There were many sayings in my early AA years that I heard over and over until I really heard them. This is the difference between listening and hearing. In my impatience and ignorance, I often cut people and quit listening, or just be quiet but really don’t “hear.” In my graduate studies, I studied various therapies and the one that improved my own attention was that of the therapy developed by Carl Rogers called the “Rogerian Reflection”, which was both hearing the words and the underlying feeling behind the words and reflecting back what they were feeling rather than what they said.

Phrases like “sounds like you were really hurt by that” rather than attach to the anger. In my shifting into a real and authentic world the shift from my death grip holding on to ideas that clearly were not working for me, the surrender – letting go absolutely of what I believe and speaking from what I know. The sweat lodges of our ancestors were where we burn away these “beliefs” and gradually shift from self-centered fear coupled with false pride into a life of service – a shift of both attitude and behavior.

Shifting from resentments, self-pity, and “entitlement” into living in gratitude and service. These changes come slow, and it took me twelve years of daily recovery meetings to “lose my mind and come to my senses”. Loving is attending to what we hold as sacred. Forgiving myself first for past behaviors and learning to take loving care of me first. They told me they would love me until I could love myself. In my walking the red road, I have had many amazing fire tenders. The fire tenders were the most important part of Ceremony, cooking the sacred stones that purify us and learning to stay awake and educate newcomers with kindness, yet able to bear the sword when necessary.

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