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."

Step Eleven Contents:

Introduction
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling

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Step Eleven ~ Introduction

"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."



Hello. My name is John, and I am a compulsive overeater and your step leader for this month. I am also WTS Coordinator. My address is jomarst1@aol.com.

I became abstinent on April 9, 1993. I am a sponsor.

I firmly believe that anyone who has seriously worked the Steps to this point will have some workable concept of a Higher Power. There will be a realization that the spiritual is an essential part of our recovery, and that we have no choice but to deal with the fact that Someone/Something besides ourselves resides at the center of the universe, and that this Higher Power has some kind of energy that can give us the will and the power to recover, which is not of our own making.

If, indeed, we have not come to this point, I think we will have rejected the message of hope in the Steps. Assuming therefore that we have accepted the realities of the spirit, let us see what we can do to remain in that most sacred space, and learn both to know and to do the things we must do to continue in recovery.

Ideas for journaling for the first week:

What does prayer mean to me as used in this step?

For me, prayer and meditation were meaningless activities in the days prior to recovery. I had become cynical, did not believe that there was anything spiritual to be reckoned with. Prayer was for weaklings who could not manage their own affairs. Of course, I was hardly managing mine but I did not know it at the time. The surrender of the first three steps came to me as a great relief. But that was only the beginning of my journey home. I had to learn to live again, and I had actually forgotten how.

The first time I turned to my Higher Power for help was only a little while into program. I asked for help in a place of great temptation, and had the temptation removed. Just by asking. Had the whole world known about this, I doubt anyone would have been more surprised than me! I'm not really sure why it occurred to me to do this. Perhaps it was just hearing about it so much in program.

Not so long after that I had the opportunity to deal with a similar situation, and the results were the same. By now I was becoming a believer.

To pray for the removal of the compulsive power eating had over me and to find that it was removed in that moment seemed nothing short of miraculous to me. Yet that is precisely what the program promises. The promises tell us that our compulsions will be removed one day at a time for the rest of our lives if we follow the program. The Big Book actually uses the word "recovered" to describe the alcoholic who actively follows program, and lives it one day at the time. We are promised a new freedom such as we have never known. These things were becoming real to me. But I had many miles to go before this crisis tool could become a tool of everyday living.

But now, I knew that this thing was powerful, and that it could work for me, and I was willing to journey further.

Prayer is the way I tell the Higher Power that I have need. If the Higher Power is energetic, as I believe, then the energy I need that is greater than what I have within myself will become available to me. At minimum, I would be channeling my own energies into other, saner, directions. Now to make a habit of operating this way in all my affairs! Practice makes perfect, my old music teacher used to say.

What is meditation?

There are two ways to meditate that I know of. Both are important to me. One is to read inspirational literature. For a long time, I read For Today every day. Then after a few years I began to read other recovery related devotional literature. There are several such books available. And now, we have our own Recovery daily meditations that are delivered right to us in our mail boxes. In addition, other such meditations are available. I try to read several.

The other form of meditation is also called contemplation. It is a time of true silence, when we can be still within as well as without, and somehow get in touch with the inner realities of the spiritual. Such process is taught in the mystical traditions of all the religions of the world. It is because it works!

The best analogy I can come up with for myself is that when I read or study upon the written meditations, they usually seem to set up a resonation within me, like a bell that vibrates long after it is struck. I sit quietly with those resonances, and let them reach the innermost places of my spirit. I do not cut them short. They have a work to do, one which changes me within, so that I can be attuned more and more to the will of my Higher Power, and thus know what I am to do with myself and my recovery.

How do you find the interior reality of the spirit for yourself?




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Step Eleven ~ Part 1

"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."



In having a conscious contact with God (as we understand God), there must be some way for God to be known to us in consciousness. Perhaps there are those who ma y hear God actually speaking to them. The caution here is that this is often a sign of madness and not inspiration. For almost everyone, we become conscious of our Higher Power in other ways.

I had a friend once who died from the complications of extreme obesity. I had worked with him every way I could think of. It seemed to me that he could never get away from two terrible problems: It had to be rational and sensate, and he had to be able to encompass it in his own mind. I found that my contact with the God of my understanding was often very quiet and intuitive, and if God were greater than me, I could not encompass God with my own mind. This is not to say that God is irrational. I have never found God to be that. But there are more ways of knowing than the eye can see or the brain can think.

Part of the situation for me is that I have to go to my places. Or else carry them around with me. I can never forget going to Niagara Falls. My wife and I stood on the bow of the Maid of the Mist as she approached the Horseshoe Falls. It was a bright day, and the Falls were running well. The mist was encompassing, and the brilliance of the sun caused it to glow with light even as it obscured all else. It was like moving into a great light, which harbored enormous power, yet benign in nature. I was greatly moved, and I have carried that image with me. It reminds me of what power my God must have in order to give me recovery. It is an image that I can recall whenever I want to remind me that without my Higher Power, I am only an addict.

But I am more intuitive than sensate, and there are the places I go that are inner spaces as well. It is written, "Be still, and know that I am God." I find that it is the stillness that is essential for me to become aware that I am connected to the Higher Power. I have learned the meditational arts of coming to quiet, and letting the silence unfold the wellspring of love that I find within that is the God I find within. These arts are not connected to any specific religion, but are found in all, and even in some techniques taught simply as psychological good practice. I have read that everyone slips into these states at times, and that they are perfectly natural. But we have often been taught to deny this reality. Who has not been alone on a drive and suddenly "come to" much further down the road with a start, and even a question for a moment about where we are. Yet we have been driving safely along, without incident. This is not just daydreaming, it is a slightly altered state of consciousness, and it has many health benefits as well as spiritual ones! But we can go there intentionally, and derive the benefit of entering that garden with God.

Finally, I find I must read and study the foundational and spiritual texts. Every religion I know of has its texts with the lore of God as its content. Most of these texts contain vast wisdom and guides to things spiritual that can benefit all who study with this frame of mind. But beyond that, I need the texts of my recovering community, such as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, The OA Twelve and Twelve, and other such literature. I also need the spiritual texts, such as For Today, and the several other daily devotionals I use on recovery topics, including especially the daily Recovery meditations available to our groups. These texts serve to connect me with the wisdom of others who have such profound contact with their Higher Power. It helps me learn and grow in the spiritual side of our program, which is the primary side.

Now, I have mentioned the sensate image I carry. I have mentioned that there are the places I go for my time alone with the intuitive meditational time. The physical location of this is in the loft of my house, where I sit in my chair and look out across the estuary of the Shrewsbury River, across the narrow barrier peninsula that separates it from the sea, and into the miles of ocean beyond. This is my "holy ground." I have mentioned the use of foundational and spiritual texts, which I use in some way daily, to learn and to grow. These are my ways, they work for me. I have had to find them, but they came when I was ready to receive them, and they are now mine, the gifts to me of a God who wants to stay in touch with me more than I ever realized.





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Step Eleven ~ Part 1: Questions

"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."





My question is,

1. Where are your images, places, and texts; and do you go there with great joy each day?

2. If not, what seems to hinder you?

3. Would you permit something lesser to keep you from your Higher Power?





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Step Eleven ~ Part 2

"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."



Hello, again. I am John, your step leader for this month. Here are my last reflections. Pamela will be your leader for the Twelfth Step, and you will be hearing from her soon.

I found that God's will for me was recovery, for God always wants the best for us. The big question for me had to do with the power to carry that out. It was funny I had been brought up to believe in an omnipotent deity, and one who was pretty jealous about that, as well. I was not brought up to think that God might share power with anybody very much, especially somebody like me. So there was this separation between me, who needed a lot of power, and a God who had a lot of it, but guarded it jealously. I was trapped in the time warp of the concept I now call "power over." Power over is like a pyramid, with the few (the One, even) at the top, and me somewhere rather south of that. My experience with my addiction was that it also had "power over" power over me!

I think it is often helpful, at least to me, to think of power in this step as "energy." That gets away from power being "power over," and "power over" is itself a part of a larger addictive system, in my opinion. To put it all another way, it was my Higher Power as I conceived of my Higher Power, who was actively involved in my own illness in the days of my active addiction. This, partly, because my ego was also identified as my higher power.

So now I needed the energy to rise to a higher level of spirituality that could lift me above the cravings of my addictions. That energy had to come to me, had to become my own, even if it came from "outside" me. The first conversion had been to let go and let God. The next conversion was to realize that in letting God, I was allowing God to create me in the image of God, that God did not want to be my boss, but my friend. Those of you who have a less theistic understanding of God will still see what I getting at. If HP is the group, the group is not my boss, the people of the group are my friends and companions in the journey to recovery. There is power in unity, energy.

If there is anything left to journal on, it is the question of power, or energy. Who has it? Where can I get it? How can I use it? What is it like? How can I trust it? Will it have/bring stability? Can it really work the miracle? Can it do so all the time?

I suspect each of us has some experience of this, in some form. I will never forget my very first time, or my second time either. I was going up the New York State Thruway to a conference. The conference began with lunch at about 12:45. I knew the food there would be "good." No problems. About noon, I pulled into a rest area for a pit stop. To my dismay, the route to the rest rooms were lined on either side by about 10 fast food establishments of all types. The aromas were divine. In the past, I would have eaten here, then driven on to the conference and had lunch there. I do not know what nudged me to pray. Some people with more presence of mind than I possess might had used the serenity prayer. All I could think of was, "God, please help me to get from one end of this place and back again without eating." Just as I said that, the strong pangs of compulsive hunger backed off. I had lost the desire to eat two lunches, and retained my desire to proceed on to where the good things were. I made my pit stop and left, untempted further.

The second time was somewhat similar. I had to go to another town on business, and was delayed. It was around two in the afternoon when I arrived at a stretch of road that had all sorts of eateries on it. I was ravenating. I thought about stopping, rationalizing that I was past due for lunch. But nowhere here was the kind of food I needed to have. Again, it was simple, "God help me to last the twenty minutes more I need to get home, and have my programmed food." And once more the pangs of compulsive hunger departed. Of course I was hungry, but it was natural hunger, which anyone would have two hours past time to eat. But there was no need to panic, no need to tank up.

I confess to being a little slow in this department, but after twice I began to get the idea that God could, and would if sought, remove my compulsion one day at the time for the rest of my life.






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Step Eleven ~ Part 2: Questions

"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."


1. Have you tried it? What were your results?

2. How does it work for you?

Thank you for letting me lead this month.

Love in Recovery, John



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