By: Troy Meeks, Professional Merman 

A couple of years back I was introduced to the “four steps” of the AA Back to Basics approach by author Wally P. which is used internationally by AA groups. These four steps are meant to be an introduction to the 12 steps for the newcomer in order to help give them a basic understanding for a better life in recovery. Teaching groups at Transformations, I can see the value of this initial approach and have implemented it into the culture of all of the evolv adventure therapy groups. Each time a client attends an evolv activity they are given a band to represent one of the four foundations of evolv. These four foundations are NOT meant to replace the 12-step approach, but rather give the newcomer a basic concept of how to start living in a more recovery-based life one day at a time. The following are the Four Foundations of the evolv program and a brief description of how to practice them every day. These foundations are a great way to help EVERYONE have a more positive day and to “stay in the moment.”

Surrender (white band) – “Living one day at a time takes effort some days. Surrender to each day and accept both the good and bad every day presents for you. By surrendering to the process we can find we actually take control of our day.” The word surrender often conjures the visual of defeat, giving up, giving in, and the feeling that you lost. In the program, it is actually quite the opposite. By accepting that there is a power greater than that of my own will and deciding to turn that will over is actually freeing of a tangled spirit. We surrender to the day and take every day as it goes.

Share (light blue band) – “We are designed to be social beings, to share our days and moments with each other. In our sickness we often find ourselves isolated, to break free of this we must develop a tribe for accountability and support.” At the beginning of my addiction, I thought that I used to drink to be social, I felt like I “fit in better” if I was drinking. Later I always found myself alone in my disease, even if I was surrounded by other people because my secrets kept me sick. By sharing with others I can keep myself accountable and I have personally found that this life is so much more fulfilling when shared with others.

Balance/Amends (green band) – “The goal for every day is to come to the end of the day with more positives than negatives on our life balance sheet.” In active addiction and in my mental health I always felt out of balance; too much or too little of anything created resentments for me. Even when I wasn’t drinking I would work excessive hours as I had created unhealthy boundaries. I couldn’t even comprehend what a balanced life was. Throughout my day if I do wrong or cause harm to anyone I try my best to make IMMEDIATE amends so that at the end of my day I can count that as an equal balance. The last thing I want to do these days is to take that burden to bed with me, and these days I sleep pretty great!

Guidance (navy blue band) – “Each day we recognize that we don’t have all the answers. Asking for help from our community and providing guidance for those we can help is a skill we can practice daily.” To continue to grow in recovery, the idea that we don’t have all the answers is a staple to making better choices for our day to remain balanced. The idea that we can ask for help needs to be embraced. As we travel further down our path we put ourselves in a position to be of guidance to those just beginning their journey in recovery.

These are the Four Foundations for evolv adventure therapy and a fantastic method to go about your day one day at a time. When someone asks an evolv alumnus what step they are on, the answer is always…. ALL OF THEM! Stay salty my friends!

We want to give a big shout out to the AMAZING company Huna Wristbands who have customized the bracelets for evolv. Their philosophy is to encourage positive self-improvement through the power of the mind and that is something we got on board with right away!

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