Would you like to learn about AA step 11 with me in this blog post because this will really help you on your day-to-day sobriety effort?
AA Step 11! Sought Through PRAYER and MEDITATION To Improve Our Conscious Contact With God…
How do I practice step 11 in Alcoholics Anonymous?
That’s what I’ll talk about here based on my experience being sober almost six years in AA and putting a lot of time, energy and effort into step 11.
I’ll share my experience with this step so that it may help you with your sobriety and everyone else you work with.
First, let’s take a look at what exactly does step 11 say.
Step 11 says:
“We 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.”
The first key point with this is that you don’t have to have finished all the other steps to get to work on this.
In fact, I would suggest getting to work on prayer and trying to make a conscious contact with something that is a higher power as soon as possible because this may be a necessity to get through the craving for a drink and to work through the other steps successfully.
I will explain this therefore in the before you’ve worked the 10 steps before it, and the after you’ve worked the 10 steps before, it’s some of the differences.
Before you’ve worked the 10 steps from it proceeding it, there are two important things to know that can be helpful about step 11.
Number one is prayer and number two is meditation.
As it says in the 12 and 12 here, “Prayer and meditation are our principal means of contact with God” and what we really want in order to stay sober is to make contact with something greater than our limited idea of who we are in these bodies as just a personality.
We can call this our higher self. I like to think of it that way. When I’m praying, I’m praying directly to my higher self. You can think of it as the group of Alcoholics Anonymous because the people at that group are staying sober and clearly are a power higher than you if they are able to stay sober and have a happy life.
You can do any other concept. The important thing is to take the action and the action is prayer.
How do you do prayer?
Something as simple as, “God, please help me stay sober.”
That is very simple. You can say it also, if you prefer something like, “I intend to stay sober today,” you’re setting an intention for yourself that it can be considered a prayer.
Meditation is then being quiet, just focusing on our breathing, for example to just take a breath.
Pay attention to the how it feels going in and out of your lungs and your throat, your mouth and your nose.
That is meditation very simply.
There are lots of ways you can do meditation. There are lots of helpful books. The basic idea is to quiet down your mind and focus on listening.
A basic meditation you can do just sitting in an AA meeting or anywhere is every time you notice your mind wandering off to thinking about something else, refocus to listening on what the person at the meeting is actually having to say.
It’s a very simple meditation of paying attention to what’s going on instead of being off distracted somewhere else.
Another way you can do meditation is to look on, I like to use YouTube, or you can use a meditation app, find a specific guided meditation and follow that.
For example, I like to look on YouTube for 15 minute meditations because those walk me through how to meditate, and then I learn how to do it and the more I’ve done those guided meditations, I’m able to just do them without listening to anything sitting by myself quietly.
That can be a good way to train your mind.
What’s most important is to just make the effort to both set a clear intention via prayer.
For example, “God, please help me stay sober today. God, please help me be of service to others.”
There are lots of prayers in the big book and in the 12 and 12, and other places that can help with that.
The first critical prayer before working the steps up to step 11 is just to pray to stay sober because if you get drunk, well that’s going to make everything more challenging and I think you’ve probably been through enough challenges to make a good start into a new life without needing to go back there and do that to yourself again.
Thus for me, I ended up praying when I really wanted to drink. I would pray hundreds of times to stay sober. Every time I thought about a drink, I would pray to stay sober and my mind would literally go back and forth.
“God, please help me stay sober.”
How am I going to get a drink today?
“God, please help me stay sober.”
How am I going to get a drink today?
It’d go back and forth, and after I prayed to stay sober enough times and I focused on listening at the meetings and raising my hand and asking for help, then the obsession to drink went away.
I went to work in the steps and to getting through and practicing the previous 10 steps before step 11 allows us to dig much deeper and open and expand our horizons for what kinds of prayers we use and how we implement them and meditations.
The most critical thing is just to get started and make an effort, especially to stay sober.
After you feel that you’ve gotten up to step 10 and you’re now constantly taking personal inventory of what you’re doing on a daily basis.
You feel that you are at or ready to practice step 11 to do more than just try to stay sober and pray to stay sober and listen at meetings.
Then, you’re ready for the full step 11 experience.
This to me, steps 10, 11 and 12 are things to be done every single day and lived as a way of life.
What the previous nine steps really do is get us cleaned out back to a fresh slate, a new beginning of rebirth, so that we may live a life that is in step 10, 11 and 12 every single day.
With step 11, this ideally is something that is maintained throughout the day. What a lot of us find helpful is to get up and do a focused meditation in the morning and to do a prayer immediately upon getting out of bed. I often will wake up and pray in whatever position is comfortable for you.
I’ve prayed on my knees, I’ve prayed laying down, I’ve prayed standing up. Prayer is just setting out a clear intention for what you want and you don’t even need to worry about who’s listening to it.
If you believe in God, then pray to God. You can pray to a deceased ancestor, that worked really well for me when I was new to pray to my dad who had passed away.
You can pray to a specific religious figure. Just get the prayer out there and it will work. What I do is, “God, please help me to stay sober today. I intend to stay sober.”
Some days I’ll say, “Please help all of us to stay sober today.”
I recognize that I’m among millions of people who are praying up to God for sobriety or praying into God as God is in me as well as outside.
I am a part of millions of us praying every day to stay sober and I pray on behalf of all of us to keep us sober.
I often like to set intentions in the form of prayers during the beginning of my day, especially, “God, please help me to be a loving, kind person to help me be myself in all situations I come across. Let me be kind and helpful to my fellow human beings.”
This is where getting into specific prayers can be helpful. I love the Saint Francis prayer, which is quoted in the big book. There are 14 or so lines in the Saint Francis per each of which can be very helpful.
For example, praying, “God, may I pray that I understand others today, that I seek to love others rather than be loved, that I seek to understand others rather than be understood.”
That amount of prayer, the more the better, especially when then I get upset and in my 10 steps reveals, “Oh look here, I’m upset at my wife.”
This is wrong because it’s not the truth. The truth is I love my wife and therefore it’s time to go into step 11 and pray, “God, please help me remember I love my wife.”
This is a extremely helpful throughout the day and even doing something like this, I prayed that I create something here that’s truly helpful for you, that gives you that which you can find very useful in your own life.
With step 11, all the different prayers can be helpful. What’s essential is that it feels good, that it feels true and that I stick with doing it throughout the day because just praying in the morning for me, that’s a good starting place.
However, when I was first getting sober, that was not sufficient to do it for the rest of the day. It’s clear what I like to do now is called segment intending.
If you listen to Esther and Jerry Hicks, the Abraham Hicks, I like to do segment intending, which is kind of a prayer on what I’m about to do.
For example, I say something like, “I’m getting in the car. I intend to have a safe drive to where I’m going” or you could put it, “God, please help me and all the other drivers have a safe journey as I go along from where I’m at now to where I’m going.”
When I step into the house to take care of my kids, “God, please let me be a loving father and understanding and supportive of my children.”
When I’m about to do my work, I set an intention, “I’m going to make a video that will be very helpful and communicate the love and understanding and hope and faith that I have that you may see it within yourself, that watching this or reading this as a blog post may draw out of you.”
That is how I like to practice step 11 in terms of prayer throughout the day, just constantly little prayers, little focuses, little clear points of intention where I step back and say, “Why am I here? What’s most important? What do I really want to accomplish?”
When I get my car, I want to arrive there safely. Everything else is secondary. When I am having a meeting with somebody in person, I want to love and accept and help this person feel good and feel good myself, that’s the intention of the meeting.
When I’m at an AA meeting, I’m there to listen and help and love others as well as get the wisdom and knowledge I need to stay sober and take good care of myself.
I think we’ve covered prayer pretty well and there’s always opportunities to listen to others read books and get more specific guidance on prayer.
For meditation, the ideal meditation practice I see is to learn to really pay attention to what’s going on, to disconnect from the constant thinking of the mind, that seems to meet to be the purpose of doing meditation.
We meditate for those 15 minutes in the morning to get in the habit of consciously disconnecting the analyzing, thinking, talking mind and let it go and just pay attention to our surroundings.
You have had this experience many times, I’m sure, for example, when you’re driving. Have you ever been driving and suddenly just realized, “Wow, I’m driving.”
You’re thinking so much that you are barely aware of what’s going on in your body and your mind just drive the car all of its own, and then you actually start to pay attention, “Oh, there’s a blue car over there and the grass is green.”
When that happens, that is the essence of meditation.
It’s just focusing on what is actually happening here and focusing on anything. I’ve found some very specific meditations were helpful for me, and I try lots of different meditations.
I see a hypnotherapist who helps me do active guided meditations. I try lots of forms of meditation to help expand my mind. One meditation I did that was really helpful was from Thích Nhất Hạnh’s book called “The miracle of mindfulness.”
He walks through a Buddhist death meditation in there and that was extremely helpful for me and my sobriety because in the first year of my sobriety there were often these thoughts in my mind, “Well what if your wife dies? Can you stay sober?”
These things are based on fear. I’m afraid of my wife dying and that drives a fear and that fear drives the desire for some kind of solution, like not a true solution, but some kind of thing like a drink to deal with the fear.
I walked through that Buddhist meditation on death as Thích Nhất Hạnh had suggested in the book, I simply focused very clearly.
Meditation really is just about listening and focusing.
I focused very clearly on death, the way it said to do in the book.
I pictured the dead bodies, just random dead bodies at first and it walks you into picture your own body dying, the cremation or the burial, picture the people around you dying, picture all that and very clearly picture it.
Picture your wife getting rolled into the incinerator and you are right behind her and throw in your kids in there, your mom and your brother, throwing everybody you know and remember that is certain.
That’s where we’re headed.
This is not a theory or an idea, that is the destination.
I did this right after I went to a workout at the gym, which left me in a very open place.
If you find you struggle to meditate or focus on something, one way to enhance that is to do something like exercise that naturally clears the mind, and then hit the meditation right after that.
That’s what I did this day. I had a nice hour long, hard workout at the gym, I came home to shower and was home by myself.
I said, “Okay, now’s the time to hit this meditation.”
I did the meditation, took a shower. I focused very clearly on the dying as the meditation suggested, I cried, I wailed. I went through all the self-pity, “It’s not fair. I don’t deserve this. Why is this life like this?”
And then the miracle happened.
All the mental, it’s spun up. I faced my fear of death and it all spun up and got going and it’s popped like a bubble, and all of a sudden there was complete quiet and peace and stillness.
That is where you’re going with meditation, to a place of serenity, and ultimately the goal of these steps is to get you from a place where you come in at step one and you’re miserable and you don’t have serenity and walk you through where you do.
As you can tell, I’ve got serenity and I have it on a daily basis. That’s the point of the steps, and meditation can produce some very powerful serenity experiences as this death meditation did.
I had the bubble popped and I faced my worst fears and all of a sudden, it was absolute total peace, I could feel the very strong love of God. You could call it revelation. It has been called. It just feel like all is right with the Universe.
The fact is that I am alive right now. It was as if I had traveled forward in time to the point in my death, and then got to travel back in time to just be here.
And while the fact is I’m alive right now and that is glorious and all possibilities come forward from there, that is amazing and that is beautiful, and that is something I’m so grateful for.
I reset and that just popped all my fear. I felt what some people describe as a beginner’s mind.
It was like I was a baby again. I was in the shower.
“Wow, look, the water’s just falling on me. This is amazing. It just comes out of this faucet and it’s warm, and this is great.”
I made a video right after that where you can see exactly more of the experience in detail, and from there on, I’ve been free of that fear of death.
That’s the power of working these very clear meditations.
I’m grateful for the chance to share this with you because I love the idea of having a world where so many of us have gone through this and conquered some of our worst fears like death, where we now feel safe on a daily basis that even if this body were to get run over in the street, I continue on as an eternal soul.
Ultimately to have that spiritual awakening doing our step 11 with prayer and meditation can help us get into that spiritual awakening where we see:
“I am one with God, that there is no God that does not include me. I am an immortal soul, that I am made of God and like God, while in this body I may pass away, I as the consciousness am eternal. I always have been. I always will be. I am here now as proof of that.”
That’s where massive peace comes into life.
When I’m not afraid of dying or being criticized — maybe I need to do a meditation on criticism — and where I’m free from these fears, that opens me up to this spiritual awakening that life is good, that feeling God is feeling good, that life is full of love and possibilities and somehow it’s possible, even the worst things in the world somehow make sense as these are opportunities where we can help each other.
These are opportunities for me to serve. These are opportunities for me to share my experience as I’m doing here that have the ability to help you.
I’m grateful you’ve experienced all this with me today.
I hope this is helpful for you in your journey with sobriety and I will be doing step 12 after this.
I love you.
I appreciate the chance to serve you today and I will see you again soon.
Edits from video transcript by Michel Gerard.