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

Leader's Share:






God,
How can I best serve Thee-
Thy will (not mine) be done.


Hi everyone
My name is Shlomo
I am a food addict and compulsive overeater, and leader of this workshop.

Those of you who have missed my previous shares and assignments can read them on the website: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006 Step ten is part of the process of keeping us in a fit spiritual condition. The other parts are steps eleven and twelve.

The Big Book says on page 85: "Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action." And more action is step eleven.

But before that let us look again at the above quote. We have to follow DIRECTIONS carefully in order to benefit from working the steps. To me that means doing the work exactly by the BOOK. Other methods of working the steps and other books may work too, but none of them give me such promises of recovery if I follow the directions as written.

We are told that working steps 1-10 has to some extent developed our conscious contact with God. This sense of conscious contact is called a vital SIXTH SENSE. Conscious contact gives us the sense of being inspired and directed by God. We get power when we need it. Our intuitive understanding of what to do in different situations is developed and we can rely more and more on our gut feelings. That is how conscious contact works. That is how the vital sixth sense works. And we have to develop it further. More action is needed.

So let us examine 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." The basic tools for improving our conscious contact and thus developing our sixth sense are prayer and meditation.

The Big Book tells us that the only prayer that helps us to improve our conscious contact with God is the prayer to know His will and be given the power to carry that will out. Therefore I am not at all surprised that my prayers before working the program were not answered. They were not really prayers. They were directions to God demanding that God carry out my will.

Well, what about the prayers in the Big Book? The third step prayer, the seventh step prayer and others are they not directions to God to do my will? NO they are not!! When I ask God in the third step prayer to relieve me of the bondage of self I ask to be freed so that I may better do God's will. In essence it is a prayer to be able to do God's will. In the seventh step prayer we ask God to remove my liabilities and give me strength in order to be useful to God and my fellows and be able to do His will. Praying for willingness to work the steps is also a prayer to be able to do God's will. So now we know the meaning of prayer.

The other tool that complements prayer is meditation. If prayer is the act of asking God to have knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out, then meditation is the act of listening to God's answer to my prayer. The answer can come in many ways and I have to practice listening in order to hear and be aware of the answer.

Every communication is a two way street. If I only ask for something and don't listen to the answer it is not a communication and it is not a relationship. It is just an ego trip. So after I ask I listen to the answer.

How do I listen? By shutting up and keeping quiet. Just keeping quiet for a few minutes is a good way to begin my meditation which is listening to Gods answer to my prayer. We will deal with meditation in some detail later in this share.

Let us see how the Big Book explains in detail the work of step eleven. It is not only prayer and meditation, there is a lot more. There are actions to be taken in the evening and actions to be taken in the morning and actions to be taken during the day. All the step eleven directions are written on pages 85-88.

STEP ELEVEN AT NIGHT:
"When we retire at night we constructively review our day". What we look for are the same things we looked for in step ten, but there it was an 'on the spot check and treatment' and here we review our whole day.

We ask ourselves essentially the same questions for our whole day. "Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves that 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 worry, remorse, or 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."

What we do here is go over our feelings and actions. Any liabilities that were active during the day and any harm we did are dealt with now in more detail by working steps 4-9. We have to remember that this is a constructive review. It is not meant to be a way of getting down on ourselves. It is a way of evaluating our day and taking the necessary measures to stop harming ourselves and others by our liabilities.

We also review what we did to help others and if we behaved lovingly and kindly to others. So we dwell on the bright spots too, which is very important since it gives a more balanced picture of our day.

Now suppose we had a perfect day, were not bothered by any liabilities, didn't harm anyone, helped others and acted lovingly and kindly towards others. WHAT THEN? Then we have to answer the question. WHAT COULD WE HAVE DONE BETTER? Even what seems like a perfect day can be improved upon. This is a program of progress and growth, not just maintenance of our present situation. So this question of what I could do better is very important and the answers should be acted upon.

The daily review ends with a prayer, asking God's forgiveness and asking what corrective measures should be taken. Remember that communicating with God is a two way street. So after asking for knowledge of corrective measures, we have to listen to the answer. Just sitting still and letting answers come from the inside is a wonderful meditation. We will learn to recognize the answers by our gut feelings. That will tell us that this or that is the right thing to do. After doing all this at night we can really go to sleep with a light heart and sleep better.

STEP ELEVEN IN THE MORNING:
The morning begins upon awakening with a prayer. "We ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self seeking motives." Then we can begin thinking about the twenty-four hours ahead and consider our plans for the day. The Big Book tells us that "Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives" "In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take." So we begin by a prayer "Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision."

After the prayer we have to listen to the answer. Here is the explanation the Big Book gives of the meditation whose purpose is to listen to God's directions. "We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. " That's it simple isn't it? No fancy visualizations, no mantra, no sitting in special postures, no dancing around, no concentration on breathing or thinking on body parts or on the inner child etc… Strange how simple it is to meditate when the purpose is just listening to God's guidance.

The Big Book tells us that any concept we have of God no matter how simple or ridiculous it may seem to others, is sufficient to begin our process of developing conscious contact with God. I am sure that those of you who participate in the workshop are now convinced of this. "We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him." So it should not surprise anyone that listening to God is a simple process. Of course like everything else it takes practice.

"We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be a 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."

We prayed before the meditation and we pray after the 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 requests for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however if others will be helped." We ask to be shown our next step and not more since the step after that depends on how and what we do with the first step we were shown.

MORE ABOUT MEDITATION:
My experience with working with others has taught me that a lot of people don't know how to apply such simple and general explanations about meditation as were given here and need specific detailed instructions. So I will give specific instructions for two meditations that follow the Big Book directions with the addition of writing. I know from experience that writing by putting pen to paper is a very important tool to connect body and mind. The AA founders used it in their meditations. They called it QUIET TIME. It was quite popular then and is gaining popularity now in AA. Remember that the Big Book tells us to meditate at night after the daily review and again in the morning.

1. SHORT MEDITATION.
INSTRUCTIONS:
a) Sit in any manner that is comfortable to you, on a chair, a sofa, a cushion etc... Have your small notebook and pen with you.

b) Pray:
After daily review at night "God please forgive my mistakes and let me know what corrective measures should be taken." Before morning meditation "God, I ask for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision so that I can reach the right decisions and determine which course to take"

c) Relax and let go.
You may relax by closing your eyes and taking a few slow deep breaths. If you are familiar with different relaxation methods you may use one that you like.

d) After relaxing just let go. Sit quietly. Don't try to control your thoughts or stop them. Just let them come and go.

e) If something comes up like an upsetting thought or feeling, or some inspired thought, write it down in your notebook and continue to sit quietly.

f) Sit for 5 to 10 minutes then finish the meditation with a prayer: In the evening "Thank you God" In the morning "God, please show me all through the day what my next step is to be, and grant me the power to take care of that step. Please free me from the bondage of my self-will. Thank you God."

The words of the prayers are of course a suggestion only. You may use any words that feel comfortable to you. Just follow the essence of the Big Book's directions.

If during the meditation you have written something in your notebook. Examine it. It is usually something that needs your attention and action. Talk with your sponsor, commit to an action plan and follow it.

2. QUIET TIME MEDITATION.
INSTRUCTIONS:
a) This is a writing meditation.
Sit in any manner that is comfortable to you and in which you can write comfortably. It may be near a table etc… Have your big notebook and pen with you.

b) Pray:
After daily review at night "God please forgive my mistakes and let me know what corrective measures should be taken." Before morning meditation "God, I ask for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision so that I can reach the right decisions and determine which course to take"

c) Relax.
You may relax by closing your eyes and taking a few slow deep breaths. If you are familiar with different relaxation methods you may use one that you like.

d) Open your notebook and begin to write. Don't try to control what you write just let it flow. Write anything that comes to mind. It does not matter what it is. If you have a mind block and don't know what to write then write 'I don't know what to write' repeatedly till the blockage opens up. Continue writing till you fill at least three pages. When you feel that you have written enough, stop.

e) Finish the meditation with a prayer:
In the evening "Thank you God" In the morning "God, please show me all through the day what my next step is to be, and grant me the power to take care of that step. Please free me from the bondage of my self-will. Thank you God."

After the prayer go over what you have written. A lot of it will be what I call noise. The noise consists of useless thoughts and thoughts that stem from our liabilities. But since we didn't try to control or direct the thoughts we may get an inspired one or one that is a direction from H.P. How do we recognize them? Those are words or sentences or parts of sentences that reflect assets. They come from a place of loving and caring or they are sentences that tell us to do something that is the right thing to do. Mark those sentences. Discuss them with your sponsor. Commit to act and act.

STEP ELEVEN DURING THE DAY:
"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'"

Being agitated or doubtful means that we are upset and the cause is our agnosticism. This means that we rely on our limited self instead of God. We are again slaves to our self-will instead of aligning ourselves with God's will. The remedy is of course turning to God in prayer and reminding myself that I am not the one who runs things in this world. This pausing when agitated or doubtful and turning to God lessens the danger of falling prey to our liabilities and makes us much more efficient and full of energy.

And the promise of all the daily discipline of working steps ten and eleven is simple but very powerful.
"IT WORKS-IT REALLY DOES."
There is a saying in the fellowship:
'It works if you work it and it doesn't if you don't' '
Which is very true and puts things in a nutshell.

To sum up.
Living the spiritual life means a daily discipline. This daily discipline should be practiced till it becomes second nature and should not be neglected no matter what. Let me give a simple example of how we should treat this daily discipline. I get up late in the morning and I have to hurry or be late to work. Let us say that I have a train to catch and if I take time to dress I will miss the train. Will I run out of the house naked in order to be on time? This is the way I have to treat the daily discipline of working the steps. It comes first NO MATTER WHAT. Resting on our laurels begins with very 'good' excuses why I have not got the time for it, or why I have to put it off and do it later and so on. All the excuses lead only to one thing.
RELAPSE.

So after trying to make us realize that the daily disciplines of living the steps should be an integral part of our lives, let us summarize.

At night we have a daily constructive review.

In the morning we have the preparation and planning for the day.

During the day when we begin to feel agitated or doubtful we turn to God in prayer. If this is not enough and our liabilities arise we do the spot check and treatment of step ten.

Sometimes there are valid reasons for not being able to do the evening review at night (like working shifts, etc…). Discuss this with your sponsor. And commit to do the review at another time during the day. The same goes for the morning discipline. The option is to do them at a different time, but not doing them IS NOT AN OPTION.

ASSIGNMENTS:
Get a big notebook for the evening and morning disciplines.
Read pages 84-88 EVERY DAY.
If you are in the habit of reading other things that's fine. But THIS COMES FIRST.

1. STEP ELEVEN IN THE EVENING.
IN WRITING:
First read what you have written in your small 'step ten' notebook that day. Then ask yourself the following questions about today: a) Was I resentful? If yes, then apply steps 4-7

b) Was I selfish, or any other liability that has selfishness as its root? If yes then apply steps 5-7

c) Was I dishonest? If yes apply steps 5-7

d) Was I afraid? If yes apply steps 4-7

e) Have I harmed anyone by my conduct or actions? If yes apply steps 8-9

f) Did I neglect telling my sponsor something that should be told? If yes then tell him ASAP

g) Did I help others today? If yes, then write details.

h) Was I kind and loving to others today? If yes then write details.

i) Looking over what you have written here. What could you do better? What can you improve or add? Write down the things that you can do better and the things that you can add. Discuss with your sponsor and commit to doing them.

j) Just to collect the positive things together make a two column table. Call it my 'Satisfaction Table'. In the first column write all the things that you did today or that happened to you and that please you or you are satisfied with. In the second column write your assets that made those things possible.

Now remember your Personal Assets list that you wrote in step seven? Take it out from wherever you put it. From now on you keep it with you all the time. Check to see if some of the assets in the Satisfaction Table do not appear in your general Personal Assets list. If this is the case then by all means add them to your Personal Assets list. This is the way to keep it current and growing at the pace that you grow.

k) In answering the review questions and writing what should be done you may realize that some things can't be done that evening, like making amends for example. Then you write a plan to do all those things as soon as possible, preferably the next day.

l) If you can't find or talk with your sponsor that evening, then talk with someone else that understands what you are doing. It is a very good practice to have a list of a number of food addicts who work the program. Get their phone numbers and/or their e-mail addresses and make it a habit of talking to them regularly. If you can go to f2f meetings, then do so and get your support list from there too. Create a support list as part of the assignments and use it.

m) Do one of the two meditations explained in the share, including the prayers and the analysis after the meditation.

2. STEP ELEVEN IN THE MORNING.
IN WRITING:
a) Say the prayer:
'God please direct my thinking, Please divorce it from self-pity, dishonest or self seeking motives.'

b) Meditate as explained in the share. Do the other meditation including the prayers (Not the same meditation that you did at night.

c) If you are in the habit of saying other prayers like religious prayers, etc… or praying with your family or friends. Then continue to do so in addition to what you do when working the steps.

d) Write a plan for the day.
In your plan include the things that came up in the evening review and meditation and have to be dealt with. Include in the plan the things that came up in the morning meditation and have to be dealt with also. You may of course include your food plan and anything else that pertains to what you intend doing today.

e) Now I have a suggestion based on personal experience and my experience of working with others. It may be beneficial to everyone, but it is especially helpful to those who found in step seven that they have defensive behaviors. To remind yourself you may read my share on step seven again. This is a simple exercise that I highly recommend to incorporate in our morning discipline of step eleven on a daily basis. This exercise helps cure the vulnerabilities that lie behind our defensive behaviors and makes them redundant. It is the action that we take to complements the prayer in which we ask God to remove our vulnerabilities, our liabilities and balance our twisted assets. (See the share on step seven). So here it is.

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.


3. STEP ELEVEN AND TEN DURING THE DAY:

a) Step Eleven:
Whenever you feel that you begin to become agitated or doubtful pause and say the prayer. 'God please help me remember that I am not running the show. Thy will be done.' It is a good practice to pause a few times during the day and say this prayer. If you have a watch that can be set to give a short ring every hour it can help you to pause and say the prayer every hour.

b) Step Ten.
If our liabilities crop up we apply step ten as explained in the 'step ten' share and assignment.

The daily discipline of steps ten and eleven seems like a lot of work. And in the beginning it is a lot of work. Don't be discouraged. Remember that our recovery is the issue here. When we practice steps ten and eleven every day they become part of our daily routine and take less time. Remember that the rewards are enormous. There are people who spend an hour a day at the gym or a few hours a day watching TV and they don't think that it is a lot of work or a lot of time. It is all a matter of attitude.

4. NOW I remind you of the fun assignment in the share on step seven. Read it again and incorporate it into your daily life on a regular basis. Don't delay and no excuses. A most important part of the recovery process is to have some fun in life. So treat this as one of your most important assignments.

I invite you to ask me questions. Anything that is not clear to you about my explanations, about the assignments, maybe you would like me to enlarge on some point, or to mention points that I have not dealt with. Anything at all that is connected to our 12 step workshop. There are no stupid or trivial questions. Every question is important to our understanding of what we do, in order to do it properly. I am aware that not everything I write is clear or sufficient, and the questions will enhance our understanding and therefore are very important. When you ask questions write them in a separate e-mail to the loop. In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.



Wishing us all a life full of recovery
Shlomo
Food addict and compulsive overeater




Questions for the Leader

QUESTION:

Your step four shares, were especially valuable Because they were linked to the lists... Now in step 11, we ask ourselves at the end of the day if we could have done better, and I think here another list could be helpful: examples of kindnesses and helpful acts to close family: kids, spouses, parents, siblings, gilfriend etc., and close friends. It's easier to do acts of kindness to strangers, because there are organizations that make it their business to remind us of what we need to do. I think that with your recovery and experience you could give us some ideas about this new list, just as you gave us clarity before, and of course we can add our own to those.

ANSWER:

The question:" What could we have done better?" is asked as part of the daily review at night. It refers to the sentences before it that deal with the liabilities that arose that day and the question 'were we kind and loving?' I can do better by practicing the opposite of the liabilities the next day. I can try to be more kind and loving to the people around me if I was not kind and loving today.

It is easy to know what to do better when I have not acted kindly or when I procrastinated or gossiped or insulted someone etc... It is more difficult to know what to do better when everything seems fine. We are not saints and the middle way is enough. In such cases I should be satisfied with small things, which are small improvements. And I can be satisfied with one or two. I don't have to drive myself crazy by trying to do everything.

What are small things? Asking others if they would like a cup of tea when I prepare one for myself, or being empathic and listening to someone who is upset, or lending a helping hand when it is needed, or giving someone a hug, or telling a child that I love him and pay attention to what he does.

So no lists. Just let it flow. As I said we are not trying to be saints, just to feel a bit better with ourselves. Every little bit counts. So take it easy and enjoy life and do some things for yourself too, you are worth it.
Shlomo


QUESTION:

I'm a little bit behind on my steps and so I didn't Know if I could still post to WTS, so I decided to Write you directly with my question on Step 10 and 11.

I really don't know how to ask my question....but I Will try. One of my biggest liabilities is that I Allow myself to be a doormat. I am very permissive And have nearly no boundaries when it comes to others. The main reason is I'm afraid that I'm not good Enough and I'm afraid of how others will view me if I Say no. In the past I created a lot of resentments Within because I couldn't say no and felt Overextended. So I have been praying about this Liability for some time now and have started to try to Say "no". I have been an "enabler" for so long and Now my family so often expects that I will drop Whatever I am doing to "help" them but often it's not Really help as much as it is doing for them what they Could do for themselves if they would only try. *sigh*

Ok - so now I'm trying to work on that area in my Life but it's causing so many more difficulties in my Life. Not only do I have to deal with my own guilt Trips but I have to deal with the guilt trip that my Family members place on me for not being "selfless" Anymore. Then step 10 and 11 comes along and confuses Me because it seems that I should be selfless and that I should do it naturally and without resentment and With love and tolerance. Yet the big book also says That we are not to be doormats. I'm really confused, Really frustrated, and feeling a lot of anxiety about This area in my life.

Any insight on your part would be gratefully accepted.

ANSWER: Hi The Big Book says in step ten that 'love and tolerance of others is our code' It also says in step nine 'As God's people we stand on our feet; we don't crawl before anyone' There is no contradiction. Treating others with love and tolerance does not mean that I should be a doormat and let myself be used or abused by the selfishness of others. The Big Book also says that 'God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves' This means that God is not doing for us what we can do for ourselves. The Big Book says that we are not saints and we certainly shouldn't try to outdo God. So we shouldn't do for others what they can do for themselves . We shouldn't not let them use us selfishly and we shouldn't use others selfishly.

Being a doormat is people pleasing. It is a defensive behavior that stems from lack of self worth and self acceptance. By people pleasing and being a doormat I try to feel loved and thus feel better with myself. This is a delusion since self worth and self acceptance cannot be strengthened or grown by letting myself be a doormat. On the contrary . I will feel more worthless and more resentful towards others.

Others can't fill this inner need for self love and self worth. Whatever they do or say will never be enough. That is why when I do something for another person out of 'people pleasing' I always resent him afterwards. This is how I usually recognize that I acted out of people pleasing. I recognize it after the act when I feel resentful.

The problem is that when I stop being a doormat and stop people pleasing, the people around me who are used to using and abusing me will accuse me of being selfish and inconsiderate and not a very nice person anymore, since I don't agree to fulfill their selfish desires. And because of my lack of self worth I feel guilty when I do the right thing.

The program teaches me how to gradually get out of this vicious cycle by practicing step 7 in step 10 and by considering and dwelling on my assets in step eleven.

So how can I treat this problem: 1. When asked to do something for someone don't give an immediate answer. Say that you need some time to consider what to do. This is the first change in your behavior. Don't volunteer and don't give immediate answers. If you slip and give an immediate yes. And later after doing the work that I suggest here you realize that you should have said no. You will have to talk with that person and change your answer to no. Don't give any reasons and excuses. Just say that you are not going to do whatever it is for personal reasons that you can't discuss or divulge.

2. Use the time between the others demand and your answer to talk with your sponsor and discuss this with him.

3. Use the best friend exercise. Imagine that your best friend comes to you and asks you what to do in an identical situation. What would you tell him? If your answer is to say NO! It means that your tendency to say yes stems from your lack of self worth. Use you little notebook that should always be with you. And write down what was asked of you and why it is the right thing to say no.

4. If after saying NO you feel guilty. Ask God to remove your guilt. Then write in your notebook that what you did was the right thing to do . Also write what kind of concepts or customs of others you took on yourself that contribute to your guilty feeling. (read again my share on step seven and the explanation there on how to deal with guilt.)

5. Do all those things in real time if possible.

6. At night in the framework of step eleven write the list of the things you are satisfied with. Read again my share on step eleven to remind yourself of the directions for doing it.

7. In the morning do the mirror exercise as explained in the share on step eleven.

This activity at night and in the morning is a blanket treatment that builds up self worth and acceptance and self confidence. It will help you in growing to the stage were you don't need to use people pleasing since you will not need others approval and love as an artificial replacement for your own.

As a result some of your "friends" will leave you. Good. Then there will be place in your life for other friends who will appreciate you for what you are and not for the way they can exploit you.

Do all of this on a daily basis.

Shlomo



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