To all our readers, Recovery Farmhouse introduces Author and recovering alcoholic Russ K. of Tampa. Here are two very interesting articles about good change that he would like to share with you. Thanks,- Recovery Farmhouse. I am including an interview of him that I got off
Back to the Basics of a Spiritual Life
skip to article “In All Our Affairs”- here
Back to the Basics of a Spiritual Life Awakened Living, A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life by Russell Kyle
As a new year approaches, I’d like to suggestAwakened Living, A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life by Russell Kyle to help you take steps toward a life filled with more peace and joy.
He agrees with many other philosophers that “the world is what you think it is,” so his first recommended practice is to take responsibility for your life and recognize the true cause of your experiences. He offers 15 additional practices, then finishes with 365 short readings for morning meditation or daily contemplation.
For positive change in your life, Kyle recommends a simple reliance on the “Highest Intelligence and Power governing all,” and recommends building a relationship with this higher power, without pushing specific religious beliefs. He recommends thinking about God, then talking to God, until the prayer experience moves from your head to your heart.
Kyle also recommends meditation, saying “you can achieve most anything” with just this practice alone, done consistently. He offers pointers for meditating and a Guided Meditation you can read or record and listen to. Practicing his daily meditations will bring you into the present and help you “let go and let God.”
He also makes a case for using positive affirmations, giving of yourself selflessly, surrounding yourself with good, and being humble, forgiving and flexible.
Here, Russell Kyle answers my questions:
BECCA: What hope or message do you wish to offer others with your book?
RUSS: The message I’m hoping to convey with this book is the absolute availability for anyone to develop a spiritually connected life. That beyond the mystical and illusionary is an authentic spiritual way of living and being, available to anyone. My hope is that it may lead those who have always been drawn to the idea of living a spiritual life to living that life. By making easily available to them some of the actions they can take to make this desire real and very much alive. These practices are practices that I know work.
This book doesn’t claim perfect teachings but instead points the way to where what one seeks may be found through practice. Practices directly affecting one’s heart, mind and body. Anyone with a bit of willingness for a positive change, along with an open mind, can grow and learn much from these age-old, and new, practices. The hope I would like to pass on is that good change can happen for anyone. That they may soon see that no matter what they’ve been through, what they’ve done, or even where they now stand, what really truly matters most is only the direction they are headed. And with one small step, one moment, one practice, this new direction can begin. Yet beyond my personal hopes, beyond my personal intended message, is my ultimate purpose: to play my part in any way I can in accelerating the awakening happening right now on our planet.
BECCA: Did any specific personal experience lead you to write this book?
RUSS: Yes, absolutely. My journey toward light began from the darkest of darkness. Due to years of sexual abuse, introduced to heavy drugs at a very young age by my abuser, I quickly became a full-blown drug addict and alcoholic. Parents divorcing and father dying, all this between the ages of 12 and 15. My course was set toward disaster. And I followed. Living on the street. Losing all of my family and friends. Attempts at suicide. Jail and everything else that comes with this lifestyle. I had no place else to go but 6-feet under, or up. Yet up seemed impossible, no matter what was said, who said it or when they said it, I was doomed and I knew it. Though, by some grace of Goodness, I one day stumbled into a group of spiritual people, recovered from many of these vices themselves. They offered a spiritual, non-religious way of life that I latched onto. They pretty much told me what I needed, but explained that finding it was solely up to me. What I needed was a spiritual awakening. And so my journey began… exploring different religions, spiritual practices, traveling and discovering. Practicing and experiencing. The more I awakened, the more I was freed from my past.
It wasn’t long before I began realizing the Universe was leading me to share this message of personal transformation. I cleaned up, sobered up, never to use or drink again. I’ve come to terms with my abuse and forgiven. Freeing myself. All through the power work of spiritual practices. I found that my learning accelerated as I taught and so today, as a student and a teacher, I grow spiritually and enjoy a life beyond what once were my wildest dreams. Am I traveling from place to place in my private jet, millions in the market, family all behaving, no problems, perfect health, perfect everything? No. But I’m coming to accept life on life’s terms. To see the purpose and meaning behind events, those we may label as good as well as those many label bad. Coming to see how this acceptance actually begins to transform not just one’s vison of the world but actual life circumstances and events. In turn, getting what one wants by first accepting things as they come. Living in this world of spiritual paradoxes, exciting, fulfilling and ever expanding. Today I live a deep and meaningful life. Full of purpose and full of unlimited possibilities.
One of the most exciting things about it for me, is that it too, in the very same way, is available to you, to anyone. I know today that the next best thing to having a spiritual awakening is to play a part in the awakening of another. Because of this, and a deep urging desire and love, I have put the basics of my beginning practice in a book for others.
BECCA: Can you explain what you mean by “having an open mind on our understanding of God?”
RUSS: It simply means to continue to explore beyond whatever knowledge, understanding or experience you may have of God. Even if you don’t believe in God, there is an understanding or idea that you are not believing in. For non-believers, I feel this is something still worth exploring. What do you have to lose? So you find out you were right… or not. Either way. The journey, the seeking, is good for the mind and heart. It’s worth the journey. We each have our own concept of the Divine. The only problem with having an idea of how something is, is that we limit it from being more. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said, “When you label me you negate me.” Meaning, when you describe me, you limit me. For example, if I tell you my God is green, then I am also saying God is not red, not yellow, not pink, not orange, and not all the colors ad infinitum. So, as we grow, as our awareness expands and we begin to have some strong ideas on how things are, let us keep in mind that these ideas can limit further understanding. I find that once I experience an ‘ah hah!’ moment, a break into a higher awareness of some sort, it’s best to simply acknowledge it, and then let it go. Not grab, cling and clasp to it. For if I wish to grow spiritually, I must continue to let go of my concepts and understanding, making room for new ones.
The idea is to break our attachment to words and ideas. We easily get hung up on words. For many, the word God itself doesn’t bring up good feelings. As soon as it is used a wall goes up and we shut ourselves off. Like a trigger of sorts. We already have our idea of what the word means, what is probably going to be said and many times have also quickly formed a judgment of the one using the word. All predetermined by the concept we’ve attached to the word. Often this happens without our even knowing it. We never get past the word. We never give ourselves the opportunity to see what this thing is behind the word. There is an old Zen saying, “Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?” Right! So we can easily see that we must look beyond our current understanding to really see what we are attempting to see.
Many may be fine with their understanding. It’s working for them. I encourage anyone to work with what is best for them. But to continue to awaken, the confinement by concepts must be broken, and continually broken. Be open-minded: Remain teachable, a student, always willing to honestly consider new points of view and ideas, always willing to change one’s own mind.
BECCA: You recommend both prayer and meditation – how do you differentiate the purpose of each?
RUSS: I’ve heard it said that prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening. I like this but for many it’s become much more, and in many ways very different. It is my experience that the benefits of both prayer and meditation are ultimately much the same. They are a reserved moment to focus on, and connect with, your source of Good. Prayer focuses on a way of building concepts and ideas by word or thought. Placing intentions out into the universe in which the universe will respond. Meditation, for myself, is a way I connect more by not trying. To surrender. To heighten my sense of all parts of my being with all parts in which that being rests. To put the thinking mind on hold and see what else shows up. Even this description is limited as to the unlimited potential of mediation. Like most spiritual concepts and practices we carry, they share similarities, yet the experiences and uses are unique to each. One fact though that most can agree on, most who have tried prayer and meditation enough, is that it works. It works in maintaining, reinforcing and better developing our connection with our deeper selves and the world around us. They heighten our sense of something Wiser at work beneath all things. They raise our awareness to the coincidences and synchronicities. They open our eyes to the awareness of our part in this magical dance of this universe.
BECCA: Is there a time to pray, and a time to meditate?
RUSS: That is probably best left up to each person and what works best for them. The combination of prayer and meditation is a powerful recipe. Some may already view prayer and meditation as the same, again it’s a personal interpretation. Spending time studying other’s views on meditation and prayer has given me a better understanding of the many ways in which to connect with, and sense, ourselves and our connection to our multi-leveled environment. To better connect with the Divine if you will. So I tend to use prayer and meditation both in combination as well as separate as the situation or mood sees fit. I find prayer is quickly accessed and used throughout the day, when riding in my car or walking in the mall, these times meditation might not always be most accessible. Though walking meditations are great for enhancing a mindful state, I usually find sitting quiet most useful during meditation. Again, these are practices you will cultivate as your path forward sees fit. The only requirement is to begin.
BECCA: What would you say is the best way to pray?
RUSS: In my Chapter, ‘Practice Prayer’, I list some specific suggestions on prayer. But ultimately I feel it is a personal experience and practice. What I would tell someone new to prayer, is to just begin. It will develop from there as best fits your needs. Don’t get too caught up in ‘what’ you are praying to. Focus more on the content of your prayer, what or who you are praying for. I’ve found that positive prayer is most effective. Pray in affirmations. For example, “Thank you for the abundance flowing into my life right now,” “Thank you for healing my body,” “I pray for this person, and give thanks for the blessings unfolding upon her right now.” Again, these are examples of some ways to pray. The deeper a prayer life becomes, the more natural it will become.
Take a prayer walk outside, observing and being mindful of your environment, saying to yourself, praying, “Thank you for that flower,” “How beautiful is the sky,” “Thank you for my legs to walk upon, air to breathe and eyes to see.” Prayer which includes appreciation and gratitude tames the mind and opens the heart. It raises the one praying to a higher state. A state in which we see more, experience more and connect deeper. With practice, prayer can become a state of being, a connection we stay plugged into throughout the day.
BECCA: What suggestions do you have for other first-time writers who feel they have an important message to share?
Get it out there. Take care not to get hung up on how others may criticize or judge your message. We have little control on how people take what we say. If something is urging you to get it out there, just do it. As far as how; the only way I know to truly carry a message is through personal demonstration or testimony from those who have been there. For non-fiction writers, simply stick to the truth and how this truth may be demonstrated or has been demonstrated. If you feel a message is important, then you probably have some connection to it already, emotionally, mentally or physically. Whatever your connection, let this be your doorway of bringing it to life, to putting it on paper. What can speak louder than that? As author Wayne Dyer once said, “Don’t die with your music still in you.”
Awakened Living, A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life by Russell Kyle is available now. To contact Russ with your own questions or comments, email him at AwakenedLivingGuide@gmail.com or connect with Russ at https://twitter.com/RussellLKyle orhttps://www.facebook.com/LessonsExperiencesOfTheSpiritualPath.
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras – Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet
Practice these principles in all of our affairs.
What does this mean? I’m learning the answer to this every day. It is in the practice that I make progress.
The principles, by my understanding, are the guidelines for living that I learn by following the directions in the 12 steps. The better I get at applying the steps to my real life situations the more I see the principles at work. The principles, as I see it, aren’t really something that can be listed or simply explained, we come to know them by personal experience, by action.
Some of the applicable to life ideas I’m picking up through my practice of this program I’d like to share with you. Of course I’m always learning and some of my understanding of these ideas may have even yet changed since I’ve written them down, but as of now this is some of what I’ve learned, and use.
Step one is teaching me the importance of acceptance. To accept is to not complain, or wish otherwise to be, it is to be content with what is by understanding that it is what it is already. No amount of anything can change that. All that can, and should be, changed is my perspective on what is. As with any change I must first accept where I am. In order to move ahead I have to first approach the starting line, accepting things first as they are sets me in the position for any desired change, but I must accept where I am first. I remind myself often, that things are as there are, so why waste energy wishing otherwise, for they already are. It wasn’t until I fully accepted that I was an Alcoholic that then I could begin seeing the problem of which I had been hoping to change.
It is important to understand that accepting isn’t settling for less, it is putting us in a position for more, able and available to change the things we can and accept the things we can’t.
By these actions I’m learning the benefits of honest self-examination, a willingness to rectify my wrongs, the actions to do so, and the joy this brings as freedom and content. I’m being introduced to ways of better connecting to the source of my Good, ways to find new ways and the gift of many opportunities to share and teach these ways to others.
Self-examination has taught me to keep the finger pointed at myself. It is I that is the cause of all in my life, and so the choice to make any changes rests with me too, right here, within my reach. In finding the problem I am introduced to the solution…one of many of the spiritual paradoxes I continue to discover.
I now too have a better understanding of the daily reprieve talked about in the book. It’s been shown, not just told but shown, to me the necessary actions I must take daily to keep this gift of new life, continued self-examination, amends as they arise, meditation, prayer, open mindedness, honesty and helping others.
I’m experiencing the truth that self-sacrifice is the greatest method of self-help. Yep, another strange paradox, so it would seem. This single way of living, giving of myself, is the best gift I can give myself. As a servant I am filling the highest position in the AA spiritual community. It is the most prosperous of all trades and lifting of all actions.
Today I live on circulating spirituality, kept in motion by steps 10, 11 and 12. Step 10 keeps me cleared out for the process, an open channel. Step 11 draws in the necessary power, understanding and peace needed for my daily emotional sobriety. Step 12 is the process by which I give back, on which I allow that same goodness brought in to then flow out. By this I keep my spiritual circulatory system flowing and healthy. By this process I keep the good in my life circulating as well. By this I continually let go of the old making room for the new.
Today I also do my best to focus on the new person. During meetings, if there is a new person, I sit through that meeting thinking ‘what is this new person hearing, how are they hearing it?’ I know, because I was there once. I do this for two reasons. One is to keep my thinking new, as open as the new person. By this I hear things fresh and open. Second I do this so as to know if my group if fulfilling their primary purpose, carrying the message to the new person. It gives me a good idea of how I would want to be approached after a meeting like the one we just had, why? Because right after the meeting I will be fulfilling my personal responsibility and approaching that person to do or say what I can to help. So I keep my attention on the new person and it helps us both. Today I know that when my intentions are on helping, I in return receive in unlimited ways as well. But to receive something for myself falls short in reasons why I have the desire to help, it is deeper. I think it is like this for all of us AAs. Because I have been there, and out of genuine compassion I feel the need to comfort those hurting in that same way that I once did. This compassion along with the excitement of a solution that I know works, I jump at any opportunity to serve AA and the newcomer. I’ve found that here the rewards seem greatest too.
I love the program that saved my life and that has given me back to my family. I do my best to keep the balance between my family and my meetings. When drinking I withdrew from my family life, recovery should not do the same; as the book states on page 129 “The spiritual life that does not include its family obligations is not so spiritual after all.” I know when I need to get to a meeting, and I don’t hesitate to go. I also know when I need to be home with my family and I won’t hesitate to stay. The key is being honest with myself. Early on in recovery I had to just follow directions, my honesty and intuition couldn’t yet be trusted as a good guide. I just did the 90 meetings in 90 days as I was told, and then attended four or five times a week after that for the next year. Today my inner guide, because of my sincere work on the steps is a bit clearer, just a bit though I must say, I have much more to go. I’m finding that the spiritual principles of AA work when applied to anything at home; being a parent, husband, friend, good neighbor and son.
When in the workplace ‘principles before personalities’ is my lifeline many times. I’m learning to love and tolerate my fellow man, also realizing that they too might just be tolerating me. I’ve found here seems to be one of the best places full of opportunities to help others, whether I’m helping by prayer, by action or simply by good example. When going through my day in a conscious state of self-examination I learn much about myself, where I am, what I like about me and where I need improvement.
The journey of this life is never boring. When working the program the change in my life is so exciting that why would I want anything else. I don’t fear that change today either for I trust my Higher Power that all is happening for Good reason. Even my mistakes, when turned over to my Higher Power are like coal made into diamonds. In fact that is what this whole thing is all about, turning our past to good use and enjoying today as is.
Today a can say, with truth and understanding, that I am a grateful recovering alcoholic. I remind myself each morning with a note on my desk, ‘to count my blessings’ and that each day is a gift, each moment, each person that comes along, and mostly the wonderful program that is saving my life, the program of AA.
Remember my fellow AAs that AA points the way, we take the steps and it is our responsibility to carry the message, in word and in action. I’m doing my best at my part, one day at a time.
Back to the Basics of a Spiritual Life
Back to the Basics of a Spiritual Life Awakened Living, A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life by Russell Kyle