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Archive for month: June, 2017
“Within our wonderful new world, we have found freedom from our fatal obsession.” – Bill W
At different points in my recovery, I’ve had different priorities. Sometimes I was heavy on service work without a strong network of people in recovery, or sometimes I leaned too much on my human network and neglected my relationship with my higher power. These phases are normal and a part of recovery. We are learned what it means to be in balance and what it looks like to take care of ourselves. The three parts of the AA triangle stand for: unity, service and recovery. These three components work in consort to bring about the most fulfilling, healing and challenging opportunities for AAs. All three work together to bring about the conditions necessary for long-term sobriety. In the beginning, the fellowship is what kept me going to meetings and kept me working with my sponsor for long enough for the miracle to happen for me. I had been so lonely for so long, I was hungry for laughter and inclusion again. That had been lost a while ago, another casualty of my disease. Within the first year or so of my sobriety, I spent hours and hours with my sober friends. I stayed up until 3am and slept until noon, chain smoked cigarettes, did H&I meetings, did meditation constantly, and ran my ideas by everyone I respected. Those things taught me valuable lessons. I still run my ideas by the people I trust, I still meditate, I still do service work and I still spend hours with my fellowship. I know the things that got me sober in the darkest time of my life still work today.
We just don’t know the outcome. No matter how obvious or outlandish a certain outcome may sound, the reality is that we just don’t know how life is going to turn out. The way we deal with that unknowing is to lean closer into our higher power and spiritual practice. Especially in situations where we have many emotions tied into certain outcomes, we are even more tempted to get into the realm of fantasy. We replay events that have happened in the past or obsess over every possible outcome for the future in an effort to anticipate and prepare for the unknowable. This is a producer of most of our discomfort and dissatisfaction in life.
When a situation is in my life that I am not happy with, it is usually because I believe 3 self-centered delusions:
- That if the current situation was different, I would be assured of a satisfactory future outcome.
- That the situation should be different than the way it is.
- That the situation has the power to bring me peace & serenity in the first place.
Facing difficult situations is not easy, and I don’t know anyone who walks with complete grace in the face of fear 100% of the time. But in times of uncertainty, I can bring into my mind these 3 delusions and acknowledge that they are just thoughts stemming from a very human desire to not experience pain. I can return to a spiritual solution and pray for the knowledge of who my higher power would have me be in this situation and for the power to carry that out, for my higher power to remove my fear and place me in a position to be of service to another person. This action lets me step aside and let my higher power show me its will. Then, it’s up to me to do what I intuitively feel is the next right action. This is how I practice and deepen my faith in the face of unknowingness. Practicing this over and over has given me an unshakeable sense of well-being even if my external circumstances are painful or stressful.
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A common theme in 12-step meetings is the notion of “self-will” versus “God’s will”. As a newcomer (and I’m still pretty new), this notion confused me. How would I know what is God’s will and what isn’t? How can I align myself to something that does not reveal itself to me?
Well a good start would be to begin the practice of meditation and prayer. Sometimes this is referred to as talking to God and then listening. My practice of meditation often includes mantras or a single focus on the breath. This practice acquaints us with a quiet mind vs a cluttered mind and our reaction to our own thinking. It is over time when we start to see this play out in everyday life and reap the benefits of a daily spiritual practice.
When something in life is deemed unacceptable to us on its own terms, generally a human reaction is to try to change it. Often a sense of urgency to act accompanies undesirable circumstances. It is an important part of sobriety to learn to identify that feeling. Many of the worst mistakes I’ve made in life were a result of me following a sense of urgency to alter my circumstances to my liking. My sponsor often asks me “what would your life look like if you got everything you ever wanted?”
The answer is: I would be dead. My desires for the bulk of my life were rarely healthy or sane. As an addict, my little plans and ideas are still usually motivated by self-centered fear in one way or another. And as a human, my motivations are usually for emotional and material security. These motivations in their essence are not bad or wrong, but when acted on impulsively can create a lot of harm. I’ve learned through trials to sit on my hands when I feel something NEEDS to happen. I’ve learned to accept life on life’s terms. Meditation and prayer has helped connect me and feel comforted by a power greater than myself that I am still learning to understand. Most importantly, I’ve learned that the fear of an unacceptable outcome is usually just only a fear because the universe has my back no matter what.