Spirituality & Relapse

January 18, 2015

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By Terence T. Gorski
Author, The Books of Terence T. Gorski )
May 6, 2001 (Last Revised: 2015-01-19

Defining Spirituality

There is a relationship between spirituality and relapse. To understand it, we must first define spirituality.

Father Joseph Martin repeated many times that the easiest way to start grappling with the issue of spirituality is to go back to the ancient Greeks who put it this way: human beings have both a physical characteristics that observable directly observable andradite able in the physical world the world, and nonphysical characteristics that cannot be directly seen and measured in the physical world. These nonphysical characteristics of human beings they called spiritual. Let’s dig into this way of thinking a little bit more deeply.

People have both:
– Physical characteristics, determined by the structure and actions of their bodies, and

– Non-physical characteristics, determined by the structure and actions of their minds. These non-physical characteristics are called spiritual and include the ability to perceive, think, feel, act, assign meaning and purpose to life, and gives us the ability to conceptualize and seek out God, or at least the God of our understanding.

I believe in God. My limited human mind cannot fully comprehend of look upon the face of God. Words cannot adequately define God. Yet, I for one keep trying to capture my sense of God in words to share with others.

Human beings beings have the ability to seek after God because we are sentient, in other words we have the ability think and feel, AND we are conscious of the fact that we can do so.

The capacity for self-awareness or sentience gives each of us the ability to be consciousness or aware that we exit as separate beings. This self awareness causes each individual to develop a core personal identity that moves beyond physical existence into a complex world of ideas and images.

This personal consciousness drives people to find meaning and purpose in human existence.

This desire for a sense of individual meaning that transcends the physical has led many recovering people to a search for the spiritual laws which they should follow to live a sober, responsible, and meaningful life.

In essence, people trying to live the spiritual life are striving to find organizing principles of the non-physical dimension of human existence. They are seeking to find the spiritual principles and practices that can give the the ability to live a sober and responsible life in a difficult world.

People on the spiritual quest seem to believe that human existence is ruled by laws, or organizing principles.

The physical world is governed by physical laws.

The non-physical/spiritual world is governed by mental and spiritual laws.

The belief is that finding and then living in accordance with these universal spiritual laws will help them to:

– Find peace and serenity in life.
– Discover a sense of meaning and purpose in their sobriety.
– Find source of courage, strength, and hope that get get them through even the toughest of times.

They also believe that people who violate these universal principles, either through ignorance or intent, will experience inner pain, turmoil, and frustration. They will become disillusioned in recovery and many will relapse to chemical use to medicate the pain.

With that in mind, let’s explore in more depth the characteristics distinctions between mystical and no mystical spirituality.

Mystical & Non-mystical Spirituality

There are two different ways of thinking about human spirituality. Mystical spirituality is based upon the belief that there is a spiritual world inhabited by a Higher Power or God. The meaning and purpose of life, according to mystical spirituality, can only be found through a conscious relationship with this spiritual Higher Power who reveals information not available through our ordinary senses or intelligence. The ultimate goal of mystical spirituality, therefore, is to establish a personal relationship with God, and to seek knowledge of his will and the courage to carry that out.

Non-mystical spirituality recognizes that human beings exist not only in the physical world, but also in a unique world of ideas, thoughts, feelings, and fantasies that transcends physical limitations. In this sense the word spiritual can be used interchangeably with the word psychological. Non-mystical spirituality, like psychology, is directed at learning to effectively use human mental powers to find meaning and purpose in life. The spiritual life is based upon developing these mental and emotional abilities. Non-mystical spirituality, however, believes that human beings can discover basic spiritual truths thorough the use of their senses and intellect. They do not rely upon divine revelation, but look to human reason to find the answers to sobriety.

Mystical and non-mystical spirituality are not mutually exclusive. Many recovering people have a mixed spiritual system. In the mystical sense, they seek to develop a personal relationship with the God of their understanding and pray to discover what God’s will is for them. In a non-mystical sense, they actively work at psychological growth. They believe this mixture of the mystical and non-mystical captures the principle of “turning it over, but doing the leg work”. Mystical spirituality allows them to turn over some aspects of their human experience to the care of a Higher Power. Non-mystical spirituality allows them to “do the leg work” by taking responsibility for personal growth and change.

Relapse & The Extremes of Mystical Spirituality

Extreme and rigid views of spirituality can result in relapse. Many people relapse because they believe that the mystical god of their understanding will somehow magically save them from their problems. They abdicate personal responsibility and expect God to take care of everything. When God doesn’t, they sink into a deep existential depression and say, “Since God won’t fix my life, I might as well get drunk.”

An example of this is the man who turned $60,000 worth of debt incurred from his cocaine addiction over to his higher power. He was absolutely shocked when his higher power turned his debts over to a collection agency.

Another man, who was divorced shortly after getting sober, looked to God to clean up his apartment. He was disappointed when God wouldn’t do it. Upon spiritual reflection the man concluded that since God wouldn’t clean his apartment, it must be God’s will for him to live in the mess. Shortly afterwards he got drunk.

Relapse & The Extremes of Non-mystical Spirituality

Other people relapse because they cannot find a higher power to believe in. Some of these people are overwhelmed with such intense shame and guilt that they can’t believe God or any other higher power is available to them. Others are locked into grandiosity. They see themselves as bigger, strong, and smarter than anyone or anything else in the universe. When they encounter overwhelming problems they feel cut off from all sources of courage strength and hope. They often become disillusioned and relapse to chemical use.

Most people who succeed in recovery have organized their sobriety around a source of meaning and purpose that is greater than themselves. Most practice the mixed system of spirituality described in the serenity prayer. The Serenity Prayer is “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

People who live in accordance with these spiritual principles recognize that there are things that they can and must change if they are to stay sober, and they seek the courage to make those changes. They also recognize that there are other things that are beyond their control. They turn these things over to a Higher Power. They have faith that there is someone or something bigger, stronger and more powerful than they that will take care of the things that they can’t manage. As a result, they can comfortably let go of the things that they cannot manage and invest their energies in taking care of things that are within their power.

Recovery & A Balanced Sense Of Spirituality

People who stay sober are able to transform themselves by surrendering their narrow, addictive world view and embracing a broader and more effective sobriety-based world view. This transformation is a spiritual process, though not necessarily a mystical one. It is a consciousness expanding experience that requires a belief that there is someone or something more powerful than I am. It requires a willingness to believe in a seek out that source of power, to ask for help, and ultimately to follow directions.

Recovering people need to find a source of courage and strength that can overcome frustration, transform despair into hope, and motivate them to move ahead in the sober life. Some recovering people find this in a mystical higher power that many call God. Others find it in the mysterious power present in their group conscience. Still others find it in a higher value system that replaces addictive thinking with rationality and reason.

People who maintain sobriety learn that they are responsible for themselves. They internalize the AA principle of “easy does it, but do it.” They realize that they need to identify the next little thing they have to do to stay sober, and do it. In essence, they realize that they are responsible for whether or not they take the next drink or the next drug. They recognize that they must learn how to look within themselves and find the source of courage, strength, and hope needed to stay sober. Ultimately, they are responsible for rebuilding their lives and finding meaning and purpose in sobriety.

The Spiritual Paradox of Recovery

This is the paradox of recovery. We cannot do it alone, but yet we must do it by ourselves. We cannot expect God or a higher power to do what we are able to do for ourselves, but yet we cannot do it for ourselves without somehow touching a source of courage and strength that exceeds our own abilities. And here seems to be the ultimate spiritual principle that allows alcoholics to avoid relapse and move ahead in recovery. It is a philosophy of balance. It is the ability to recognize and affirm the quality of physical existence, to learn how the physical world operates and operate within the limits of its laws and imperatives. It is also the willingness to affirm the world of ideas, thoughts, and images. It is the ability to learn to turn within and find a creative spark of life, a creative spiritual energy that will allow us to go on and find solutions when none seem available. The balance of these two worlds, the world of physical reality, and the world of ideas where the ultimate spiritual reality exists, allow people to forge a strong and powerful sobriety.

An After-Thought

After reading and rereading this article on spirituality I realize that many of the ideas are not as clear and concrete as I would like them to be. At best this must be considered a work in progress.

Considering that I have been drafting and redrafting this description of spirituality for over forty years, I doubt that I will get it right in the few years I have left.

I am just sharing this and hope some parts of it will be helpful to some people who read it.

Spirituality is a complex area and we don’t have a shared language to describe it.

Spirituality is also an experience that cannot be fully conveyed in language.

When we have a spiritual experience we know it, but when we try to explain what we experienced, the words often fail us.

So the above article on spirituality is my failure to adequately convey my experience of the spiritual in words.

The Books of Terence T. Gorski


PEAK EXPERIENCES

August 7, 2014

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By Terence T. Gorski, Author

Peak Experiences and 12-Step Spirituality

Many recovering people have spiritual experiences that they believe are closely related to their recovery. Some of these spiritual experiences have classic religious elements such as visions of or actual communication with God, a saint, or a spiritual being.

Many other recovering people, however, have spiritual experiences that involve profoundly altered states of consciousness with no overt religious aspects. It can be difficult to make sense of these spiritual experiences. A concept that has helped me to understand the non-religious altered states of consciousness is the idea of peak experiences introduced by Abraham Maslow.

Abraham Maslow identified a unique psychological experience which he described as PEAK EXPERIENCES which have the same characteristics as non-religious spiritual experiences described to me by hundreds of recovering people over the course of my career.

These peak experiences are profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture. During peak experiences people feel whole, centered, integrated, fully alive, and profoundly important as a unique individual. Yet, at the same time, they feel as if they are an integrated part of or actually merging with the universe.

Many people describe the sense of having a peak experience as simultaneously feeling like the omnipotent center of the universe, while at the same time feeling totally humbled and insignificant in the face of the infinite face of the universe.

During peak experiences people feel more aware of truth, justice, harmony, and goodness than at other times in their life. There is a close connection between the frequency and intensity of peak experiences and the capacity for self-actualization.

Self-actualization is the ability to make one’s sense of self and creative ideas real through self-regulated action in the world. People who have high levels of self-actualization tend to have more frequent and intense peak experiences.

The combination of peak experiences and conscious efforts at developing the capacity for self-actualization moved people toward higher levels of awareness of their human potential.

As self-actualizing people reach high levels of growth and development, the peak experiences occur on deeper levels accompanied by more profound and meaningful altered states of consciousness.

Maslow’s conceptualization of peak experiences as a unique state of psychological consciousness began the continuing trend of integrating spiritual experiences into the main-stream of psychology.

MY PERSONAL DEFINITION OF SPIRITUALITY

On a personal level, here is how I define spirituality for myself:

Spirituality is measured by having a sense of meaning and purpose in life and a sense of deep connection with other people. It also involves the capacity to transcend or rise above pain a problems of life without lapsing into denial or delusions. It also involves a sense of detached awareness, profound peacefulness, and at times, a sense of awe or wonder. It is bodied in a sense of being one with God while at the same time being a rational human being with volitional consciousness, i.e. we have the capacity to make our own decisions following or defying God’s will.

My favorite prayer is: “God grant me the knowledge of your will for me and the courage to carry that out.

GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org


Transcendence

July 27, 2014
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The Moon, Earth, International Space Station, and Rising Sun

By Terence T. Gorski
Author
GORSKI BOOKS

We don’t have to fight it. We can transcend it. We can take it in, understand and learn from it. We can mix it with what we already know and move beyond the limits of our previous knowledge, point of view, or frame of reference.

We transcend something when we go beyond, rise above, cut across, or surpass some previous limit or boundary.

The word transcend comes from
Old French transcendre or Latin transcendere, from trans- ‘across’ + scandere ‘climb.’ The origin of the word therefor implies the idea of climbing or moving across something, especially a limitation or an obstacle.

Transcendence takes us beyond the limits of a previous paradigm, belief, or way of thinking. Transcendence in a spiritual sense, transcendence involves moving beyond the limits of ordinary human consciousness usually in an experiential and nonverbal way.

The idea of transcendence implies moving to a higher level or expanding to a wider and more all-encompassing frame of reference.

Transcendence usually results from an active process that unfolds in stages:

Stage 1: Identifying a personally important problem or area of new knowledge or skill. The key seems to be the initial desire or motivation that becomes harnessed in stage 2.

Stage 2: Total absorption in solving the problem, learning the skill, or figuring out how to achieve a desires state of consciousness. This involves reading, studying, discussing, and mentally wrestling with the problem.

Stage 3: Persistent Intense Effort: This process leading to transcendence is usually so intense that it leads to exhaustion and the inability to continue to hold related ideas in consciousness. This results in the person feeling a need to let go and stop trying.

Stage 4: Sudden and Unexpected Insight: The exhaustion is followed by a period of fitful rest. During this period of rest the unconscious mind or higher self integrates the previous disconnected ideas and presents the conscious mind with a spontaneous insight which is often called “The Aha” experience.

Stage 5: Documentation: The insight is often fragile and quickly forgotten unless written down or concretely expressed. In this way the idea of transcendence and creativity are similar because they both emerge from the same process.

Transcendence is an important idea in recovery from addiction, psychotherapy, spiritual development and personal growth. The process of transcendence that leads to a bigger and more useful frame of reference and a different and more useful point of view is essential to all of these processes. Most people find that as they mature they learn how to transcend or use above pain and problems in life in order to find meaning and purpose.

“We don’t have to fight it. We can transcend it.” ~ Transcendence, The Movie http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendence_(2014_film)p

strong>GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org


Pierre the Mountain Climber

May 13, 2014

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By Terence T. Gorski,
Author

Pierre the mountain climber was known for three things:

– He didn’t believe in God;

– He hated to follow the rules; and

– He thought all he needed was himself.

One day Pierre, all by himself, took off in the early morning to break a new trail to the top of  the mountain. He smiled arrogantly because by nightfall a new trail would carry his name and his name alone. He friend pleaded with him: “It’s too dangerous to climb alone. It breaks our first rule of safety in mountain climbing never climb alone.

Pierre laughed and pushed his friend aside. “I’ve climbed to many heights all by myself”, he said. “This will be no different! I’ll be fine.” So Pierre set out all by himself. After climbing all day he found his new trail to the summit. He marked the new route carefully on his map and signed it with pride. This new route he had mapped would make the climb faster and easier. It would open the mountain to more tourists and everyone in the village would prosper.  It would make his name famous and he knew it.

Pierre started back down mountain. He couldn’t wait to let everyone know. If he hurried, the story would make the morning newspaper in the village. He was preoccupied with his success and in his hurry  he made a wrong  turn and got lost. The sun was setting. Darkness was engulfing him. He knew it would be a black and moonless night. He would be alone in the pitch black of the cold mountain night.

Fear knotted in Pierre’s stomach. “I never get lost!” He yelled at the setting sun. “Nothing can stop me! I’ll make it back even in the dark. In his fear, however, he broke the second  safety rule of climbing – don’t climb in the dark. All climbers knew that climbing in darkness was inviting death. The safe thing to do was to hunker down, tie off, and wait for morning. Pierre ignored the safety rule. After all, he hated rules. He kept climbing down, gaining momentum and  believing he could  reach the bottom safely.

It happened suddenly. His boot slipped from a foothold and he fell into the  darkness. Then, just as suddenly came the pain — a shooting pain from his rib that nearly caused him to pass out.  It took him a few minutes to get his bearings. Pierre was swinging in the air, his safety rope suspended from an out crop of rock above him. It was a long and hard fall that could have killed him. His safety line saved broke his fall and saved his life. A broken rib was a small price to pay in exchange for his life. He was too weak, however, to climb up the rope. There were no hand holds in reach.  He was too exhausted to move. He knew that he will soon freeze to death if he if nothing. But what could he do?

As he swung through the could air, the pain wracking his body, he realized he has only one choice left. It went against his professional and personal code, but there was nothing left to do — so he prayed. He prayed to God to save him.

Suddenly a strong and confident voice filled his head: “I will save you my son.” the voice said.  “Take your knife, cut the rope, and I will catch you.”

Pierre was horrified! What kind of God would condemn him to certain death. He knew that if he cut the rope the rope he would fall to his death. He ignored the voice and prayed again: “Is there any other God out there who will save me.” This time he hears nothing but a fearful and empty silence.

The next morning, the headline in the village newspaper read: “Pierre the mountain climber was found frozen to death swinging from his safety harness three-feet from the bottom of Hill Brier Cliff.”

~ Gorski On Facebook: www.facebook.com/GorskiRecovery
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Straight Talk About Addiction

May 4, 2014

 

Gorski_Addiction_Straight_TalkBy Terence T. Gorski
Author

Accurate and up-to-date. Easy to read and understand.

Books about addiction are boring! — REALLY?
Not when they’re written in STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT ADDICTION!

I have found my voice as a writer. It’s the same voice I use as a speaker: Direct! No nonsense! Factual! Authoritative!

My new voice is clear and easy to understand. Yet it’s engaging. I write as if I’m sitting directly in front of you and putting the information right in your face. You may not like what you’re hearing, but, believe me, you’ll listen.

Straight Talk is direct and entertaining; it explains useful information in clear and easy to understand language. I provide clear examples to back up th information. Yet with all of that, my sarcastic but “incredibly funny” sense of humor shines through.

I’m glad I finally learned how to write with the same clarity and impact in which I speak to audiences. I am proud of my new “writers voice” and, using this new voice, I am in the process of updating my previous works. The concepts have a new clarity, research findings are presented in an easy to understand way. The new works are just plain interesting and filled with useful information.

The First Books In The Straight Talk Series

The first book in the “Straight Talk Series” was Straight Talk About Suicide.” Not a fun topic, but a necessary one. Too many recovering people, especially out veterans, are dying at their own hand. This book is short, straight and to the point. It is written as if I am talking a suicidal person away from the ledge of a tall building while the crown is yelling “jump, jump, jump!” Its key message is brutally simple: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem! Wait and think it through. Even though it may not seem like it, there are better choices than killing yourself.

The second and newest book in the straight talk series is Straight Talk About Addiction. I talk to the reader in a clear and logical way that explains what addiction is, tells you how to figure out if you have it, and then explains how to b-pass your denial and motivate yourself to stand up and get moving ahead in recovery.

Why Straight Talk About Addiction Is Important

You don’t have to be bored to death to learn about addiction. As a matter of fact, the absolute worst way to learn about addiction is to read or listen to something boring. You learn best when you are engaged with what you are reading or listening too. things get interesting when the material smacks you right in the face because it explains your real life experiences in a new and more meaningful way – a way that gives you new choices in recovery.

The Biopsychosocial Addiction Model in presented in short and concise conceptual area that build upon one another to paint a complete picture. After reading the book you will be able to describe in a model of Addiction that has proven to be both accurate and memorial. In other words, a model that bas stood the test of time. Don’t take my word for it. Decide for yourself by reading some examples from the book.

Excerpts from the Book Straight Talk About Addiction

Excerpt #1: The Progression of Addiction:  Addiction is not something that suddenly happens.  It usually progresses just fast enough to start changing how you think, feel, act, and relate to other people; and just slow enough to make it difficult for you and others to notice the changes that are slowly developing into serious alcohol and drug related problems.

Excerpt #2: What Causes Addiction To Progress: The progression of addiction is caused by a complex interaction among four things. (1) The Addictive Brain Responses: This is the unique way the brain of addict responds to alcohol or other drugs; (2) Addictive Psychodynamics: This is the unique way the mind of an addict responds to alcohol and other drug use that results in denial and addictive thinking; (3) Addictive Behavior: This is the drug seeking habits that addicted people develop. Addictive behavior puts us around the people, places, and things and things where alcohol and other drugs are readily available and support for sober and responsible behavior is slim or nonexistent; and (4) Addictive Social Systems: These result from the way addicted people structure their lives. They are the social systems that make heavy, abusive, and addictive alcohol and drug use possible by driving away sober and responsible people while both attracting and feeling attracted to others who have alcohol and drug problems.

You must address all four of these areas simultaneously to increase your chances of recovery. So it’s suggested that you take ownership of this information. Taking ownership means finding what applies to you and then using it to make sense out of what is happening in your life. Reading this book with an open mind will help you to see the truth, either good or bad, about what alcohol and other drugs are doing in your life. The truths allows you to see new ways of solving your problems and moving ahead in recovery without relapse.

Excerpt #4: Mind Altering Substances: Mind-altering substances are chemical agents that alter how the brain works in a way that changes how we think, feel, act, and relate to other people. In other words, mind-altering substances physically change how our brain works.

The human brain is a complex chemical factory. Millions of nerve cells communicate with each other by releasing and absorbing chemicals called neurotransmitters. Mind altering substances have a powerful physical affect on how our brains function.  They can chemically change our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors by changing how our brain functions.  As a result mind-altering drugs can cause damage to the brain.  They make us feel better by disrupting the normal functioning of our brain, but we always pay a price.

Excerpt #5: The Gorski Simplified Drug Classification System: A useful drug classification systems need to be easy to understand for the person using it. A system based on the effect that most users experience when they use alcohol and other drugs. The Gorski Simplified Drug Classification System has four basic drug groups:

People tend to use drugs because they like their effects – they like the way the drug makes them feel. If the drug makes them feel good enough, many people are willing to risk the consequences of breaking the law in order to get and use the drug. Most people use alcohol or other drugs to experience one of four effects produced by drugs in one of four different groups. Here are the drug groups: (1) Uppers stimulate and excite. (2). Downers relax and sedate. (3) Pain Killers take away both physical and emotional pain. (4) Mind Benders that scramble consciousness and produce pseudo-spiritual and pseudo-intimate experiences. We that think that we are communing with God when in fact we are worshiping the effects of a drug! We believe that we are getting intimate with a partner when in fact we are making love to the effect of the drug effect. The drug effect makes our partner irrelevant.

Excerpt #5: The Addictive Brain Response. The Brains of people who are at high risk of addiction react to the use of alcohol and drugs differently than the brains of at low risk of addiction. This is because high risk people experience an addictive brain response when they use alcohol and other drugs. People at low risk experience a normal brain response.

When you have a Normal Brain Response, the drug makes you feel what it was designed to make you feel – an upper creates a feeling of energy, a downer creates a feeling of relaxation, and so forth.

The Addictive Brain Response causes a feeling of euphoria that enhances the mood altering effect the drug was designed to produce. In other words, you feel both the normal drug effect of the drug plus a euphoric effect caused by the drug tickling the pleasure centers of the brain causing a flood of pleasure chemicals. As a result the “hole in your disappears when using alcohol and other drugs and you feel whole and complete, maybe for the first time in your life. As a result you really like how the drug makes you feel, so you want to use it again and again.

So there it is – my new straight talk voice

You should have a good feel for Straight Talk About Addiction. Did you understand the concepts? Will you remember them? Can you see how this information applies to you?

These are only brief excerpts from a 245 page book that explains everything you need to know about alcohol and drug use, abuse, and addiction. I think you’ll like reading this book. I know the ideas will be easy to understand and stick in your mind. Reading this book may reorganize the way you understand and respond to addictive disease.

I’m proud of this book. I believe it is one of the best books I’ve ever written. I hope you will enjoy it and find the information useful.

Terence T. (Terry) Gorski

Live Sober — Be Responsible — Five Free

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Mindfulness Made Simple

December 30, 2013
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Mindfulness Can Be
A Brightly Colored Experience

By Terence T. Gorski, Author
December 30, 2013 

See the related blogs:
Stress Self-Monitoring and Relapse ,
The CENAPS Model and Mindfulness in Relapse Prevention,  and
Mindfulness Made Simple.

Meditation has been a part of the GORSKI-CENAPS Model since it was developed in the late 1970’s. In the 1970’s meditation was first being introduced and was controversial in the field of addiction and psychotherapy. Some viewed it as a fringe science. The first recognition that meditation could be helpful was in the form of relaxation training, which used a wide variety of relaxation methods whose origin was in meditation.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that, if used consistently, becomes a habit of mind.  It stops, for a moment the ever-present chattering within our minds. As we detach and let go of thinking, we stop disrupting the balance of stress chemicals in the brain. We allow the ripples in the pool of emotions to settle as we release and relax. The letting go calms us. Our mind can become like a clear pool instead of a stormy sea of emotion.

In this blog I explain a simple process of Mindfulness Meditation that many people find helpful. It is the system I personally use. As with all things, it works better for me on some days than on others. I hope you will find it helpful.

Mindfulness #1: Looking Within & Seeing What I Saw

I heard about Mindfulness Meditation and decided to give it a try. I sat in a quiet place and just looked within my mind to see what I saw. I found that there was this constant stream of words running through my mind that blinded me to everything else I was experiencing. This stream of words is called: SELF-TALK. Knowing that my self-talk is there and running wild and chattering endlessness in my mind was a first step.

Mindfulness #2: Setting a Meditation Schedule

I decided that I would do five minutes of mindfulness meditation, four times a day, when I awoke in the morning, at midday, in the early even, and at night. I used these four of five-minute breaks to look silently within – not to know, but for a moment to let go of knowing and the need to know. I was developing the art of doing nothing. No big deal, right? I was amazed at how often I forgot my plan, or talked myself out of doing it because more important things came up!

Mindfulness #3: Allowing the Thoughts to Stop

To get my thoughts to stop, even for a moment, I used the idea of noticing the thoughts, detaching from them and letting them be. I then imagining the flow of words in my mind was like a long freight train. I just watched as the train and allowed the cars to slowly coast to a stop. I experiment with letting go by using different images like drifting in a gentle stream, rocking slowly on a swing.  I focused on slowly breathing in and out. I let go, and each time I took it back, I said “that’s interesting” and then I let go and started again to drift.

Mindfulness #4: Passive Awareness

I use “Passive Awareness” like this:

(1) I say to myself “I am not my thoughts, I am the one who thinks my thoughts;
(2) I detach from my thinking and imagine my thoughts passing by on a black board or movie screen;
(3) I peacefully observe my thoughts and let them go.
(4) I put no effort into this. I challenge my thoughts. I don’t judge, dismiss or change them. I just notice my thoughts, whisper to myself the words release and relax, and then I let the thoughts drift by. I call this letting go.
(5) I focus on my slow rhythmic breathing.
(6) I suspend judgment. I just notice and let them go.
(6) I say the words “release and relax” and allow my mind to slowly settle itself.

Mindfulness #5: Dealing With Distracting Thoughts and Feelings

When I noticed the thoughts coming back into my mind, I say to myself: “Ah! The thoughts are back! Isn’t that interesting. I’ll just watch them for a while and let them go as I did before.  If I noticed a feeling like fear rising up, I say to myself: “Isn’t that interesting, I am becoming afraid. I’ll observe that feeling for a while and let it go!” In becoming passive and detached I keep changing my focus back to my slow rhythmic breathing.

Mindfulness Made Simple -A Formula for Dealing With Distractions

The formula is: “I am now experiencing _____. Isn’t that interesting. I’ll observe it in a detached way, quietly name it, and let it go.” Next I say to myself: “I am breathing and notice my slow rhythmic breath as I slowly inhale, hold for a moment, slowly exhale, hold for a moment, and repeat the process while passively noticing what my brain/mind is doing in the background of my consciousness. I say: “Let go! Release and Relax.”

This is an overly simplistic system for mindfulness. It strips away a lot of the jargon and mystique that made meditation difficult for me to practice. This simplified system has worked for me and many other people I shared it with. I hope it can help you.

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY READING
The Magic Circle Relaxation Method

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Rising Above The Consumer Christmas – Giving Your Presence

December 25, 2013
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The gift of your sober and loving presence Is the best gift you can give.
Your sober and responsible PRESENCE will be remembered more than any of the PRESENTS that you give.

By Terence T. Gorski, Author
December 25, 2013

Most of us have been turned into good little consumers by our commercial culture. We are conditioned to see our self-worth in terms of the gifts we can afford to give or the value of the gifts we receive.

The giving of our love and caring – the sharing of our lives – does not seem to be of any value. The giving of ourselves seems worthless when compared to expensive gifts piled up high under the tree. We can get so depressed that we can’t afford those gifts they we withdraw and take away the truly valuable gift we have to give to another – ourselves.

It is the human commitment we share with others, especially during the hard times of life, that is the greatest gift we have to give. The size or value of the gifts we give are pale in comparison to sharing our love and just being there with those that we love.

Being clean, sober, and responsible is the gift we give to ourselves. Being present with those we love is the gift we give to the world. For those who are affected by the addiction of another the greatest gift we have is reclaiming ourselves, detaching with love, and telling our addicted loved ones the truth with love and tenderness.

I have never heard a child at the funeral of a parent say: “I wish he/she had given me better presents at Christmas.” I have heard many say: “I wish I had gotten to know them better. I wish we could have been closer and had more time together.”

Be present with those you love at Christmas. If you can give the gift of your loving presence, then you have the most precious of all gifts. Give of your time and attention. That is the greatest gift of all.

The present is a moment or period in time that lives as between past and future.

Your Presence is being available to those you love in the moment – showing up in that small slice of reality that lives between what happened and what will come.

The greatest gift we give to ourselves is being clean, sober, and responsible. The greatest gift we can give to those we love is being present as a sober and responsible human being.

GIVE THE GIFT OF YOUR SOBER AND RESPONSIBLE PRESENCE.

This blog on being poor during the Holidays touched my heart.

LIVE SOBER – BE RESPONSIBLE – LIVE FREE


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