Episode 38: Yvonne H. Mainely Agnostic

In today’s podcast we meet Yvonne H. from the Mainely Agnostics Group in Portland, Maine. The group celebrated its first anniversary in June of this year, which pleased Yvonne a great deal. It was here where she learned to become comfortable with following her own path in the program, and as a result she is sober and passionate about AA, especially Agnostic AA.

Yvonne exercises the great freedom we all have to interpret the Steps in her own language, and she likes to share the alternative 12 Steps from AA Agnostica with others, just in case they might be helpful. Yvonne also enjoys secular AA literature, in particular Joe C.’s book, Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. It is a book of daily readings for people in recovery, and her favorite passage from that book is taken from the August 26th entry. She says it summarizes her entire program.

From a Zen perspective, enlightenment is attained by embracing emptiness, being, and nothingness. In this respect, wisdom comes from letting go, not from seeking. While one looks to the God of the heavens to be filled with serenity, courage, and wisdom, another merely divests themselves of chaos, fear, and biases. Both goals have no finish line. As recovery is about balance, we are going to get more done each day if we monitor our serenity, courage, and wisdom. This way, we are content in the process and not anticipating an end or a goal.

Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life

Yvonne has learned to embrace emptiness and find serenity in the space between her thoughts. She regularly practices meditation and she’s learned from the Buddhists the art of letting go. It was fortunate for me to be speaking with her because I would like to get back into the practice of meditation, and speaking with her was an inspiration. She recommended a book The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, but she suggests that anyone interested in meditating should just grab any book that might be inspiring. Reading a good book about meditation will remind those of us who got away from the practice of all the benefits we once derived from taking the time to sit quietly in meditation.

I know she’s right. I liken meditation to running or any other form of exercise. When I do it regularly, I feel the benefit and enjoy the feeling it brings me. Yet, when I stop, it’s difficult to get back at it. Talking with Yvonne reminded me of those occasions when I meet up with a runner who beams about the joy of running. Yvonne was beaming.

Thank you Yvonne for taking the time to speak with me and to share your story in this podcast.


Transcript

You can read the podcast transcript by scrolling through the window below or simply download the pdf file.

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  1. Marysusan W October 27, 2016 at 10:54 pm - Reply

     

     

    Marysusan Williams-Migneault October 27, 2016 at 10:45 pm – Reply

    I have not been asked to chair a meeting at this group I have been attending for a good 30 yrs. The group conscience  is god centered in talking points. I announced I was not a Christian almost a year ago. I am no longer invited into their click. I was hurt by it but now I do not care what they think. I am a good and kind person. My faith is not in a god (s) but in two alcoholics helping one another stay away From a drink.  Regardless I am glad the Traditions remain the bedrock of AA.  

    sorry for the double post it cut me off before I finished the sentence.  Take care~ ms

  2. Marysusan W October 27, 2016 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    I have not been asked to chair a meeting at this group I have been attending for a good 30 yrs. The group conscience  is god centered in talking points. I announced I was not a Christian almost a year ago. I am no longer invited into their click. I was hurt by it but now I do not care what they think. I am a good and kind person. My faith is not in a god (s) but in two alcoholics helping one another stay away

  3. Yvonne H. October 27, 2016 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    I think I am humbled by how deeply riled up people get (see above comments) by the path Ive taken and the perspective I have shared in this podcast. It shows its working!
    However, I will say only that perspective is golden, and judgement is merely a byproduct of that. Sure, we share our experience strength and hope, AA gives us the ability to do so.
    We also have the choice to use the 12 step program however we want. If I choose to skip steps 2 & 3 the way theyre written & write my own, then my free will can (& does) blaze the trail for me.
    I find it amusing how literally some people take mainstream AA. In a nutshell I hope to see big changes in the traditions & steps. And most importantly,  acceptance of addiction of all & any substances. As well as welcoming the perspective that a higher power is actually an inner power, which resides within each and every one of us human beings.

  4. Marysusan W October 27, 2016 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    A great many think a lot of things. If they do not grasp the third tradition then they have some GROWING to do but not my business unless it affects my group or AA as a whole. My home group is Agnostics and Atheists in AA/ Salem MA.  We are growing and learning and welcome AA suggestions and input. i have maintained almost 31 yrs of sobriety (day at a time) and find no fault with AA traditions, concepts, or Legacies. The stories are just stories that I can identify with in part or in total. Religionists are a pain in my side but I am sure they get annoyed with me.  Tolerance (Live and Let Live) means I get to live too.  I have put my own spin on everything that my head digests since I was born. AA does not need to conform to my cherished ideas. I need to conform to AA Traditions or step back and not harm AA. It gave me my life.  There is a common ground.

  5. Mark C. October 26, 2016 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    ” But hey start your own movement. It is also not God Anonymous… ”

    Humm…a great many in my neck of the woods appear to believe and think otherwise. Therein lies the rub eh?

    I’m an atheist in “AA.” I think I’ll keep my seat.

     

  6. MarySusan W October 26, 2016 at 6:56 am - Reply

    What others do -whether prayer and higher power – or power greater – or inner self is not my business.  I can only speak for myself however cherished my ideas are, my experience is mine not someone else’s, nor does it need to be. It took me a long time to actually do what I thought or said even sporadically. I can not share experience that I do not have but I sure will try. Letting go is not dependent on anything but me being sick and tired of being sick and tired. If a belief in god, voodoo, or existentialism, or Cookie Monster helps you to let go so you do not have to wipe the pain away with booze that is what matters. If you need to rewrite the script just remember alcoholism is a sneaky foe… it is a Master Ninja. I am in AA because I do not want drink. I have found a way to live sober. I am not at war with mainstream AA or how it works.  I am part of AA. If anyone else is having trouble accepting how I do things I get it. It is not easy to focus on my own alcoholism and doing what I need to do for me. I can only identify.  Now listening to someone tell me how great their approach is bores me to death. I am sure I bore someone too when I pontificate. The traditions must be upheld. Unity is not about pretending it is about complying to AA or else you are not AA.  You want to use AA resources without willingly complying with AA.  It is not Addictions Anonymous. But hey start your own movement. It is also not God Anonymous… or Atheist Anonymous. It is up to the Group to comply or break off entirely. AA does not endorse or lend its name to outside enterprises whether you like it or not. AA as a whole  is trying to cooperate and be inclusive of all alcoholics but not by relinquishing AA to outside enterprises.

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