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.







Leader's Share and Step Questions


When I came to OA and The Recovery Group I felt great acceptance and encouragement. It was a wonderful feeling. Even my writing got great feedback. It touched me greatly. Yet, as I have come to learn there is so much more. That more was about my relationship with my HP. Step Eleven challenges us to “…to seek out more direct conscious contact with the ultimate source of that life-changing love.” (OA 12&12, page 91).

I love that thought. I love how anyone, no matter what religion or spiritual persuasion or non-persuasion can experience this too.

A Relationship with Our HP, God or GOMU

In OA we share a belief that having a spiritual relationship with a power greater to ourselves will bring recovery. Step Eleven is all about clarifying and deepening the relationship we have with our HP. This is important because, “In order to recover from compulsive eating, we need a living, developing, ongoing relationship with this Higher Power, and we will find having complete freedom to seek that relationship is a vital aspect of our program. (OA 12&12, page 92).

I know that some of you may still struggle to understand how you feel about your HP, God or GOMU.

Here is something written by an OA friend of mine who describes her struggle with coming to OA and dealing with the spiritual part of the program.

“I have always been a skeptic about spiritual matters, even as a child. Whenever I heard anything about God I was always questioning, well how can anyone know what God is really like? Why should God be a He? Can such a Being have a gender at all? How can we know if God is all powerful and created everything or if things happen by natural forces? And if God is all powerful, why do bad things happen?

It was one of the biggest barriers for me starting the program, I felt like there was no way to believe in God the way others seemed to believe. However, once I truly understood what having a God of my understanding really meant, I was able to let go of all of my ideas about what religion says a Higher Power should be and just allowed myself to experience it in my own way. I decided that not only could these questions never truly be answered, they didn't really need to be answered. After that everything kind of fell into place.

I don't know much about the nature of my Higher Power and probably never will, I just know it's there and can help me. I don't usually formally pray to it since that's not really my style but I think "thoughts" at it sometimes and am often able to make a connection through meditation.

As I continue to learn things about myself and my Higher Power, I have found that there are many spiritual paths that have elements that coincide with my experience. I like to believe that we all experience our Higher Power in the way we need to in order to believe.”

I have shared my experience how I found my HP in OA years ago. For me it took years of therapy and developing a relationship/communication with my HP to heal enough to even consider giving up my emotional comfort from food. Or, that I deserved it. However, I know that without my HP I could never have healed. I had tried and failed – yes, many times I tried and failed. I have also shared that when the pain would get too great I would pray, “What is it I need to understand to get out of this pain.” I always got an answer. It was in the form of a passage in a book popping out at me or a thought coming out of the blue or even something someone said on television or radio. I knew it was my answer. I always acted on them.

Step Eleven says quite clearly that we need to take active steps to develop our relationship with our HP. It suggests we do that through prayer and meditation. Both are very individual and as is with so much of our program we can define them so we are comfortable. I just know it is so worth the effort. Communication with my HP has led me down many a path that has healed, enlightened and given me a large measure of peace.

Prayer

If prayer is not something you have done much of, it may feel awkward at first. The good news is, “All of us who have utilized step eleven, consistently giving a part of each day to meditation and prayer, have been rewarded—and sometimes awed --- by the results.” (OA 12&12, page 92). I have found that the time I take to pray and meditate always brings me back to a connected, balanced feeling -- whenever I do it or however I do it.

As for how to pray, again, it is individual –

1. Some use their religious practices.
2. Many make it a practice to start and/or end their day with prayer and meditation.
3. Some will stop in a moment they feel the need for guidance, strength, or serenity.
4. Step Eleven has a great suggestion – whatever way or when you pray – “Keep it simple”. “Remembering that our goal is to develop a closer conscious contact with God, prayer is simply what we do when we talk with our High Power, and meditation is simply a way of stilling our minds and opening our spirits to God’s influence.” (OA 12&12, page 93)

The question some of you may have is how do you talk with your HP?

1. You can follow your religious traditions.
2. Reciting memorized prayers – such as those we have read in program literature or other books, learned in meetings or remember from our childhood.
3. Express yourself to your HP in your own words like we would talk to a friend.
4. Bring all your concerns to our HP.
5. Keep your minds and hearts open to our HP’s answers, not your own way.
6. It is a way to express anger, if that is what you are feeling toward your HP.

A little about anger at God

Some of us have experienced or are still experiencing anger with our HP. Let’s talk about it a bit. Anger is really a misunderstood emotion. It is not a clear emotion, it is a secondary emotion put simply. There is always something under that anger. It may be fear or it may be embarrassment or even feeling put down. If we do not take the time to understand what is really going on with us it will cripple us. Ask anyone who is angry a lot or someone who buries their anger. If we do not address our anger issue, we can give up on our HP and give up on prayer which can all lead us back to eating compulsively.

When we are angry at God, the same holds true. Acknowledging our anger in our prayers is a way out of our dilemma. The OA 12 & 12 suggests that when we express our anger it will pass and it ends up bringing us closer to our HP through it. This gave me a better perspective on how to work through my anger at people also. I always wait until I know, really know what is really troubling me.

Meditation

The OA 12 & 12 also suggests that as we take the time to pray each day, we are actually in the process of beginning meditation. “As we fix our attention on the truths contained in these prayers, we open our minds to receive new understanding and direction from our Higher Power.”

That statement really clarified what my HP’s will for me was all about – receiving new understanding and guidance.

For me, the prayer part was easy. I had a good experience with that. For years, until I read this step again that I did not realized I was already meditating. I had envisioned meditation as sitting quiet for long periods of time waiting for some type of epiphany to appear. I could not still my mind very well. Instead, I read 12-step meditations and find that many times it speaks to exactly what I have been pondering about. Plus, it slows me down, something so necessary for my recovery. So, meditation can be rewarding no matter how you do it.

We just need to remember that the, “…purpose of meditating is simple: we seek to relax and receive spiritual nourishment by experiencing more fully our connections with our true unfragmented selves and with our Higher Power.” (OA 12 & 12, page 96)

Some ideas about meditation:

1. You can vary your practice from time to time.
2. Meditation offers a way to stop running and to relax without eating.
3. You can begin with taking deep breaths, holding a special object and concentrating on how it feels.
4. You can listen to soft music.
5. You can repeat a word or phrase.
6. You can concentrate on an image, object or image or other means.
7. When you are distracted by worries or annoyances, they can be gently let go of by turning our attention to the truths our HP can fill our minds with.

How do we know when our HP is communicating with us?

At first this can be a little tricky. Is it our HP or is it us? It would be nice if our HP could just speak to us in words like other people. Or, create a vision for us. Chances are even if you believe your HP is not communicating with you, He/She is. Here are some possible ways your HP could be communicating with you:

1. A new idea or concept that answers a question or concern.
2. A change in our motives or attitude.
3. A feeling that our energy has been renewed or our bad mood has lifted.
4. Straight out ask our HP to increase your desire to take the action if we are supposed to take it or decrease your desire if we’re not supposed to take it. Then let it go.
5. By the effect it has on us – if it, “…makes us even a little bit sincere or more loving, if it encourages or strengthens us even a tiny but, we can be God has “spoken” and we have “heard.” (OA 12 & 12, page 97).
6. Our sponsors and other OAs can also help us recognize God’s direction by discussing it with them before we make an important decision.

Final Thoughts

The one thing that really helped me in Step Eleven was the thought about being able to be honest with our HP without the fear of saying the wrong thing that might damage or destroy our relationship because, “We need the security that comes from knowing that cannot destroy our relationship with this all-important source of healing and strength while we honestly explore our deepest selves.” This says it all about Step Eleven. Relationships can be difficult because of inherent differences. Not so with our HP. I can count on it. My HP is the one thing I can depend on even if others let me down or I let myself down.

Questions

1. In what ways do I actively seek to improve my relationship with my Higher Power?

2. Do I feel as though I am free to express my honest feelings to my HP? Why or why not?

3. Why is prayer and meditation important to improving my relationship with my Higher Power? And, to my recovery?

4. How will I know, after prayer and/or meditation, that I have discovered God's Will for my life?

5. Is your life ever too chaotic to listen to God?

6. When have I felt angry with God? How did you work your way out of it?

7. In recovery, what changes have you made to make your ears more receptive to what your HP is saying?

8. How does time spent in prayer and meditation affect me?

9. How can our sponsors, meetings and friends in recovery help us work Step 11?

10. If I make a mistake based on what I thought was God's will, what do I do?

Leader’s Share on the Questions

1. In what ways do I actively seek to improve my relationship with my Higher Power?

One of the ways I actively seek a better relationship with my Higher Power is to include Him/Her in all my decisions. That is real progress from the days when I had to control everything. It came in small steps for me and as I trusted more, I let go of more and listened more.

2. Do I feel as though I am free to express my honest feelings to my HP? Why or why not?

I remember reading a book that was talking about how a woman who was having a problem. She took a walk and talked to God. It really struck me that I could share anything with my HP. I was the only one holding back.

3. Why is prayer and meditation important to improving my relationship with my Higher Power? And, to my recovery?

I am a high energy, busy woman. If I do not slow down, I cannot connect to my Higher Power and cannot look objectively at what I am doing that could cause me to overeat.

4. How will I know, after prayer and/or meditation, that I have discovered God's Will for my life?

For me, it feels so good, so warm and loving. Those are real good indicators.

5. Is your life ever too chaotic to listen to God?

It can get that way sometimes. Sometimes I have to sit down and write about my feelings to calm myself down so I feel back connected to my HP. Sometimes that is all it takes to decide what action I need to take. Sometimes it allows me to let it go.

6. When have I felt angry with God? How did you work your way out of it?

I have never experienced this. Of course, I was in denial that I was angry. I was in such denial that I lived in a deep depression for years. I was angry at myself.

7. In recovery, what changes have you made to make your ears more receptive to what your HP is saying?

Simply, I became willing to use the tools – to do whatever it took to recover: A Plan of Eating, Sponsorship, Meetings, Telephone, Writing, Literature, Anonymity, Service and Action Plan. Every one of them has helped me in times when I was confused, in pain or disconnected.

8. How does time spent in prayer and meditation affect me?

I have come to understand what it means to be balanced. I moved out of chaos and became comfortable with being in balance. Prayer and meditation were a big help in doing this.

9. How can our sponsors, meetings and friends in recovery help us work Step 11?

Sometimes an issue comes up that is so tender, so difficult it is hard to be clear. Talking about it really helps. Sometimes in the talking with others or my sponsor or at a meeting we relax just enough for the answer/understanding to come to me.

10. If I make a mistake based on what I thought was God's will, what do I do?

Forgive myself and keep working at it. I am capable of learning from my mistakes.

ELEVENTH STEP PRAYER:

God, as I understand You,
I pray to keep my connection with You. Open and clear from me the confusion of daily life. Through my prayers and meditations I ask especially for freedom from self-will, rationalization, and wishful thinking. I pray for the guidance of correct thought and positive action. Your Will, not mine, be done.

SLOGANS

Even if I'm on the right track, if I don't move I'll get run over.
Expectations are premeditated resentments.
We came for the vanity and stayed for the sanity.
Life sucks better when I’m abstinent.
Higher Power, please watch what goes in my mouth today and what comes out of it.

Coralee






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