Evening Prayer and Meditation:
(If you're on a night or evening shift, then this might be a morning meditation!)
Review the day just passed to see how you can do better tomorrow.
Using the same concepts as found in Step Four, look to see whether this day just passed found you resentful, selfish, dishonest, or frightened. Many of us do this in bed just before we go to sleep. We do it in our heads, reviewing the day. I will often do it in chronological order, simply thinking about what happened as the day progressed, looking for times when I was resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid.
If I find that what I've done during the day requires the kind of sharing that I did in Step Five, then I do that as soon as I can.
I review my day as well from these points of view:
I am mindful, though, that I am not doing this to beat myself up. I may have had a crummy day. I may have been resentful, selfish, dishonest, fearful. I now know, however, how to deal with any harm I may have hadI can make amends for that. So I don't beat myself up.
No, my purpose in reviewing my day is to see what I can do better the next day. I am not going to drift into bad feelings about myself, because that would make it harder, not easier, for me to helpful tomorrow.
So I see what I could have done better.
Then I ask God's forgiveness and ask what I can do to correct any harms I have done (for atheists and agnostics, you can say something like: "May I live according to my higher values and make up for any shortcomings I may have exhibited today.").
Then I go to sleep! It's easier to go to sleep, because I've got rid of the things that might have been bothering me throughout the day.
Parenthetical Note: Does the evening prayer and meditation differ from Step Ten?
A lot of people think of the Step Eleven Evening Prayer and Meditation as being a Step Ten. I don't see it that way.
The Step Eleven Evening work deals with the one day just passed, with the intent being to improve our actions in the day to follow. The intent of Step Ten is to clean house entirely since the last time I did it.
Step Eleven deals with one day. Step Ten takes into account all the days that have passed since my last Step Nine or Step Ten, and allows me to look at an overview of that time, rather than simply this past day. When my mother was quite ill, I did daily Step Eleven evening work to make certain that I was acting as well as I could toward her and my father; but only Step Tens could allow me to get the overview of how her illness was affecting me, my family, and my father. So I see a real difference there.
Further, Step Eleven evening work does not require me to talk to another person (Step Five), as Step Ten does.
On the other hand, I know people who do a daily Step Ten, pulling out their papers and calling up their sponsors. They are very spiritual people, so I have found that the distinction I make isn't all that important.
Morning Prayer and Meditation:
Wake up. Think about your day ahead. Say, "God, please direct my thinking. I especially ask that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest, or self-seeking motives." (For atheists and agnostics, reword this if necessary to: "I ask that my thinking be directed to my highest values, and that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest, or self-seeking motives.)
Now consider your plans for the day. Think them through.
If you face any indecision, say, "God, please give me an inspiration, an intuitive thought, or a decision." (Atheists and agnostics: "I ask that through my highest values I get inspiration, an intuitive thought, a decision.") Relax. Take it easy. Whatever inspiration, intuitive thought, or decision, comes into your mind will probably be the right one. In your early days, you might consider that carefully, but you will learn to trust it. Just go with the flow.
Now say: "God, I ask that I be shown all through the day what my next step is to be, that I be given whatever I need to take of such problems. I ask especially for freedom from self-will." (Atheists and agnostics: just delete "God" and, if necessary, substitute "My highest values".)
If you're planning to do something that will benefit others, you can also ask that you do a good job in order to help others.
If you belong to an organization that requires you to say certain morning prayers, say them also. If you don't, it can't hurt saying prayers that are meaningful to you. I personally love the Step Three and Step Seven prayers from the Big Book, and the St. Francis prayer from Step Eleven of the AA 12 & 12 ("God, make me an instrument of your peace . . .").
Daily As-Needed Prayers:
If you are agitated or doubtful, pause. Say one or more of the following: "I ask for the right thought or action." "I am no longer running the show." "Thy will be done." (Atheists and agnostics, if necessary: "The fulfillment of my highest values be done.") Say them over and over again until you find yourself less agitated or doubtful. Pause for inspiration, an intuitive thought, or a decision.
Those of us who have recovered in OA and use these prayersno matter whether we're deeply devout or complete atheistshave found that they work. They serve to relax us, to allow us to trust in our intuition, to act without the crazy self-analysis and self-doubt that used to accompany us like a mosquito smelling blood. Now that we know we can live without being selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened, we are learning that we can act without having selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, or fear-based, motives. We can think of others, not of ourselves.
The more we think of others, the more sane we are, the more protected we are from the foods and eating behaviors that used to beckon to us. The more we relax, the less we feel as if we should be in charge, the more power and direction we get into our lives.
Next week we begin Step Twelve, the most fulfilling step of all!
Your Step Study Leader
The Twelve Steps
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