This is what we do: We agree to gather. We honor each other and those around us. We think with our hearts We go out into the world
with purpose and intention. We infect others, deserving or not, with our peace and happiness, always interacting with them as we would want to be interacted with.
Printed on Monday, January 23, 2017
Church = “We Gather and We Agree. We Go and We Neighbor” 4
Table of Contents The Children of Abraham .................................................... 6 The Heart........................................................................... 10 We Gather in Circle ........................................................... 18 Opening Up ....................................................................... 20
Sin ...................................................................................... 22 Forgiveness........................................................................ 24 Yieldedness........................................................................ 25 Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life ............................ 26 Yin Yang ............................................................................. 28 Meditation......................................................................... 31 Serenity Prayer .................................................................. 35 The Golden Rule ................................................................ 38 In Judaism.............................................................. 41 In Christianity ........................................................ 41 In Islam .................................................................. 42
In Bahá'í ................................................................ 43 In Hindusim ........................................................... 44 In Buddhism .......................................................... 44 In Jainism ............................................................... 45 In Sikhism .............................................................. 45 What Can We Do? ............................................................. 45 Charts/Information ........................................................... 48 Viktor Frankl Short Story ................................................... 50 5
Above and Beyond Spiritual Program With Abstinence as always an ideal outcome, Above and Beyond is a Harm Reduction Treatment Center which means that we have embraced a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing the negative consequences associated with substance abuse. We also house and support most movements for social justice built on our belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who abuse substances and harmful behaviors. In our unique approach to spirituality, Above and Beyond professes no belief that any one collection of religious rituals trumps any other, and has put together this brief set of boundaries, beliefs, and practices in the spirit of Harm Reduction so that it might be useful to our community members in their recovery. The Children of Abraham Scientifically conducted, peer-reviewed studies at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, as well as many others that have been reviewed and accepted by the same institution, indicate that those who hold beliefs that are spiritual in nature, attend services, or spend time practicing meditational quiet time are not only at significantly less risk of abusing drugs and alcohol, but they also tend to have:
Lower blood pressure
Decreased rates of depression and anxiety
Fewer and shorter hospital stays
Reduced pain levels 6
More positive health behaviors
Twenty-nine percent longer average life spans
These factors support spirituality's important role in addiction treatment and recovery, as part of a holistic program that incorporates treatment for the body, mind, and spirit.
With the wide variety of spiritual treatment programs available to us in a diverse nation like ours, the application of spirituality can range from Christian addiction treatment to Jewish addiction treatment, Catholic addiction treatment to Islamic addiction treatment and almost countless variations in between, including secular or humanist-based programs. However, given the Christian majority in the U.S., most faith-based treatment programs focus on Christian addiction treatment methods. Though every program is different, addiction recovery programs based on spirituality tend to share a few common techniques and goals. One common factor is the way that the spiritual and religious elements are presented to those participating in addiction recovery. Programs with a focus on negativity, punishment and ritual, as well as extremely restrictive programs, have been found to be far less effective than faith and spiritually based programs, with a focus on providing support and nurturing, which is where our program comes from. We believe in the unifying presence of a historical figure named “Abraham” who is present, in varying roles of importance, in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Bahá'í, all of which claim a direct lineage to him.
Abraham is recorded in the Torah (Jewish sacred text) as 7
the ancestor of the Israelites through his son Isaac, born to Sarah through a promise made in Genesis.[Gen. 17:16]
The first part of the Christian Bible (the Old Testament), is derived from the Jewish Bible, leading to similar ancestry claims as above.
It is the Islamic tradition that Muhammad, as an Arab, is descended from Abraham's son Ishmael.
The Báb, regarded by Bahá'í's as a predecessor to Bahá'u'lláh, was a Sayyid, or a direct descendant of Muhammad and thus traces his ancestry to Abraham's son Ishmael. Tradition also holds that Bahá'u'lláh is a descendant of Abraham through his third wife, Keturah.
So it is this unifying element that we refer to when we call our spiritual program “The Children of Abraham” (or “People of the Book” since all four have sacred documents that are published in book form). With about 87 percent of Americans identifying themselves as religious and 83 percent identifying as Christian, it's not difficult to understand how "easy access" spirituality is and how it can play such an important part in treatment and recovery. But what is spirituality, and how is it defined in the context of addiction treatment? While the dictionary defines spirituality as "relating to a person's spirit", "relating to a person's religion or religious beliefs", and/or "pertaining to God or the soul", in reality it is perceived differently and subjectively by each person. Any 8
congregation of 200 will have 200 different interpretations of the sermon, and accompanying religiosity, sitting in the pews. Perhaps a better definition may be that it provides an individual's life with meaning and purpose. Not only accepted, but applauded, here at Above and Beyond is a connotation, or use of the word spirituality that may be either (and equally) theistic (based on a belief in a god), or non-theistic (based on ideas of inner strength or certain moral values). Spirituality may be associated with a certain set of religious beliefs, or represent a broader, very personalized sense of interest in the spiritual. Spirituality doesn't require church attendance or even a belief in a higher power. For our purposes, we’re going to try to sidestep the brain definitions of spirituality and try to stick with the heart-felt actual experience of spirituality, examples of which might be: A noticeable sense of wellbeing (being in the right place with the right community), increased smiling and interest in those around you, heightened awareness, acute clarity, feelings of understanding and empathy, authenticity, increased sense of meaning and purpose, calm, and feeling of belonging to a greater community, and diminishing “disease of self” symptoms. Despite spirituality's largeness and lack of specific definition overall, we here, at Above and Beyond, will be tying our use of spirituality into therapies and treatments of Substance Use Disorders and related mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Our goal is to give you access one of the most studied and proven avenues to stability and long-term sobriety by opening up this rare discussion, which is rarely conducted in nondenominational centers like ours. We seek a “peace of mind and heart”, which is totally different 9
than peace of mind alone. Peace of mind comes where there is a lack of cognitive activity in the mind, or brain. So absence of chaos in the brain is one way of achieving an intellectual version of what we seek, but it is easier accessed through the heart. The Heart Researchers have now proven that the heart is 100x more powerful electrically, and up to 5,000x more powerful magnetically than the brain. As long as we don't intercede and obstruct nature, the heart runs the show. As you’ll read below, it actually sends more messages to the brain than the brain does to the heart. Our hearts actually "think", and have neural tissue, hence the term "heart intelligence." The brain signals the production of hormones and biochemistry in the body to support what the heart is telling it. This is established through science, even though most of us are ignorant of the fact that it’s through the perception, intuitions, and feelings generated in our hearts that determines how our brain handles our experience of the world around us. Little known “heart facts”:
The heart starts beating in the unborn fetus before the brain has been formed.
There is constant two-way communication between the heart and the brain and the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.
The heart sends signals to the brain which help inform our choices. 10
The heart, much more so that the brain, helps synchronize many systems in the body so that they can function in harmony with one another.
The heart signals especially affect the brain centers involved in strategic thinking, reaction times and self-regulation. This becomes additionally important when we read, below, about the importance of “leading with the heart.”
When the brain submits to the heart and the heart leads, the brain becomes more in tune and connected with the body. Conversely, when the brain leads, there is less connection between body and brain. Shifting attention to heart oriented perception, mental chatter is reduced blood pressure systems become more balanced directly linking the heart and brain, allowing communication and information to flow freely. Physiologically, it’s preferable to lead with the heart, hence thinking with our “heart brain” a term originated by neuro-cardiologist Dr. Andrew Armour in 1991. His vetted research has established that the heart’s brain has the capacity to learn, has short and long-term memory, and even neural plasticity. It has innate, measurable intelligence. When the heart leads, the brain shifts to coherence. It follows and directly kicks into working with perception and learning from a calm state instead of trying to calm a brain-initiated state of agitation, worry and distress. Leading with the heart improves the self-organizing abilities and collaboration of one’s mental and emotional states. This creates a more highly ordered physiological state that effects the functioning of the whole body, including the brain. This state enhances intuitive awareness and a more effective decision-making capability that is beyond the normal capacity of the mind and brain alone. The brain chatters while the heart calms. 11
Even Jesus, in his “Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39)” put the heart first, the soul second and the mind third when he said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself’” which is our Rule of Conduct (later in this booklet). Here are two examples of how leading with your brain might sound versus leading with your heart: Driving in Traffic - Head: “Damn this traffic! Stupid driver, slowing everyone down. When are they going to widen this road? She just cut in on me deliberately! Why is this guy tailgating me? Heart: This traffic isn’t going to move until it moves—no sense getting upset and draining energy. I guess I’ll turn on the radio and relax. At Work - Head: Who does she think she is? It’s not fair she gets the good assignments and I’m left with the crap—it makes me furious! Heart: I know things are tough for her and she’s running fast. I need to keep my cool, not get sucked into this drama and backbiting. Maybe I’m the one who needs a change in attitude. I think I’ll invite her out to lunch. Increasing heart coherence and heart/brain entrainment boosts production of immunoglobulin, preventing infection and leads to improvements in disorders like heart congestion, asthma, diabetes, fatigue, auto immune conditions, depression, AIDs, post stress disorder, and more. With these facts in mind, it begins to make more sense that in a culture where schools are oriented to favor the brain almost exclusively over the heart, rewarding thinking over feeling, detachment over empathy, that heart disease is the number one killer in the US. 12
The heart works as a conductor/receiver of depth information from the outside world, processes all external events whether the brain is following or not, and communicates to the central nervous system and brain. It changes its patterns, rate of beats, pulses waves, electrical output, hormonal production and neurochemical releases in response to what it perceives. Studies show that these responses in heart function to external phenomena have a similar impact on brain function as when we take in information through our five senses. So the heart is an actual input portal into our beings! Our languaging also refers to the wisdom of the heart: Big hearted, Heartfelt, Hearty, Heart’s desire, Kind Hearted, Courage of Heart and so on. If we are having a difficult time or not feeling connected from the hearts messages we become Heartsick, Heart Broken and have Heartache. Someone disconnected to the heart’s connective messages are heartless and the metaphors are endless, such as “listen to your heart,” “go to your heart for the answer,” and “put your heart into it.” Many ancient cultures, including the Mesooitamians, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks maintained that the heart is the primary source of intelligence, influencing and directing one’s emotions, morality and decision-making ability. They wrote about it for thousands of years and put it above the brain in importance. Incidentally, worrying is the opposite of all of this and if we truly believed that worrying really helped us, we’d be encouraging our friends and children to go find a corner and “worry” whenever life’s challenges come up. Hilarious, right? So let’s recognize this as the most worthless of our brain’s leading inabilities and disengage whenever we realize our brains are chewing away on it, getting us all upset over absolutely nothing. 13
Try this: Sit or stand in comfortable way and put your attention on something around you that you that is pleasant to view. You could do this right now. Allow yourself to look at it, noticing its colors, shape and textures. Notice how it feels to you. At the moment you do this, your physiological functions are shifting and you should be able to notice it as long as you keep your attention on what your viewing instead of thinking with your brain about what you should be feeling. Moving your attention away from thinking with your brain and placing it on external stimulus by perceiving it with your heart, slows the heart, and begins a transformational cascade that positively alters your physiological, emotional and cognitive processes. The opposite happens when you think about your day, or your problems, and your heartbeat speeds up according to the stress introduced to your heart by your brain. To over simplify, the brain part (sympathetic) of the nervous system is connected with flight or fight, while the heart part (parasympathetic), with rest and ease. Placing your attention in external stimuli or by leading with the heart, brings both these systems online in a balanced manner! The more meaning and interest found in what you see the greater the number of positive physiological changes that occur. Again, you can recognize this state as slowing of the heartbeat and a general relaxing of the body. Normal, linear thinking breaks any calm state that we night have going on. Linear thinking comes from self-generated brain activity that seems to conduct business on its own and we see the same effect when we speak, interact with others, watch televi14
sion or allow our brains to get sucked into our phones. Heartcentered processes initiate coherence (peace and tranquility). The rhythm of the heart sets the rhythm for our entire system. The hearts rhythmic beat influences the brain's functions that control the autonomic nervous system, cognitive functioning and hormones. There are several evidence-influenced theories which establish a connection between the physical heart and the energetic or spiritual heart that provides an access point for intuitive guidance that’s much more expansive and inclusive than what we’ve talked about to this point. We use the term energetic systems to refer to the functions that we cannot directly measure, touch or see, such as our emotions, thoughts, and intuitions. Although these functions have clear correlations with biological activity patterns, they nevertheless remain hidden from direct measurement and observation. We believe that the energetic heart has communication channels connecting it with the physical heart, which then communicates intuitive information to the brain’s emotional centers and frontal cortex. Harnessing this intuitive connection to our higher capacities is nothing short of transformational and enables us to access a source of higher information that streams into us via our energetic heart to inform and guide our moment-to-moment perceptions. Our relationship to our energetic heart (our soul) becomes more effective when we edit out the complexity and mystery around it. It’s actually quite simple: casually imagine the soul (or energetic heart) as a drone that offers a handy, helicopter-view of less cluttered pathways and directions through life’s opportunities and challenges. We still have to make choices, yet our higher choices become more obvious as we increase our capacity to lis15
ten in stillness to our heart’s intelligent guidance, even as our brains chatter “brainlessly” away while cloaked in the silencing effect of our indifference. So here, at Above and Beyond, we will be “thinking with our hearts” in order to access the benefits of spirituality, and we will be doing this in a manner that will help us to habituate the process whenever we are able or in need, here or there, in crisis or in real life on the street. Not only does a coherent heart affect our own brain wave patterns it affects those around us as well. A coherent heart field is measurable by instruments up to 10 feet away. Different individual’s fields can entrain with one another’s through the creation of a combined wave and this combination increases their power and depth. When we send out a heart coherent field filled with compassion, love and attention, other living beings respond to us by becoming more compassionate, loving, interested and connected. That is happening here whether it is registering with you or not. If you do not feel it, either the room is in an agitated state (which you can check with your facilitator about, because it may be the case with a new group) but more probably is the fact that you are too much “in your head” or allowing your brain to lead, which has put you out of touch with what is going on in the room. We have to take notice that heart focused perception does not become habit on its own. Perception through the heart remains new through each experience and we have to do our best to habituate ourselves to invoking it regularly or when we need it through our “heart’s brain” instead of our cranial version. 16
We strive for Personal Coherence first (also known as heart coherence or psychophysiological coherence) which refers to the synchronization of our physical, mental and emotional systems. It can be measured by our heart-rhythm patterns: The more balanced and smooth they are, the more in sync, or coherent, we are but we can also notice that we are calmer, more at ease and in harmony with where we are and with those around us. If enough of us of common pursuit gather together with a common motive of healing through unification, Global (or Community) coherence becomes our secondary objective. It refers to the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of the greater community of us at Above and Beyond. If we can synchronize our community coherence by acting and â€œbeingâ€? in concert with our own collective hearts and with each other then we have the ability to spread our harmony with those around us and with our living planet. We believe coherence on scale larger is highly achievable when large numbers of people focus our heart intelligence on a common goal, which is what we attempt to do here in our meetings. As long as we possess the power to choose, which we are unable to relinquish, we possess the power to change. We've all heard the adage that the only constant in life is change. We've also heard that change can be one of the most stressful experiences we face in life. And it's that stress of change that biologists tell us is the trigger for new ways of thinking and living - the evolutionary transformation that makes us better people, creates stronger families and communities, and ultimately promises our sustainable peace of mind and ability to live in our own skin. There is also a big pay-off from practicing heart coherence before engaging in situations that are often stressful because we will be able to sustain our inner balance and composure. So try 17
spending a few minutes in your heart while feeding it peaceful images and memories before you walk into a stressful situation, like court, or a meeting with a Parole Officer, and see if it doesn’t make you feel a little bit better than you would have felt. EXAMPLE: Here’s what works for me. To ease myself into stillness, I sit for a few minutes and breathe consciously. On the inbreath, I imagine breathing in divine love throughout my being. On the out-breath, I radiate the feeling of gratitude. Doing this helps bring my heart, mind, emotions, and body into coherent alignment and a wonderful state of stillness. I call this a Ministry of Presence, of just being present in the world, and being ok with the silence and the wonderfulness of being in the midst of it all. The formula is clear: everything starts with thoughts; thoughts become beliefs; beliefs become our realities. The bigger the problem or stress you’re faced with, the greater the transformation potential is for calm and self-realization. So don’t curse your problems, change your filter on what growth they can cause in you, and then thank the universe for them. We Gather in Circle
Whenever possible, we gather in circle. There is a power of the circle itself. Instead of sitting in rows all facing one direction, we all face each other because the wholeness, the completeness takes us into a deeper place of connection. One of the reasons why people avoid circles for their gatherings is because they don't know how to handle the heightened interconnectivity, expression and fluidity. Old 'top down' structures don't work in circles because there's a deeper level of receptivity and responsiveness called for.
Circles are the forms in which life begins, the cells, in the forcefields of atoms . . . it's the sphere that creates a safe space for life. When we gather in circle there are circles of support that form around us, we become the center of a ripple effect that flows out to our communities, and there is an inflowing wave of love from our lineages and ancestors. These are some of the reasons that our circles are so special: 1. Community - When we sit in circle, we become part of one another, and we lessen any divides or breaks. We are facing each other. We become aware of our connection to each other, walls begin to drop. 2. Unified purpose and focus - As we all face the center of the circle, there is a geometric reminder that we are all here because we share a common purpose/value/reason for meeting and being. The collective "us" is at the center of the circle, unseen but felt. 3. Diversity is recognized and honored - This however does not mean that we all agree about everything as we come together! Rather in circle, if there are differing opinions or disgruntled feelings, it's not so easily hidden behind the back of someone else. Our circle creates a space to where we honor our differences and listen to the perspectives of all those present. 4. Equality - individual and collective power In circle, it becomes apparent that it is the group, not an individual speaker or leader that holds the power. We as a circle are creating the space for someone to speak. There is no hierarchy manifest in the outer structure, there is no 'audience and speaker', but rather a whole that holds space for individuals to take their turns at speaking and listening. The circle instead of being an audience is a sup19
porter and creator of space. 5. Fluidity and creativity - Circles naturally open up a more fluid structure that recognizes that each person shows up with their unique contribution in that moment that may or may not follow the flow of a pre set agenda. There is a greater space for flowing with responses as a connected web of inspirations, questions, challenges and affirmations. All participants are reminded to think, feel and be aware of their heart centers. Our hearts are our energy centers and hub of connection to ourselves and to our group. Once our hearts are in peaceful resonance through which we can welcome transformation. The more we come into being, recognizing, and eventually caring for each other, the more our hearts will synchronize with each other. Opening Up vs. Closing Off to Others Quite the opposite from striving for independence, our challenge is to find a sense of freedom and empowerment by skillfully fashioning a tapestry - a life - that weaves our autonomy with the intimacy we long for. As Walter Kempler wisely put it. "Neither separateness nor union is the goal of the therapeutic process, but rather the exhortation [encouragement] of the endless and often painful undulation between them." Research offers compelling evidence for our interconnectedness. We thrive when we're connected. We have well established at Above and Beyond that we cannot "make" each other feel anything. But the point is that we unavoidably affect each other with our words, our tone of voice, and our actions. Our hearts, and therefore our sensitive nervous system, are inti20
mately attuned to our environment. When danger lurks, we fight, flee, or freeze. When we feel safe, we relax and relish warm connections with our fellow mammals. Our physical survival may prompt us to be cautious, protecting ourselves from real or imagined danger. Our emotional and spiritual well-being invite us to drop our defenses and relish rich connections that nourish us and boost our immune system. We are all human beings with sensitive hearts, each one of us, no matter what kind of tough or rigid exteriors we portray. Striving for an unnatural existence where we are unaffected by other people is to create a defensive structure and armoring that not only NOT protects us from pain but also makes it harder to experience life's most tender joys and satisfactions. It is to banish ourselves to an isolated existence. We affect each other by how we relate to each other. We have the power to hurt each other or relate in a caring way. Our gatherings strive to teach us how to recognize and take responsibility for how we affect people rather than expressing ourselves with a blind eye toward how we impact others.
The path toward a more fulfilling life is not to detach from others and withdraw into an inner fortress. It is to allow ourselves to be touched by our interactions - to be mindful of the emotions and reactions that relationships trigger in us, and to engage with our inner experience in a creative way. Living in relationship invites us to practice the art of dancing with fire. Our way forward is not to strive to be unaffected by people and view that as strength, which it is not, but rather to learn how to navigate through the fiery emotions that relationships bring up in us. We find our way toward each other as we stay connect21
ed to ourselves and skillfully respond to each other in an authentic, not obnoxious way. The key to fulfilling relationships is to notice how we're being affected by each other, hold those feelings gently, soothe ourselves as necessary using REBT and other techniques weâ€™ve learned, and to become able to communicate our inner experiences in a non-blaming, non-violent way. As we remain connected to ourselves in a way that keeps the possibilities of connection open, we learn to balance our sacred autonomy with a vibrant and alive intimacy. Sin No matter what wrong you believe you have done, or allowed to be done, it is forgiven when you walk in our room. Sin is a riddle, a mystery, a reality that eludes definition and complete comprehension. Even though we most often think of sin as wrongdoing or transgression of God's law, the word is used here, at Above and Beyond, as failure to do what is right. Sin offends people; it exudes violence and lovelessness towards other people, and ultimately, rebellion against community. Some believe that sin involves a condition in which the heart is corrupted and inclined toward evil but in any case the concept of sin is complex, and the terminology so large and so varied that it may be best to look at the reality of sin as simple "doing something bad", which most of us have no trouble identifying. Use of the word with any religious context is not intentional nor advised.
Seemingly, almost every instance of sin reaches for things with some intrinsic value, such as security, knowledge, peace, pleasure, or a good name. But behind the appeal for something good, 22
sin ultimately involves a raw confrontation between obedience and rebellion. The right way vs. the wrong way typically = "Should I take the short cut and side step the "right" or "accepted" path and not hurt anyone? Or should I get what I want by rebelling against what is "right" or "accepted" and act without regard to the wellbeing of those around me?" The sharing of wounds has become a useful language of intimacy, a shortcut to developing trust and understanding between us. The exchange of intimate revelations, sins, and honest disclosures has become a bonding ritual for people just getting to know one another in our groups. We "honor our wounds" meaning that we respect our moods, not challenge or discount them. So we use woundology, and confession, to make powerful connections between each other partly because loneliness has become so rampant in our culture. Our wounds connect us. Confession of sin is one of the benefits of our gathering together in a safe space where information can be freely introduced, but never shared with the outside world. What is said here, stays here. Unconfessed sin in our lives comes between us and damages our relationship with others. Not only does unforgiveness (the opposite of forgiveness) create unbearable noise in our own heads, it also breaks our relationships, and ability to interact healthily with others. "We are only as sick as our secrets" says a favorite 12-step society, and this because we start tripping over our own lies to cover up the lies we've already told. Omission of certain facts and pertinent information is the same as lying.
When transgressions (sins) occur, we believe in seeking to find an "amendment of life" that makes an attempt to show a "demonstrated change of life" after repentance (denunciation of the undesirable act(s)). However, we have these discussions only when they are welcomed by all parties and when they can be held in an atmosphere void of judgement or condemnation. The objective will always be self-improvement without measurement of one against another. Part of the process of healing from tragedies, transgressions, and so-called "sins" involves releasing both parties from the anger, bitterness, and resentment connected with the wrong done. Often, when people forgive, that's what they're doing, letting it go. REBT can be very helpful in this endeavor and we promote it.
At the same time, we don't think that this means acting as if no sin has been committed. Moral outrage is appropriate and should be expressed by all parties involved. However, in as short as time as possible we need to let go of these things without prejudice or residue. Hanging on to injury over time is just another way of continuing to punish the offender, which is anti-Harm reduction and opposite to what we believe. In the long run, though, those that refuse to let sins against them drop are the ones who are going to suffer. Forgiveness The acts of receiving and extending forgiveness are perfectly, inextricably entwined; ultimately, it is not possible to receive the full benefits of the former without participating wholeheartedly in the latter. Extending forgiveness, in the way our universe works, actually invokes the receiving of forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness at Above and Beyond is not necessary. It is 24
extended automatically, and anything questionable that any of us has done, thought, wished, or witnessed is forgiven. We have come to understand that offering forgiveness has its own healing power, and we revel in it. Forgiveness releases us from the burden of resentment, guilt and shame, and dissipating such burdens brings with it the peace that we can only receive in this way. If we are all striving to become better versions of ourselves, then what better way to start that journey than by practicing mercy, an attribute so central to the nature of the peaceful coexistence of men and women? Because of an inexplicable miracle we all have bodies, a world to live in, and the choice to chart our own, unique courses through life. In addition to having been given these great blessings, we have been accorded the potential for Atonement with each other, which provides us with the opportunity to repent after we make mistakes against ourselves and against each other, so that we can still be eligible for salvation from our own internal demons that falsely accuse us of being "less than" or "bad people". We know these things are not true, and that we are well meaning, normal people just trying to do the best that we can, and that sometimes we fall short of acting out who we'd like to me. This is ok. At its essence, forgiveness is a restorative process, and offered in lieu of punishment; it strengthens us in our weakest places, harnesses our inner divinity, and helps us develop an outward loving nature that matches the true, original love that we all carry in our hearts. Yieldedness
Also known as Gelassenheit (Amish, from the year 1527), it refers to the tremendous inner strength it takes to self-surrender, and to relinquish the mad screamings of self-will even though one has choices, compulsions, and abilities to do the opposite. 25
“Meekness”, a tolerant, yielding spirit, represents having the right of way but not insisting on it. Many have looked upon meekness, lowliness of spirit, or the willingness to yield, with suspicion and perhaps even mocked it and taken advantage of it. Meekness, or its many common misperceptions, may seem too much like weakness, wimpiness, or timidity. Really, it is the exact opposite. We are all alike inside, full of fears and uncertainties, but what is different in the so-called “meek” is that they have conquered their internal demons and put aside their external masks that had hidden their inner weaknesses and fears. They are not afraid any more, to stand exposed as authentic, genuine human beings that are identical to the rest of us. They are holy. Wrong as it is, our society seems to hold up men and women with big mouths and we erroneously give license to higher decibels and dogmatic manhandling of inauthentic power because just about all of us seriously misunderstand the true meaning and power of meekness or "yieldedness". At Above and Beyond, we speak with authority because we have acquired, and possess an unlimited reservoir of experience. The wisest among us are peaceable and yielding in most situations and this has become what we strive for! It is how we emote authentic power of being.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, or not? Not. Finding the silver lining in rough situations can help you keep your head up in some cases, but it can also become so stiff and fake after routine abuse and misapplication as to actually be a detriment to well-being of what was intended by its invocation. A recent published study in Psychological Science suggests that the process of hijacking reality by replacing it with rosy, sometimes unrealistic, optimism, called "cognitive reappraisal", (AKA looking for the bright side of unfortunate events), isn't always a 26
healthy way to cope. The researchers found that looking for the silver lining was only considered beneficial when the situation was out of someone's control, like bad weather or a flat tire. For situations where you have control, the researchers recommend taking a different approach. Dr. Peter Koval, one of the study's co -authors, explains: "Our results caution against a "one strategy fits all" approach, which may be tempting to recommend based on many previous findings regarding reappraisal as a strategy for regulating emotion. Simply using any given emotion regulation strategy more (or less) in all situations may not lead to the best outcomes - instead, contextually-appropriate emotion regulation may be healthier." Hmm. This contextually-appropriate emotion regulation sounds a lot like REBT doesnâ€™t it? This study seems to tell us that dealing with Activating Events in a rational manner, with a deliberate but loving detachment, and making decisions based on our Beliefs allows us to be happier than we would be if we adopted an â€œrelentless optimismâ€? attitude. When all is said and done, it's beneficial to feel a little bad because of a negative event you caused or had direct control over. Without those negative emotions, you won't learn from it and adapt so it doesn't happen again. Seeing the silver lining is a good thing, but don't let it blind you. Pain, and it's first cousin negative emotions, can be excellent motivators if they are kept in context and viewed from a healthy REBT perspective. Looking at pain from another angle, most people are only motivated by avoiding it (or trying to) or seeking its opposite, pleasure. 27
Since Epicurus in the third century B.C. we have known that humans are constantly searching for the ever elusive state of happiness and contentment, and incorrectly believing that their the absence of it is the product of pain, which they seek to avoid or minimize. Adding to the complexity of the dilemma is the fact that pain stimuli and its consequences are more immediate than pleasure stimuli. So we all spend a great deal of time and effort avoiding pain because it seems to hit harder and pack more of a wallop. As normal as this is, it can develop into an unhealthy preference in life towards pain-avoidance, which in extreme cases becomes the sole and self-destructive purpose of life. Similarly, the stimulus of pleasure (or hedonism) is the idea that life can only be lived to the full when pleasure is the primary goal. Most forms of hedonism, but especially extreme hedonism are self-destructive, as anyone who reads the news knows, because gratification becomes harder and harder to achieve. Eventually it eludes entirely. Obviously, balance is the key. It makes sense to avoid pain since pain impedes function. It also makes sense to seek pleasure since happiness or comfort is the normal state of human beings. However, it is accepted that there are limits on an individual's pursuit of happiness or pleasure which are imposed by legal, ethical, familial and commonsense constraints. For example, my right to seek pleasure by dominating a group meeting stops with my obligation not to deprive others of their opportunity to be contributing team members and thereby causing them pain. The Beauty of Acceptance Through Yin-Yang Yin and Yang (literally translated as "dark bright") describes how 28
seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other, balance each other, and are necessary to each other. At Above and Beyond, we The yin yang symbol shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the accept that life is full of opposite element in each section. suffering and evil, just as physicians and medical scientists have proven that we live in an environment full of bacteria and viruses. Therefore, acceptance is the necessary first step towards transforming the inevitable negative experiences into positive motivations and personal growth through the principals of Yin-Yang. Mindful acceptance is helpful to increase our awareness and regulate our negative emotions. There are at least three basic principles of acceptance necessary for our well-being: (a) Accept life in its totality or the whole of life, not just the parts we like; (b) the whole is always made up of opposites or polarities, such as good and evil, positive and negative; and (c) opposites depend on or complement each other, thus, light depends on the existence of darkness. And our appreciation of spring depends on the existence of winter.
By applying these principles of acceptance (the Yin of coping), we will be in a much better position to commit ourselves to pursue valued goals and personal growth (the Yang of adaptation). 29
In view of the above, it is both unrealistic and even harmful, if we only focus on the bright side of life, because it will lead to unnecessary frustration and disappointment. When we accept our present suffering as just a transitory part of all the vicissitudes of life, our burden is lifted. When we embrace good and evil, happiness and sadness, as two sides of the same coin, we naturally practice the virtues of temperance and the practical wisdom of balance. Let's contemplate this quote from Tao Te Ching (道德經 ), written by Lao-tzu (老子 ) and translated into English by Stephen Mitchell , a scholar and translator married to a woman who teaches us to lose our fear-based stories (Byron Katie - The Work): When people see some things as beautiful, Other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, Other things become bad. Being and non-being create each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Before and after follow each other. How emotionally liberating and transformative it is, once we learn to accept and appreciate the reality of opposites or the principle of Yin (negative and passive) and Yang (positive and active)! How much more non-judgmental and tolerant we will become, once we look at life from this perspective! The actual use of Yin-Yang dialectics necessarily entail two other 30
basic tenets: (1) Accepting the dark side of life as an inevitable part of the human condition, and (2) Transcending both positives and negatives through Yin-Yang understanding. Meditation The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditārī, which has a range of meanings including to reflect on, to study and to practice. The Bible mentions meditate or meditation about twenty times, fifteen times in the Book of Psalms alone and the practice is well accepted by Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Bahá'í, Sikhism, and most other religions. It has become relatively mainstream and so synonymous to our modern-day concept of prayer that we will be referring to it in place of prayer, while invoking generally accepted characteristics of prayer. Since Mysticism is popularly known as union with God or the Absolute, very similar to what our use of the word Meditation means, we will be using all three of these terms: Meditation, Mysticism, and Prayer synonymously. So when we call for a “moment of silence”, or “a prayer”, or “a meditative interlude” or any of the other countless ways in which we invoke a nonverbal, closed eyed, peaceful, internal moment, we will be referring to what has just been described and continues to be explained in this narrative. Our meditative experience will not be a journey from this moment to a more blissful future moment, but a letting go of all effort (including subtle "effortless" effort) to be anywhere but here and now. A central theme to our form of meditation will be to deliberately bring us all into the moment that we are in. Praying, or meditating, by opening our hearts develops more self -compassion, self-forgiveness, compassion, forgiveness, and ap31
preciation towards all things. Listening from the heart draws in more intuition and caring for the wholeness of the group. It calms us down. It lets us appreciate the beauty of silence. Our Most Favored Method We promote, and use, the HeartMath Instituteâ€™s Heart Lock-inÂŽ Technique, which goes like this:
Step 1: Focus your attention in the area of your heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual. Step 2: Activate and sustain a regenerative feeling such as appreciation, care or compassion. (Suggestion: Try to re-experience the feeling you have for someone you love, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment, and so on, of focus on a feeling of calms or ease). Step 3: Radiate that renewing feeling to yourself and others. Other Very Acceptable Methods of Mystical Prayer If our Heart Lock-in Technique is not for you, then there are other, very acceptable meditational techniques that generally fall into one of three classes, the choice of which belongs to you alone (follow your own path and do what works for you): Theistic Theistic meditational mysticism involves seeing or feeling the presence of a personification or a named force which intones the highest power. This can take human form (i.e. Jesus), a semihuman form (i.e. Krishna, Kali), an animal form (i.e. Bear spirit), or a more general form such as an element of nature (i.e. the wind). 32
The experience is frequently described this way: "I felt that I was in God's arms. I could hear what God was saying to me. God was there to help guide me in my life." Monistic Here, the person states that the whole world revolves around a central point. Everything, internal and external to the person, is somehow attracted to or comes out of that central point. Many describe the monistic mystical encounter this way: "I saw everything fall away and be absorbed. I saw an infinite becoming and an infinite disappearing in every moment." Pantheistic Here, one feels that the totality of the external world is the greatest power and that one can see themselves as part of that totality. The term pantheism has been selected to label this experience because the Greek word combines the words pan ("all") and theo ("god"), a very apt choice of words. Many describe the pantheistic mystical encounter this way: "I felt myself one with the grass, the trees, birds, everything in Nature." In all of these altered states of being, we will be seeking to: 1. Practice inner prayer, aiming at union with God or the Supernatural on a level beyond images, concepts and language. 2. Engage in a process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God. 3. Discover the bliss of a divine quietness. 4. Heal that which is unseen, and need not be spoken. 33
Variations on the types of meditational practices range from approaches that disengage the mind all the way to the aim to fill the mind with thoughts related to passages from sacred texts or personal devotions. Any of these are fine and no one way is touted at Above and Beyond because they all have their strengths that will work for some of us and not for others. As a bottom level suggestion for those who are completely lost as to where to begin, we offer the Jesus Prayer, which is a JD Salinger invention which calls for internalizing the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" to a point where, in a manner similar to a Zen koan, it becomes unconscious, almost like a heartbeat. Just the same prayer chant, softly, over and over. A WORD OF STRONG CAUTION: Do not pray or meditate with specificity for events to happen in the way that you want them to. You are setting yourself up for disappointment when you build your expectations for people or events to behave the way that you want them to by invoking some sort of superpower reaction from beyond our realm. You don’t really have control of what happens, and it is best if your prayer requests, or meditational contemplations center around more of a general outcome that involves you, instead of a complex cast of characters. Examples of requests that bring more gratifying results are worded along the lines of, “Please help me to be strong” or “show me the way to happiness” instead of “make me a millionaire” or “please kill him dead.” Finally, Above and Beyond recommends Lectio Divina (Latin for "Divine Reading"). It is a monastic practice of reading (meaning Monks do it in Monasteries), meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God or the Supernatural. Lectio Divina 34
has four separate steps: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. First a passage of special text is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the deeper meaning of the reading. For example, given Jesus' statement in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with The four movements of Lectio you; my peace I give unto Divina. Clockwise from top left: Lectio ("read"); Meditatio you", an analytical approach ("meditate"); Oratio ("pray"); would focus on the reason for Contemplatio ("contemplate"). the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, and so on. In Lectio Divina, however, the practitioner "enters" and shares the peace of Christ rather than "dissecting" it intellectually. Another example might be the Viktor Frankl quote from Man’s Search for Meaning, “The salvation of man is through love and in love.” A student of Franklian Psychology might spend a great deal of time focusing on the march of death that Frankl was on when he said this instead of the Lectio Divina method of becoming the love he was talking about. So any reading of any importance will suffice when using Above and Beyond’s version of this ancient technique, but it is best to choose an inspiring phrase with some potent meaning built into it. If you have any questions on texts to use please ask your facilitator. Serenity Prayer The Serenity Prayer is one of the most useful, widely used prayers in existence. It was authored by an American minister named 35
Reinhold Niebuhr for a sermon at Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts in 1934 even though it wasn't published and somewhat hijacked by Alcoholics Anonymous until 1942 when it started appearing in their literature. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. (Although known most widely in its abbreviated form above, the entire prayer reads as follows...) Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.
What is the secret behind the Serenity Prayer's power? The language is humble, its lessons simple but its messages are both personal and universal; easy to understand and to execute. The prayer reveals five timeless truths that challenge us to redefine what serenity really is: 1. Acceptance is not laziness or weakness. When we devote inordinate attention to the things we cannot change, we expend physical, emotional and mental energy that could be directed elsewhere. Plus we create unuseful anxieties. 36
Accepting that there are some things we cannot change does not make us complacent. It constitutes a leap of faith - an ability to trust, as the prayer goes on to say, that He (or the universe or time) will make all things right if we surrender our inability to change certain things. We thus make the choice to let go and have faith that whatever the outcome, it could not have been affected by us and it is ultimately something we have to accept. 2. We must have courage to change ourselves. One of life's greatest challenges is imagining how our lives could be different than they are now. Often, our deeply-ingrained habits are our own worst enemies, and simply identifying them is half the battle. Since habits gain power through repetition, it takes real focus and perspective to take a look at ourselves and our habits and ask, "Is this how I really want to live?â€? As the prayer states, this act of self-investigation is nothing less than an act of courage. 3. Hardship can be good for us. As the prayer states, we must accept hardships as the pathway to peace. Every person confronts obstacles in the course of his or her life. When we view these obstacles not just as frustrations or failures, but as opportunities for growth and learning, we can transcend our circumstances. 4. Surrendering requires courage, too. The word surrender has mostly negative connotations; we associate it with resignation, failure and weakness. But the Serenity Prayer reframes the notion of surrender as an act of faith, trust, and strength - much akin to the concept of "yieldedness". The wisdom of the prayer lies in exchanging a life of endless "what 37
ifs" for a life of trust in powers beyond ourselves. 5. Happiness is attainable now and in the future. The prayer's ending has something very profound to say about happiness: if we follow the prayer's advice, we may be "reasonably happy in this life.” Just reasonably? At a time when our culture measures happiness and success mostly in terms of money and power, that word reasonably stands out as an appealingly modest definition of a successful life, at least it does to us at Above and Beyond. Rather than wondering why we aren't happier, or picking through every minute aspect of our lives, the prayer asks us to focus on the present, living one day at a time, and enjoying one moment at a time. Whether or not you believe in God or an afterlife, and whether or not the prayer's ending, a vision of being "supremely happy with Him forever in the next”, appeals to every one of us or not, there's something universal in the prayer's quiet celebration of understanding our own potential, our own limits, and our capacity for transcendence (Frankl). Our Rule of Conduct
The is our governing principle of treating others as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We don't know when the Golden Rule was first expressed or by whom but we can put our hands on its first print version in the Old Testament book of Leviticus, which was written in about 1400 B.C. Then the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who lived from 551to 479 B.C., is said to have written, "Do not do to others that which we do not want them to do to us." A Hindu text written in about the same time period, the Mahabharata, includes the phrase, “Do not unto others which would cause pain if done to 38
you.â€? Similar concepts of the Rule have been found in ancient texts from Greece, Egypt, Babylon, Persia, India and other countries and have even made their way into classic literature. For example, in Homer's Odyssey, which is believed to have been written sometime in 600-800 B.C., one character states, "I will be as careful for you as I should be for myself in the same need." In any case, it stands as an immortal jewel of selflessness (or altruism) and is prominently found in most religions and human cultures. Itâ€™s probably been around so long because it makes too much sense . . . it wonâ€™t die because it is one of the fundamental aspirations of our species. It is sometimes known as the or law of reciprocity and most religions endorse a form of it as central to their theme of "loving God and loving your fellow man". It has three main applications in governing our conduct: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (positive or directive form). One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (negative or prohibitive form). What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathic or responsive form). The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion and 39
ethical tradition. It can also be explained from the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, sociology, and economics. Psychologically, it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically, it involves a person perceiving their neighbor also as "I" or "self". Sociologically, 'love your neighbor as yourself' is applicable between individuals, between groups, and also between individuals and groups. It's been said many ways over the ages that "without some kind of reciprocity society would no longer be able to exist." The rule is quite a bit different, and more usable, than similar rationales which are commonly confused with it: loving thy neighbor as thyself, turning the other cheek, and aiding the poor, homeless and afflicted. Like agape or unconditional love, these wonderful look-alikes demand much more cerebral selflessness of us because they deal with concepts that are easy to intellectualize in detachment, whereas the Golden Rule urges more feasible, and individual, “other-directedness” in our outlook and our behaviors. The Golden Rule differs quite a bit from the maxim of reciprocity captured in the spirit of the phrase which is worded, “I give so that you will give in return" because our version is a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the other without the expectation of anything in return. The idea and act of giving, both, are intended to be without reciprocation or expectation of anything being given, or done, in return for what we have given.
As we can read from the following sacred texts and quotations, the “Golden Rule” has many ways of being expressed and is supported by the virtually all religions and spiritual pursuits. 40
Judaism You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. - Leviticus 19:18 What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn. - Shabbath folio:31a, Babylonian Talmud The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God. - Leviticus 19:34 That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it. - Talmud, Shabbat 31a Christianity Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets. - Matthew 7:12 Do to others what you would want them to do to you. - Luke 6:31 A parallel to the Great Commandment, is Luke 10:25-28: 25 And one day an authority on the law stood up to put Jesus to the test. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to receive eternal life?" 26 â€œWhat is written in the Law?" Jesus replied. "How do you understand it?" 27 He answered, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength 41
and with all your mind.'(Deuteronomy 6:5) And, 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' " 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do that, and you will live." The passage in the book of Luke then continues with Jesus answering the question, "Who is my neighbor?", by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, indicating that "your neighbor" is anyone in need. This extends to all, including those who are generally considered hostile. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. - Galatians 5:144 Islam "...and you should forgive and overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving." - Quran (Surah 24, "The Light", v. 22) "Woe to those... who, when they have to receive by measure from men, they demand exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due" - Quran (Surah 83, "The Dealers in Fraud", vv. 1-4)
"...orphans and the needy, give them something and speak kindly to them. And those who are concerned about the welfare of their own children after their death, should have fear of God [Treat other people's Orphans justly] and guide them properly." - Quran (Surah 4, "The Women", vv. 8-9) "O you who believe! Spend [benevolently] of the good things that you have earned... and do not even think of spending [in alms] worthless things that you yourselves would be reluctant to accept." - Quran (Surah 2, "The Calf", v. 267) 42
A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: "As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don't do to them. Now let the stirrup go! [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]" - Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146 "None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." - An-Nawawi's Forty Hadith 13 (p. 56) "Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself, that you may be a believer." - Sukhanan-i-Muhammad (Teheran, 1938) "O' my child, make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself. Do not oppress as you do not like to be oppressed. Do good to others as you would like good to be done to you. Regard bad for yourself whatever you regard bad for others. Accept that (treatment) from others which you would like others to accept from you... Do not say to others what you do not like to be said to you." - Nahjul Balaghah, Letter 31 Bahá'í Faith O SON OF MAN! Deny not My servant should he ask anything from thee, for his face is My face; be then abashed before Me. - Bahá'u'lláh Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself. 43
- Bahá'u'lláh And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself. - Bahá'u'lláh Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not. - Bahá'u'lláh Hinduism One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one's own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires. - Brihaspati, Mahabharata (Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII, Verse 8) Buddhism Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, c. 623 - c. 543 BC) made this principle one of the cornerstones of his ethics in the 6th century BC. It occurs in many places and in many forms throughout the Tripitaka. "Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I," he should neither kill nor cause others to kill. - Sutta Nipata 705 One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter. - Dhammapada 10
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. - Udanavarga 5:18 44
Jainism The Golden Rule is paramount in the Jainist philosophy and can be seen in the doctrines of Ahimsa and Karma. As part of the prohibition of causing any living beings to suffer, Jainism forbids inflicting upon others what is harmful to oneself. The following quotation from the Acaranga Sutra sums up the philosophy of Jainism: Nothing which breathes, which exists, which lives, or which has essence or potential of life, should be destroyed or ruled over, or subjugated, or harmed, or denied of its essence or potential. In support of this Truth, I ask you a question - "Is sorrow or pain desirable to you ?" If you say "yes it is", it would be a lie. If you say, "No, It is not" you will be expressing the truth. Just as sorrow or pain is not desirable to you, so it is to all which breathe, exist, live or have any essence of life. To you and all, it is undesirable, and painful, and repugnant. A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. - Sutrakritanga, 1.11.33 In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self. - Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara Sikhism Precious like jewels are the minds of all. To hurt them is not at all good. If thou desirest thy Beloved, then hurt thou not anyone's heart. - Guru Arjan Dev Ji 259, Guru Granth Sahib What Can We Do? Those who are addicted disconnect from life and often isolate 45
themselves from friends and family. It's often testimonied that you can be alone in a crowded room because of the isolating effects of Substance Use Disorder. Tapping into the power of spirituality can help you find your way back to your true self and your infinite potential. If you're an addict in recovery, there are several ways to use spirituality in your efforts to become more present with yourself and your environment. They include: Pray and/or Meditate Daily - Carve out a quiet time each day to calm your mind and reflect on what is important to you. By learning to still your thoughts, tap into a greater power, and listen to the world mindfully, you can help alleviate stress and focus on your recovery. Show Up / Socialize - Healthy socialization revitalizes your spirit. Whether it's showing up for group sessions here, going to a yoga class, joining a book group or attending your place of worship, developing positive relationships can help improve your sense of self and expand your support networks. Learn something new - Engage your brain in healthy activity by finding out more about this beautiful world we're in. This can be through a meditation class, a Bible or religious study group, or even a science lecture. Expanding your mind and being open to new ideas aids your recovery. Be good to yourself - Alcohol and drug addiction are selfdestructive behaviors. Reverse that by honoring your unique spirit. Take 15 minutes for yourself, and regularly plan a day alone to do just what you want. Indulge in a movie, dance to your favorite song, pick flowers, play a video game, and whatever else that will grow your wor46
thy spirit. Exercise - It's all about mind, body and spirit. Taking care of your physical health is an important component of being able to connect to your spirituality. It doesn't have to be rigorous. Taking the stairs instead of an elevator, walking to Above and Beyond, yoga, walking, rock-climbing, and swimming are a few relaxing ways to exercise. Do something fun - Recovery is hard work, but that doesn't mean you can't have any fun in life. What makes you happy? Going to a free concert, a sporting event or taking the “L” downtown for an adventure? Eating a great meal or hiking the local streets of Chicago? Whatever it is, go do it. Volunteer - Giving of your time and special gifts to others who are more needy that you simply feels good. It's a fact that there will always be someone who is in a worse situation than you are and by seeking them out and giving them your time and attention will bestow them with the dignity of your attention while you get the benefits of “getting by giving”. By volunteering you can help share those burdens which gives you access to many of life's blessings that cannot be accessed any other way. Embracing Above and Beyond's version of spirituality can help give your life new meaning, help you connect with others and keep you on the path to sobriety and a healed existence.
The salvation of man is through love. We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor's arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: "If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don't know what is happening to us." That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise. A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth - that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of 50
man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way - an honorable way - in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory." -Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Published on Dec 25, 2016
This is a therapeutic experiment to bring spirituality into an addiction treatment program, with voluntary participation only, and accompani...