Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Want To Feel Better – But Without Changing

One of my AA resources is a weekly post from Michael Z.  This last week he said this: “Before recovery, I did a lot of things to feel better. I moved, changed jobs, girlfriends, cars… took up yoga, joined a gym – the list is endless. While these things worked briefly, inevitably I would be left feeling that giant hole inside me….
“When I entered recovery, I had the same initial relief as when I had tried other new ways to distract myself. After a while though, it, too, began to wear off…. I met with my sponsor, and he told me I was feeling this way because I was resisting and refusing to change. ‘But I’m sober!’ I told him. Yeah, but you’re still trying to do things your way. Until you surrender and really work the steps, you’ll just be the same old you – only you’ll be miserable and sober this time.” [Wisdom of The Rooms,]
One of the principle tenets of A course in Miracles (ACIM) is it is a course in mind training. That doesn’t mean it’s brainwashing. It means that I am an already-loved eternal spirit that exists as a part of the Mind of God. It means I have tremendous power to create what I think. Our physical bodies are the result of our egoic thoughts that the physical is truly real. As long as I harbor thoughts based on my belief in my separateness and specialness, I will create and perceive a “reality” that supports those thoughts. With the help of the Holy Spirit, if I train my mind to think in different ways, I will perceive my universe – and myself – differently. I will perceive through the eyes of my True Self.
I have all these thoughts and all these thoughts about my thoughts. My ACIM mind training is not to shut off all these thoughts. It is training simply to not pay attention to them. It is training to listen for God’s whispers. All my egoic thoughts (or mind chatter) are always loud and clear. My spiritual whispers are just that – whispers. Listening for these whispers takes training.
When I was a young parent with small children I could be listening to a football game on the radio while my wife would be talking to me. At the same time I might be making some notes for a potential sermon. However, I could discern a cry from one of the children – and tell if is was a temper-tantrum cry, an I’m hurt cry, an I’m bored cry, or a hungry cry. Clearly a hurting cry needed immediate attention. The others could wait for a while. How did I learn that? I have no idea, but I did. So did you. It’s the same in terms of listening for whispers.
But, it all takes work, and I work at it. It doesn’t come easily. I do resist doing it sometimes because I know it will negate all these thoughts I really want to pay attention to. I really do want to harbor my anger or self-pity, because they are comfortable and familiar feelings, and they make me feel special.
So I work at focusing on the whispers. I do this by working the daily lessons in the Workbook For Students. I try to work at training my mind the way I worked AA’s suggested program of recovery – primarily the twelve steps. I changed when I did that. I wasn’t always aware of the changes, but it was happening.
When I was maybe 9-months sober, I hired a senior programmer analyst to head up several projects under my purview. I had worked with him before on another contract while I was still drinking. So, here we are several years later – but he is working for me not with me. After resolving a problem with one of his clients, he asked if we could go to lunch together  - he had something he wanted to discuss. Since we both brown-bagged, we found a quiet, sunny spot on Washington’s Mall, in view of the nation’s capital.
He remembered working with me and how aloof and distant I was. He told me that today he was seeing a totally different person inside my same old body. How did that happen? I told him of my association with AA and my working hard to maintain my sobriety. But the feedback I got from him was invaluable. I had changed! And it was noticeable. Although I was not really aware of it, he noticed that I was a new person. What a great afternoon that was!
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#2 April 2015
Copyright 2015

PS: There will be no message next week.

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