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Jackson Evans
Jackson Evans

The Power and Promise of Beginners Meetings in A.A.


Back To Basics - The Alcoholics Anonymous Beginners Meetings "Here are the steps we took..."




If you are new to Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), you may have heard about beginners meetings and wondered what they are and how they can help you. Beginners meetings are special sessions designed for newcomers who want to learn more about A.A. and start their recovery journey. They are usually held before or after regular meetings, or as a separate series of meetings. In this article, we will explain what beginners meetings are, why they are important, how to find and attend them, how to get the most out of them, and how to continue your recovery journey after them.




Back To Basics - The Alcoholics Anonymous Beginners Meetings quot;Here are the steps we took... quo



What are beginners meetings and why are they important?




Beginners meetings are an opportunity for newcomers to A.A. to get acquainted with the program, the fellowship, and the steps. They are also a chance for old-timers to share their experience, strength, and hope with newcomers and welcome them into the A.A. family. Beginners meetings are important because they can help newcomers:



  • Identify as alcoholics and admit their powerlessness over alcohol



  • Understand the nature of alcoholism and its consequences



  • Learn about the A.A. program of recovery and how it works



  • Hear how other alcoholics have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body



  • Find hope, comfort, and support from fellow alcoholics who have been where they are



  • Develop a desire to stop drinking and start living a sober life



The purpose and benefits of beginners meetings




The main purpose of beginners meetings is to introduce newcomers to A.A. and help them take the first steps toward recovery. According to the A.A. pamphlet Suggestions for Leading Beginners Meetings, "By receiving and giving A.A. help, every one becomes a link in a chain around the world. All of us cling to others in the chain to keep it unbroken."


Some of the benefits of beginners meetings are:



  • They provide a safe and friendly environment for newcomers to ask questions, express doubts, share feelings, and seek guidance



  • They offer a simple and clear explanation of the A.A. program, its principles, its practices, and its promises



  • They emphasize the importance of staying away from one drink one day at a time



  • They encourage newcomers to attend other A.A. meetings regularly, get a sponsor, read A.A. literature, and work the steps



  • They inspire newcomers to keep coming back and give A.A. a fair try



The format and structure of beginners meetings




There is no one right way to conduct a beginners meeting. Different groups may have different formats and structures for their beginners meetings. However, some common elements that most beginners meetings include are:



  • A leader who welcomes newcomers, explains the meeting's purpose, shares their own story, and introduces the topic



  • A topic that is relevant and helpful for newcomers, such as the first three steps, the disease concept, the A.A. way of life, etc.



  • A talk by the leader or another experienced member who covers the topic in detail and relates it to their own recovery



  • A discussion where newcomers can ask questions, share their thoughts, and get feedback from the leader and other members



  • A closing where the leader thanks everyone for their participation, invites newcomers to other A.A. meetings, and offers them A.A. literature and contact information



The topics and themes of beginners meetings




The topics and themes of beginners meetings are usually based on the A.A. program of recovery, especially the first three steps. Some examples of topics and themes that are often covered in beginners meetings are:



Topic


Theme


Step One


We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.


Step Two


Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


Step Three


Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.


The Disease Concept


Alcoholism is a physical, mental, and spiritual disease that requires a physical, mental, and spiritual solution.


The A.A. Way of Life


A.A. is not just a program of abstinence, but a program of action that leads to a spiritual awakening and a new way of living.


The A.A. Fellowship


A.A. is a worldwide community of alcoholics who help each other stay sober by sharing their experience, strength, and hope.


The A.A. Literature


A.A. has a rich and varied literature that contains the collective wisdom and experience of millions of alcoholics who have recovered through A.A.


How to find and attend beginners meetings




If you are interested in finding and attending beginners meetings, there are several ways you can do so. Here are some tips:


The availability and accessibility of beginners meetings




Beginners meetings are widely available and accessible in most areas where A.A. is active. You can find beginners meetings by:



  • Checking the local A.A. meeting directory or website for listings of beginners meetings or meetings that have a beginners component



  • Calling the local A.A. hotline or office and asking for information on beginners meetings or referrals to groups that hold them



  • Asking other A.A. members or your sponsor for recommendations on beginners meetings or groups that welcome newcomers



  • Visiting different A.A. meetings until you find one that suits your needs and preferences as a newcomer



  • Attending online or phone A.A. meetings that are specifically for beginners or newcomers (you can find them on the A.A. website or other online platforms)



The etiquette and expectations of beginners meetings




Beginners meetings are usually informal and relaxed, but there are some basic etiquette and expectations that newcomers should follow to make the most of them. Some of them are:



  • Arrive on time and stay until the end of the meeting (if possible)



  • Introduce yourself as a newcomer (if you feel comfortable) and accept the welcome from other members



  • Respect the anonymity of yourself and others (what you hear and see here stays here)



  • Listen attentively and respectfully to the leader and other speakers (no cross-talk or interruptions)



  • Participate in the discussion if you have something to share or ask (no pressure or obligation)



  • Keep an open mind and a willingness to learn (don't judge or argue)



  • Thank the leader and other members for their time and service (a simple "thank you" goes a long way)



The resources and support of beginners meetings




Beginners meetings are not only a source of information and inspiration, but also a source of resources and support for newcomers. Some of the resources and support that newcomers can get from beginners meetings are:



  • A copy of the book Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as the Big Book), which contains the basic text of A.A., personal stories, and appendicesA copy of the pamphlet Suggestions for Leading Beginners Meetings, which contains practical advice on how to conduct and participate in beginners meetings



  • A copy of the pamphlet Questions and Answers on Sponsorship, which explains what sponsorship is, how to find a sponsor, and how to be a sponsor



  • A list of phone numbers and email addresses of other A.A. members who are willing to sponsor newcomers or offer support and guidance



  • A personal invitation from the leader or another member to be their sponsor or temporary sponsor until they find a permanent one



  • A warm and friendly atmosphere where newcomers can feel comfortable, accepted, and valued



How to get the most out of beginners meetings




Beginners meetings are a great way to start your recovery journey, but they are not enough by themselves. You need to take some action and responsibility to get the most out of them. Here are some tips on how to do that:


The importance of listening and sharing




One of the key principles of A.A. is that we can help ourselves by helping others. Listening and sharing are two ways we can do that in beginners meetings. By listening, we can learn from the experience of others who have been where we are and have found a solution. By sharing, we can express our feelings, thoughts, and questions, and get feedback and support from others. Listening and sharing also help us to break our isolation, build trust, and form connections with other alcoholics.


To listen and share effectively in beginners meetings, you should:



  • Pay attention to what the leader and other speakers are saying and try to relate it to your own situation



  • Keep an open mind and a willingness to learn from others who may have different perspectives or experiences than you



  • Respect the anonymity and confidentiality of yourself and others (what you hear here stays here)



  • Speak honestly and sincerely about your own experience, strength, and hope (or lack thereof)



  • Keep your sharing brief and focused on the topic (no long stories or off-topic comments)



  • Avoid giving advice or criticism to others (only share what works for you)



  • Thank the leader and other speakers for their time and service (a simple "thank you" goes a long way)



The role of the leader and the sponsor




The leader and the sponsor are two important people who can help you get the most out of beginners meetings. The leader is the person who conducts the meeting, shares their own story, introduces the topic, and facilitates the discussion. The sponsor is the person who guides you through the steps, answers your questions, offers you advice, and supports you in your recovery.


To benefit from the role of the leader and the sponsor in beginners meetings, you should:



  • Choose a leader and a sponsor who have what you want in terms of sobriety, recovery, and serenity



  • Follow their suggestions and directions as much as possible (they have been where you are and know what works)Communicate with them regularly and honestly (call them, text them, email them, meet them)



  • Trust their judgment and experience (they have your best interest at heart)



  • Be open to their feedback and suggestions (they can see things that you may not)



  • Respect their time and service (don't take them for granted or abuse their generosity)



The application of the steps and the traditions




The steps and the traditions are the core of the A.A. program of recovery. They are not just theoretical concepts, but practical tools that can help you overcome your alcoholism and live a sober and happy life. The steps are a set of spiritual principles that guide you through a process of personal transformation. The traditions are a set of guidelines that ensure the unity and harmony of the A.A. fellowship.


To apply the steps and the traditions in beginners meetings, you should:



  • Read and study the A.A. literature that explains the steps and the traditions, such as the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and various pamphlets



  • Listen and learn from the leader and other members who share how they have worked the steps and followed the traditions in their own recovery



  • Work the steps with your sponsor or another trusted member who can guide you through each step and help you apply it to your life



  • Follow the traditions in your participation in beginners meetings and other A.A. activities, such as respecting anonymity, avoiding controversy, being self-supporting, etc.



  • Practice the principles of the steps and the traditions in all your affairs, such as honesty, humility, faith, service, etc.



How to continue your recovery journey after beginners meetings




Beginners meetings are a great start for your recovery journey, but they are not the end. Recovery is a lifelong process that requires continuous effort and commitment. You need to keep growing and learning in A.A. and beyond. Here are some tips on how to continue your recovery journey after beginners meetings:


The transition to regular meetings and service work




After attending beginners meetings for a while, you may feel ready to move on to regular meetings and service work. Regular meetings are more diverse and varied than beginners meetings. They may have different formats, topics, speakers, etc. They may also be more challenging and stimulating for your recovery. Service work is any activity that helps A.A. carry its message to other alcoholics. It can be anything from making coffee to chairing a meeting to sponsoring a newcomer.


To transition to regular meetings and service work, you should:



  • Explore different types of regular meetings in your area or online, such as discussion meetings, speaker meetings, literature meetings, etc.



  • Find a home group that you feel comfortable with and become a member of itExpress your gratitude and appreciation to your Higher Power, your sponsor, your group, and yourself



  • Enjoy the simple and meaningful pleasures of life, such as nature, art, music, hobbies, etc.



  • Explore new and exciting opportunities and challenges that sobriety opens up for you



  • Share your experience, strength, and hope with others who may benefit from it



Conclusion




Beginners meetings are a vital part of the A.A. program of recovery. They can help newcomers learn about A.A., start their recovery journey, and find hope and support. They can also help old-timers refresh their recovery, share their wisdom, and welcome newcomers. Beginners meetings are not the only or the final solution for alcoholism, but they are a great way to begin. If you are new to A.A., we encourage you to attend beginners meetings as often as you can. If you are not new to A.A., we encourage you to participate in beginners meetings as much as you can. Together, we can recover from alcoholism and live a sober and happy life.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about beginners meetings:



Q: How long should I attend beginners meetings?


  • A: There is no fixed rule or requirement for how long you should attend beginners meetings. Some newcomers may attend them for a few weeks or months until they feel ready to move on to regular meetings. Some newcomers may attend them for longer or even indefinitely if they find them helpful and enjoyable. The important thing is to attend A.A. meetings regularly and consistently.



Q: Do I have to speak or share in beginners meetings?


  • A: No, you do not have to speak or share in beginners meetings if you do not want to. You can simply listen and observe if that is what you prefer. However, speaking and sharing can be very beneficial for your recovery and for others. It can help you express your feelings, thoughts, and questions, and get feedback and support from others. It can also help you break your isolation, build trust, and form connections with other alcoholics.



Q: How do I choose a sponsor in beginners meetings?


A: Choosing a sponsor is a personal decision that depends on your needs and preferences. However, some general guidelines that can help you choose a sponsor in beginners meetings are:



  • Look for someone who has what you want in terms of sobriety, recovery, and serenity



  • Look for someone who has enough time and experience in A.A. (at least one year of continuous sobriety)



  • Look for someone who is available and accessible (able to communicate with you regularly)



  • Look for someone who is compatible and trustworthy (able to relate to you and respect you)



  • Look for someone who is willing and able (able to guide you through the steps and traditions)



To ask someone to be your sponsor, you can simply approach them after a meeting or call them later and say something like "I'm new to A.A. and I'm looking for a sponsor. Would you be willing to sponsor me?" Most A.A. members will be happy and honored to sponsor you if they can.


Q: What if I don't like beginners meetings?


  • A: If you don't like beginners meetings, don't give up on A.A. Beginners meetings are not the only type of A.A. meetings available. There are many other types of A.A. meetings that may suit your needs and preferences better. You can try different types of regular meetings, such as discussion meetings, speaker meetings, literature meetings, etc. You can also try different groups or locations until you find one that feels comfortable for you.



Q: Where can I find more information about beginners meetings?


A: You can find more information about beginners meetings from various sources, such as:



  • The local A.A. meeting directory or websiteThe local A.A. hotline or office



  • Other A.A. members or your sponsor



  • The A.A. website (www.aa.org) or other online platforms



  • The A.A. literature, such as the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and various pamphlets



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