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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Divine (Last Chapter)

Ben had experienced a connected moment, which allowed for transformation and tranquility. It was a moment of deliverance for Ben, a deliverance from the bondage of addiction, disease, and darkness. Once awake, Ben's awareness surfaced often.

"I saw the most tender scene last week," Ben reported a few weeks later. "I was sitting at the coffee shop, and a little boy three years old approached a graying golden retriever. He was unafraid; the boy walked straight up to the animal and extended his hand. The dog struggled but rose to his feet. The boy backward away a few steps but allowed his hand to remain outstretched. For a few moments, both stood silent with locked eyes. And then the dog took one gentle step and lovingly licked the boy's fingertips. A slow smile emerged on the boy's face. It was a beautiful moment," he sighed.

Graceful moments surround us. Grace is a gift of divine energy given to us as an affirmation of our belonging. It tells us have a safe home.

We do not force it or will it to happen. When we stop and open ourselves to connection, grace abounds. And when grace abounds, we are well. As we heal from our wounds, we become more sensitive to the universal energies around us, and we vibrate with spiritual connection. The recognition of our congruence with spiritual connection is the greatest gift of living. In recovery, it is our responsibility to reclaim that gift.  

***

All that's left is book selections, websites, telephone numbers. 

I hope you enjoyed this, learned things that are helpful, and now understand more about certain behaviors when it comes to addictions, of any kind.

The Divine (Part One)

Surrendering our intellectual defenses in the search for spiritual meaning can be threatening. Spiritual development, enhancement, and practice require a balance between the rational and the intuitive. The rational guides our steps along the road to emotional recovery; the intuitive opens us to the possibilities of connection to and through a higher power.

We are often unconscious of divine energy in our daily lives. Ben, a homosexual in early recovery, was working on this very issue. He told me, "I want intensity in my sex life; I want excitement. I have no idea what you're talking about when you talk about spiritual connection."

I suggested to Ben that spiritual connection existed in many things of which he was already aware, such as great music, dance, food, and nature. I suggested he spend some time in the natural settings that he loved. I suggested he quiet himself, take everything in, and see what happened.

"I tried the exercise," Ben reported the following week. "I went up to the reservoir. You know, they have a path that is three miles long. The only thing I noticed was the bare-topped men jogging," he explained with a smirk.

Despite Ben's resistance and lack of belief, he persevered. Each week, he returned with a similar story. It wasn't until the sixth week that he changed.

"You know, the most profound thing happened at the reservoir this week. It was late in the day, so it was quiet, and I was climbing this hill when I heard a rustling noise. I looked up, and I saw the leaves of this aspen tree dancing in the breeze. The sun illuminated them from behind, and it looked so magical. I was captivated by the beauty."

Putting It into Practice (Part Three)

That inner knowing can then develop into a sense of congruence with the world. That sense of belonging, of feeling "at home," gives us the optimistic energy to perform our best work. For the first time in our lives, we feel that we are among friends. Our lives become conscious expressions of our fitness to be alive and health; we experience being present in a world that cares for us.

To live this blessing, we must be restored to wholeness; we must recover our preciousness so long buried beneath the rubble of our wounding. We must bring together all the recovery tools we have begun to use in therapy. These tools include the ability to know our emotional fears or blocks, the ability to communicate our needs and wants, and the willingness to be vulnerable and to share respectfully our knowledge of ourselves with our partners.

Sexuality is at the heart of our life force. It is our creative urge, and it is not expressed only through sexually explicit acts. Because our sexuality is so linked to the essence of who we are, it is inexplicably interwoven into our spirituality. Healthy sex supports the awakening of our soul, or inner knowing and truth. It opens the possibility of deeper connection with others. This does not mean that the spiritual connectivity of sexual intercourse is memorable because it is intensely pleasurable. When we willingly and consciously enter the act of lovemaking, we offer our precious humanity to the care of our partners, and we accept our partners' offer of their precious humanity for our own safekeeping. That is an awesome at of spiritual communion, and a responsibility not to be taken lightly. To betray it would plunge us sex addicts back to where we were when we were first betrayed, when we thought that love and betrayal were the same thing.

*** 

Putting It into Practice (Part Two)

Jacob was unable to tolerate the blending of the concrete, comprehended by intellect, and the spiritual apprehended by faith. Without the willingness to explore and integrate the physical, emotional and spiritual accepts of the self, Jacob cut himself off from the miracle of recovery. He locked himself into the painful reality of the status quo.

Jacob left treatment shortly after our group meeting. His tears demonstrated his inner conflict between the familiar ramparts of his rigid intellectuality and his defiance and fear of spiritual uncertainty. I believe that the bridge that leads to the world of spiritual connection gives us our sense of preciousness. Jacob was unwilling or afraid to cross it.

We need to trust in the preciousness of ourselves, which allows us to recognize the preciousness in others. And then we need to trust in the a power greater than ourselves, which binds humans together in a community of love or, at least, respect. Without this trust, we cannot begin to chisel away at the defenses of dysfunctional adaptation, which hide our true and precious beings -- our authentic selves.

On the spiritual level the barrier against entry becomes most powerful. The hold on the mundane would is strong. The doubts in our intellectual minds have contempt for the mysteries of higher truths. But our trust in a higher power creates the possibility of connection with forces greater than ourselves. These forces give us the serenity to believe that we belong in the universal order. Through faith, we become a part of the beneficent operation of the universe, rather than apart from it. 

Putting It into Practice (Part One)

Jacob, a man in his mid-fifties, is a retired engineer whose training taught him to solve problems and implement change with precision, allowing no margin for errors.

"When I was in graduate school, all I did was study," Jacob explains. "I had no social life, no friends. I ate, slept, went to class, and studied; that was my life."
"What was that like for you, to live that way?" I ask.
"I didn't have a choice; if I wanted to get through school, I had to work for my grades--not like my roommate, who was a natural."
"It must have been lonely."
"You sound like you were determined."
"Let me explain how it was," Jacob continues. "The tests were basically equations we had to solve, like if you were an engineer and this was the equation for the bridge you were building. The calculations had to be correct; there was no margin for error. Otherwise, the bridge would collapse; anything less than 100 percent was failure."

Jacob had been in therapy and group process for six months. He had been struggling with the concept of spirituality and was often confused, offended, and frustrated by the abstract idea of something greater than himself. His frustrations were often demonstrated by outbursts of anger and pain.

"You know, I need proof," Jacob began one night during a group discussion.
"I need proof that this stuff is real. If you can give me some empirical data, then I might be able to buy into this stuff. But otherwise, I'm not buying it."
"I have no proof," I said.
"Then I can't buy it," he snapped. "You know I want to get it," he continued, his anger melting into tears of frustration. "I really do," he said, his voice trailing off.

Jacob was struggling with a concept beyond his grasp. Everything he'd been taught intuitively and intellectually was counter to what he was hearing. He was scared to let go of what he knew. If it was incorrect, like an incorrect equation for a bridge, his world would come crashing down.