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2014 Men’s Retreat in Malibu

The Men’s Retreat in Malibu featured beautiful scenery, great food, wonderful fellowship and a whole host of tools for recovery and transformation. Post your comments on your own personal experience; perhaps others will choose to get involved with our next retreat and share in our joy and personal progress. Next year, Yosemite…

Greg Dorst
The Other Bar

Change

I am reminded that real change often takes repetition of thought and action. Sometimes the repetition is simply making the trek to a meeting where one will eventually find fellowship and accountability, two necessary elements given our histories. But, what is it that we really have to change? Consider the following…..The first 100, in writing the The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly conclude on page 23 that, “the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body.” This conclusion is supported by the experience of the famous psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Jung in his treatment of Roland H., the story of which is described on page 27 of the Big Book:
“The doctor said: ‘You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic.
I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of
mind existed to the extent that it does in you.’ Our friend felt
as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang”.
We must conclude, if we are to get anywhere at all in recovery, that the problem is centered in the mind. Changing the thought patterns of the mind can be difficult, particularly when the mind called upon to think differently is broken. The phrase used here is, “You can’t use a broken mind to fix a broken mind”. So what do we do? Here is where we are called to repeat actions, often stated as, “Act your way into better thinking”. This works when we find it difficult to consciously change the thoughts we think. We now set about on a “course of action” which will bring about a new experience which will then bring about a new thought consistent with the new experience. So, what we did was:

NEW ACTION—NEW EXPERIENCE—NEW THOUGHT

Continuous right action will bring about right thinking as in the paradigm above. Some of those old sayings in AA like, “Act your way into better thinking” have proven validity and can create lasting change when consciously relied upon to do so. I like to think of those sayings as the “handrails” on the “Steps” to freedom.

Greg Dorst
Consultant, etc., etc., etc…

Anything New?

Paging through the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous I find myself saying “I don’t remember reading this before…” But, I know that I have read it many, many times before. After all, my home group is a Big Book Study and I have read the “Book” from the “Roman Numerals” beginning with the “Preface” through “Doctor Bob’s Nightmare”, probably more than 20 times. So what accounts for the appearance of this new line or paragraph? I have come to believe that I am ever evolving and that I am not the same person that I was when I last read that line or paragraph that has taken on new meaning for me. I see things just a little bit differently. Hopefully, I have grown in ways that make me a kinder, gentler person. Perhaps I have learned something new about freedom, so that when I read on page 55 of the Big Book:

“What about people who proved that man could
never fly?

“Yet we had been seeing another kind of flight, a
spiritual liberation from this world, people who
rose above their problems.”

What a new and wonderful way to view “Spiritual Liberation”…rising above our problems. Emmet Fox, an early favorite of Bill W. and Dr. Bob S. always said, “The solution to any problem is to raise your consciousness above the problem.” If we need Spiritual Liberation we need only be alright with, or rise above, our unresolved problems.

“You can’t stand in the same river twice” – so said Heraclitus. I guess he was talking about our own conscious evolution bringing new meaning to our experiences, bringing new meaning to things we have read before like page 55 of the Big Book.

“We claim spiritual progress…”
Alcoholics Anonymous p. 60

Greg Dorst J.D., CAS II

Retreats heal the soul….

September 15, 2014 – Rev. Greg Dorst
..

A “recovery retreat” like the one that as many as 16 of our Other Bar recovering women attended the weekend of September 12-14, is an opportunity to experience joy, growthvand an unparallelled sense of community. The tradition of retreats in the recovery community sets us apart from many other groups as the event typically has a definite spiritual aim. This year, our attendees experienced the healing consciousness of Louise G., as facilitator. Being “present” in the here and now is a skill that takes a “Kit” of spiritual tools. We would like to hear what new tools are now in your “Kit” as a result of your attendance at this transformational event. Please leave us a comment about your experience at the Malibu W omen’s Retreat held at the beautiful Serra Retreat Center.

Procrastination

Procrastination

A quick look at the date of the last blog entry in this space may provide some insight as to why the above topic was chosen for this missive. Procrastination also happened to be the topic introduced at a recent Other Bar meeting attended by about 25 recovering attorneys in Marin.

A lively discussion ensued. It seems that nearly everyone feels they can relate to the problem of procrastination, because it is something they personally suffer. Apparently, most of us are all too familiar with the pattern: put something off for no good reason; build up a pile of anxiety, preoccupation and guilt for not getting it done, then finally complete the task, only to realize (yet again) that it was not that difficult an endeavor in the first place, and the worst thing about it was the psychic price of distraction and self-recrimination paid during the period of delay. This insight results in a resolve to never procrastinate foolishly again, which crumbles as soon as the next obligation arises or deadline looms.

Is this a character defect especially shared by addicts and alcoholics? It would appear so, based on the agreement in the room that we all had this bad habit. If so, then it would seem the best solution would be the one that 12-Step programs prescribe for character defects in general: become entirely ready to relinquish the defect, and then pray for its removal. Why, then, should everyone in a room full of recovering attorneys, many with high double-digit sobriety and working good programs, all still suffer from this “defect?” Is it a shortcoming to which those in the legal profession are particularly susceptible? Or is there another, more hopeful explanation?

Surprisingly, the discussion took an interesting turn, eventually settling on a fairly positive perspective. A consensus was reached: procrastination is not a character defect especially common in alcoholics and/or lawyers, but rather, a trait so ubiquitous as to be best considered simply part of the human condition. Viewed in this manner, it becomes possible to see more productive ways of dealing with it. Since everybody seems to procrastinate, perhaps the sane solution is to accept it for what it is, and eliminate or at least minimize the guilt and negative self-talk. There is a big difference, after all, between “last minute” and “late.” Maybe, as long as we are not missing deadlines, we should practice some self-love and give ourselves a break.

As aggravating as procrastination can be, it seems that most of the suffering is self-imposed, the result of our attitude towards it. Then, as is so often the case, perhaps the solution lies in having the wisdom to accept what we cannot change, and thereby gain a measure of serenity.

So.  How about logging in and adding a comment with your thoughts about procrastination?  Do it now!

Or maybe sometime next week….

Check Out the Spring Networking

Every year, The Other Bar holds an annual Spring Networking.  As the name implies, this is a yearly opportunity for members of The Other Bar from across the state to gather in order to meet folks from different meetings and different areas than their own, and make, strengthen or renew connections with fellow recovering attorneys.

This event differs from the fall retreats in a number of ways.  Unlike the retreats, the networking is “coed”: all men and woman are welcome. Additionally, since it is more of a social event and a little less oriented to intensive recovery work, spouses and other family members are also invited to attend and enjoy the amenities and attractions available at the networking site, which is chosen with that in mind.

Because of our mission and shared purpose, the networking still has a very strong recovery focus.  Multiple Other Bar meetings are held daily. MCLE’s in the three mandatory topics (Ethics, Bias, and Substance Abuse) are provided.  The Saturday evening dinner banquet serves as a semi-formal opportunity for celebrating and honoring the legacy and work of the organization.  Typically, members are recognized for their outstanding service, outgoing officers are acknowleged and appreciated, and incoming officers are introduced.  The event is capped by an inspiring keynote speaker selected for his or her knowlege, experience, and contributions in the field of recovery.

This a great event, and well worth attending. You can learn more, as well as register, by clicking on the “Events” tab on this site.  Scholarships are available to those for whom financial considerations would make attendance difficult or impossible.  If you are new to The Other Bar, we want to make it possible for you to be at the networking as a way of solidifying your recovery and your relationship with the organization. (To inquire about scholarships, call or mail the consultant by clicking on the “Consultant” tab.)

For those of you who have attended the networking, please consider taking a moment to comment here and share some of your experience for the benefit of newcomers and those contemplating joining us for the first time. See you in the Spring!

Fall Retreats: How Was Your Experience?

Recently, both the Women’s and Men’s Fall Spiritual Retreats took place.  These events are greatly anticipated by regular attendees, and reliably provide a much-needed time out from the day to day demands of personal and professional life.  Spending an entire weekend in a beautiful setting focussing on serenity and spiritual growth with like-minded individuals is a great way to recharge your recovery and get back in touch with what is really important to happiness and personal well- being.

It seems to be the case every year: folks show up at the registration table in various degrees of fatigue, negativity, and ill-mood.  Then, as the weekend unfolds, the energy improves, cameraderie develops, and usually by about Saturday dinner, a genuine feeling of shared spirituality begins to take over.  By Sunday departure, warmth and goodwill prevail, and participants go home having truly benefitted from a revitalizing growth experience.  Hopefully, that is “how it works.”

If you attended this year, please check in here and share your experiences with the rest of us.  We can maximize the positive effect of these retreats by discussing with each other the insights and realizations we personally experienced.  So, how was it for you?

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