The 11th Step on the 11th Step Journey
By Randy F.
We have worked our way through all of the Steps learning to apply the 11th Step Meditation approach through each of the steps. We have learned that we suffer from a spiritual disease and we must learn to constantly turn our attention to God and away from ourselves if we are to learn to live a new life. We strive to be detached from our PersonalSelf and to express our SpiritSelf.
To live a spiritual life is very different from the life that we have learned and practiced our entire time up until this moment. This new way of living does not happen without resistance from our PersonalSelf. We will find all kinds of distractions and excuses why we should not or cannot take the actions to lead a spiritual life. Persistence and patience are keywords as we strive to create and maintain a conscious contact with our Higher Power. We have learned and practiced concentration and meditation techniques that provide us with the tools and the foundation to continue building our 11th Step approach to life. Because we have practiced developing our 11th step understanding, throughout each of the steps, we have slowly expanded our knowledge of the spiritual actions and concepts of each of the steps with meditations to help express these spiritual qualities within us and outwardly in our lives. Now is the moment to see what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests about working 11th Step.
Step Eleven - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Prayer and meditation for me are two companion practices. Two tools to use to connect to my Higher Power. They are not separate in their intent or practice, but may be different in intensity, concentration and in length. The founders of our programs were primarily from Christian backgrounds. I appreciate and relate to the ancient Aramaic language translation for the word "prayer" which 2000 years ago meant “to open oneself” and “to listen to the Divine Presence.”
To me "conscious contact" relates to the quality of the moment to moment
relationship I'm having with my Higher Power. Every moment I have a 3rd Step decision to make - do I take the well worn path of my old habits, the path of my defective habits, or , do I take the new, less traveled path toward Higher Power, love and a new way of living? When I am in closer "conscious contact," more connected, I make the decision toward Higher Power more easily and more often.
When we apply 11th Step Meditation to each step and meditate with them as we work the steps we are already proficient meditators when we arrive at Step 11. The aspect of 11th Step that we can actively focus on now it the "conscious contact" part of the step. To me "conscious contact" with my Higher Power means that I have an active relationship and a knowingness with Creative Intelligence and the Spirit of the Universe. I have become more than I was, alone, trapped in self, just getting sober. Through meditation have I have connected with higher Universal Truths, experienced them in my life, witnessed miracles in my life and in others lives. I know that I am interconnected with you and my Higher Power. I know what the sensation of the connectedness feels like, I can recognize when it is happening around me.
Conscious contact is the real-time relationship with Higher Power. I have moments, sometime short, sometimes longer, while I am not in meditation when I am aware of my SpiritSelf, the spiritual being aspect of who I am. In these moments I experience a higher level of creative and perceptive thinking and empathizing with others. I intuitively know the next right thing to do. I am able to perceive
As we work the 11th Step we see evidence of our Higher Power working in our life. One of the ways that we can maintain a conscious contact is to practice being in a state of gratitude. Gratitude is to show appreciation of benefits received. We can demonstrate our gratitude to God by feeling the feelings of gratitude. Gratitude is the emotion that expresses thankfulness from our PersonalSelf through our SpiritSelf to our Higher Power. We have so much to be grateful for in our new lives. As we practice our new perspective on life, we can strive to maintain a constant state of gratitude through out the day. This is a form of walking gratitude meditation. Remember meditation is prolonged concentration. One of the ways to achieve and maintain a conscious contact with God is work towards seeing the good in all things and feeling gratitude for all that God provides for us. As we have learned in our recovery, there is good in even the worst of times. Practice a walking gratitude meditation throughout your day and begin to see how much easier and lighter your day and life becomes.
“When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.”
This is often referred to as the Evening Review. We can apply the reflective meditation techniques that we learned in Step 4 and Step 10 to our Evening Review. After we get sober and have begun to clean out and nurture our Spiritual Garden our primary healing ground is in the realm of emotions, thoughts and relationships. It is our emotions and thoughts that cloud our ability to recognize and understand God’s will in our lives. Meditation works to help us separate our perspective from our PersonalSelf to our SpiritSelf. The Evening Review is a most effective way to really practice seeing where we fall short of expressing our SpiritSelf in each encounter and moment through the day. We are not perfect, but this is a wonderful tool to help us make tremendous progress each day. We can also combine the Evening Review with a gratitude meditation and we give thanks for all moments of our day and the lessons we have to learn from them.
“In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.”
“We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn't work. You can easily see why.”
“As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day "Thy will be done." We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.
It works -- it really does.
How can we know what God's will is for us?
What is commonly referred to as the Eleventh Step Prayer, or the Prayer of St. Francis provides us specific direction on how to live God's will.
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace
that where there is hatred, I may bring love
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony
that where there is error, I may bring truth
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith
that where there is despair, I may bring hope
that where there are shadows, I may bring light
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted
to understand, than to be understood
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
The universal spiritual qualities which the prayers encourages us to channel are guidelines to God's will. This prayer maps our journey from our lower, defective emotions or our ego to those of our SpiritSelf. If I act with these intentions I will always be following God's will:
Love, Forgiveness, Harmony, Truth, Faith, Hope, Light, Joy
It is the 11th Step Meditation philosophy to consciously, methodically and even formally practice meditation on a daily basis. This had been proven to increase our emotional balance. The discipline of showing up everyday to spend some quiet, purposeful and quality time with God, by going within will pay off by enabling us to have that “conscious contact” with God that the 11th Step promises. Prior to you meditation take a few minutes to reflect on your day before and the coming day as the Big Book has suggested. Decide where you want God’s help and to know God’s will, then use the 11th Step Meditation lessons and meditations to create a meditation for you for that moment. You may need to focus on any one of the particular steps in which you need work for that moment, or even a combination of Steps. This is where our intuitions will begin to help us to know what the next right action is for us.
Pause for an 11th Step Minute
A tool that I have used to develop my conscious contact is the 11th Step Minute. I can pause, apply the first 3 steps of meditation, anytime, anywhere to open myself up and to listen to my Higher Power.
Step 1: Pause, listen to the breath, detach from the moment. "I relax and let go."
Step 2: Focus on the area around my heart, practice feeling the loving presence of your Higher Power. "I am in the presence of my Higher Power."
Step 3: Then, let go of the bondage of self, ask my Higher Power for guidance, and listen. "I am making decisions to align with my Higher Powers will."
You may try this 11th Step Minute mini-meditation, for 1 minute or as long as needed, and as often as necessary, throughout the day.
Step 1 - We are addicted to thinking and feeling. Our brains are actually hard wired and guided by the deep, unconscious habits of our defects. In meditation we practice detaching from these unmanageable thoughts and emotions in the moment. Meditation helps to re-train our minds and to direct our energies into positive directions.
Habits are the intersection of knowledge, what to do; skill, the how to do; and desire, the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit we have to have all three. The 11th Step Minute is a great tool to continue this re-training throughout our day in real-time moments of stress and indecision.
Step 2 - The action of focusing on the heart is vital for the 11th Step Minute to
|Try the SpiritStep Two CD to learn more about the heart techinques.|
be effective. Scientists have proven that the heart is the center if our intuitive intelligence. Here is a 1 minute video that describes this. When we focus on our heart it helps to override the automatic habitual patterns of our brain, to create a coherence, or a connectedness between our head and our heart, that allows us to access our Creative Intelligence that the Big Books describes. Our heart center is our inner connection to the Universe, or our Higher Power, and the path to conscious contact.
Step 3: After we detach from the unmanageable moment and create internal coherence and connect to our Higher Power, we can ask for direction and affirm that we are being provided with the right direction. Many times we just need to pause before making that old defective decision and to shift to doing the next right thing!
The educational variety of spiritual experience for me is a series of mini-spiritual awakenings. Each awakening seems to follow a pattern: a bottom, a shift in perspective, and the awakening. Chuck C. describes spiritual awakening simply for me in his book New Pair of Glasses. “When the ego is gone, you wake up right in the middle of the circle and you’re now a part- not apart from-Life, Good, God. There is no life apart from God. God is life and we are alive, so God is that which we are.” I am slowly waking up to this reality.
Day by day I move a little closer to freeing myself from the bondage of self by practicing my daily 20-30 minutes of meditation, the 11th Step Minute throughout the day and by applying the 5 "P's" of an 11th Step Meditation practice: Persistence, Patience, Practice, Perseverance, Presence
11th Step Meditation Outline - the phrases in bold are affirmations that you can repeat silently to yourself in rythm with your breathing.
- Relaxation, Centering and Aligning with our Higher Power
- Let’s begin our meditation as before by getting comfortable and listening to our breath. Feel the clean light-filled air on the inhale filling your lungs and body with goodness and love. Exhale deeply and visualize all sickness and negativity leaving your lungs and body with the breath.
- I relax and I let go. Repeat this phrase in rhythm with your breathing. You may do the physical body scan by tightening the different parts of your body and the relaxing them. Do this until you begin to become unaware of your surroundings.
- I let go and I let God. Continue your path towards relaxation by using this mantra as you breath. Concentrate on the words and imagine all of the day-to-day stuff that you can let go of and turn over to God. Begin focusing on your heart center. Imagine a white light glowing in your chest that is warm and full of love. Remember that this heart center is your connection to God and to the Universe and all of the good is available to you.
- Aligning our bodies with our SpiritSelf and with your Higher Power’s will
- I offer myself to my Higher Power. Imagine that that your are offering your body, emotions that thoughts as an instrument to help others in your life.
- To do with me and to build with my as it will. Try to lift up your emotions from those of your PersonalSelf of fear and resentment to love and empathy with others. Practice being the love that you are and feel this love motivate you to help others.
- I am now relieved of the bondage of self. Strive to point your thoughts to positive loving images and patterns. Our thoughts become our lives. Here we practice programming healthy thought patterns.
- The light of God’s will shines upon my path – See yourself walking on a path and practice seeing and understanding God’s will. Do not force this. It is more about being open to hearing that little voice, to seeing the subtle messages we get through the day, to overcoming the will of our emotions and thoughts.
- I am the ****** of my Higher Power in Action You may insert one of the spiritual qualities from the Eleventh Step Prayer that you wish to develop more in your life. Love, Forgiveness, Harmony, Truth, Faith, Hope, Light, Joy
- Let the actions of my SpiritSelf be the motives of my daily life. I am that SpiritSelf and unto that I dedicate myself. That SpiritSelf is one with all my fellowmen and I am one with them. The primary actions of the SpiritSelf is love and service. Take time to expand your understanding of these phrases and how they relate to your life of sobriety. Concentrate on this ideas and watch the thoughts and images that come to your mind. Strive to understand them in deeper and deeper levels.
- Thank you God for my sobriety and for my life. May I do your will always. Visualize the things and situations in your life that you are thankful for. Practice feeling gratitude. Now, visualize something that you are not now grateful for and work to see what aspects of this situation that you can be grateful for. Express gratitude for this.