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• Ignore the quality ofthe writing. Journal entries do not have to be well written. You do not even have to write in complete sentences, and you can always go back later and change something if you want. A journal is not a literary piece but a working document to help you achieve your goals. Write what you feel the need to write, and write as much and for as long as you want.
• Be patient. With practice, journaling will become easier and will seem more natural, even for those who are not natural writers.
Expository writing is the primary means through which a Ten-Step journal is created in letting go of regrets, as in the listing of regrets. Sometimes, however, other forms of writing can be an important supplement to the basic journal, especially when describing or dealing with emotions. Poetry, song lyrics, and short stories can often convey greater emotion than an essaylike paragraph and may be easier for some people to write. Poetry, lyrics, and stories of others can be attached or copied to the journal when they are relevant. In fact, writing itself can be supplemented by other forms ofjournaling. Depending upon your particular talent, you may prefer to draw in your journal, to paint, or even to paste images cut from magazines and newspapers that represent what you are feeling, what you have lost, or what you had dreamed of having.
As far as we know, the idea of God and, hence, of spirituality is as old as humankind. No civilization of which we have any knowledge was without
some set of religious beliefs. Religion and spirituality are not the same, however. It is possible to be spiritual without being religious. Although spirituality, like religion, deals with transcendent forces, it does not require a set of specific beliefs, an organized structure, or a corps of religious professionals. Spirituality does, however, require a faith relationship with something greater than ourselves, something beyond and independent of the material universe (that is, something transcendent). Generally, that “something” is God, however the individual chooses to define God. The spiritual aspects of the Ten Steps (as opposed to the psychological) are more effective with a faith relationship.
However, the Ten Steps do not define the nature of that faith relationship nor do they define God. A spiritual ground rule of the Ten Steps is that no specific concept of God is required in order to work them or to use their spiritual and psychological tools. For that matter, it isn’t necessary to believe in God at all to work the steps. All that is suggested is an openness to the existence of some power, force, or principle greater than yourself. You may use whatever term you wish to refer to that power. Traditional terms used to refer to God have included Supreme Being, the Creator, deity, divinity, divine principle, the Great Spirit, higher power, universal mind, the Absolute, the One, a power greater than ourselves, and dozens of other phrases that human beings have used to identify God in hundreds of cultures for thousands of years. This book uses “power greater than ourselves,” “higher power,” or “God.” No definition is offered, however, other than “beyond and independent of the material world.”
An openness to some form of spirituality is important in working the Ten Steps, because spiritual tools such as prayer are powerful aids in letting go of our regrets. Prayer allows us to access a power greater than ourselves to help us do what we cannot do on the basis of our own resources. Through prayer, we can overcome resistance, conquer fear, and gain new insights. We will be led to people, events, and circumstances with the power to transform us and to help us achieve our goal of living without regrets. If the spiritual tools are eliminated, leaving only the psychological tools, the possibility of being healed is diminished. Yet what one prays to in working the steps is determined by each individual.
For some people, engaging in prayer is easy and automatic. For others,
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it is intimidating and awkward. For those who are new to praying, the act can seem an awesome, even fearful, task. Prayer is, after all, an attempt to communicate with God. It raises many questions: “How would I start?” “What words should I use?” Fortunately, the answers are quite simple, and prayer itself is not at all intimidating once you understand it. In fact, prayer is very reassuring. While there are many definitions of prayer, all of them contain the central idea of prayer as words, thoughts, or feelings addressed to a higher power, however defined.
The Meaning of Prayer
There are many possible definitions of prayer. Some of the definitions that might be helpful in understanding prayer are the following:
• Prayer is opening our minds and hearts to God.
• Prayer is a conversation with God in which we have the opportunity to speak and the obligation to listen.
• Prayer is communing with our higher power.