Sunday, 22 January 2012

12-Step Workshop With Harvey

Part 5/5 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

I had the unique opportunity to join a 12-Step workshop with Harvey, one of the founders of SA (Sexaholics Anonymous)... He's sober for 26 years from a raging sex addiction that was completely out of control. Harvey is Jewish and semi-religious (he puts on teffilin every day) but he said that he definitely believes in miracles, because splitting the Yam Suf was "easy pickin" compared to G-d getting him sober :-)

I took some notes from the talks, and I'd like to share some of the wisdom that I heard from him. Here are some of the things he said:

by GYE, Harvey (one of the founders of SA) (See all authors)

For the past few days I've been bringing some of the wisdom I heard from him, and today we bring you a live recording from his talk (under five minutes).

Download a recording of Harvey talking about the 11th Step over here.

The recording is not so clear, but I transcripted what he said below. The reason I found it so moving was because twice, while talking, tears filled Harvey's eyes and his voice broke (once at 2:45 and once at 4:02 in the sound file). That is how real our relationship with G-d needs to be.

The 11th Step says: "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."

Here is a transcript of the recording:

Let's do the 11th step. This is a very tough step for this group (Harvey was talking to a mostly religious group). You're professional "prayers". It's what you do. For you, meditation is going to be very important (see below for some notes on meditation from Harvey). Many of you have learned to pray without necessarily having a connection. You've been doing it since you've been children... It's like learning 2 X 2 is 4 ... 4 X 2 is 8. In my case, I can't hardly understand the prayers. So I've had to make it alive. And how, for me, do I do it? I spent at least two years finding every thought I can in the prayer book and in the Torah that proves how much G-d loves us. That's what I did to make it alive. So when now I'm reading the Amidah, I'm not seeing a lot of things except words like "Loving Kindness".

No religion I know do you have G-d telling us so clearly who He is. And He tells us what AA tells us in the traditions. The traditions say, "We have a loving G-d". And where does He tell us? In the - I don't know the Hebrew - in the 13 Attributes. And when you read the 13 attributes and meditate on them, you will get the true flavor of Love, and what Love is. And for all of us who were talking before about these layers of forgiveness, it (the 13 Attributes) talks about every type of forgiveness.

Each one of us need to find a way to make G-d alive in our lives. And it's so interesting for me to watch how so many people derive their spiritual quest from the Bal Shem Tov. And here was a man trying to tell us how to get this personal relationship to G-d. You know, through Psalms, through talking to him... What gets me the most is that beautiful story of that prayer of Erev Yom Kippur and the illiterate shepherd boy who couldn't speak Hebrew, he was illiterate, and he juggled the balls - if you know the story - he was a juggler, and that's all he knew to talk to G-d that day (Harvey's voice breaks), and the Rabbi was able to say, "we've been saved this year. He has opened the gates of Heaven".

We each have to find in the 11th step the method of talking to Him. My sponsor said that I need to talk to G-d like he is my best friend. And as if he is sitting next to me in the car, and talk to him all through the day like I would talk to a friend. And the way I do it, is through prayers my sponsor taught me. He said, "G-d has a lot to do. He is very busy. He doesn't need very long prayers all the time. He loves little prayers. The smaller they are, the more He loves them." The one He especially loves is very small, "Help me", you know, "Helf mir"... "Help me. I can't do it myself G-d, Help me". And another one he just "kvells" over is, "Thank you".

And that's my prayer throughout the day. I talk to G-d throughout the day. I tell Him about the green leaves (Harvey's voice breaks again), about the sky, about walking on the streets in Jerusalem... I'm having a constant talk with Him, thanking Him that I got up alive...

Now, this is not unique, different things, I'm telling you. Most of you all wake up in the morning and you're supposed to say - you're supposed to, I don't know, I put on Teffilin, that's about it - but you're supposed to say, "Modeh Ani"... that's how you start your day - in Gratitude. And so you want to... for me, I need to keep this constant conversation in gratitude...

Harvey Discusses Meditation

Meditation is where we try to quiet our minds. Like the Pasuk says in Tehhilim, 37:7:"Dom LaHashem Ve'Hischolel Lo", and in 131:2 it says, "Im lo shivisi ve'domamti nafshi, ke'gamul ali imo, gegamul alai nafshi".

Silence the mind.

I often tell people, "shut it off, it's over time". The disease lives in our heads.

The word "spirituality" comes from the Latin word "Spiritus", which means "Breath"."VaYipach Be'Apav Nishmas Chayim". The word Neshama and Ruach both come from "breath". When we meditate, we breath deeply and we count our breaths.

Anger and resentment have to do with the PAST.

Fears have to do with the FUTURE.

Breathing is a way to stay in the moment.

G-d lives in the NOW.

Rest your brain and just breath, or meditate on a line of prayer and internalize it deeply. This helps us learn to live in the NOW.