The Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, prayer only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” Like everything I have learned in the program, this is something I must practice everywhere in my life.
What is shared here is just my personal experience with this step, and I absolutely do not claim to be an expert nor an authority. My way is just one of many to come in contact with a Higher Power, and it has worked for me.
The first statement in the 11th Step is to seek through prayer to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power. I pray in the morning, at night, and at lunch time every day. For me, prayer and meditation go hand-in-hand, and often are inseparable. My prayer generally consists of a very short request for direction and to accept my Higher Power’s will for me. I end my prayer with gratitude to my Higher Power.
The second part of Step Eleven direct us us to seek through meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power. Meditation for me takes many forms. In the morning, the afternoon, and before bed, I sit and meditate for 20 minutes. I usually begin with a simple Samatha meditation, bringing my attention inward and tot he present moment. I then either recite mantras with my malas, practice mindfulness of my senses, or practice metta meditation and my love of others. My morning meditation helps get my day started right, the afternoon one keeps me on track during the day, and the nighttime meditation helps me go to sleep with positive thoughts in my head.
The last part of Step 11 recommends we pray for God’s will, not ours, to be done and the power to fulfill His will. For me, this direction is very blunt. We must not pray for selfish things, nor for things for others necessarily. For example, when I pray for someone to stay sober or for someone to have something happen to them, I am imposing my will upon them. Rather than do this, I pray for my Higher Power’s will to be done in my life as well as those around me. I pray for the patience and acceptance to see what the Universe wants for me. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests on several occasions that we end prayers with “If it is Thy will,” or “Thy will be done.”
Something that I think is often passed over when discussing the Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous is the phrase “conscious contact with God.” For me, prayer and meditation helps improve my conscious contact with my Higher Power, but the real contact comes through practicing my spirituality in daily life. The essence of my conscious contact with my Higher Power is mindfulness. When I am able to be present and mindful of my actions, thoughts, feelings, and senses, I am able to find serenity. When I am mindful of my actions and what I am doing, I am more compassionate toward others and able to be of greater service, which is what I believe my Higher Power wants from me.
Practicing mindfulness in my daily life helps me not stray into my own will. In my experience, I often lose mindfulness when experiencing strong thoughts and emotions. When I am angry, anxious, or stuck in my negative thoughts, I lose my mindfulness and my free will. I become a slave to the negativity. When I can periodically bring myself back to the present, I am able to stay in contact with my Higher Power and away from hurtful actions.