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, PART 3

Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.

In our previous post we discussed working step 11 at night. Now it is time to discuss how to work step 11 in the morning.

Let us turn to the Big Book.

"On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives." page 86.

The Big Book suggests that I begin the morning with a prayer.

"Please God, direct my thinking, make it divorced from self pity, dishonesty or self-seeking motives."

Personally I like to elaborate on this prayer a bit. When I wake up I say:

"Dear God at this point in time I am abstinent. I am not quarreling with anyone and am not directed by my self-will. But in a moment God, I am going to get up and then my disease may try to take over and make my day a day directed by self-will. So please God, direct my thinking, make it divorced from self-pity, dishonesty or self-seeking motives."

A day that is God-directed is a day of recovery. Here is what the Big Book has to say about it:

"Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives." Page 86.

But how do we get directions from God? By listening to them. Which means that after saying the prayer and asking God to direct our thinking we have to do our morning meditation in order to get our directions.

We are not trying to run this world. We are just reporting for duty.

The Big Book gives us some meditation suggestions:

"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." pages 86-87.

Those suggestions are similar to the suggestions for Quiet Time Meditation, which was the favorite meditation of the A.A. old-timers. The suggestions for Quiet Time Meditation add writing, which is just a tool to help us remember God's messages, and it adds examining our writing to discriminate between self will thoughts and God thoughts. Personally I recommend this kind of meditation since it's purpose is to get directions from H.P. in a very simple and straightforward way that can fit anyone. Let me write the Quiet Time Meditation directions again just to jog my memory. Of course any other meditation that helps you with your conscious contact with H.P. is appropriate.


QUIET TIME MEDITATION:

1. Find some place and time where you can be alone, quiet and undisturbed. Most people have found that the early morning is the best time. Have with you some paper and pen.

2. Sit in a comfortable position. Consciously relax all your muscles, you can do some deep breathing to facilitate relaxation. Be loose, there is no hurry.

3. Open your heart to God. Either silently or aloud, just say to God in a natural way that you would like to find His plan for your life - you want His answer to the problem or situation that you are facing right now. Be definite and specific in your request.

4. Just be still, quiet, relaxed and open. Let your mind go "loose." Let God do the talking. Thoughts ideas, and impressions will begin to come into your mind and heart. Be alert and aware and open to everyone.

5. WRITE DOWN everything that comes into your mind. EVERYTHING. Writing is simply a means of recording so that you can remember later. Don't sort out or edit your thoughts at this point. Don't try to direct your thinking. Just write down whatever comes to mind without trying to control anything.

Write down any kind of thought. Anything that passes your mind without omitting anything. It can be names of people, things to do, things to say, things that are wrong and need to be made right, good thoughts, bad thoughts, sensible thoughts, crazy thoughts, neutral thoughts - anything at all. Be honest - WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING - without directing your thoughts.

6. When the flow of thoughts slows down or when you feel that you have written enough, stop. Not every thought comes from God, so we need to test our thoughts. Here is where the written record helps us to be able to do so.

a) Have you written thoughts whose origins are fear, or dishonesty, or resentment, or selfishness?

Those are self-will thoughts. Draw a line on them.

b) Have you written some thoughts that are completely HONEST, PURE, UNSELFISH AND LOVING?

c) Have you written thoughts that are in line with our duties to our family - to our country?

d) Are these thought in line with your understanding of the teachings found in our spiritual literature?

Thoughts b), c), d), probably express guidance from God.

7. When in doubt share with another person who does this kind of quiet time meditation. He may help you to see more clearly.

8. Carry out the thoughts that you think express guidance from H.P. You will only be sure of guidance as you go through it. As you obey, very often the results will convince you that you are on the right track.

9. What if I don't seem to get any definite guidance thoughts? God's guidance is as freely available as the air we breathe. If I am not receiving guidance thoughts when I listen, the fault is mine. Usually it is because there is something I will not do.

- Something wrong in my life that I will not face and make right,

- a habit or indulgence I will not give up,
- a person I will not forgive,
- a wrong relationship in my life I will not give up,
- a restitution I will not make,
- something God has already told me to do that I will not obey.

Check these points and be honest. Then try listening again.

10. What if I make mistakes? God will help me put them right as long as I am sincere in my efforts. Supposing I fail to do something I have been told and the opportunity passes? Then I have to tell God about it, ask His forgiveness and begin again.

11. I think that all persons who try this honestly find that a wisdom, not their own, comes into their minds and that a Power greater than human power begins to operate in their lives.

The Big Book tells us what to do after our morning meditation:

"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." Page 87.

So we have prayers again. It should be noticed that in praying we don't ask to be shown complete projects, just the next step. I think the reason is simply that the following step is dependent on what we do in the present step. Personally I paraphrase the prayer as follows:

"God please show me all through the day what my next step is to be and give me the power to carry it out. Free me from the bondage of my self-will, so that I can better do your will."

Let us see what the A.A. 12 & 12 has to say about the morning prayers:

"In the morning we think of the hours to come. Perhaps we think of our day's work and the chances it may afford us to be useful and helpful, or of some special problem that it may bring. Possibly today will see a continuation of a serious and as yet unresolved problem left over from yesterday. Our immediate temptation will be to ask for specific solutions to specific problems, and for the ability to help other people as we have already thought they should be helped. In that case, we are asking God to do it our way. Therefore, we ought to consider each request carefully to see what its real merit is. Even so, when making specific requests, it will be well to add to each one of them this qualification: ' ... if it be Thy will.' We ask simply that throughout the day God place in us the best understanding of God's will that we can have for that day, and that we be given the grace by which we may carry it out." page 102.

Quite a significant and valuable suggestion. When making specific requests we should always add "if it be Thy will" since even when we mean well we don't know the whole picture and we leave it to God to decide. We don't demand, we humbly ask!!

The Big Book has some additional suggestions about prayer:

"If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, we attend to that also. If not members of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one's priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer." page 87.

So if we can pray and meditate in the morning with friends and family members it is recommended we do that. Those who have religious services and prayers continue to take them. The Big Book's suggestions may be added to any religious practice, since they are spiritual, and can fit any religion. It is also suggested that we use other kinds of prayers, religious and spiritual, that we deem appropriate, and make use of the wisdom of religion too.

Now let us turn to an ESH suggestion that I learned from others. It does not appear in the books.

In the previous post I described the process of writing an asset list and a daily asset review, as part of the evening activity of step 11.

Let me repeat its significance again:

The process for developing a daily asset list and asset review, together with it's morning part, essentially deals with strengthening our vulnerability in the areas of self-trust, self-worth, self-love, etc. When they strengthen, a lot of our defensive behaviors are not needed anymore and they diminish and vanish. Therefore I consider this procedure a blanket treatment that covers a lot of cases. I think it is very important and I highly recommend practicing it on a daily basis.

Let us explain the morning part of this procedure, and call it:

THE MIRROR PROCESS:

Every morning before getting dressed or putting on makeup/shaving, spend at least 6 to 7 minutes in front of a mirror reviewing your Asset list with the person in the mirror, which is your best friend. You do it by talking to the image in the mirror, reading your asset list aloud while looking yourself in the eyes.

It is very important to do this practice as explained, talking aloud, reading your assets, looking yourself in the eyes during this process , and discussing your qualities with yourself in the mirror. Talk and discuss freely, and not just read mechanically.

This may feel very strange at first but as you continue to work with the mirror, you will find yourself becoming more and more comfortable with yourself and more assured of your own sense of Self and your strengths.

VARIATIONS:

1. Periodically, you may wish to select one/several qualities from your Asset List and spend your mirror time dialoging only on those qualities.

2. During the normal course of the day, you may confront a difficult situation which unsettles you or triggers negative feelings. If/when this occurs, the Mirror Process will help you get back on a more balanced emotional keel by grounding you and providing you with perspective on the situation. REMEMBER THAT THE PERSON IN THE MIRROR IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. Be willing to share and to respond to and love that person.

Let us now return to the Big Book and see that there is a "during the day" step 11 too:

"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. We alcoholics [compulsive eaters] are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined." pages 87-88.

So we are advised that whenever we are agitated or in doubt we should turn to H.P. and ask for directions, for the right thought or action, and remind ourselves many times during the day that we are supposed to do God's will. Practicing this lessens the possibility of action by self-will and of exercising my defects, but it does not eliminate that possibility. Therefore if our defects do surface, we practice step 10 which is an on the spot check and treatment and of course we do a daily review in the evening to deal with any negativity that has not been dealt with. We are promised that this daily practice of steps 10 and 11 works and we grow and develop in our recovery.

"It works - it really does." page 88.

So let us put our heart into it.

The A.A. 12 & 12 has a few "during the day" step 11 suggestions too:

"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 has 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 own, in the moment of stress. At these critical moments, if we remind ourselves that 'it is better to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood, to love than to be loved,' we will be following the intent of Step Eleven." pages 102-103.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:

1. Practice prayer and meditation on a daily basis every morning, as explained in this post. I recommend the quiet time meditation.

2. Practice the "step 11 during the day" procedure as explained in this post. This is our first defense during the day against our character defects. If they still surface we practice step 10 during the day.

3. Share the effects these actions have on you.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo



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