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Old 09-19-2011, 06:35 PM
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Mindfulness

I started on my journey in recovery a few months ago. I decided to get help and, severely depressed with no idea what to do, went in for inpatient treatment. When I got out, I started going to AA meetings. Despite some really unpleasant things happening since cleaning up -- life doesn't seem to care that I'm sober now! -- I've been doing really well. I haven't had any cravings yet (although I do find myself having relapse dreams), and in general I've been happy and excited about living without drugs and booze. For the most part, I've been enjoying the AA meetings, even if they seem at times to be really repetitive. There's often a great feeling of sober community there and I like being a part of that. Not at all convinced I need look to the supernatural to stay clean, I'm not trying to work the steps, although I can usually find something positive to say in relation to whatever step we're talking about, or maybe the principle underlying it. Seems like other nontheists do this too. "What this step means to me is...", followed by nothing that references higher power. While I run into the opinion that sobriety can only be found in the god (haven't run into any polytheists yet, as cool as that would be), most folks aren't preachy. (Sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable when I don't join in on the prayers, but I know I don't need to be.)

Before long I started hearing folks in meetings talk about mindfulness. This didn't seem to have anything to do with the steps and intrigued me. I knew what the word meant, but wasn't at all familiar with mindfulness in relation to sobriety or personal change. I don't remember exactly what led to what, but I got started meditating, learning about Buddhist concepts and practices, MBRP(CT/SR), reading folks like Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabatt-Zinn and now, a few months later, I think of the mindful practices I've taken up as central to my recovery. I think I've become far more self-aware than I've ever been and love the sort of buffer zone mindfulness cultivates between awareness and thoughts/emotions. I had no idea just how much of the anxiety I've experienced most of my life was self-inflicted. Someone might say or do something that made me anxious, then I'd get angry about letting them do that to me, then anxious about getting angry, etc etc. I wouldn't even have any idea this was going on. I don't know for sure, but I suspect these chain reactions often resulted in calls to my dealer or trips to the liquor store. Now I seem to be much more quickly aware of thoughts and feelings as they arise, and I'm continually surprised at how they lose their force simply in virtue of being clearly recognized and not judged or reacted to. Maybe even more importantly, I'm learning to see the joy in whatever is right front of me, right now!

I continue to hear folks talking in AA meetings about the role concepts that seem closely related to mindfulness have played in their recovery: patience, trust, acceptance, living in the moment, compassion, going with the flow (or non-striving), not trying to control everything, etc., and I think this is cool. Still, I'm beginning to wonder just how many folks in AA would find a clearer expression of what's helping them in, say, a Sober Eightfold Path meeting rather than a 12-Step meeting!

I'd love to hear about how mindfulness has figured into your recovery, if you'd care to share.

This is a great site and I love this forum -- I wish I'd discovered it earlier!
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:11 PM
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Hi Augie, a belated welcome to SR and to Secular Connections (SC).

Cant comment on AA because of the rules at SC.
Secular Connections
Alternatives to 12 Step Recovery
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12 Step Programs are off topic for this forum and posts discussing 12 Step Programs will be removed. Please use the Secular 12 Step Forum for positive topics on Secular 12 Step Recovery.
As for mindfulness, I just try not to think to far ahead of what I'm doing at the time. Kinda keep it simple and pay attention to whats happening with me now. Doing so cuts out some stress out. I try to stay in the 'now' and take life at it comes without letting my mind wander all over the place.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Augie View Post
Now I seem to be much more quickly aware of thoughts and feelings as they arise, and I'm continually surprised at how they lose their force simply in virtue of being clearly recognized and not judged or reacted to. Maybe even more importantly, I'm learning to see the joy in whatever is right front of me, right now!




This is a great site and I love this forum -- I wish I'd discovered it earlier!

Augie,
I wholeheartily agree ( about this being a great site ! )

Ever since I started reading the AVRT thread, it's slowly started sinking in.

What you're desribing ;

Now I seem to be much more quickly aware of thoughts and feelings as they arise, and I'm continually surprised at how they lose their force simply in virtue of being clearly recognized and not judged or reacted to. Maybe even more importantly, I'm learning to see the joy in whatever is right front of me, right now!

.....seems to show you are recognizing the power of recognizing your "addictive voice" and the strength of not reacting to it. It has no power, once it's revealed for what it is.

Mindful indeed !
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Zencat View Post
Hi Augie, a belated welcome to SR and to Secular Connections (SC).
Thanks!

Cant comment on AA because of the rules at SC.
I hope I haven't violated the rules here, and I hope I didn't come across as either plugging or bashing anything related to AA or the 12-steps. Sincerest apologies to anyone who might have taken offense. Just wanted to express my enthusiasm for something I've come to regard as important to my recovery and the seemingly curious route to how I found it, and maybe learn from like-minded others.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Augie View Post
I hope I haven't violated the rules here, and I hope I didn't come across as either plugging or bashing anything related to AA or the 12-steps. Sincerest apologies to anyone who might have taken offense. Just wanted to express my enthusiasm for something I've come to regard as important to my recovery and the seemingly curious route to how I found it, and maybe learn from like-minded others.
Probably more of a friendly heads up.

Just don't do it again.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by MickeyAnMeisce View Post
Probably more of a friendly heads up.

Just don't do it again.
Seems I still have a lot to learn about being mindful.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Augie View Post
Seems I still have a lot to learn about being mindful.
You familiar with dialectrical behavioral therapy?
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MickeyAnMeisce View Post
You familiar with dialectrical behavioral therapy?
Only what I just found googling it. Looks to be an approach to cognitive therapy which incorporates mindfulness, developed initially for borderline personality disorder and more recently brought to bear in treating addiction?
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:35 PM
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I have long since thought that many cognitive approaches parallel mindfulness. But I am a parallel finding freak LOL I see them everywhere. That kind of schema building is how I learn. Anyway, Augie, your post was amazing. So much of what you said resonated with me. Buddhist thought/practices have been central to my growth. The whole way that the buddha taught by questioning and by encouraging others to always question was the hook for me, then it just snowballed for me. Good stuff...thanks for sharing
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:52 PM
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I practice mindfulness as part of my daily recovery, when I remember to, honestly. I tried to drink out of the painful past and fearful future, but being drunk I was never present. Still a work in progress, Thank Buddha. Like the competitive Zen student exclaimed with pride, “The instructor just told us to do a 45 minute meditation–I nailed it in 10!”
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:39 PM
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Since starting a regular self hypnosis program I have been able to get in the "now zone", and mindfulness for me can really be summed up quite simply with 2 rules.

1. Don't sweat the small stuff.
2. Everything is small stuff.

Maybe too simplistic for some people, but with a couple deep breaths I don't let things stress me out. I enjoy each moment while taking care of the tasks at hand and don't let stuff pile up on my plate.
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:05 AM
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I've also used the secular Buddhist work of Stephen Batchelor (Buddhism without Beliefs) because many of the historical Buddhist teachings are religious and, while that is fine as a private belief, I don't believe we need the supernatural or the spiritual in order to get and stay sober.
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by topspin View Post
Augie,
I wholeheartily agree ( about this being a great site ! )

Ever since I started reading the AVRT thread, it's slowly started sinking in.

What you're desribing ;

Now I seem to be much more quickly aware of thoughts and feelings as they arise, and I'm continually surprised at how they lose their force simply in virtue of being clearly recognized and not judged or reacted to. Maybe even more importantly, I'm learning to see the joy in whatever is right front of me, right now!

.....seems to show you are recognizing the power of recognizing your "addictive voice" and the strength of not reacting to it. It has no power, once it's revealed for what it is.

Mindful indeed !
Yeah that sounds like what I'm saying, although it seems I'm starting to wonder whether that voice that might tell me I need to use comes from the same place as the voice that tells me I need to rush through a red light, or buy better furniture, or that something bad will happen if I don't do/have something else I really don't need. That a circumstance is unsatisfactory when it's really just fine? I'm really new to this -- both recovery and mindfulness -- so I'm trying to be really careful about where my thinking is taking me, but I'm wondering: in the long-term, is it necessary to put that addictive voice in a class unto its own? Would that itself be to give it a kind of power it doesn't have?

I'll check out that AVRT thread. Thanks!
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:03 AM
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The voice that tries everything to get you to use is the one that craves sex, gets afraid or lonely, gets its feelings hurt, gets angry and so on. It is in a class of its own, since it has no power at all, unlike your logical brain. It can't move your finger, it can't walk to the liquor store, it can't page your dealer. It can only try to go against what your thinking brain knows to be right.

The addictive voice cares nothing for you. It will tell you it needs to drink, even if you lose your partner, your family, your job, your home, your health and your self-respect. You must put that addictive voice in a separate class, and train yourself to find it whenever you hear it saying anything that takes you towards picking up. Once you can put it and all it says into a class separate from you, you can easily kick it to the curb.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:11 AM
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Augie View Post
I hope I haven't violated the rules here, and I hope I didn't come across as either plugging or bashing anything related to AA or the 12-steps. Sincerest apologies to anyone who might have taken offense. Just wanted to express my enthusiasm for something I've come to regard as important to my recovery and the seemingly curious route to how I found it, and maybe learn from like-minded others.
No problems, just a heads-up about this forum. I didn't want to see your thread get removed.

If you would like to discuss your AA involvement in a secular or in a unorthodox way, the 'Secular 12 Step Forum' would be good for that. Otherwise continue here as your doing and continue to benefit from your time here at SR .
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Louisa5073 View Post
I've also used the secular Buddhist work of Stephen Batchelor (Buddhism without Beliefs) because many of the historical Buddhist teachings are religious and, while that is fine as a private belief, I don't believe we need the supernatural or the spiritual in order to get and stay sober.
There is a secular Buddhist website that is pretty interesting including Stephen Batchelor. I don't think we're allowed to post websites? But you can Google it. I see where Batchelor's new book is the Agnostic Buddhist so he's progressed, digressed or just got an idea for another book.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:46 AM
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mindfullness

yes mindfullness is something I am trying to practice everyday, not easy though, I have been reading a book by joyce myer called battlefield of the mind, I just love this book, it teaches me to think about what i am thinking about, usually negative stuff, so i have to try to remember to think postive thoughts, i have always been a worry wart and a pessimist, but am well on my way to becoming an optimist, it is so hard, just like staying sober, i went a whole year sober and one night because i didn't pay attention to what i was thinking I lost it all. so i carring the book with me wherever i go to remind me to think about what I am thinking about.
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Louisa5073 View Post
I've also used the secular Buddhist work of Stephen Batchelor (Buddhism without Beliefs) because many of the historical Buddhist teachings are religious and, while that is fine as a private belief, I don't believe we need the supernatural or the spiritual in order to get and stay sober.
Hey thanks I'll check that out. I'm reading Kabat-Zinn right now. He seems to present the Buddhist concepts and practices I've started to embrace in comfortably secular language, and I like that he doesn't expend much energy drawing attention to that fact. Another guy like that is Rick Hansen, who wrote Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:38 PM
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Hi jean11, welcome to SoberRecovery.com

I hope your time spent here is a beneficial one.
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