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Means to Healing and Freedom
These are some ways of connecting with the life-giving aspects of existence, and building a supportive routine of life-affirming behaviors. Similar to the "Tools of Recovery" spoken of in some 12-step groups, not all of the means need be used by a person to succeed, and some of them can be misapplied in non-helpful ways. Think of each one as an action which is helpful to some people some of the time, and consider which may be helpful to you. Some of them may be used at nine-step meetings, others outside of them. Many of them overlap. The use of professional support in any of these areas, is encouraged, and in a number of situations, may be crucial. A support group such as ours can be extremely valuable, but should not be confused with treatment. Therapy, massage and bodywork, substance abuse counseling, mental health centers, detoxification facilities, physicians and various other healers, all can be of use in caring for yourself. Many have a sliding scale for fees.
HEALING AND FREEING
CONNECT WITH PEOPLE
in healthy settings. This may be in the context of nine-step meetings, social occasions, sports, recreation, social action groups, adult education, worship gatherings, letters, telephone and internet communications, etc.
CONNECT WITH OTHER LIFE
in wild or domestic settings. Hiking, canoeing, gardening, wildlife watching, sitting quietly in a naturally beautiful setting, are a few ways one can do this. Some folk believe they benefit from connection with a kind of life possessed by inanimate objects such as stones or water. Spending time touching and caring for pets has been shown to have positive effects such as decreasing blood pressure and producing a sense of calmness and well-being.
CONNECT WITH SPIRITUAL ENERGY
There are countless ways to do this. Religious observance, ritual, meditation, prayer, chanting, mindfulness, service to others, fasting, and creative expression, are just a few. Some agnostics and atheists find these behaviors worthwhile, even though they may disagree with the religious foundation for some of them.
CONNECT WITH AND CARE FOR YOUR BODY
Many addicted or compulsive people have formed a distorted image, relationship, or lack of relationship with their own bodies, neglecting, abusing, or driving them beyond healthy limits. Good nutrition, balanced exercise, rest, grooming and hygiene, and appropriate medical attention, are all goals to attend to. Some people benefit from the careful use of herbs, vitamins, special foods, or medications to address physical problems or emotional problems based in genetic pre-dispositions or resulting from trauma, illness, or neglect. The responsible use of these things to care for oneself is not the same as addiction or compulsion and should not be judged as such.
CARE FOR OTHERS
There are literally billions of people in desperate need. Ecology has been thrown out of whack in many areas, some would say globally. On a smaller scale, each family, community, and gathering depends on individual contributions of time, energy, resources, and caring. Engaging in service to others, charity, and social action to bring our relationships with each other and the rest of the natural world into balance, is a good way to gain perspective. We are much less self-obsessed and pessimistic when engaged in helping others, in big or small ways, and may find that we benefit from serving as much as those whom we serve.
Verbal and non-verbal self-expression can help release our energy from the slavery imposed by addiction or compulsion. Human beings are incredibly versatile in communication, able to use dance, music, speech, visual art, and multi-media to connect with each other and themselves. Many of us have been trained to censor our thoughts and feelings; drugs, alcohol, and compulsions can numb or distract us from those bottled up parts of ourselves. The process of self-expression may feel so threatening that we need a whole lot of support to avoid backing out of it. Keeping an absolutely private journal, singing in the car alone, or sharing self expressions with one or a very few trusted others, are some ways to warm up to your own dances, music, poems, art, fantasies and truths. First efforts may seem as raw, wrinkled and ugly as some newborn babies, but dont give up. Hold that baby, sing to it, and feed it. Even the most heart-breakingly beautiful man or woman had to start out as a strange dwarfish looking being, in somebodys womb.
Many people find it helpful to have regular contact with another member of the program, who may be able to add perspective to difficulties, and support successes. Often this will be based on an intuitive feeling of connection with a person who appears to have achieved a level of freedom a person hopes to achieve for themselves. It is a fact that there is much to be learned from others in the program, particularly those who have been able to use it well. It is also true that in sponsorships there is a risk of re-creating parent-child or dominant-submissive relationships, and care must be taken to avoid such pitfalls.
CONSTRUCTIVE SELF ASSESSMENT
This is often an extraordinarily difficult process, especially at first. Too often it is confused with harsh self-criticism, or excusing all of ones flaws and misdeeds due to hardships suffered. Integrated into steps 6 and 7, it is best to start this process with substantial support, and after a routine of life affirming behaviors has been established to decrease the likelihood of relapse. Addiction and compulsion may be viewed (in part) as defenses based in fear, against the misapprehension of a real, partly imagined, or illusory terrible truth about self and/or the world. Facing down this dragon is both fearsome, and ultimately liberating. Combined with bringing back balance where possible, it can lead to true humility, seeing oneself as one truly is, not better, not worse, laying a firm foundation for freedom.
APPRECIATE AND CELEBRATE
As much as life can really suck sometimes, most of us have many blessings. Natural disasters and hardships are real, but the vast majority of human misery is human caused. When our energy and perception is no longer tangled up in addiction or compulsion, we are free not only to contribute to life-affirming solutions, but to make the most out of lifes gifts. People, Nature, Spirit, all that is holy…it is right to give thanks, to make a joyful noise to each other and whatever Powers we may worship.
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