CoDA: Friday Fellowship Item #11

From: "CoDA Announcements" <>
Subject: CoDA: Friday Fellowship Item #11
Date: July 27th 2018

30 Seconds to Serenity


We come to our meetings to quiet our roiling anxieties and resolve our uncertainties, and that usually happens. Sometimes, though, tragically, it doesn’t. Sometimes controversial outside issues get mentioned and, even worse, are answered in kind. Attention is far off “focus on ...self, talk about ...feelings.” Perhaps even voices rise; if not it is the heart rate and breathing that goes up. Not a place of serenity.

Some meetings have prepared themselves for this possibility by establishing the “30 Second Rule.” This might be stated in the opening readings in these words:

If at any time, for any reason, anyone does not feel emotionally or physically safe, anyone may call “30 Seconds”. If this happens, we will stop the meeting and maintain 30 seconds of silence. Once this is complete, we will say the Serenity Prayer and continue the meeting.

This writer has experienced the use of this tool many times while doing service. It breaks into the emotional runaway that is so easy to slip into, especially if the group is larger and it is more difficult to get my voice to be heard. When “30 Seconds!” is called, everyone stops dead; in mid-sentence, perhaps. And everyone remains silent while the person calling out keeps track of the time, perhaps by counting silently, “one thousand, two thousand…” And ending by announcing, “The Serenity Prayer.” which all join in reciting.

Then all proceed as before, but not quite. There has been the chance to reflect why someone needed to call for a time out; to wonder what I might have been doing that contributed to that unease. Crosstalk guidelines and other meeting instructions might come to mind, along with awareness that now is the time to “walk the walk.”

This is most needed during business meetings, but could be needed in regular sharing meetings as well. Even if not needed in the particular situation, regularly describing the 30 Second Rule makes it available at any time individual unease might serve as the canary in an emotional coal mine.


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Written by a CoDA member, CoDA content approved by Communications Committee


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