hi everyone I'm rose, COE
This is one of the steps in which the Big Book has very specific instructions. They're really helpful, and when I remember to do the part about "when we retire at night..." and "upon awakening..." my whole life is in a much better place, no matter what's going on.
"When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we own and 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 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. 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." (AA Big Book, p. 86)
What I've found is that when I am able to do these mental exercises on a daily basis, it enables me to see my life and the daily situations that arise in many different lights and from many different angles. My "thought-life" is completely transformed when I take a daily inventory, and check often to see what my spiritual balance sheet looks like. The other wonderful, practical advice in the Big Book on this step is specific instructions on prayer. Understanding that prayer is not about getting go to do my will, but getting myself in line w/ God's will totally revolutionized my understanding of god's place in my life and my place in god's world.
"We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step must 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 time doing that and it doesn't work. You can easily see why" (AA BB, p. 87)
I am a very poor meditator, I am sad to say. I hope someday I'll be one of those who can sit in meditation quietly for long periods (or even short periods, lol) but so far no dice. What I can do is use exercise as meditation, and that works very well for me. I try and practice yoga a few times a week, and walk most mornings. At these times, I pray, ask god for guidance, sometimes ge neral and sometimes specific, and just try and still my mind. Somehow, focusing on my body and it's function when I'm trying to do a pose correctly or keeping my attention on my pace when I'm walking makes it easier for my mind and heart to open up. I'm a pretty hyper person, and sitting for long periods makes me extremely fidgety, so I'll know I'm an ascendant master when I can sit in meditation for an hour, like some of my friends do!
As we get to the end of the steps, it becomes apparent that they are not a destination but a journey. Prayer and meditation, like daily inventory, are something we really need to do make life the wonderful, creative, beautiful thing god intended it to be. When I fall behind in my "living steps" I can start to see my attention turn inward instead of out, backward instead of forward, and I begin to feel stuck in myself. I begin to feel baffled by things that I used to intuitively know how to handle, and that I should be doing for myself what god obviously doesn't care about doing for me. The wonderful gift of the steps, and why they are such great tools, is that you can put them down and still pick them up again, when we are willing to do so. For me, this is why the 12 steps have been such an incredible and wonderful life plan.
STEP ELEVEN ~ QUESTIONS
Are you a meditator? If so, can you describe your practice and how/why it helps you to stay abstinent and emotionally/spiritually on track?
In what other ways do you work the 11th step? If you're an exerciser, like me, describe what form of exercise helps you and why you think that is.
Describe the difference between life with and without the eleventh step.
thanks for listening