I've always struggled with the phrase "the proper use of the will." Every time I think I "get it," I'm whacked by the pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization that comes from another failed attempt to run the show.
And I'd be lying if I told you that I failed to figure out God's will in those situations, because that implies that I really tried to—when in fact I just kept trying to find a better way to work my own will.
Eventually, like so many others, I had no option left but to try the meditation portion of Step Eleven. Here’s what I discovered when I did that: in order to have access to a power that works, I didn’t have to improve anything or seek the right knowledge; all I had to do was show up and consent. For me, that was when the real healing and growth began in my recovery.
I’ll say more about Step 11 on Saturday, April 13—join me.
I’m an adult child of a dysfunctional (workaholic) family, and I think and speak about my recovery in those terms. On Saturday, March 9, I’ll look at how the 12 Steps brought me to an understanding of “all the people I had harmed.” Then I’ll share how I understand direct amends, and how I make them today, with help from my practice of Centering Prayer.
Yes, we’re basically a Centering Prayer workshop, but in the spirit of all of our 12-step programs, we’re open to whatever conception of a Higher Power our attendees may hold, and whatever means they have of staying in conscious contact with that Power.
For a number of years now, I have found that a form of prayer-and-meditation rooted in the Hindu tradition has helped me stay in contact with the God of my understanding. I’ll describe that method, talk a little bit about how it has helped me, and share inspiring quotes from some 20th-century saints from India.
What I won’t do is claim that this way is “better,” and I certainly won’t try to say anything definitive about Hinduism—a galaxy of beliefs so rich and complex that no one could do it justice in a lifetime.
Join me on Saturday, March 9!
Can we forgive ourselves if we haven’t forgiven another? Can we forgive another if we haven’t forgiven ourselves? On Saturday, February 9, we will explore those questions through the Eight Pillars of Joy—principles developed by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama—and a personal story. You will come away with a method to help mitigate strong emotions and support forgiveness—in both directions.
As we evolve in recovery, there are opportunities for Step 6 (“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”) and Step 7 (“Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings”) to take on new and deeper meaning.
Through Step work, and the practice of Centering Prayer, we are walked through a healing process that illuminates things about ourselves that were once hidden. I have also found the “3 A’s” of Al-Anon—awareness, acceptance, and action—really helpful in this process
On Saturday I’ll talk about the difference being willing myself better (as an act of ego-will) and yielding so that I allow grace to wake me up.
I’m looking forward to being with you on February 9!
I have struggled with self-esteem, but I have come to see and accept the fact that self-compassion is far more important. (To put self-compassion first is to put the horse in front of the cart.)
Self-compassion, as expressed through my Centering Prayer practice, has helped me to know Whose I am, which has changed everything. On January 19 I’ll discuss what self-compassion is and why it means so much to me. Join me!
When we work Steps 4 and 5, the point of the inventory and the admissions to God, ourselves, and another human being is to pinpoint the exact nature of our wrongs. What is that exact nature—in other words, what is a character defect? Is it a sin, a mistake, a psychological maladjustment?
It’s confusing, but we don’t need to be confused. Our literature is clear on the point, and in my experience, Centering and Welcoming Prayer both address that “exact nature”—exactly.
Join me on January 19 to consider and discuss this vital, and compassionate, understanding of character defects.
When we get together on Saturday, December 8, I’ll invite us to explore the wording of Step Three, and then tell you a bit about how my understanding of the Third Step prayer has evolved over the years.
To close, we’ll “listen with the ear of the heart” to the prayer, using the method of lectio divina, in which we slowly and prayerfully experience its words.
One of the final invitations in the first 164 pages of the Big Book is to “abandon yourself to God as you understand God.” Centering prayer is a fulfillment of this exhortation that allows the mysterious and magical forces of grace to heal us.
Where are you these days with the Big Book’s suggestion? And what does abandon yourself mean to those of us who, in various ways, have experienced abandonment? I look forward to gathering with you on December 8, when we’ll explore these ideas.
In Step 3, we made that decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understand God. This can be painful.
But the pain I suffer is not actually in turning my life and will over to the God of my understanding.
My pain is in my resistance to turning my life and will over to the God of my understanding.
Join us on Saturday, November 10, when I’ll say more about this distinction!