I don't remember ever having Hanukkah and Christmas falling on the same day. I think it is a profound symbol of unity and hope. In all the years that I have have been writing, I have never actually written anything to define Radiance as I think of it in Radiant Recovery®.
In fact, I have never explicitly defined it for myself. Some things have happened this past month that have allowed me to experience on a cellular level what I have always held in my heart about its promise. I thought tonight would be a good time to share that with you.
I felt the promise first.
I started my business 25 years ago in Northern California. I called it Radiant Recovery. The recovery part was easy. It was about healing addiction. The radiant part felt like being filled with light although in reality that seemed a little more esoteric than what it felt to me. I had been leading the
Safe Place Meditations since 1981 when we designed them for our work in the prison in Rhode Island. We worked in the segregation unit there with the guys who were separated from the general population because their crimes were so unthinkable. The meditation taught them to imagine the light wrapping them, holding them and filling them. Those times taught me the power of safety, compassion and shining light into darkness to heal darkness. Those guys formed who I am today.
Later I worked with alcoholics. We did treatment 12-step work, nutrition and the same meditations that I had developed for the prisons. I began living the 7 steps that I wrote about in Potatoes Not Prozac. But the 7th Step was vague. Originally we called it the Getting a Life step.
We formed the Radiant Recovery Community and invited all of you to share in the process of learning how to “do the food” and change your life. Learning to do the food was pretty straightforward, although learning how to put it into practice was a little trickier. We got the logistics but struggled a bit with the joy part. We literally stumbled into joy dots by chance (sort of, LOL). I got tired of grumpiness on the
Depression list and asked someone, someone who was particularly and persistently grumpy, to just try writing down 3 things that touched her during the day – just little noticings that made her heart spark a bit.
My original suggestion was not exactly a joyful option. I was just tired of the whining and being stuck energy on the list. “Just see if it
makes a difference,” I said. She tried it in her next post, put three things sort of as an afterthought at the end of the post. So, I said, “Oh, be outrageous, and put them first.” She was willing and the next post came in with three joys at the top. It stunned me. I think it stunned everyone on the list.
Others decided to play. Within a week,
the whole tone of the list had shifted. And “joy dots” were born and have persisted since then. They are not affirmations, nor are they gratitude. Those both come from the front part of the brain – the thinking part. Joy dots are the heart noticing something, a feeling of lighting up, a little flicker and a feeling of warmth and enjoyment. By last year, when I redesigned the website, it had morphed into Living a Joyful Life. Joy had infused it
Many of us have intentionally embarked on a “joy dot practice” which has meant a commitment to stick with the noticing even when we feel sad or afraid or overwhelmed. And for many, the last few months have been a time of testing with lots of feelings coming up. And joy, even as a dot, seemed pretty scarce. And for a sugar sensitive, scary times generally reawaken old patterns of coping
– eating foods that feel like comfort, not eating, stretching times, and going back to addictive behaviors that anesthetize us and make us forget. When we do that, we lose track of the fact that we are disconnecting from our source, however we might define that. The little Justas creep in and stack up – thinking that a bagel and cream cheese is a healthy snack or that a little 90% dark chocolate is a healthy antioxidant, or that a decaf latte is a great comfort food. Funny thing is that as the
“comforts” add up, the pain seems to grow. Then there is sugar...and somehow it seems that sugar antidotes joy. Anesthesia means we cannot feel that which sparks us.
December 12th is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. If you are not familiar with the story, you can google and read about it. She happens to be someone who has really
inspired me. This year, I reconnected with her story and with her insistence of bringing a message of solace and healing to the world. I realized that my own program had been hijacked by my fear and distress about world affairs. I spent the day in reflection and realized that if I wasn’t “doing the food” then nothing would work.
It didn’t mean
perfection. It simply meant remembering that I knew what I needed to do and I did it. I did it the way I had done it the very first time. All at once, back to steady state. No diddling around, just a flip in my heart, this is what you do, Kathleen. I asked Guadalupe for help. When I attended a 12-step meeting, I focused on the step that says “being willing to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as we understand him.” I admit that how I understand the divine is not at all about a
“him” but the idea of calling the light to wrap me and hold me works just fine. It was as if I was willing on a soul level.
To be honest, I simply expected to feel better (after feeling a bit worse first ) and to be in a state of integrity. I had no idea of expecting anything more than that. Something very strange happened. EVERYTHING changed. It
actually was kind of baffling. I reconnected with my meditation practice which includes some spiritual reading. I opened the little book I read from and read this passage:
As soon as the presence of the soul conscious is united with aspiration, the intensity takes on quite a different character, as if it
were filled with the very essence of inexpressible joy. This joy is something that seems contained in everything else. Whatever may be the outer form of the aspiration, whatever difficulties and obstacles, it may meet, the joy is there as though it filled up everything, and it carries on in spite of everything.
It seems as if living in this type of joy creates an absolute certainty that things are all right and they are being guided by a divine flow. And for me that is like a flow of light…sort of like little dots of light in a gel that moves through me and in me. Sort of like a fairy wand, I think.
Which leads me to the “what is radiance” question…when I am in the state, everything works. I am not thinking about joy dots; I am being joy. And when I am being joy, I do the food, I meet life with optimism and acceptance. I mobilize about injustice, I stand with those who are hurting without being swallowed up, and all that stuff that is important to me…but it all happens without thinking about it and trying to control it.
I do realize that this only makes it harder to explain what is it that we do here. Oh, I eat a certain way, I notice little dots and end up lit with jelly. Not exactly a sound bite. But here is the thing…when I am lit up jelly, I am so at peace.
I wish you all the blessings of this holy time, and this sacred community. You are the living reality of what it is all about. Change is coming and it will be good..