Sunday, April 29, 2012

Can’t begin again? Make a Brand New End Instead.

We’ve all heard that wonderful sentiment, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Or the tried and true, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” They are true, upbeat, positive, hopeful.
I wonder: How many refrigerator doors hold yellow stickie notes with either (or both) of these reminders? But I can get sucked into the morass of my own ego if I attempt to re-create myself along the lines of these quaint statements of bumper sticker wisdom.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) defines itself as a course in mind training. At times it chastises us all for being far too lenient with our wandering minds. All I have to do is meditate for 30 minutes and watch my thoughts drift through my mind like leaves floating down a stream. Oh! Here comes one. I’ll watch it for a while and then here comes another leaf, and another, and another.
Same with my thoughts: Here’s one about my day’s “To Do List.” Oh! Here’s one about a week-old resentment I thought I had dealt with. Oh! Here’s one about a potential subject for these weekly messages. Oh! Here’s another one….
However, unlike watching leaves, quite often with my thoughts I’ll figuratively reach out and grab the little bugger rather than let it simply float by. My monkey mind is very, very undisciplined. That’s my task, according to ACIM. Discipline my mind. Train my mind. Be more vigilant about the constant chaotic train of thoughts that pass through my consciousness. Being ego-based, these thoughts unconsciously keep me focused on my life in this body as my reality. I cannot stop these thoughts. If I try, my thoughts about my thoughts become like Brer Rabbit’s tar baby. Man, can it get messy!
I just need to discipline me to not listen as much to myself. To not pay attention as much. To not focus on my thoughts as if they’re an aspect of true reality. That’s one way I snap that thought cycle. I also still talk to others I respect in order to get a “reality check.” That is something I learned to do very early in my recovery. My mind is what got me in so much trouble in the first place. So, I still don’t fully trust it. In an earlier post I discussed how I had to have alcohol in my system 24 hours a day to feel normal, and my “fabulous” mind never thought that was abnormal. So, I realize that my ego asking another’s ego is still of the ego. Nevertheless, it reminds me of the jaundiced perception issues that may go unchallenged if I’m left to my own devices.
I try other ways, as well.
I have tried, over the last several years, to change my “story.” I tell myself my story now in terms of my spiritual growth. I tell it in such a way that it reminds me that everything that has happened to me in the sequence it occurred is what got me to today in front of my Mac. This has helped. It gives me a different focus, a different perspective, a different way of thinking. It helps stop my “natural” tendency for negative ego-thinking and helps me ask the Holy Spirit for a different way of looking at things, events or people. I am trying to discipline myself to do this as diligently as I tried to adopt AA’s principles, Steps, and outlook. Not only did that get me sober, it changed significant things about me. If AA helped transform my life by teaching me to do different things and think in different ways, then following the suggestions of ACIM will help me remain open to Spirit who will guide and help me achieve a similar transformation on a different level of being.
However, I still often find myself disappointed or frustrated. I feel discouraged or diminished. Bingo! That emotive reaction of mine tells me I was harboring unconscious expectations as to my hoped-for results of this effort. Expectations tell me I’ve been “trying to begin again” in order to achieve some ego-driven goal or outcome. The goal didn’t materialize as I had hoped, and I am disillusioned and disappointed.
My expectations are simply that – mine. They are a result of my take on things, my perception of events, my focus and my desires. My perceptions aren’t real. They only frustrate and diminish my efforts to be disciplined. Then I get angry with myself. Then I get angry for getting angry. Then angry for getting angry for getting angry. What an endless whirlpool of energy I create! It can really suck me down to its bottom. Those who believe thoughts aren’t things are lying to themselves.
Rather than trying to begin again, I’ve learned what the recovering alcoholic wrote in his brief story in the Big Book. I love both what he said and the simplicity with which he said it. “From experience, I’ve realized that I cannot go back and make a brand new start. But, through AA, I can start from now and make a brand new end.” Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001, p. 457.
I try very seriously to be more disciplined, more actively in control of the attention I pay to my thoughts, and to focus on making a new end – rather than trying to start over.
Thanks for listening and, as always, please feel free to share tis message with friends, family, and spiritual associates.

#5 April, 2012

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