Don’t drink, go to meetings, and you will be contacted.
...."italics", are phrases from the book Heard in AA
Have you heard that talking about the spiritual part of the AA program is like talking about the wet spot in the ocean? Or, if you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy? What about: sobriety is a daily reprieve contingent on your spiritual fitness?
How often have we heard, I came for my drinking and stayed for my thinking? Perhaps your spiritual journey began when you heard someone say, I came into AA to save my ass, and discovered my ass was attached to my soul. Oh, and how much did you hate it when some long-timer said: turn it over, more will be revealed, recovery is a process not an event?
In order to heal our “soul sickness”, the Oxford Group believed in “quiet times” for daily guidance. But for the grace of God was their motto and continues to be frequently heard in AA. And, since we are spiritual beings having a human experience, it is likely that the majority of inspiration and wisdom we’ve heard in AA is applicable to the 11th Step. We’ve heard that prayer is talking to God – opening the channel, while meditation allows for God to talk back. And there is no perfect way to do either!
Prayer and meditation can be perfectly imperfect -- all of us have a perfect right to be wrong in our approach. Yet when we simply close our eyelids for even a minute, we’re meditating. It’s been said in AA that my separation from you keeps me from experiencing the fullness of life. When we join hands at the end of the meeting to show that we cannot do it alone, we’re working the 11th Step. In Alcoholics Anonymous we develop spiritual literacy on our recovery journey out of self.
AA wisdom tells us: Don’t drink, go to meetings, and you will be contacted. And suddenly, we may choose to light a candle, set a timer for two minutes, even if the desire for perfection had previously kept us from meditating. As trudgers, hadn’t we heard of all the way-too-hard-to-pronounce-or-remember meditation practices? (Perfectionism is the highest form of self abuse, Heard in AA, p 88.)
Who knew that prayer and meditation could occur any time, anywhere? We can improve our conscious contact with God in less than 20 seconds – the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice – by simply sitting still, closing our eyelids, observing our breath and sending peace to our entire 8th Step list. Wisdom from Heard in AA (p. 68): You don’t need change or a cell phone to call God.
In my opinion, the 11th Step is all about self-care for the soul. Life on Life’s terms is decidedly not for sissies, and we’re called to course correct on a daily basis. After all, life happens while we’re making other plans. Our souls’ ultimate self-care demands that we live one day at a time – a tall order, indeed. And we haven’t even given consideration to the spiritual axiom which states that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. Yes, we’ve been promised that “before we’re half-way through” we will intuitively know… .
The Inspiration and Wisdom collected in Heard in AA is varied, for sure, and reflective of recovery and healing of our soul sickness. Early on in my recovery, in an 11th Step meeting, I’d heard someone describe an excellent meditation for FEAR -- False Evidence Appearing Real. Close your eyes, place your hands on your belly, feet on the floor, and inhale Faith, exhale Fear. No time limit. And you’ll have to trust me when I say it always works! Fear knocked, Faith answered.
It’s in the “quiet time” when more will be revealed. In my meditation practice, I’m often reminded that no matter where you go, there you are! And when I’m alone and thinking, I am behind enemy lines has been invaluable wisdom on the journey. So I’ll conclude with my favorite slogan -- wisdom written in shorthand -- from Heard in AA:
Don’t believe everything you think!