These are the original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
I remember about six months into getting real serious about the steps, which meant I stopped every thing in my life but work and meetings, I woke up one morning and as I pulled the covers off, I had a series of thoughts that I remember vividly some 29 years later.
The first thought was that I had been sober for about six months, the longest time I had been sober in 17 years, except for when I was in jail, and the next thought was, and all I am doing is trying to figure out the steps, like step four, (what is fearless and thorough moral inventory?), and the next thought was if thinking about the steps keeps me sober, maybe I can find some tools which will help me with my emotions.
I suppose I could have searched out or started an Emotions Anonymous group, but I didn't.
I kept reading and trying out various tools to keep me sober. Without sobriety, I would not have lived long, so the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous have been very important to keep in my head. (Cannot be thinking about using if I am doing a step).
I have always enjoyed the 11th step, involving daily prayer and meditation.
Must be my mystical streak. That was an easy one to attend to.
And before long I began to find what seemed like parallels in other religious or spiritual or ethical traditions, which never ceased to amaze me, until I realized that what my parents had modeled for me, chaos, did not mean that I was an outcast, as long as I behaved within culturally acceptable limits, and that other traditions could inform my spiritual experience.
So the alcoholics anonymous twelve steps are more than just for helping winos get sober, they are a path which resonates deeply in the human experience.
Over the years, I have tried a number of tools to enhance my experience of the 11th step.
There are several that I still use. I have read and studied a great deal about psychology and mythology (love Joseph Campbell, Robert Bly, and Robert Moore) and spirituality, and done a lot of holotropic breathwork as part of what I considered to be necessary to fully developing my grasp of the steps.
EEG biofeedback and HeartMath or heart rate variability biofeedback have been critical to my learning how significantly I can manage my physiology in a health direction.
Can you imagine managing the time between your heart beats? Can you imagine every cell in your body beating on the frequency of your heart?
You can and here is where to go to try it out.
Now the researchers tell me that I can actually increase my capacity for compassion and feeling good if I meditate enough.
It is called neuroplasticity. While I cannot duplicate the impact of practicing 10,000 hours of meditation, I can enhance neuroplasticity and neurogenesis in my brain by using computerized brain fitness programs.
So I can manage my heart rate and my brain's neurogenesis and neuroplasticity using computerized brain fitness programs, which makes the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous stickier.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.