim with the pain of loss and grief, of disappointment (in myself) and a tiny, tiny spark of hoping life could be different. 

Sometimes I long for the dramatic shifts and awarenesses I experienced in those first heady years of recovery. Speaker Lila R. talks about wanting more of everything, and that includes the spiritual connection. Logically I know, of course, that I can't recreate or expect the same level of "wow" as when the connection (to you, to HP, to program) was brand new. Like any convert, the excitement, the novelty of this new life, was part of the attraction. A wise friend once described the ongoing process as moving from infatuation to a deep, though quieter, appreciation. She described it related to our Pacific Northwest Mt. Hood - the first time someone sees her in the distance, they feel awe, but over time, may barely notice her framing our view east - notable still, but not in the excited way we may have at first. That is the normal, logical and mature progression. I still experience awe and wonder, but farther and further between, dependent on how trapped I am in my brain. I'm thinking of my visit to Point Reyes on the northern California coast last spring with a friend. An amazing viewpoint, but my mind was caught up in my new cancer diagnosis, so my internal response was flat. Pretty. Yeah. When do we eat?

So always, for me, is the awareness that, while I can't conjure up a spiritual experience, I can make myself ready. I can slow the "f" down, write my To-Do list then stop thinking about it, PAY ATTENTION to my surroundings, especially when walking in the neighborhood or in nature, give myself the luxury of an afternoon reading break (is it luxury or necessity?). Again, I can't think, "OK, it's Wednesday - I've got an hour between 1:00-2:00 so let's have that spiritual awakening!" and I can start my days with intention to remain as receptive at 3:00pm as I am during my early morning rituals.

Again and again, I'm reminded by your example that the principles of the program can help me/us walk through anything. Death, diagnosis, money woes or successes, moving or deciding to stay put - there is nothing that someone else hasn't already experienced. I am on my particular path, with emotions specific to my situation and temperament, but I so appreciate the markers left by those who've been there before me.

What is the story of your spiritual awakening, either the first time or those since? Can you still feel the surrender? 

* * *

Thinking of a year-end inventory or a holiday gift for a sponsee? I've just restocked my supply of the workbook "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?"  with 78 pages of topics, member's views, and processing questions. (See the Jan 13, 2023 post for a sample.) Available in PDF format ($12.95) for those of you outside the US (or who prefer that format) or hardcopy ($19.95 mailed to you). Email me at with questions.  You can order from the WEB VERSION of this page, payment link on top right. Note that the workbook is also available at Portland Area Intergroup at 825 NE 20th 

No comments:

Post a Comment