Thoughts on peace
Welcome to our final week (!): Peace. Whether you realize it or feel it, if you've participated even a little, you've covered so much ground by simply being here. It is something just to be here reading these words. Taking a step toward sobriety is one of the most brave acts a human being can make. It is something most people will never do. So even if you are caught in the mire of difficult feelings, painful circumstances, or generally just feeling stuck, please take a moment to acknowledge this.
One of the first conversations I had with a sober person was in the summer of 2013, after my horrible bottom incident with my daughter. He was one of the partners at the agency where I used to work and one of only two sober people I knew. He asked me if I'd read "The Promises" and I said I had no idea what that meant. After we had coffee, I looked them up on my phone and read them. Number four states: We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. Of all the promises, this seemed the most elusive. Peace wasn't something I could ever remember feeling, not even as a child.
All those promises have come true for me in sobriety, including knowing peace. It's not something that spontaneously happened, and it's not ever-present, but it's part of me more often than not now. Peace to me is being able to experience everything without fear of annihilation: all emotions, all experiences, all losses, anything. It doesn't mean I feel good all the time, but that I am okay even when I don't feel good. Above all, it is related to faith, for me. It is an ability to remember I am part of a much larger story, and that no matter how rotten I may feel, I am still connected to God. It is knowing I can never break that connection.
Everything we've done in this course is in service of finding peace because it is in service of taking responsibility for the entirety of your experience. From being rigorously honest about your past to allowing yourself to experience emotions like shame, guilt, grief, and anger; you are acknowledging every part of yourself. And then, just like God, you are choosing to stay: with your life, your choices, your mistakes, everything. As a sober person. As a person committed to continual growth.
I want to leave you with these words, by the late Irish poet, John O'Donohue. Every word is rest to me.
"May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence. May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses. May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon. May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path. May the flame of anger free you from falsity. May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you. May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul. May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention. May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul. May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder."
I love you all and am so grateful for your presence here. It means everything to me.
Watch or Listen to The Class
This week, instead of doing the morning pages, I want you to review your previous morning pages and process journal for this course, reflecting on what you've worked through and learned. Once you've reviewed everything, answer the questions in the first assignment below.
This is one of the most comforting meditations I have come across, particularly for those in recovery.
- Practicing Gentle Kindness Toward Ourself by Sarah Bondin (9:36)
The mantra for this week is: You are always with me and everything I have is yours. Luke 15:31
This mantra brings me peace almost instantly because it reminds me I am not alone, I am loved unconditionally, I am worthy of that love, and cannot separate myself from God no matter what. It comes from the parable of the prodigal son story in the bible, which Rob Bell explains here.
- Write it down in your journal each morning before you begin morning pages.
- Put it as a reminder into your phone to show up at noon each day.
- When fear comes up, repeat it out loud or in your mind.
These assignments can be done in any order.
1. course reflection.
- What themes came up in my morning pages, if any?
- What work/assignment did I have the most resistance to doing? Why?
- What is the most important thing I've learned about myself in this process?
- How do I view my sobriety today? Be honest.
- How do I hope to view my sobriety one year from today?
- What am I afraid of today (make a list, at least ten items)?
- What am I grateful for today (make a list, at least ten items)?
2. create your personal board of directors.
As we prepare to finish this course, we are each going to create a board of directors who will serve as our spiritual/sobriety/personal guides going forward. This group will reflect your personal values: both the ones you have today and ones of aspiration. They will serve to remind you of both the highest qualities you embody and that we are human. (Thank you to Kara for bringing this Break The Twitch idea to my attention!)
1. Choose your personal values from this list.
If you have ones that aren't on the list, use them—it is only meant to be a starting point. Write down the ones that resonate with you most first, then pare down to 3-5 that are most meaningful to you now.
2. Select your board members.
Based on your core values, select people who embody those values, in your opinion. These should be people who inspire you and/or bring you peace of mind and who you can see yourself asking, What would so-and-so do? when you're making an important decision or caught in a struggle. They can be alive or dead, famous or not—again, they only need to be important to you. I chose people whose work I gravitate to most often.
3. Visualize your BOD.
Print out pictures of your BOD and paste them on a page in your journal or on a separate piece of paper or poster board. You can include words they embody, quotes, or whatever else feels right. Now you have a tangible reminder of your own BOD.
3. create your divinity board.
Peace ultimately comes from remembering who you are: a child of God, a spark of the Divine, part of the Universe. And in this way, we always have access to the truth, a higher love, compassion, forgiveness, and self-respect. We can rest in the knowing that we are held, no matter what we do, how many mistakes we make, the difficulty of our circumstances...no matter what. This process of recovery is a return to what we already are, a remembering. God is a place inside us that is available to us always. This board will serve as a visual reminder of where you find God energy. It can include people, places, things, colors, words—anything that invokes mystery, beauty, or reverence within you. It can be as small or large as you want to make it; it can be painted, drawn, collaged, anything that works for you.
"What the Living Do" poem by Mary Howe