My MAP FOR SANITY
A S.A.N.E. M.A.P. FOR LIVING AND COACHING
For me personally, much of the content of LIVING THROUGH ADDICTION and RECOVERY revolves around this acronym. There is a story behind this acronym which I shall share as we go along. Suffice for a very brief introduction, here are the key words in the acronym:
It will become obvious as we journey together, my definition of Spirituality is very wide and inclusive. No-one should think there is anything dogmatic or exclusive in my usage of this word. Nevertheless, I shall be recounting my own experiences and understanding of Spirituality which in fact underpins my whole approach to coaching, healing and recovery.
I shall be discussing various levels of my experience of this acronym: at a certain level my understanding, embracing and external expression of Spirituality enabled me to lead a very full(filling) life even during the many years of my alcohol abuse and addiction. But, vitally, at a deeper level of Spiritual experience, I was empowered to overcome the addiction and continue in my leading a non-alcohol-addicted life. Freedom!!
Essentially my desire and intention is to pass on to others whatever benefits may accrue from the recounting of parts of my life story: experiences, reading, writing and studies. This will encompass all aspects of my life, so that hopefully others may learn from my successes and failures; my strengths and weaknesses; my light or benevolent characteristics and behaviour, as well as my dark or shadow characteristics and behaviour.
This is an honest and open attempt to hold my life up as a mirror in which others may see something of themselves, both good and less so. I hope that you as reader may be beneficially affected and effected in some way, whether primarily for yourself or someone else known to you.
Spirituality just became deeper and deeper for me. While I would say I spent many years, in general, seeking in the realms of spirituality. With time this became a more earnest seeking after God specifically. I would say a personal quest for a personal relationship in some way with the Creator, Creative Power. Ultimately I think I can say that this was the fundamental source of my realisations and healing. Without this I probably would have continued on an alcoholic path, albeit always striving to conquer the dragon
My belief in the power, influence and effect of attitude goes way back and incorporates other aspects of the mind. Essentially, a positive and optimistic attitude have been of paramount importance to me as far back as I can remember. An upbeat approach to life. An outlook of joie de vivre.
Attitude has also long been something I have felt vital to an enjoyment or rather even joy of life, of living. Regarding my positive and optimistic attitude towards life many have asked how I could drink so abusively when I had such a good attitude. A good question, but at least it helped me to stay attuned to the eventual healing I experienced. However, it is so that on the lower level of attitude I always felt that I should be positive at all times, no matter how I felt or what the circumstances were. By doing this I now realise that I was piling positive thoughts, feelings and emotions on top of any negatives that existed – and they did. At some stage they would have to surface and I think when they did I gave in to drink again. Attitude was all about the mind, all in the mind, mind over matter, the power of the mind – to the almost exclusion of feelings and emotion and the heart. Not taking into account that we are also body and soul, not just mind. And so my attitude became one of accepting certain negative realities rather than just passing over them as if a good attitude would eliminate them.
I believe that my positive and optimistic attitude have played a major role in my life, in a number of ways. As a result of this approach to life, I have been able to lead a very joyful and enjoyable life, even through the depths of alcoholism. It may well be so that the fact that I am alive can be largely attributed to this attitude.
Attitude has a bearing on virtually all aspects of our lives. In my case, I was encouraged by my attitude to develop and maintain a purposeful approach. My attitude motivated me to exercise regularly, to seek spiritual answers to my questions of life, to appreciate and be grateful.
I woke up in the early hours one morning a few years ago with the word MAP on my mind. I was thinking about meaning and purpose, the importance of meaning and purpose in life and particularly my life. I enjoy hiking and wandering in Nature. In numerous areas there are direction finders, in the form of a cylindrical-shaped stone construct with a metal plate. On this is inscribed a rough map, a line-drawn description of the area with various routes that can be taken and paths that have led to that particular point. At that point there is an arrow with the words “You Are Here”.
Originally MAP was an acronym for Meaning and Purpose. Later I changed the A to denote Action, something which has been less than my strongest characteristic. I believe that all the paths that have led me to “You are Here” have held meaning and purpose for me. And now I have the freedom to choose the paths I shall take from here and now.
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Meaning has just naturally taken on an ever-deepening tone, really trying to come into contact with more and more meaning in life by contributing more and more meaning.
My original purpose: helping myself and others be happier, healthier, more positive and optimistic, more Creation conscious, more open and receptive to giving and receiving love, more successful better in whatever way, has become more specific. Interestingly I resisted becoming involved in the field of addiction for a number of reasons, but I have been led somewhat inevitably in this direction. And probably rightly so, as I did spend most of my adult life in this domain.
Rather than asking the question, “What is the meaning of life?” it may be more useful to ask, “What is my meaning to life?” By asking this question we can lead a more proactive life. We may wake up in the morning and decide that we are in any case going to have a meaningful day, no matter what we may be doing. Our every interaction with someone can be made to be meaningful. We can choose to be kind, or generous or helpful in whatever way, rather than just allowing life to happen to us.
What meaning could I possibly have when I am alone in a room and drinking myself into oblivion? It can surely only be some deeper, mysterious calling or whisper that reminds me that I do have a part to play in this world’s happenings. A thread of hope. A soul-felt reminder of the importance of life, and that somehow, just somehow, things will get better and the meaning of it all or some of it will become clearer.
Without action, very little happens. Whereas the A in MAP originally stood for and, it became the letter for Action, something distinctly lacking in my life; so this certainly became a higher level consciousness. And while my action is still somewhat tentative, it is a far cry from the tendency to read and write to the exclusion of activity.
Theory is necessary, but unless put into practice it is not all that useful. It is said that knowledge is power, but again unless it is either imparted to others or applied it remains just knowledge – interesting but not necessarily functional. On an individual level it is so that like in most aspects of life balance is beneficial. Action can be an art as well. It is all very well to just act immediately, but sometimes the better option is to ponder and consider before taking the step of action.
I was thinking about what else has helped me in my recovery? It came to me immediately, "Where am I now?". I was walking on the mountain and enjoying Nature. Of course, Nature. A massive healing influence, as well as being hugely attractive in and of itself in its numerous guises. Exercise has fortunately always played a vital role in my life, from the early days of playing particularly rugby and cricket quite seriously and right through the very throes of addiction. Latterly this exercise has become more functional, in other words, my enjoyment of exercise has led me into regular hiking on the mountains. And thus a greater awareness has transpired as well – a flowing naturally into a more spiritual realm. Also for example when running in the early mornings the stillness and solitude has lent itself to a deeper spiritual experience and enjoyment of the trees and gardens and Nature.
While I have appreciated the beauty of Nature probably in a general though deep sort of way, it became and is a massive conduit of spiritual awareness for me. Particularly since starting to hike regularly Nature has become for me God’s Garden. Nature has its own way of leading me deeper; sometimes with others, sometimes alone. Sometimes I consciously appreciate Nature while at others Nature tends to speak to me in its mysterious languages. As part of Nature, birds and animals lend their beingness to the whole landscape of Nature. And there is a different human spirit that blossoms in Nature. Interactions and conversations out in Nature tend to almost immediately take on a deeper quality, whether with strangers or those closer to us. Nature is a natural setting for listening at a deep level and for forms of therapy to naturally occur,
I have always believed in the beneficial effects of exercise. Fortunately I have always enjoyed exercise as well, in many forms, and of course that has made it easier. to practise on a regular basis. The only times I have not undertaken some form of exercise regimen was when I was bingeing and absolutely unable to do so, because I was either drinking, or drunk or passed out. As soon as I curtailed the binge, I would virtually immediately start exercising again, normally in the form of walking.
There is no question that exercise has played a major role in my life, in the healing of my alcohol addiction, my health and fitness levels during so many years of severe abusive behaviour and post addiction recovery and maintenance.
Although I started exercising at a very early age and so have gained immense benefit, I think there is always benefit of an exercise regimen no matter the stage of life. The benefits of exercise are multifaceted and well reported. Suffice to say, if you are able to pursue some enjoyable form of exercise your own experience will talk to you, you don’t need anyone to tell you about it.
My favourite form of exercise is walking and hiking in Nature, particularly on the mountains surrounding Cape Town.
Purpose is a major driving force in our lives. I would rather term it a major pulling power, though: we are pulled towards something greater than ourselves on a higher level or plane. And rather than being driven or pushed, we are rather pulled, helped supported to attain heights that ordinarily would be difficult to achieve. We may have a definite sense of purpose or we may ascribe to ourselves a perceived sense of purpose. Many years ago I wrote in my journal: my (perceived) purpose is to help myself and others be happier, healthier, more positive and optimistic, more Creation-conscious, more open and receptive to giving and receiving love, more successful, better in whatever way.
A while back I conceptualised POP, which is an acronym for: People On Purpose, or Power Of Purpose. It was in the context of a networking organisation whereby people with a sense of purpose would be guided to work towards achieving their goals utilising the organisation as the vehicle. This fell through but the idea remains very strong for me. The idea of being drawn towards our purpose, our soul purpose even, is very attractive. When purposeful people work together the results can be amazing.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article!
Personal Development Consultant & Life Coach
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