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The Simplicity of Step 11

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“The Eleventh Step is not extra credit.”  Charlie P.

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.

Years ago, I landed in a sponsorship lineage that stressed the importance of Step 11. (Paul M. wrote a great article on it for the Grapevine back in 1973. I can send it to anyone interested.) My old sponsor talked about the “disciplines” of 10, 11, 12. Yep, DISCIPLINES! It takes practice to do any of these, but especially Step 11. Because it takes a daily effort, we sure lose a bunch of people here. They may stay sober for a bit, but they are some MISERABLE folks!

The Instructions

The instructions for Step 11 start at the bottom of page 85 and end on page 88. It’s not long or complicated. If we follow these instructions closely, our awakened spirit will stay that way. Awake! Bill W. talks about living life “a day at a time.” I like that. I want to be present for what life has to offer. I missed so much of my life drinking and drugging, I don’t want to miss more life stressed, fearful, and full of self-pity.

Here’s what my sponsor had me do early on. Find a comfortable, quiet place to SIT. Set a timer for five minutes. (We used a noisy egg timer, but smartphones are way better!) As we get better at sitting in the silence, we can increase the time. I still do 10 minutes. I know some that do a lot more. I focus on my breathing and ask God to guide my thoughts. I ALWAYS have a pad and paper close. Often, I get guidance to situations and I want to write it down, so I don’t forget. Maybe that’s just an old geezer thing.  After quiet time, I will follow instructions for my nightly review. (There are some great websites and apps that make this process quicker if time is an issue.)

Defining Meditation

In 1938, the dictionary defined “meditation” as “thoughtful contemplation.” The Big Book instructions are quite different than what we hear most folks talk about today. It isn’t asking us to clear our minds or find a peaceful place — although there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s asking us to consider our plans for the day, constructively review our day, and to think about our day. The 11th Step simply allows me to move through this crazy life with way more peace than I ever thought possible.