There are certain basics that almost all of us in the program practice. Whether you’re in AA, NA or OA you regularly go to meetings, speak with your sponsor and work the steps. Beyond that there are numerous other practices that we have found contribute to sobriety. One which many of us have opted for is to keep a journal. There is something powerful about committing to paper some of our deepest thoughts. When we began this practice we were often surprised how the words just spilled out of us. We didn’t realize that we had so much to say. We also were a bit startled that we were able to tap into thoughts and ideas which had lain dormant for many years. Quite often we found that our writings often presented us with answers to questions we had been grappling with. As this began to occur on a regular basis, many of us felt that our Higher Power was talking to us through our writing. Some of us would even write down questions of import and then engage in prayer and meditation. Upon writing afterwards we often felt that G-d was answering us through our writing.
Personal Reflection: How can I incorporate (or incorporate more) writing into my program?
As beginners we gratefully acknowledged our powerlessness and the unmanageability of our lives. For a period of time many of us experienced the “pink cloud” effect. We seemed to be in a state of flow and felt a conscience contact with G-d. Then somewhere along the way, that pink cloud lifted. Although now “sober” a lot of our old thought pathways and behavior patterns returned. We longed for that initial relationship with our Higher Power that we had experienced in early sobriety. What had happened to G-d? Why did we no longer feel His presence like we had once before? We questioned our sponsor and he probably suggested that we needed to change our thinking. In the past, whenever there was a problem, we would attempt to place blame on something or someone else. In sobriety, when we discovered something wasn’t working in our world, we needed to introspect and take a look at our part. If we were feeling distant from G-d, what could we do to reconnect. As we deepened our prayer and meditation practice, consistently journaled, made more meetings and took additional service commitments our connection to our Higher Power was renewed once again.
Personal Reflection: Does G-d seem close or far away?
When I was a newcomer I spoke with my sponsor about judgement. I was feeling very frustrated over my tendency to jump to judgement. I wondered when this defect of character would be lifted. I learned from my sponsor that there were certain defects of character that would always be with us. As long as we had eyes to see, judgements would always arise. There was however the possibility of growth even with this defect of character. When we found ourselves going into judgement we did not have to immediately share our opinion with the person who we were judging. If we started judging a postal employee who wasn’t working fast enough in our estimation, we could chose to say nothing. We could also chose to refrain from complaining to our friends and family about our post office experience. What we could do was to call our sponsor and talk about it. We could share our experience at a meeting. Writing in our journal gave us an opportunity to be reflective. Finally, engaging in prayer and meditation about the incident often revealed new insights. As a result of all of these steps, we often found that the frequency and intensity of our judgements decreased over time.
Personal Reflection: How do I respond when judgements arise?
Writing can be an integral part of the program. Writing can also be a daily struggle for us. When we got to the 4th step, our sponsor told us to put pen to paper and make a fearless and searching moral inventory. This often turned out to be quite a struggle. Even people who wrote for a living wrestled with this particular homework assignment. When we finally were able to begin the process, we found that it was both revealing and cathartic. It allowed us to often speak about things that we had carried around for years and often decades.
Once we had gotten into the rhythm of writing, it was suggested that we also take on a daily journaling practice. There was often resistance to this as well. As we pushed through personal inertia we discovered that our writing began to reveal to us solutions to problems which had eluded us for a long time. It was almost as if our Higher Power began to speak to us thru our daily journal entries. The more often we wrote, the more often we received what we needed to hear.
Personal Reflection: Is writing an integral part of my recovery program?