So what do I mean by “conscious recovery”? The key to understanding the concept of “conscious recovery” is to understand that there are at least two general parts of the human psyche – a lower self (or ‘ego’), and, a Higher Self. I have been witness for many years to the fact that it is possible to recover from addictions (and other forms of dysfunction) on the basis of the lower self primarily and sometimes solely. Many people, for example, stop drinking with very little other personal change (if any). Conscious recovery, however, is improved behaving, thinking, and feeling through activating the Higher Self, and, learning to consistently function from that Higher Self rather than from ego. Part of Higher Self functioning includes awareness of ALL the toxic people, places, things, behaviors, habits, and situations that I allow/invite to exist (and to have an unhealthy influence) in my body, mind, spirit, and social situation. This awareness, coupled with the intention to become free of these poisons, is the beginning of conscious recovery. A shorter way of saying it might be to say that “conscious recovery” is physical, mental, and spiritual fitness through awakening and activating the Higher Self. A.A. members will probably understand when I say that conscious recovery is the “easier, softer way.”
The core of conscious recovery is spiritual practice. There are three general forms of spiritual practice. These three are: 1) Introspection, 2) Contemplation, and 3) Altruistic Service. There are, of course, a multitude of forms of spiritual practice but I believe that they would all fit under one or more of these three general headings. The most efficient and effective description of the application of these three spiritual practices to life is contained in the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous – especially in the “12 & 12” entitled Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and also in the slightly older “Big Book” entitled Alcoholics Anonymous.