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.







Essay

ME: I can't pray--asking God to help me with my food choices! God has much bigger things to worry about than what I am putting in my mouth! Doesn't He?

ANONYMOUS SPONSOR: I don't understand. You can't NOT ask Him to help you. You have to have a Higher Power other than yourself, or you will fail. We try and we try; our own will power is never enough--it never lasts! Can you work on willingness to ask a Higher Power to help you this time?

ME: I can do that. I can't afford not to be willing to do anything that you ask me to do that makes good sense! Still wish I didn't have to give up sugar though!

Wish I may, I wish I might . . . . This was me, early program--a mere sample of all the warped thinking I had going on in my head. A sponsor shared that if I wanted to have progress and growth, I had to remain willing to try things I had not tried before; I had to remain openminded and listen carefully to others who were working their Program diligently and successfully--watch closely to see if their words had life in action with some results that I could see. Recovery is real-life "Show and Tell."

Most sponsors have a strong relationship going on with their Higher Power. This is how my own weak area was revealed to me. I have to consciously work on my relationship with my Higher Power each day; the pressures and activities of everyday life interfere with my God consciousness whether I want them to or not. One person who has over three decades of abstinence in recovery once told me, "Honey, you have to practice being spiritual every day, making an effort to make a connection to God--because the world is determined to break that connection."

It wasn't surprising to me to learn that spirituality was my weakest area. I was too busy, too involved, too over-committed. It would take too much time, wouldn't it?

My sponsor and I sat upon the floor, Pasha pillows scattered all around. Just me being able to get down on the floor and get up again, was a miracle that my mind was struggling to grasp.

"It's simple. Sit still for a moment, stuff a sock in it, and listen." Many years before, she had been trying her best to get me to talk and open up, and now, she needed to tell me to be quiet a moment!

I sat listening. After a few moments, probably all of two minutes, I remarked. "What is this? I don't hear a thing!"

"That's the idea. You got it!" My sponsor said.

Little did I know. That is the basic idea. I must be still and learn to listen. When I began to learn to be silent, my Higher Power began to work with the little I had to give.

A few of you may have unpleasant thoughts running through your mind when you consider the prospect of meditation. You may believe it to be a "foreign practice" contrary to your own personal beliefs. Some of you may even think that you really do not have any open space in your day for such a luxury.

The fact is, that if you do not claim a space of your own time for yourself, other activities and "priorities" will always encroach.

I take my meditation and prayer time whereever I happen to be. Sometimes it has to be in traffic when others are practicing their road rage and sounding their car horns in impatience. Other times it may be in the silence of an employee lounge at an off-hour past normal lunchtimes. I often schedule my lunches late so that I have a break room or lounge pretty much to myself. And then I often pack a lunch and walk to a nearby park. On frantic days when I need to think, I take a quick lunch, then a good 20 or 30 minute walk. Walking is a good form of meditation for me. At my health club, when I do a metered, above-water, breast stroke, I can even pray my best and feel the presence of my Higher Power in the warm waters.

For that matter, my great-grandmother would commune with God when she was ironing. This little woman would go out of her way to look for things to iron several times a week, even when she had others to do this for her.

For the purpose of working this Step, I would respectfully ask you to reconsider your willingness in grasping a definition of meditation and prayer that you can live with--defined not by me, but defined by yourself.

Even in most of my face-to-face meetings, the meeting leaders will offer up a moment of silence for those who still suffer. This moment of silence is actually a moment of silent meditation/prayer "for those who still suffer." Meditation for one, prayer to another.

If you will, think of meditation and prayer as a release into the stillness, and/or a point of contact where Higher Power resides, maybe this will be helpful for you in forming your own basic practice.

Ideas about meditation are difficult for me in expression because I am addressing a variety of people upon WTS from all walks of life and various religious beliefs as well as the atheist and the agnostic.

What if I offend some people? But what if I don't say enough to cover this Step adequately? Tough call.

I have thrown just enough caution to the winds to help us all to arrive at something useful in practice for this step.

I would not have any of you to skip this step because you are uncomfortable with its wording. Believe me, I skipped some Steps that were uncomfortable for me. Skipping Steps, doing only the ones I was most comfortable with, caused me to be in a state of imbalance, yet not knowing the reason why. I share my wonderful "hindsight" with you so you don't have to feel out of kilter with yourself, the world, and your fellows.

An "Old Timer", using the Big Book as His guide explained to me the cause for my IMBALANCE:

The Big Book clearly states that "half measures" avail us nothing.

This person, who has worked this Program for many decades just called it what it is, "working a half-a---ed" Program! Give it to me straight! I asked.

This one Big Book sentence saves my life every day! It is a sentence that prompts me to awareness, honesty, evaluation of what is working--what is not, and constant growth and improvement. If I was giving God only half-measures of my time and concentration, it came as no surprise that my focus and priority had to change gears. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

A watered-down Program is not what I would wish for any of you. Watered-down medicine has little or no effect upon a very sick person. It would lack the full strength needed to affect a cure. A watered down Program is much the same.

To those of you who are newcomers and just coming to an understanding of what this is all about, I beg of you to keep your eyes and ears open, don't be afraid to ask questions, take notes. Find out how others are practicing this step and try some of their methods to see what works for you.

Become willing to explore meditation and prayer. In "Googling" meditation and prayer on the net, there are dozens of helpful hyperlinks hanging in cyberspace waiting to be explored. No one will tell you what to believe. The various authors of the Big Book ask only that you be "willing to believe" and they have written this step to remind you throughout your Step work, that you must remember to have a time-out with your Higher Power.

This is my personal experience of prayer and meditation. In youth, I used God as I would a magician. I prayed for dolls, other toys, to win trophies and competitions, and I prayed that I wouldn't be permanently assigned a seat next to a kid that I didn't particularly like. I think his mother packed Limburger cheese in his Partridge Family lunchbox or something.

And then my attitude began to shift in later years. I began to thank my Higher Power for the things he had given me, and I began to ask prayers of protection and guidance for others. I gave up faintheartedness to become light-hearted. I gave up flaring resentment and wasted energy to become joyful and productive. I can still dislike certain circumstances and people without giving them so much of my precious time. And time is indeed precious, isn't it?

By the time I attended my first OA meeting I was ready to shift into a higher gear. I had selfed this and selfed that, and I knew the answer was not in solely in my self, though a few of those types of instructionals had been helpful. Still, they weren't enough. I needed something more.

When I reached this Step, I was truly AMAZED! All this introspection and good work and a blessed quiet time too! Wow!

I don't know about you, but I needed more quiet time. To me, the world moves at a fast pace, people with their rude hand gestures and multi-tasking expectations weren't going to help me live in the moment one-day-at-a-time. Everyone seems more concerned with their moment and how my moment is not moving fast enough to suit them. :) (smiling)

In this step, I decided to quit giving my Higher Power the leftovers of my life, energy, and time. Prayer and meditation became as natural and genuine as my next breath.

I experienced a shift in spirit and life purpose. I began to regain interest in things I'd thought were way beyond my feeble attempts. My focus in prayer and meditation was no longer just about me and what I needed or wanted, it was centered upon my Higher Power, the many blessings He had given me, and in prayers for others.

I'd like to have a teeshirt that says: Got recovery and got a life!

January K. WTS Meeting Leader

SUGGESTED READING:

(Using the 3rd edition)

Meditation: pg. (INTO ACTION CHAPTER) 86, 87, (TO WIVES CHAPTER) 104 Prayer: pg. (HOW IT WORKS CHAPTER) 63, 66-67, (INTO ACTION CHAPTER)83, 85-87, (A VISION FOR YOU CHAPTER) 164, (OUR SOUTHERN FRIEND CHAPTER) 505, (FREEDOM FROM BONDAGE CHAPTER) 552

QUESTIONS:

1) Do you believe that a Higher Power wants to help you with your life choices and focus?

2) Can you share with us the specifics of how you pray or meditate? What kind of room? Atmosphere? How do you seek conscious contact with God or your "Higher Power"?

3) Is this a weak area for you? If so, share the reasons why.

4) If this is a strong area for you, tell how it became so for you.

5) When you go into a time of silence for prayer or meditation, are you able to empty yourself and be still and calm, or is your mind still focusing elsewhere? What can you do to change this?

6) Do you have anything else to share with us about how you worked this step and its affect upon you right now?




Step Ten
Up
Index

Step Twelve


WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home



Copyright 2006 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved