Category Archives: Faith

Stick to the plan. A prescription for change today.

It took me awhile to put into practice a simple idea. That idea is to do the same thing, day after day, in the same place and at the same time. If you have trouble following through on ideas or commitments, then you might feel better about reading the next few paragraphs.

With different situations in my life, some upheavals, some turning points, changes in my life goals, plus trying to do to much at the same time. It was somehow never easy to do what I knew needed to be dome. I used as my mantra “I’ll do it when I feel better.” In fact, this idea seemed to express perfectly, what I was doing, so I titled one of my books after it. Gradually, procrastination, I sensed, would not fit into my recovery program. I had put off for too long to knuckle down and start to do the work that I needed to do.

Here is my plan. I know it can work for you as well. There is no particular time limit on how long your prayer time is to be.

1. Everyday, I have found that morning works for me, I go to the quiet place that is best for my time alone with God, and start with a daily reading of Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowships. This reading begins with an Affirmation, then a reflection, and a final meditation. I have my notebook handy and I write down a positive thought that I want to carry me through my day. Most of the time this is a simple single sentence.

2. I then read and reflect on a paragraph or two from our Depressed Anonymous manual.This is coupled with the accompanying Depressed Anonymous Workbook, where personal reflections, in the form of questions, help me clarify how I think about myself. These questions continue to uncover issues which I might have never encountered, becoming the positive basic building blocks, helping with an understanding of the nature of my own depression experience, and developing in myself strategies, the 12 spiritual principles of growth, for my personal recovery, day-by-day.

It’s not complicated. It’s a plan. This time of prayer and meditation is a powerful way to make “conscious contact” with the God of your understanding. (Check out Chapter 10 in “I’ll do it when I feel better.” This chapter discusses more fully the topic of prayer and meditation.

Resources

(c)Hugh Smith. Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville, Ky.
(C)Hugh Smith. I’ll do it when I feel better. (2020) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.

+ These works can by ordered online at www.Depressedanon.com. Click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

Making “resolutions” on New Year’s Day hasn’t worked for me

My New Year’s resolutions usually self-destruct, sometimes quickly (same day) and most times, a little bit later. What’s the point? Why make them? It sounds good when I hear myself tell others how I am going to do this or I am going to do the other to change my life. Now, today, I tell myself, that this year it’s going to be different. I know that the one major change in my life was a decision I made more than three decades ago…to no longer sad myself. That is the one “resolution”, if you will, that I have kept over the years and has worked for me. It continues to work for me.

I don’t make big “announcements” that I am going to do this or that. What I do now is to keep making decisions that I know with time and God’s help I can change my life, my thinking and my moods.

Recovery’s North Star is honesty – honesty with self and honesty with others. With this in mind, I place the resolution business aside. I know the New Year is about a new start, for some, a new beginning, filled with hope, promises and experiences. Whatever works for others is fine – it just doesn’t work for me.

My life has been geared toward living one day at a time. Keeping it simple, and putting the 12 principles of recovery into practice in my everyday life. My life is as Bill W., points out in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,

…service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well understood fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in a self constructed prison, the surety that we no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong to God’s scheme of things – these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of living, for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions could possibly be substitutes.
True ambition is not what we thought what it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk with humility under the grace of God.

RESOURCES

Copyright © Hugh Smith. I’ll do it when I feel better. (2020) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. p.95.

Copyright © Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. (1952, 1953, 1981) The A.A., Grapevine,Inc and Alcoholics Anonymous.

The ways we can make a “conscious contact” with our God.

For many of us, this might be the first time that we have run into information on how to make a “conscious contact” with God. In our program of Depressed Anonymous this is what we actually accomplish as we work through the 12 spiritual principles of recovery.

In Step 11 of our mutual aid group, our recovery program, Depressed Anonymous, has a clear and succinct method for making this a strong possibility for those of us who are willing to follow God’s path to freedom.

In Step 11 we learn how to get in touch with the God of our understanding.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry it out.”

The major words that stand out in this Step are prayer, meditation, doing God’s will for us and the and the power to carry it out.

On pages 95-96, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition we read

“That when we are especially depressed, it is hard to keep our mind on things such as prayer, but with continued effort and practice, we can come to believe that whatever we are doing just might be better than sitting in our pool of self-pity. If we haven’t ever been big on ‘organized religion’ we have a good chance that this new approach in being with God is much less judgemental, and that this God of the Twelve Steps is much more accepting than other concepts of God that we might once have held. Sometimes we have found that our religious background has filled us with a large amount of crippling guilt, shame and hopelessness rather than the complete acceptance that we will receive from the Higher Power.”

By now, here at Step 11 we have made some great strides in not only understanding the nature of our depression, but also to spend some time on what brought us to this point in the first place.

Our journey of hope begins with Step 1, where we admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable. This admission is what brought me into our fellowship, Depressed Anonymous. It is here that my life began to change for the better. I became part of a fellowship where I learned that it was my belief that this Higher Power, who greater than myself, could finally restore me to sanity.

Throughout the process of living with the 12 spiritual principles in my own life and becoming part of the life of all those who are the DA fellowship, I gradually learned the more I placed my trust in my Higher Power,and kept in contact with his will, my life, thinking, feelings and behaviors changed dramatically for the better. The closer I stayed in contact with God, took part in my fellowship meetings, talked with my sponsor on a regular basis the more serenity became big part of my life.

THE YEAR 2022
How to continue CONSCIOUS CONTACT with God and making your life a daily retreat.

In 2022 my daily life will start with prayer and meditation each morning. I will sit quietly, get my mind quiet, start at the same time and be in the same location every day. This regular schedule helps us stay focused on our time with God.
The following is my plan and I hope it might be yours as well. You can use those prayers and meditations that best suit you.

1. I will read my HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS: 365 DAILY THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS FOR 12 STEP FELLOWSHIP GROUPS.
2. i will focus on a paragraph or two from reading our DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS MANUAL,THIRD EDITION.
3.Answer a few questions FROM THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK

Following the daily retreat I will make an entry into my Journal about any inspiring thought that I can carry with me throughout my day.
Hugh, for the fellowship

ALL DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS LITERATURE CAN BE ORDERED ONLINE FROM OUR DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE.

Having had a spiritual awakening …

Step 12 is about having a spiritual awakening. Remember, Step 12 is the last Step of our 12 Step recovery program. The 12 Steps are the 12 spiritual principles, the core of what we believe and what our lives and daily actions are based. The following remarks are mine and express the belief that has carried me personally through a time of darkness and hopelessness. Until, I had a “spiritual experience…an awakening.” I woke up to a new way of living my life. My old way of living brought me to the edge of personal disaster. That is, until I walked into a meeting of people who were just like myself. Let me explain. They WERE like me. They welcomed me. They shared how the God of their understanding gave them a new way of looking at themselves and others. They had an experience that changed their lives. They had a “spiritual awakening.” Their lives were no longer consumed by the devastatingly presence of fear and aloneness.

The text following is found in the Introduction to Depressed Anonymous, our 12 Step recovery program where the author extends an invitation to be part of this fellowship.

We now have a solution to offer those who want to reach out and grow into the new way of life, a life that is now focused on recovery and a feeling of hope. With this offer and solution daily before our eyes, we are beginning to see that the depressed have to depend on a spiritual experience to really be free from that debilitating scourge of depression. It is this spiritual experience, coupled with the power of the fellowship of those who like ourselves where we neither need to explain of excuse ourselves or apologize for being depressed that is the basis for our recovery.
You must want to begin this journey seriously enough to actually begin the recovery program of Depressed Anonymous. Someday I hope to know you as a kindred spirit in recovery.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 23

Again, I would like to share a quote from A Meister Eckarte (c. 1260-1328) who shaped his insight for us about the nature of knowing God and how our knowing, comes from God himself. Here are his thoughts about the Spiritual awakening that comes to those of us and are “willing to turn their lives and wills over to the care of God as they understand God to be.”

This work then when it is perfect, will be due solely to God’s action while you have been passive. If you really forsake your own knowledge and will, then surely and gladly God will enter your own knowledge shining clearly. Where God achieves self-consciousness, your own knowledge is of no use nor has it standing. Do not imagine that your own intelligence may rise to it, so that you may know God. Indeed, when God divinely enlightens you, no natural light is required to bring that about. This (natural light) must in fact be completely extinguished before God can come in with his light, bringing back with God all that you have forsaken and a thousand times more, together with a new form to contain it all.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 161

In Depressed Anonymous, you can read the stories of those who have had their lives changed by letting go, letting God, and willing to do what it takes to recover from depression. Please join us.

RESOURCE
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville KY

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step!

It’s hard to believe that such a statement could have such a meaningful purpose. When you’ve got so many tasks at hand, too many crosses to bear, just take the first step. Cross that off your list, pray, begin again. But pray in motion. We often say, “easy does it.”

Be courageous. Wear the appropriate soles on your feet, check for ample lighting, etc., pray beforehand too, all these things together, however, did you call your sponsor?

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day!

Robin R., is a member of the daily online DA International Journey of Hope fellowship.

Willingness to Take Baby Steps

A common question in other 12 step fellowships is “Are you willing to go to any lengths to achieve recovery?” When thinking about willingness and my depression, I don’t know how well this applied to me. I mean, if I had the willingness to go to any lengths when I was in my deepest darkest depression, I would have just hopped out of bed, embraced the day, and ran a 5K! But that is not how it worked for me!
When I was in the depths of my depression, my willingness had gone out the door. “What was the purpose anyway?” I thought. I didn’t think I could get any better. But Depressed Anonymous showed me that there is hope, and there is a way out. For me, that path to recovery has been a series of baby steps. After coming to meetings, I saw people who were like me; people who really suffered from depression, and I saw that they were recovering. Once I had the realization that there was hope, I needed to ask myself a question. “Just for today, am I willing to take a baby step to help myself recover from depression?”
This was something that I could comprehend and that I thought might be possible. Yes, I can take a baby step and get out of bed. Yes, I can take a baby step and call someone from the fellowship. Yes, I can take a baby step and order the literature, then take another baby step and read a page of the literature. I can answer one question in the workbook today. Yes, I can do one little thing to help myself today!!
That is how my recovery began. That is how I climbed out of that 80-foot hole of depression-one baby step at a time. And the beautiful thing is that I don’t have to do it alone! Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it alone. I tried for years, and although I met with sporadic success, I inevitably fell back into that pit of depression. Today I have the DA fellowship surrounding me. I have a Higher Power. I have a sponsor and friends in the fellowship who help me along my path. I am also here to help others on their path to recovery. Today, I am grateful for the willingness to take baby steps.

Happy Independence Day

I live in the United States and today we celebrate our freedom. We are all captives of something or someone. Some of us are captives to addiction: drugs, alcohol, or some behavior. Many of us here have been captives of anxiety and depression. Many people are trapped in consumerism.

There is however a way out. Apply spiritual disciplines to your life, you will be surprised by the results. We are all trying to find our way to the God of our understanding. Some of us go down the side roads of addiction and depression, but you don’t have to continue down that route. Get in communion with the God of your understanding.

If you’ve been burned by past interactions with religion – theory and doctrine, or by people who misinterpreted God’s message I have a suggestion for you. Explore the mystical sects of the religion of your youth. Islam has the Sufi’s, if you’re Christian read the works of Thomas Merton, or Saint John of the Cross. The mystics all talk about experiencing the presence of God in your life. Explore.

You have a choice: you can either be a host to God, or a hostage to self. Choose to be free!

I will keep physically fit. Exercise is my priority now!

MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION

AFFIRMATION
I promise myself that I will walk today to regain a positive feeling about myself and my world.
Keep physically fit. It is a must for us who are and have been depressed. Walking not only restore harmony to the body, it likewise restores my self-esteem and self confidence. Remember that motivation follows action.

REFLECTION
How can motivation follow action? Isn’t it the other way around, namely that action follows motivation? In a sense the criticism is true, but in another sense, it isn’t quite that accurate. When speaking about the paralysis of depression the individual’s motivation is almost completely nonexistent. That is why it is important for me, a depressed person to force myself to get moving -that’s right, force myself into an activity because even though I say “I will do it when I feel better.” I never usually feel better. So I need to find that point in my day, when I feel better and get out in the air and walk, if nothing else, it tends to distract from my wanting to sad myself.
When I take care of myself physically and begin giving myself p[permission to express my feelings, especially the unpleasant ones, I begin to speak more assertively and begin to like myself.

MEDITATION
Today, help me sort out what needs to be thrown away and what we need to keep. Help us keep those memories that had love attached to them.

RESOURCES
Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups. (2002)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Pages 150-151.

Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Chapter Six. Pages 33-36.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.

Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world, as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

© Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed., page 417

That passage really speaks to me. After reading it I feel centered.

Life is 1% what the world hands you and 99% how you react to it. I’m not trying to minimize the pain and trauma that people go through, but I know that I can create suffering by not accepting the reality of the present moment.

When my daughter died I thought I was being stoic and heroic by going back to work immediately. I was not accepting on a deep and profound level the reality of my situation. I swallowed my emotions. I picked up an addictive behavior and ran from my feelings as opposed to having the courage to feel my emotions. I really didn’t grieve my daughter until 15 years later in a group therapy session.

Whatever pain you’re going through accept the fact that is where you are at the moment. I don’t mean give up and not find a way out through and past the pain. Stop asking yourself and God “WHY did this happen to me?“. For me the WHY is a way that I create suffering for myself.

I’ve had to learn to accept whatever situation I am currently in. Now is not the time for knowing why. When I die I’m sure my Higher Power will tell me why certain things happened to me and for me. Acceptance is the answer to my problems today. Problems morph into situations. Situations are things that need to be dealt with maturely, serenely and soberly. I hope that you can find acceptance with whatever is troubling you today.

Yours in recovery, Bill R