This morning I checked my email to discover that I had received another order for the New Thought 12 Steps Book and Workbook, and it prompted me to come visit my very own web site that I had visited in a while. I realized I needed to update my bio, because much has changed in my world, so I did that.
But my commitment to and belief in a lifestyle which incorporates the principles of New Thought and the 12 steps remains intact. That will never change. I still go to meetings. In fact, I am servings as General Service Representative for my home group and I am loving it! And I am even more active in my work as a minister with Centers for Spiritual Living.
So, what does it mean to have a lifestyle which incorporates the principles of New Thought and the 12 steps?
First of all, I don’t just DO the steps. I LIVE them. Specifically steps 10, 11 and 12. While I can and frequently do sit down periodically to do a written 10th step, and share that with my sponsor, mostly life is about personal self awareness, which is described as a spiritual practice in a class offered by Centers for Spiritual Living called Spiritual Principles and Practices. I’ve taught this class. It is a great class!
And along with that personal self awareness that is simply a part of how I live my days, I also live in my connection with a Divine Energy that is the foundation of who and what I am. Always, running in the background, is an awareness, a willingness and an intention to nurture and strengthen that connection.
And of course, 12 is all about service and not only do I serve in my home group but I also serve at other levels.
This is life, lived at its richest and fullest. And I am so grateful for that.
On this Memorial Day, it is rainy and cloudy and windy outside my home. Most likely snowing at the higher elevations. My cat is vacillating between climbing on me, purring and snuggling, and looking for trouble. He is still very kitten-ish, but beginning to show signs of adulthood with increasing times of purr-in-the-lap snuggles. I am preparing for two upcoming talks and a workshop. And basking in the glow of a great time of fellowship last night. I am now hosting a once a month pot luck in our new home, a practice I used to do when I lived at Tahoe, and last night about 15-20 people showed up with all sorts of wonderful things to eat. And we talked. We indulged in that ancient practice of breaking bread together. There is something magic that happens when we do that. Some sort of bonding, a creation of good relationship. We have only one thing in common, and many things not in common. Yet we break bread together and get along just fine. And I had a chance to practice something new in an interaction with someone. Seems we were having a disagreement about one of the traditions that centers around singleness of purpose. I saw a blatant break of the tradition, and I wasn’t sure what he saw, but it was wrong. I paused, because I was agitated. I asked for a meeting in which we could discuss it and have a group conscious. I think that may have surprised him. And then I retreated and took some time to reflect on my my values. I took my own inventory, not his. Instead of digging in my heels, claiming my rightness and judging the wrongness of the other person, I took some time to practice what I’ve been preaching for almost two years now. I’ve been preaching that we need a new way to communicate, a way that does not claim a side but instead seeks to find the common ground. A way that does not blame but instead seeks to find a solution to a problem. A way that does not make one of us wrong and one of us right, but instead seeks to find a compassionate way of viewing why the other person might have said or done what they did. I purposely sought all that. I fought through the layers of self righteousness and ego seeking rightness and superiority and anger that makes me feel powerful, but only for a little while before it turns into sickness. And I went deeper, into compassion and a common ground. And discovered that common ground. Turns out the other person wants the same thing I do: inclusion. No exclusion. And together we found a way to implement it without violating the 5th tradition. And this brings me to the explanation of my meme, because you know I just can’t post a meme without an explanation, right? One of my upcoming talks is about a deeper sort of prayer, the sort that gets things done. The powerful sort of prayer that all the great sages of the world used to heal, change conditions, and make life bearable. This goes way beyond a beseeching to an outside entity. This is the kind that changes our own minds. This is the kind of prayer that does indeed have the power to move mountains. This is the kind of prayer that has the power to eliminate all the sad, dismaying, hateful, judgmental shit that is going on in this world, and to replace it with love, compassion and hope. And it begins with each of us. It begins when we approach prayer with openmindedness and willingness to have our own minds be changed. To move from our own judgement and rightness and anger and into a way of being that embodies compassionate acceptance, a seeking of common ground and a releasing of that anger. I dream of living in a world that works for everyone. I happen to think it is possible. But only if we change our ways. And it begins inside each and every one of us, with a way of living that embodies a prayer that we be open and compassionate. Become what you wish to see and experience, and you will have learned the secret of powerful prayer.
Let’s talk about the phrase “let go and let God,” shall we? Way back when I first entered recovery, this phrase never made sense to me. Let go of what? And let God do what? And what, exactly, does God do and not do? By then I had learned that God only does for me what I cannot do for myself, and back then, the only thing God did for me was get me sober, because I was incapable. I wasn’t even willing in the beginning. Today I know that God doesn’t really do things. We do them. What God does is provide the power and willingness and impetus to do things. Now, before you get all activated and accuse me of hating God, stick with me here. There is a valuable lesson here for us, one that, when I figured it out, has allowed me to experience this promise, which is located in the textbook of AA, in the chapter which tells us that we have a solution to our dilemma. By the way, it doesn’t tell us how to achieve that solution, it is just telling us that there is one. Here is the promise: “We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.” Right after that is where it tells us what God does for us: “The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.” God has entered into our hearts. We don’t let go and let God. We allow God into our hearts. Then we are no longer alone. We have the power, strength and wisdom of God in our very hearts. With that, we can accomplish anything. It’s a partnership. In New Thought, we have a great gift in the writings of Ernest Holmes. Because he maintained that we are One with God, in all ways, all the time, and he reiterated that over and over again in his writings. In his book How to Use Your Power, he says this, “The idea that you are one with the mind of God is not an extravagant idea at all. It is a simple statement of a self-evident fact. The intelligence that creates and governs everything is the mind you are using now, just as you breathe a part of a universal breath that everyone uses.” So “let go and let God” is really more about letting go of thoughts and actions which do not serve us, and connecting with and communing with that inner God, so as to allow the wisdom and power of that Force to infuse us with love and the ability to make awesome decisions and perform good works in the world. And we have an awesome formula for doing so. In New Thought, it is called spiritual practices. In the 12 step world, it is called steps 10 and 11. I’ve compiled a list (to be included in an upcoming book) of 13 spiritual practices but for this conversation I’m focusing on these: introspection and communion. Introspection is not only about knowing thyself. It is also about knowing the God within each and every one of us. It is about FEELING the God within each and every one of us. And if we can’t feel that Force within us, then it is our responsibility to discover our own self installed blockages, remove them, and replace them with something better. This is what introspection does for us. When we fully and completely know ourselves and the God within, then we can properly commune with God. By the way, this is what mature emotional recovery looks like. Living in steps 10 and 11 gets us there. I believe it is impossible to fully experience the gifts of mature recovery if we are living in steps 1, 2 and 3. Those are for beginners. They are spirituality 101. They introduce us to the idea of having a God in our life. Steps 10 and 11, deepen and nurture that idea so that it moves from idea to reality. Do not short change yourself by doing steps 1, 2 and 3 every day. You are worth more than that. Do some version of steps 10 and 11, every day. And before you protest that this seems like a lot of work, I can tell you that it isn’t. It is, instead, a very rewarding way to live. Take 15 minutes every day. That’s it. Once in a while you can go deeper. It’s like showering. We shower every day. Once in while we might take a longer shower, or a bath. Or even go to a hot springs. Here’s another analogy. Most of us do the dishes every day. Once in while we might scour the sink. Sometimes we might also mop the kitchen floor. So, we have a daily practice which gets the job done in most situations. When a situation calls for it, we go deeper. And with God within you, you will know when it is time to go deeper. Instead of saying “let go and let God,” I prefer “release and allow.” Release that which does not serve, and allow the power and wisdom of Love to infuse your entire being. Today, I release limiting thoughts and actions, and replace them with the Love of a Spirit which lives and moves and breathes through me and as me.
In Christianity, a superficial understanding of prayer is that it is a beseeching to an outside entity. This idea of prayer is so ingrained in our culture that even people who claim not to be Christian, who replace the word God with the word Universe, still beseech to an outside entity. They say things like, “I’ve asked the Universe to help me with this.”
This superficial understanding of prayer has never worked for me. I’ve always felt “victimy” praying to an outer entity, and always felt like there was something missing with those prayers. The reality is that prayer goes much deeper than simply asking a God separate from us to do something for us. The reality of prayer is that it has the power to change us from the inside out, and when we change, our world changes.
In Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes says that prayer “changes the mind of the one doing the praying.” And in the Bible, it calls us to “pray without ceasing.”
How is one to pray without ceasing? And what is the real power behind prayer? I believe that prayer is a guiding light, not something to be used when we are in need. Prayer is a way of being, not words. The traditional way of praying is a very good start. Now let’s take it a bit further.
If we are called to pray without ceasing, it means we are called to BE prayerful, 24/7. Prayer, in a deeper sense than the beseeching sense, means communion. It means connection. I’m sure you have had times in your life when you felt disconnected. Alone. Lonely. Loneliness is not about a lack of people in our lives. It is about being and feeling disconnected from that beautiful power that exists in this world, that Power that is everywhere present. The reality is we can not be disconnected from It, because It really is everywhere present. We’ve just shut ourselves off from It.
We shut ourselves off from It by judging others. We shut ourselves off from It by hatred. We shut ourselves off from It by putting up walls of defense. We shut ourselves off from It by acting in ways which run counter to our deepest beliefs and values. And when we shut ourselves off from It, It never goes away. It just affirms our way of being, because that, in essence, is what we have been praying for. It always says yes. So we judge and hate and build walls and separate ourselves further from It by separating ourselves from our fellow humans. We live in terms of us and them. And we get lonelier, and sicker, and more and more hateful and judgmental, and we wonder how God could be doing the things he is doing? And then we shut ourselves off from God even more because now we are mad at Him.
I am finding it necessary to take a deep breath now. Breathe. Breathe out that pain and misery born of ignorance, and breathe in relief, and truth, and the love of God.
Because in reality that is really what God is. It is love. That’s all. But that is quite a bit. It covers everything. In some circles there are seven qualities, or attributes, of Spirit that are mentioned. Those attributes are love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.
I’m going to make an assumption here and assume that you believe that God is indeed everywhere present. Another way of putting it is that there is no place where God is not. No place. You are here. And if there is no place where God is not, then God is in you.
I’m going to make another assumption and assume that you believe that the qualities of God are indeed love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.
If you believe that there is no place where God is not, and if you believe that the qualities of God are love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty, then you must also believe that YOU are made of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty. And if you believe in what the Bible says, then you believe that the way to pray is 24/7, without ceasing.
If you believe all that, then the way to pray is to embody those qualities of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty. All day. Every day. As best as you can. This is the mystical and very deep power of prayer. When we strive to pray like this, prayer does indeed change the mind of the one doing the praying.
In Sanskrit, prayer means seeing oneself as wonderfully made. How much more wonderful can you get than to think of yourself as the essence of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty?
I am reminded of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. You may know it as the 11th step prayer if you are a 12 stepper. This prayer goes like this:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offense, let me bring pardon. Where there is discord, let me bring union. Where there is error, let me bring truth. Where there is doubt, let me bring faith. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring your light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
The prayer begins with a beseeching to an outside entity, but then, it moves deeper. It asks for us to become peace. It asks for us to become love instead of hatred. It asks for us to forgive instead of perpetuating the offense. It asks for us to bring harmony to discord. It asks for us to speak the truth. What truth? OUR truth! This calls for an extraordinary level of self awareness, which calls for a regular practice of introspection, which is another form of prayer, and the topic of which could be another talk or blog post. Back to the prayer. This prayer calls us to replace our doubts with faith, our despair with hope. It calls for us the Be the light, shining on the darkness of hatred and judgement and bigotry and shame. It calls for us to be joyful. It calls for us to turn away from such self centered and selfish motives as wanting consolation, understanding and love and to turn towards consoling others, loving others and understanding others. And it tells us that when we do this, we find ourselves, our true selves. Thus that old self, that lonely miserable old self, dies, and we reawaken to an eternal life that is filled with so much love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty that we sometimes wonder about it. How can I, a lowly human, be filled with so much love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty?
And here’s the kicker to this prayer: it is in giving that one receives. In Science of Mind we call this the Law of Attraction. This law says that what we give, we receive. I find it somewhat ironic that we are back to where we began, beseeching to an outside entity, only now we have received that which we have asked for, because we have become that which we have asked for.
So go out into the world. BE love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty. Every time you find yourself judging, remember. Every time you find yourself separating yourself from the sunlight of the Spirit by building walls of us and them, tear down those walls. Every time you find yourself hating something or someone, replace that hatred with love. Every time you discover an example of sadness, bring some joy to it. Every time you want to participate in feeding disharmony by choosing a side, instead seek to understand. BE the voice and the example of Spirit in your every action and your every thought. Allow to die a natural death pessimism and negativity, and replace that with optimism and positive thinking.
And watch your life change, which is what a spiritual experience is all about.
I met a delightful lady the other day. I was speaking at the Center for Spiritual Living Tahoe Truckee and in walked this woman dressed in purple, my favorite color. And she had on a hat! Also purple! I loved her presence immediately.
We had a chance to speak for a while after the service, and while we weren’t even discussing the topics of fear and faith, all of a sudden she asked me if I knew the acronyms for fear.
I responded with, “yes.” Then I asked her if she cared if I swore, because one of those acronyms is Fuck Everything and Run. She didn’t care, as I knew she wouldn’t. But I’ve learned to ask, because some people are unhealed in this area.
Anyway, I also mentioned Face Everything and Recover.
And she agreed that those were good ones. Then she added one of her own: Frantic Effort to Appear Recovered.
I love that! But she didn’t stop there, because as most wise people do when in a conversation about fear, she moved on to faith. And she gave me an acronym for faith that I also loved. Find Answers In The Heart.
There you have it. To move from fear to faith, find your answers in your heart. Of course this means one needs to have both a willingness and an ability to go within and find those true heart answers.
I believe the steps to be a powerful way to do this. And of course, you know I’m going to take this opportunity to plug my book and the new Companion Workbook. You can purchase them here: http://karenlinsley.com/?p=14828
I hope you have a joyous journey to your heart space!
When I autograph my books, I always write this before signing my signature: “Welcome to the journey!” Because it is a journey. And there are little journeys within the ginormous journey of recovery.
The ginormous journey is that combo pack of what is going on in our outer lives coupled with what is going on in our inner lives.
If you have ever studied New Thought, you know that we can control our inner lives, and that what goes in our inner lives can and does have a great say how our outer lives manifest. Which is why I like to say, “if you don’t go within you go without.” When I coach people, this is where we begin, within.
Within is this great world filled with all kinds of things: gratitude and entitlement, fear and faith or love, resentment and forgiveness. We clutter up our inner world with all sorts of things that outpicture as lack, limitation, ill health and other sorts of unmanageability.
And sometimes, it is simply time to uncluttered. There is a new movement afoot. A woman named Marie Kondo wrote a book about uncluttering and all of a sudden instead of a name, those two words have become a verb. As in, “I did a Marie Kondo and uncluttered my bedroom!” Or maybe it’s an adverb. But I don’t want to get distracted by proper grammar.
My point is that sometimes it is time to uncluttered the insides. To free ourselves up from that which is not working, to just let it go and accept it and move on.
I recently, just yesterday, did that. I finally let go of what used to be a huge part of my life. It hasn’t been for a long time, but I’ve been hanging on to it. I’m not sure why. Maybe I thought I was supposed to. I don’t know. What I do know is that yesterday, after spending no small amount of days in a battle with unworthiness, and after a beautiful conversation with a prayer partner who experiences the same thing, I had one of those inner shifts. You know the kind, I’m sure. An inner shift that allows you to breathe easier, and to know. Yeah, it is that Be Still and Know stuff. And inside of me I knew that I was ready to let go of a big part of my life that had simply become a struggle. So I did. And immediately a new idea came into being. One that had previously been there but one I had no room for because I was hanging on to the old. And I acted upon that new idea. And felt as if I had stepped into the next stage of the journey. Breathing easy, knowing without a doubt what is mine to do, and confidently advancing in the direction of my dreams.
This is first step stuff. Being willing to give up that which is no longer working, without regret. My experience is that it might take a long time to get here, but once the first step is made, once we give it up, things begin to unfold rapidly after this point.
This is the miracle of the journey. Do that huge giant first step, and we open ourselves up to miracles.
Another year is on the books. If you are anything like me you have certain things you wanted to release in 2018, and certain things you want to embrace for 2019.
For quite some time I've wanted, and it has been my intention, to publish a companion workbook to A New Thought Journey through the 12 Steps. People have called and written to tell me they would love a class, they would love a way to go through the book.
And personally, to be honest, after the book was published, I had a sense of not being complete with it. As time went on, I felt I could have been more thorough with it.
Well, the companion workbook is the answer to that. Consider the book a primer, and the workbook the meat of it.
This workbook is the compilation of 30 years of research, experience and learning of 12 step philosophy and ten years of research, experience and learning of New Thought (also known as Science of Mind). Comprehensive and thorough, this workbook contains action steps, ideas and solutions to the “God thing” as well as instruction about how to do a scientific prayer and information on the Science of Mind teaching symbol. And promises! After each step!
Today is the day I consider my real birthday. It is not the day I came into existence on this earth in this incarnation; that happened a few days ago. Today is the day I consider that I got a new chance at life, at a successful life that I never knew was possible. I had to unlearn a bunch of stuff, and learn some new stuff, and for that I am very grateful.
I’ve officially been sober for half of my life today. 32 years in a 64 year old journey! WAHOO!
I’ve been participating in a private group where we’ve been making a gratitude list each day for the month of November, and I want to share part of today’s gratitude list with you.
Today I am most grateful for my sobriety. 32 years ago today, it was Thanksgiving Day, although I did not know it at the time. I also was unaware that another biological birthday had passed and I had turned a year older. That is how enmeshed I was in drug and alcohol addiction. I walked into a treatment center, alone, angry, puzzled and very very lonely; and just a teeny bit willing to listen to what they had to say, although I didn’t think drugs or alcohol was the problem. Turns out I was partially right. It wasn’t the complete problem. Today I know that I have an allergy to alcohol that will never go away, and that my thinking got me into a lot of trouble back then, because I thought my thoughts were the boss of me and because, well, my thoughts were addled with substances. I got sober in that treatment center, and have never taken another drink again, and in 32 years haven’t taken a drug stronger than aspirin or antihistamine. Sober living is way cool, and I am very grateful for it.
I am also grateful for that wonderful 100 year old teaching called Science of Mind, for that is what taught me that I could change my thinking. And Science of Mind is also what taught me that I did not have to go mainstream and get an outer God in order to get and stay sober. I would not have been able to do that. Today, changing my thinking and my Huge Inner Resource, and my continued sobriety, is what makes life worth living.
If you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, know that there is a way out of that morass of ICK. I’m always here and willing to talk about that. I may laugh during our conversation. Don’t worry, soon you’ll be laughing too.
When I first got into recovery, I was told that if I did not do steps 4 and 5 I would get drunk. In fact, that is a so-called “dark promise” in the text book of AA. The fear of getting drunk far outweighed my fear of that inventory process and I went ahead and did it. And discovered that the fifth step promises came true. Here they are: “Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly. We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.”
I had indeed begun to feel the nearness of a God that I did not yet have a complete understanding of, and I could indeed look people in the eye, and I did find being alone much easier. And perhaps most importantly of all, my personality was changing. That spiritual experience that is described in the appendix as a “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism” was happening to me. I rarely thought about drinking, and yes, I did not feel alone or lonely because I felt that Presence that was always with me, even if I couldn’t define It.
Fast forward to when I began to study New Thought, and started learning about a trained mind, and the power of my thoughts. Ernest Holmes said that a trained mind is far more powerful than an untrained one, and I wanted a trained mind.
I was already well versed in steps 10 and 11, doing inventory and meditation daily. What I realized with New Thought was that these two steps were the same as what were called spiritual practices in Science of Mind. Self inquiry or introspection are the same as an inventory. And while there are many ways to meditate, all work equally well and meditation is one of the top spiritual practices recommended to live a more joyous life.
This is the recipe for joyous living, in my opinion: daily introspection and meditation. The introspection leads to self awareness, which is key to knowing our truth. And it is also key to keeping our thoughts positive, because they do set in motion what becomes manifest in our lives. We are what we think, so it behooves us to think good thoughts, and a trained mind helps us do that.
Doing steps 10 and 11 every day, or, if you prefer, introspection and meditation, trains our mind and ensures as nothing else will that we live happy and productive lives.
Today I want to address that age old question: what is God’s will for me?
It seems to me that for those of us in 12 step programs, doing God’s will seems to look something like this: “I have no clue what God’s will for me is, but I’m just going to do the next indicated right thing, go to meetings, call my sponsor and work the steps.” Which is a very good beginning.