Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions originally published in 1952 by Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now know as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.).
On this page you can discover what this book tells about:
Three cornerstones of recovery
Difference between prayer and meditation
Why should we meditate?
How do we learn about meditation?
How to begin learning meditation
Mini-Meditations throughout the Day
Benefits of Meditation
Step Eleven is found on pages 96-105 of the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
The first sentence of this chapter is clear and profound in stating the importance of this step to the spiritual program of the 12 Steps.
“Prayer and Meditation are our principal means of Conscious contact with God.” Page 96
The foundation of the program, as laid out in the Big Book and elaborated on more fully in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, is very succinctly described in the following statement:
“There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life.” Page 98
The majority of the Steps demonstrate to us how to practice the art of self-examination as we review our resentments, fears,
I believe that many times we lump together "prayer and meditation" as one activity. But this chapter, while discussing both practices, is clear to distinguish the differences of the two.
"Prayer, as commonly understood, is a petition to God. Having opened our channel as best we can, we try to ask for the right things of which we and others can are in the greatest need." page 102
The definition of meditation is not as clearly stated but can be found in the following statements:
There’s nothing the matter with constructive imagination; all sound achievement rests on it….Well meditation is like that too; it helps to envision our spiritual objective before we try to move toward it. page 100
"First of all, he wanted to become a "channel."" page 101
“This much could be a fragment of what is called meditation, perhaps our very first attempt at a mood, a flier into the realm of spirit, if you like." page 101
There a number of clear statements about the benefits of prayer and meditation:
“Those of us who have come to make a regular use of prayer would no more do without it than we would refuse air, food, or sunshine. And for the same reason. When we refuse air, light, or food the body suffers. And when we turn away from meditation and prayer, we likewise deprive our minds, our emotions, and our intuitions of vitally needed support.” Page 97
“But, first of all we shall want sunlight; nothing much can grow in the dark. Meditation is our step out into the sun.” page 98
"And let’s remember that meditation is in reality intensely practical. One of it’s first fruits is emotional balance. With it we can broaden and deepen the channel between ourselves and God as we understand Him.” pages 101-102
“Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs. We know that God lovingly watches over us. We know that when we turn to him all will be well with us, here and hereafter." Page 105
Of all the text on the Steps this is the most specific and encouraging about seeking information and technique’s from outside sources.
“The actual experience of meditation and prayer across the centuries is, of course, immense. The world’s libraries and places of worship are a treasure rove for all seekers.” Page 98
"Meditation is something which can always be further developed. It has no boundaries, either of width or height. Aided by such instruction and example as we can find, it is essentially an individual adventure, something which each one of us works out in his own way. But it’s object is always to the same; to improve our conscious contact with God, with his grace, wisdom, and love." page 101
"It is hoped that every A.A. who has a religious connection which emphasizes meditation will return to the practice and devotion as never before." page 101
"Well, we might start like this. first let’s look at a really good prayer. we won’t have far to seek; the great men and women of all religions have left us a wonderful supply." page 99
11th Step Prayer
"Lord, make me an instrument 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. Amen."
“As beginners in meditation, we might now reread this prayer several times very slowly, savoring every word and trying to take in the deep meaning of each phrase and idea. It will help if we can drop all resistance to what our friend says. For in meditation, debate has no place. We rest quietly with the thoughts of someone who knows, so that we may experience and learn.” Page 99-100
“As though lying upon a sunlit beach, let us relax and breathe deeply of the spiritual atmosphere with which the grace of this prayer surrounds us. Let us become willing to partake and be strengthened and lifted up by the sheer spiritual power, beauty, and love of which these magnificent words are the carriers. Let us look now upon the sea and ponder what its mystery is; and let us lift our eyes to the far horizon, beyond which we shall seek all those wonders still unseen.” Page 100
“…when such thoughts break in, we might recall, a little ruefully, how much store we used to set by imagination as it tired to create reality out of bottles.” Page 100
“First of all, he wanted to become a “channel.” Then he asked for grace to bring love, forgiveness, harmony, truth, hope, light and joy to every human being he could.
Next, came expression of an aspiration and a hope for himself. He hoped, God-willing, that he might be able to find some treasures, too. This he would do by what he called self-forgetting. How did he propose to accomplish that?
He thought it better to give comfort than to receive it; better to understand than to be understood; better to forgive than to be forgiven.
“this much could be a fragment of what is called meditation, perhaps our very first attempt at a mood, a flier into the realm of spirit, if you like. It ought to be followed by a good look at where we stand now, and a further look at what might happen in our lives were we able to move closer to the ideal we have been trying to glimpse." page 101
You may do quick mini-meditations throughout the day get centered, find a little emotional balance and relax by quietly breathing deeply and…..
“As the day goes on, we can pause where situations must be met and decisions made, and renew the simple request: “Thy will, not mine, be done.” If at these points our emotional disturbance happens to be great, we will more surely keep our balance, provided we remember, and repeat to ourselves, a particular prayer or phrase that appealed to us in our reading or meditation. Just saying it over and over will often enable us to clear a channel choked up with anger, fear, frustration, or misunderstanding, and permit us to return to the surest help of all – our search for God’s will, not our won, in the moment of stress. pages 102-103
"All those who have persisted have found strength not ordinarily their own. They have found wisdom beyond their usual capability. And they have increasingly found a peace of mind which can stand firm in the face of difficult circumstance.” Page 104
“We discover that we do receive guidance for our lives to just about the extent that we stop making demands upon God to give it to us on order and on our terms.” Page 104
“Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs. We know that God lovingly watches over us. We know that when we turn to him all will be well with us, here and hereafter. Page 105