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Prayer vs Meditation

So as an atheist, prayer leaves me a bit flat. I don’t think there’s a god out there, and I certainly don’t think s/he/it would have time to go picking in my head when there’s over 6 billion humans, never mind everything there must be in the whole universe.

Meditation is in many ways similar to prayer, except you don’t have to trick yourself into thinking someone else out there is going to solve the problem for you. It’s the same quieting and calming your mind, thinking of a problem – maybe even come up with a solution. Though the difference is meditating doesn’t depend on an external entity, and it has been scientifically proven to help with stress. So while prayer may not be for me, I have no problem with meditation. So I think that could be a valid substitution for prayer.

Though the words of some prayers do feel good to think about. You can use them more like mantras, and maybe slightly reword them so that it’s less asking a deity for help and more reminding yourself of principles you care about.

I used to go to face to face meetings where In the end we’d all hold hands and say together, with gusto and happiness “Keep coming back, it works if you work it!”. That moment was always so joyous, felt so much support. So I love that phrase.

I also like what has come to be called Rozanne’s (the founder) Prayer:

I put my hand in yours and together we can do what we could never do alone.
No longer is there a sense of hopelessness;
no longer must we each depend on our own unsteady willpower.
We are all together now, reaching out our hands for power and strength greater than ours,
and as we join hands, we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.

Isn’t that beautiful? And I think it summarizes one of the greatest strengths of the program. The fellowship and supporting each other. While no one can really make a choice for you, we share ideas and experiences and that gives us more to go on.

I also really love the lesson of the serenity prayer. But there’s that god thing again. The big old G word gets in the way, but it’s still a very good lesson! For those who can’t get around that word but still want the benefit of the lesson, I found this blog in which the author made the very slightest of rewordings for it:

Through my efforts, I gain the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

So what’s the moral of this entry? They say it’s not a religious program, but if you have to worship something, that IS religion. And the words Lord and God come up all the time. But if you can look past that I think there are still worthy things to be had from it. And that’s what I’m looking for.

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My Plan of Eating

Because of my PCOS, by body doesn’t process sugars and carbs well (if at all). So my doctor suggests I do the South Beach Diet. Unlike many others, I’ve never really done a diet before. I assumed they all didn’t work. But the last few times I’ve tried it, it works very well so long as I can keep on it.

For the emotional side of my recovery, I turn to OA. For support on how to make my plan of eating work, I turn to the 3fatchicks message boards. I really never spent much time on the website itself. But there is so much support on their message boards! There is a section for almost everything I can think of. There’s a section for PCOS, OA, and South Beach Diet. In the SBD area, there are TONS of recipes, advice, and suggestions. I don’t think I could have made this work without that resource!

Initially, during phase 1, it is a very strict and very scary. I am lucky that my husband is supportive and joining me in this plan. That allows me to empty the house of everything that is not apart of it. Being willing to try new foods and recipes is useful. I’ve hunted down and tried all kinds of new veggies. That part I like – getting creative on what I CAN have and focusing on that.

The fact is, this IS a diet. Phase one of the SBD is in no way a healthy long term plan. But it does help wean me off my cravings, and teaches me to make wiser choices and portions. And it is pretty extreme. But I like this plan because it teaches me new things. I like problem solving. I like that I don’t have to fret over numbers and math and I don’t have to keep records.

I eat when I’m hungry a reasonable portion, and then when it’s done if I want more, I consider, but am I really hungry? If I am, there are healthier options. If I make mistakes and I just have to forgive myself the small mistakes so I don’t go and make bigger ones. If I start to think of cheating, who am I really cheating if I do?

So far this has been successful. So I will just keep going, one foot in front of the other. One step at a time, one day at a time.

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Looking at the Steps

I learned that the founder of OA, had been to very few 12 Step Program meetings when she made it. And originally wanted to rewrite the steps to be secular. That gives me some hope that a passionate noobie like me might be able to make a difference.

I guess the first thing to do is look for my tools. As an experienced noob, I’ve already got some of this down. It feels kind of like a video game where if you restart the game you still have the experiences from what you did, so the next play through is easier- but you still need to do it all over.

I already have some of the books. The OA 12&12, and AABB, the 12&12 workbook, and For Today. Supplemented with everything on the internet, that’s plenty.

I have a Plan of Eating, given to me by my doctor.

I like to write, obviously, so I have this blog. Writing for me is a great way to clarify my thoughts and feelings. I just get out what I think, and then I can read it over and ask myself, “but is this what I really mean?” So it’s great. It’s also useful that once you write something, you don’t have to repeat yourself over and over. Those who are interested will read. I also think showing this blog to prospective sponsors will be useful. They can see a bit of who I am, what I think, and the work I’ve done so far.

I’ve been to a few F2F meetings, but my hearing impairment makes it difficult. Also in a large group I can initially be a bit shy. So I think the online option offered by TRG will work much better for me. I feel more open sharing in a chat room. And I never have to worry about not hearing people. And maybe one of these days I can even start my own loop for non-believers. Heck, if the founder started the whole program after a few meetings of GA, maybe I can just start a yahoo group and see where it goes!

So the next biggest issue is the steps themselves. As I mentioned, the founder originally wanted them to be secular, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. If I am going to work this program, I’m going to need to do some looking past the words to their meanings when I read literature and do the work. I’ve read a few articles online which helped me sort out some of it:

The first site I went to was It was okay, but very wordy and it loses the feel of the steps. Then I found this article The Atheist Alcoholic which goes into, step by step, exactly why an atheist would have a certain problem with each of the relevant steps. I agree with those sentiments, and thought on the points she made as I read other proposed rewrites of the 12 steps. The ones at this message board post, and this webzine article were the most helpful. I ended up combining these suggestions to create this secular version of the steps. I tried to leave the feel of the steps in tact where I could, and some of the steps didn’t need changing at all.

1. We admitted we need to stop our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that I could resume normal living with the help of others.
3. Made a decision to listen to my inner wisdom and use it as a guide.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to our ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our faults and misdeeds.
6. Were entirely ready to accept help in order to remove our defects of character.
7. Humbly asked for the help of others in the removal of our short comings and resolved to work to remove these faults ourselves.
8. Made a list of all persons we harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people whenever 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 study and meditation to improve our awareness of law and of the natural forces that govern life hoping only for knowledge of right and wrong and the strength to follow that knowledge.
12. Having reclaimed sanity and normalcy in our lives as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I am open to modifying this if I need to. But right now I think it looks like a good set of guidelines to start to work with.

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Getting with the Program

I have an appointment with the last bastard doctor who told me to go loose more weight. I’m still unsure I’m going to stick with him right now. But of more immediate importance is getting a refill of my PCOS medicine, metaformin, as quickly and easily and generously (so i don’t have to go back again any time soon) as possible. I’ll let you know how that goes.

As I mentioned in the About Me, I like going to the 12 step OA meetings online at the Recovery Group website. I think chatting and sharing with others going through similar situations is very helpful. I’m not quite a newbie. I went to Alateen as a kid and then Alanon as a young adult dealing with my parents addictions. I went to OA on and off. At one point I went to a few face to face (f2f) meetings and even had a sponsor for a short time, but we ended up not getting along. And I’m more comfortable in a text based environment anyway. So now I’m trying again. And it will be interesting to try to see if an atheist really can work this program. I wonder what kind of time I’ll have with a sponsor, if I can find one. If I can find other like minded people. Maybe one day we’ll even start out own email loop. It will be an interesting challenge.

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Once more, with feeling.

I could have sworn I had a blog here before. I could have sworn I’ve started endeavors like this before. Over and over. Really, my track record and credibility at this sucks and leaves me wondering why bother? But maybe, just maybe, it will not be the blog that disappears this go-about. Maybe it will be me, or pieces of me, that disappear. And there you have the requisite witty title opener that all these things seem to have.

Writing a blog is such an egotistical thing. To presume that anyone out there is even going to actually read this. Cause you know, I’m such a special little snowflake – just like absolutely everyone else in the world wide web spamming their thoughts into these blogs. But I really do enjoy writing. For me, it is one of the best ways to get out and clear my thoughts. So if you’re coming along; keep your hands and feet in the cart and hold on to your tuckus. The ride may be a bit bumpy.

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