Step eleven is another maintenance step, another foundation principle of this program, and that is living life on a spiritual basis. I think of something I heard once, maybe from the Big Book, about the choice that addicts have, which is to continue to live life barreling toward disaster, or to live life on a spiritual basis. Those are the choices. I’ve always said there is no happy ending for an addict not in recovery.
Anyway – one of the biggest promises that this program offers is that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. But we need to have an active relationship with God, and that means talking to God and listening to God. Getting out of God’s way, and letting life unfold in a way that is in my best interest, is a big challenge. Today I do trust that if I can just stay out of the way, the right things happen for me.
My experience of working this step has involved many weekend retreats with a spiritual focus, attending an interfaith church that spoke of “higher power” in a way that aligned with my understanding of God, reading many, many spiritual books, daily meditation books, attending meditation meetings. I also have a daily spiritual practice that incorporates writing, reading, meditation and prayer. It’s the first thing I do when I start my day. Conscious contact with God doesn’t come naturally for me, but having a portion of my day dedicated to that objective ensures that I practice it.
I once read a novel by an author who tends to write on spiritual themes, and this book centered on a character, it took place in biblical times, who’s every action was preceded by invoking God’s guidance, for which he waited, and was certain when the guidance came. It amazed me how often this character remembered to invoke God’s guidance! The story was fraught with hardships, and danger, and sadness, and also triumphs, but nothing happened according to this guy’s will. He fully submitted himself to God on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis. The theme that ran throughout all of the events were that they were a surprise, and at first didn’t make sense, but always ended up the right thing for him. That has been my experience also with God’s will.
The AA 12&12 has a famous prayer in it’s 11th step chapter, the St. Francis of Assisi prayer. To me that prayer reflects living life according to spiritual principles. It’s a great reminder of how God is suggesting we be in the world. There are so many great prayers, prayer books to reference, to give a voice to your prayer life. And as far as meditation - for me, five minutes of a silent mind so far has been good. Sometimes I do centering prayer, which is to repeat, in my mind, a spiritual word or phrase. Two of my favorites are “Be still and know”, and “Peace be still”.
Step eleven is a lifelong effort to build a relationship with your higher power, and to learn to listen for and rely upon, more and more, the divine guidance that delivers the best possible life for each of us.
Questions for reflection:
Upon working the eleventh step, what are you thinking of adding to your spiritual practice to enhance conscious contact with God as you understand him?
What spiritual growth opportunities are there in your community that you might consider looking into to see if it’s something you can get involved in?
Meditation practice is often seen as something difficult to attain. If you aren’t already meditating on a regular basis, what would you consider a practical start, something you can manage?
In loving service,
The Twelve Steps