Rituals, especially for those of us in recovery, can impact the quality of our sobriety. Established early on, mine has remained basically the same throughout the years. They require minimal effort on my part and include prayer and reading my daily meditations. They are my number one priority every morning. No matter how lackadaisical I might be in other areas of my life; no matter what kind of a mood I wake in, or no matter that I might be running late, I rarely leave the peace and quiet of my home without taking the time to gear up for the day ahead.
We can’t live in the safety of meetings all day or be constantly attached to the umbilical cords of our sponsors, so establishing a healthy sobriety routine is monumental to our recovery. Most of our lives are spent out there in the real world where there are not a lot of safety nets, so suiting up for whatever kind of foul weather might be lurking around the corner, is pretty damned important.
I probably started out with two or three books, which were more than enough in the beginning. Early on it was hard to focus. I chose them according to what I happened to be working on at the time. One of my favorites was a meditation book for Adult Children of Alcoholics. I finally gifted that one to one of my children and moved on to a variety of others. Some I have read so many times that they are not only dog-eared but are bound now with rubber bands. Good thing they are dated and numbered as I have had to scrape them up off the floor and put them back in order more than once.
Some days I can recall what I have read and others days they are relegated to the furthermost corners of my subconscious where they provide little more than an aura of comfort. I used to worry about that, not being able to retain those pearls of wisdom, thinking that perhaps I was reading too many meditation books. But then I decided that those lost words of wisdom are simply being saved for some future crises. Not to worry. In another 365 days the same message will pop up again and maybe I will grasp it then, in its entirety.
My morning prayers consist of entreaties for the health of loved ones; gratitude for all I have, wisdom for our world leaders, and prayers for everyone in the path of Mother Nature’s disasters. Then last but not least, I shoot up a special request that my Higher Power might bless me mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
I am well aware that these all require a conscious effort on my part. Mentally might entail reading something worthwhile, multitasking at work, working a puzzle, painting, or in my case sitting down to a keyboard. There are hundreds of forms of mental stimulation but I have to seek them out and apply them. Even when I don’t want to.
Physically, is the most challenging for me. I am naturally a bit lazy. I sit at a desk all day and have arthritis, so while going to the gym may not be at the top of my list of things I enjoy, it has become a necessity. I am a firm believer in self- talk and mind games, as long as they aren’t detrimental to me or anyone else. So what do I do? I developed this really short prayer: God, please kick my ass over to the gym. Weird, huh? But it works and when I have finished my workout I say, Thanks, God for kicking me in the ass. The way I see it I have no choice, I have to go. Otherwise, I would be setting God up, right?
Spiritually, has never been a problem for me because I continue to attend meetings where I get Good Orderly Direction (GOD). And of course, my daily meditations set the stage for even my imperfect Spirituality.
And last but not least is emotionally, which for me, has become a pleasant surprise because I realize that it is a by-product of the other three.
The rituals of sobriety can be as autonomous as any one of us choose. The important thing is that we make them our own by practicing them on a daily basis until they become an integral part of our recovery. So if you haven’t crafted any for yourself yet, get busy. All it takes is practice, practice, practice.