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

Set Aside Prayer

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

The Eleventh Step starts at the bottom of page 85 and extends through page 88. It's a good idea to read Steps Ten and Eleven out of the "Big Book" each day for a few months, as part of your morning time with God, until you internalize the incredibly effective way of life these two steps offer. There is a lot contained in these four pages. As we have already seen, the Big Book has been talking about prayer and meditation throughout the Book. At the bottom of page 85, we find:

"Step Eleven suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, IF we [1] have the proper attitude and [2] work at it."

So for it to work, we need to use action and attitude.

What does the Big Book mean when it says, "it works"? In essence it is telling us that self-examination, meditation and prayer puts us in contact with our Creator. Hopefully that's what we've been doing these past weeks - making conscious contact with the God of Our Understanding.

Discussion:

The Sixth Sense

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. This 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. We have to develop it further, which means that more action is needed.

The Big Book confirms this 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.)

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.

Meditation

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 God’s 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.

"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.

"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.

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. 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.

Assignments:


  • It is suggested that you do the following everyday to keep yourself in recovery.
    • 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.
  • Step Eleven in the Evening in Writing:
a) 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 a form of the meditation. Two are explained below, including the prayers and the analysis after the meditation. This comes from the online workshop I attended.<
SHORT MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS:
1. 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.

2. 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"

3. 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.

4. Sit quietly. Don't try to control your thoughts or stop them. Just let them come and go.

5. 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.

6. 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."
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.

QUIET TIME MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS:
1. This is a writing meditation so, 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.

2. 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"

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 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.
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.
NOTE: 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.

READINESS TO MOVE ON

Eleventh Step readiness question:


Are you willing to make a conscious effort as outlined above to contact God and carry out his will for you with the strength he provides?

If you answered yes you are willing to practice the 11th step in your life.

Steps 10-12 are to be done as living steps. Once you’ve started doing step eleven you are ready to do step twelve.





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