Many of the previous steps talk about God (or Higher Power or whatever term you use). We see from Step 2 that there is a power greater than ourselves who we come to believe will restore us to sanity. Step 3 tells us that we can choose to turn our will and lives over to the care of this power greater than ourselves. Steps 4 ≠ 9 assume that we have a firm foundation of belief and faith in that power. Now Step 11 tells us how to communicate with our Higher Power.
If Step 1 is the physical recovery step, Step 11 is the spiritual recovery maintenance step. Step 11 has an awful lot within it; letís unpackage it and see what we have, and Iíll tell you how I work Step 11.
"Sought through prayer and meditation ..."
We humans communicate in many ways. We speak, write (poetry, drama, prose, etc.), sing and dance. And many of us use those modalities to connect with God. Step 11 suggests simple prayer ≠ talking ≠ and simple meditation ≠ listening.
Praying doesnít have to be formal; it can be in your own language. If you follow a faith/belief system, you might look to your faithís prayer literature; if you donít, you can make up your own words.
Meditation doesnít have to be a stereotypical lotus-position-say-OMMM kind of thing. It can be very simply quieting your mind (and your mouth) and just listening. It can be focusing on a principle or a phrase and allowing your mind to connect with your Higher Powerís interpretation of those words. It can be as simple as saying, "God, I need your help; what do I do?" and listening for a response.
"... to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood (God)..."
The whole point is to develop our relationship with our Higher Power, however we define that Power. Itís to develop a real, almost tangible, relationship. Just as we might use the telephone or e-mail or snail-mail to maintain a friendship or a family bond, thatís how we use prayer to maintain a link and connection with our Higher Power.
"... praying only for knowledge of (Godís) will for us ..."
I canít keep track of all the hours that I spent begging God for this or that thing or this or that outcome. I begged, bargained, cajoled and did everything that I could to get my own way, come hell, high water or whatever outcome. I knew what I wanted; and I pretty much *demanded* that God give it to me. And I KNEW what I ≠ and everyone around me ≠ should have, too; and I spent a lot of time begging and praying for it.
I thought that the problem with all this was the outcome and that God clearly didnít love me enough or care enough about me to give me what I wanted, what I believed I deserved, what I believed was the best thing for everyone concerned. As it turns out, the problem was that I really didnít know what was in my best interest. Over the years in OA, I found out that sometimes I was willing to settle for the minimum when my best interest was so much more. I learned that my job in praying/meditating was to align my wishes for myself and others with *Godís* wishes for myself and others. I learned that it was really a waste of energy to be asking for xyz when the most serenity-producing thing was to ask God to help me get through whatever situation I was in with as much grace and acceptance as I could. I know it may sound defeatist, but itís really not.
Example: Praying to God for this or that thing to happen for or to my children or for or to myself only created chaos and anxiety for them or for myself. But praying to God for the serenity and grace to deal with whatever outcome occurred led to serenity, perspective and peace within myself ≠ and hence for them as well. I was much less prone to behave irrationally or out of fear and much more likely to behave with calm maturity and insight.
"...and the power to carry that out."
Thatís the best that I can ask for: serenity, peace, perspective, wisdom, guidance, faith, maturity, compassion ≠ and the willingness to do whatever God wants me to do.
So thatís Step 11. How do I work it?
I have some prayers from my faith that I say each morning and evening; I look for OA-type prayers in my faithís prayer literature. When Iím feeling frantic or anxious, I calm my mind and reach out to my Higher Power, remembering that my ultimate goal in prayer is to know Godís will for me and the way to make it happen.
Pretty simple, huh?
QUESTIONS: STEP ELEVEN
1. Do you pray each day? What kind of prayers do you use?
2. What are some things that might keep you from prayer or meditation?
3. Can you describe some times that you used to bargain or make demands on your Higher Power? What happened?
4. Please talk about how Step 11 involves totally letting go of expectations.
5. Please talk about how you use your faithís prayer literature to develop conscious contact with your Higher Power. Please remember to speak in general terms so that OAís of a different faith/belief system do not get the idea that you are proselytizing.
6. Step 11 doesnít say that weíll always (or even ever) get what we want. Are you OK with this? Why yes or why not?
7. My family wasnít big into prayer, and they used to look on my meditating as a waste of time and energy. Are you in a similar situation with your family? How might you explain your need to pray/meditate to them so that they understand why youíre doing it?
8. A quickie "hey, God" in the morning tends not to be effective for me. Would you agree that this is the case for you as well? What do you need to get "centered" and "focused" on what your Higher Power wants from you?
9. All OAís steps lead to relief from compulsive eating. How do you see Step 11 working toward that goal?
10. Are you ready for Step 12? Do you believe that you have a solid foundation to move ahead? Are you willing to try regular prayer and meditation as a spiritual practice?
Yours in recovery ≠ Peace ...
Penny (compulsive eater/food addict)