Step 12 is incredibly powerful because it has three steps within it. It involves working the previous eleven steps, being of service by sharing what we have learned and to continue practicing these principles for the rest of our lives. Practicing for the rest of our lives is the most important guiding principle of life, as well as the steps.
Think of life like a river. When you relax into the current, it flows easily. But if you decide to get out of the river and go ashore, you’ll have to work against the flow to get yourself out of the stream. The path won’t be as smooth or comfortable and you’ll find it’s a whole lot more work to move forward. When you slide back into the river, you rejoin the flow and things are easy again. Taking Step 11 allows us to live in the divine flow of the river of life.
It is a lifelong endeavor to stay current with our feelings and be present in each day. Ayurveda, Yoga and the 12 Steps all suggest we must continue to go inside and look at our motives and actions to be sure they are centered around God. By looking inside, we can point ourselves in the direction we truly want to go.
How we choose to live each day matters. Our thoughts, words and actions are all part of the natural law of cause and effect, called karma. At any point we are either creating positive karmas or negative karmas for ourselves. We are either moving toward God and recovery or away from God, into sickness and suffering.
Step 8 begins the practice of satya, honesty, and Step 9 moves this into action with amends. This process starts first on the inside before moving to the outside. When you start recovery, you realize your behavior in the past was not your best. As your mind clears, you see better ways. With these realizations, many have the desire to start making amends right away. You can do some of this through living amends, which is just changing your ways on a moment-to-moment basis. But before you begin to make formal amends, wait until you have wholeheartedly worked each of the steps up to nine, and be sure you do make amends with the right attitude and approach.
By Judy Safford
Most of my married life thrived and survived on drama. I used to tell my story to anyone who walked slow enough. Did I ask them first? No! Did I feel better? No! Did it help the situation? No! Some of the listeners commiserated with me and some backed off when they saw me coming. My late husband was bipolar and undiagnosed all of our 23 years of marriage. Approximately every two years he would experience a five-month psychotic episode, which was horrific for him, me, our relatives and children. One day a therapist remarked that perhaps the reason I was baffled at what to do was because I got some needs met through his illness. Those words haunted me for years.
On recovery: Step 8 — Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
In recovery, every day is an opportunity to practice satya, truthfulness. When we practice satya on a daily basis we feel good. In a 12 Step program or on any spiritual path, Step 8 guides us to take a focused, honest look at past behaviors and become willing to make amends. Then, we can develop the best possible relations with all human beings, including ourselves. By approaching this step with humility and honesty, we can shave off the sharp edges of ahamkara, the ego. This is a practice we can do with increasing skill through life, and we never finish.
By Judy Michaels Safford
“Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows”
My definition of emotional sobriety is to allow and be present with whatever emotion presents itself. I welcome the emotional waves and their accompanying gifts today. This is a far cry from the past where my thoughts linked emotional sobriety with spirituality. I used to think:
By Judy Michaels Safford
A passion has deepened in me to be an advocate of kindness. We have punished ourselves long enough. Now is the time for kindness, gentleness and tenderness – especially toward ourselves – as we approach our spiritual growth by cleaning our emotional house.
Many of us were not raised to ask for help, especially for help related to a "defect." But as our behavior and character developed under the influence of raga, addiction and for some of us, dvesa, aversion, we fed the ego that keeps us feeling separate from others and from the God of our heart. Asking for help from God to remove these defects is an exercise in calming ego and beginning to feel oneness with all living things.
Ayurveda is the science of life, not just the science of India: What I learned from the 5th International Conference on Ayurveda
By Lisa Akesson
I recently returned from a visit to India, where I attended the 5th International Conference on Ayurveda. My visit to the conference and Vaidyagrama Healing Village, where it was held, was very rejuvenating. The villages around the hospital have been completely converted to integrate the Ayurvedic lifestyle that is followed in the treatment center. The surrounding areas have rich vegetation and flowering wildlife. Coconut trees, vegetables, cows and flowers that attract butterflies too beautiful to photograph have to be experienced. I felt the peace settle in upon arrival: it’s a magical place at the edge of Kerala, God’s own land.
Step 6 is the part of transformation that allows us to become who we are meant to be. Through this transformation we become willing to let go of old ways, looking to our higher power as our guide. There’s no need to figure anything out – just get into the river and flow with it.
On recovery: Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Step 5 is about honesty with yourself, another person and the God of your heart. In the beginning it is hard to admit our wrongs and easy to defend our actions. This step helps us realize how part of us wants to continue hiding, and keep clutter in our closets.
Do you remember a time when you felt completely at ease and had a knowing that all is well? When you felt freedom to be yourself? This feeling of complete ease is our birthright. Some of us have forgotten that we can feel that way. Often the aftermath of addictions has left us with a diminished sense of well-being.
Close your eyes and take a moment to recall a time when you had a complete knowing that all is well. Maybe it was in front of a camp fire, or a peaceful sunset, just laughing about something. Or a really special time, such as a birth. If you can't remember a time, imagine what a time like this would feel like. This feeling is what Step 3 can bring to our lives. Let’s call it spiritual wellness or connection.
We recently had a retreat where we all went to a deeper level in recovery from addiction in the light of Yoga and Ayurveda. We talked about the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, and particularly about the first two limbs, the yamas and niyamas. They are, in their essence, how we behave in the world and how we treat ourselves. One of the niyamas is samtosha, most often defined as contentment. I like to think of it in terms of acceptance and connection that come with the surrender of Step 3: Made a decision (acceptance) to turn our will and life over to the care of God (willingness to let our higher power run the show instead of the limiting ego, or ahamkara) as we understand God.
We aren’t alone on this journey. Now that we have admitted our powerlessness, that our lives have become unmanageable, we take the next step in our recovery.
Step out of old thinking and behavior to make Step 2 work for you. It is the desire for a more joyful way of life that leads us to believe something new. We are reminded when we see the twinkle in the eyes of those who walk a path of recovery. We see that this is possible. We may not know what the future holds but we can be certain that up is the only way up from the bottom.
With the new year we often have extra enthusiasm to kick start actions for a better life. The steps are a continuous resource to keep us focused on our journey, beyond the new year. Come back to Step 1 with fresh perspective. Remember, before recovery life had become unmanageable. As much as needed we can look at our current behavior and be willing to admit unmanageability, whether with alcohol, relationships, food, shopping or anything that the ego may grip.