Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Awareness as a tool

 Mindless repetition of any practice, with no clear goal or clarity of intention, can in fact keep us quite unconscious—unless the practices keep breaking us into new insight, desire, compassion, and an ever-larger notion of [Higher Power] and ourselves. Automatic repetition of anything is a recipe for unconsciousness, the opposite of any genuine consciousness, intentionality, or spiritual maturity.     Richard Rohr 4/9/24

The above Richard Rohr quote speaks to me (I get his daily emails) as I strive to remain teachable, always, but especially in long-term recovery when so much of my practice feels automatic - don't drink, go to meetings (or not, as the case may be with you), strive to be honest, open-minded and willing. As my first sponsor used to say, "You either grow, or you go." She didn't say anything about a time limit or an arrival date.

This past week, in Sedona, Arizona, friends and I went for a hike, then more trekking over rocks and boulders to find the Airport Mesa Vortex. We got there, and along with a dozen other seekers, sat quietly to absorb the energy and nature's beauty. I wanted to, but am not sure I actually felt anything, other than the wind. The quest was a bit of "Serenity now!!" in that we'd come all that way and I wasn't leaving until we found a vortex! It was a fun, and beautiful quest in the amazing geology of Sedona, but reminded me that I can't simply conjure up a spiritual experience - OK, Universe, it's Tuesday and I have half an hour, so let's have at it. My moments of psychic rearrangement have usually occurred in a pool of tears, after inventories galore, and the pain that comes with unearthing the deep and often dark caverns of grief - for those I've lost, things not said, or for my own un-awakened self who struggled with how to be in the world.

So, vortex or no vortex (a friend who lived there says it is a sham designed for tourists - not sure I believe that either), I came home from vacation with a renewed appreciation for my everyday life, as well as gratitude for stellar travel companions and the resources to experience new places. I traveled a fair amount in the few years before hitting bottom, but much of that was through the haze of a hangover. It is good to be alive, and aware, and to remember what I did the day before.

Staying aware is a component of keeping my program practice vital. If I'm glossing over the pages in my daily reader because I've practically got them memorized, maybe I can switch to a book of poetry to steer my morning contemplations. If my meetings feel stale (less an issue in the time of zoom), I can always try another, grateful to live in a metropolitan area with multiple choices each day, both online and in-person. Whenever and wherever I notice myself in a stupor of the automatic, I can shake myself awake. 

Kittens help with that - we've had ours now for about 8 months. Nothing like young pets to shake up one's perspective, noticing the sheer joy of their explorations. (For us, part of that has meant moving anything glass or precious out of leaping range.)  Our daughter provides that window into newness and possibilities as well, as do newcomers in meetings where the whole world is at their feet. I am not 24, or 2 months sober, or a kitten (!), however, I don't want to be a stale old lady who's seen it all. I have seen and done a lot, and, the world (both the inner and outer landscapes) are still there - as interesting as I let myself believe them to be.

I once heard someone share that an alcoholic will take a rut, put in indoor-outdoor carpeting and call it home. There's nothing wrong with cozy familiarity, but please let me see beyond the nose on my face or the dirty dishes in the sink.

How do you remain teachable today? Where do you find magic in the everyday? How do you shake yourself out of a mindless stupor to keep your spiritual program alive?

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Ready for an inventory or small group discussion? Check out my 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 

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