This weekend I had a stomach flu pretty bad. I ended up on my bed with my head in a bowl for several hours. There was a point when I started to sob into the bowl and the sobbing went on and on.

Sobbing into the bowl.

I didn’t really have a reason for it, other than feeling sick and tired of being sick all the time – but that was more like the tear-jerker – the sobbing that went on and on wasn’t about anything – it was more like a release.

I was pondering my illness for a time, and how I seem to get better and then get worse again, and feeling like even though I’ve done a lot of work around it, I can’t help feeling like I’m missing something. This lead me to think back to a book a read last year by Carolyne Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit.

A medical intuitive, Dr. Myss talks about her understanding of illness as energetic first and then manifesting physically. Certain illnesses relate to certain areas of the body and these areas are governed by the 7 chakras. Illness is also related energetically to your life experience – in her words, your biology is your biography. So for example for me, I identified my main issues physiologically, which are thyroid and the immune system malfunction (Grave’s Disease), and these correlate to the 1st and 5th chakra. The 1st is the red, root chakra, governs the immune system. It’s all about your roots, your tribe, your first family and formative relationships and experiences. It’s also about survival and fear and the tribe mind over the individual mind.

Now, this stood out to me because my fear and need for safety has been a big part of my life for years – I have talked about it a lot in this blog. This first chakra is a no-brainer. The 5th however, I don’t know I guess I read it but I didn’t get anything from it at the time and didn’t remember anything about it. But – when I read it again this weekend it was like those times when you read something and it just reads like Latin and then later you can come back to it and it jumps off the page. The 5th chakra governs the throat and thyroid. According to Dr. Myss, it is about the voice and the Will. Specifically it states that the highest spiritual aspiration is learning how to turn over personal will to the will of the Divine.

In other words, surrender.

Now, I’ve done the 12 steps in the past. If anyone else reading this has done them, you’ll be chuckling at this point.

Let’s go over the 12 steps a bit. I know some people don’t like them but just bear with me. When you see the word ‘addiction’, you may insert any that apply to you (food, sex, people, love, internet etc). When you see the word ‘god’, you simply insert whichever version of the Divine that suits your needs (Gods, Source, Divine, Creator etc) and replace ‘Him’ with her, they or it.

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The steps saved my life when I was very young and then I moved on – but they provided a foundation for much of my life going forward. A spiritual path that embraced honesty, integrity and respect for people and self. There is significant shadow work in the steps and then an equal amount of forgiveness to sooth those wounds. One has to look straight in the mirror and then be willing to let it all go. I’ve often thought of doing them again, but I’m not an addict anymore (16 years gone by) and up until now I thought that this excluded me from ‘the club’. I couldn’t see myself in a meeting these days. And yet, it turns out that I have been working the steps after all these past few years … I probably always have been working the damned steps!

Anyways. Over-achieving aside. ahem. Let me esplain some things to choo. Step One is about powerlessness. For a person whose life has become unmanageable due to some compulsive and obsessive thing that they are doing and cannot stop doing, no matter how much they want to, their families and friends and co-workers want them to – admitting that thing is bigger and stronger than they are is an essential first step. One can go no further without it. It’s an action step – an admission of powerlessness over the thing. This is the first surrender – the white flag – the relief that comes when we do not have to continue the battle of trying to control our demons.

Step two is about defining our personal version of a Higher Power. In the step work we do a lot of writing and soul seeking, looking to our past, our family’s history with religion or God or gods. We look mostly into our own hearts to find a connection that we can live with. We begin to form an idea of a Higher Power that we can turn to. Something bigger than us and therefore bigger than our demons.

Addiction is primarily a spiritual disease or malaise, marked by extreme self-centeredness. And I don’t mean just drugs and alcohol, our modern society is rife with addiction and the self-centeredness that comes along with it. In step two, when we ‘come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity’, we take the first steps away from that self-center, by admitting that there are powers greater than us. We move towards a god-center. Then, we do work at discovering what our beliefs are around Divinity. Well, what is god anyways? Some people I knew just called it Source, some called it G.O.D (Good Orderly Direction). Some people are more comfortable with their Higher Self. One guy I knew was an atheist and put all his faith in a doorknob – somehow that helped him. The point was to conceptualize a higher power and come to an understanding of our relationship with it.

Now, I did a lot of work on these first two steps in recovery, and I actually had my first real mystical experience while working step two. I experienced synchronicities that were so intense one night, it was more like I was actually seeing things before they happened. That has always stayed with me – it happened at the moment I realized that God, whatever it was, didn’t exist in linear time like we did – and poof! all of a sudden I didn’t either.

But back to me sobbing in the bowl – when I read Dr. Myss’s book again and came to the issue of surrender as being the main stumbling block with 5th chakra diseases, that’s when it really hit me – thyroid heath is governed by the 5th chakra, the blue throat chakra, which corresponds with the voice and the Will – and 5th chakra disease comes from persisting in exercising personal Will, over the Will of the Divine. Hey! That is step three!

I realized a few things: one, that all my research into the nature of the divine is great, but it’s a survey – like an archeologist or a historian would do – without step three, which allows us to enter into relationship with our higher powers. Like step one, step three is an action step. In step one we surrender to the power of our addiction (or in my case addictive behaviors), admitting that it is bigger than us. In step three the surrender deepens when we ask our higher powers to guide us from now on. Having given up control, admitted we made a mess of things and everything is unmanageable, we humbly ask that HP take over. We give up trying to control every little thing in our lives, control over people, places and things. All becomes Providence.

The serenity prayer comes in here – remember that one?

Gods, great me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

The second thing I realized was you know, am I sick because I can’t or have not surrendered my Will to the will of my gods?

That was a big lighting bolt. Why am I battling wills with gods?

It reminds me of this prayer too:

I will to will Thy Will.

or there but for the grace of the gods, go I

and let go, and let the gods

And considering really how many times over this past year I have heard that message ‘LET GO’ in big capital letters just like that, I think maybe it’s time to start listening.

So for 2015, oh world, after this long-winded post, this is my goal – to immerse myself in step three and to heed to the rune Nauthiz, which I keep pulling over and over:

This is a time to pay off old debts, to restore, if not harmony, at least balance. So mend, restore, redress: When fishermen can’t go to see they repair nets. Let the constraints of this time serve you in righting your relationship to your Self. Be mindful that rectification comes before progress. And once again, consider the uses of adversity.

Anyone else doing the steps? 😉