Step 11

“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.”

Step 11 Summarized

Step Eleven is about strengthening our prayer and meditation practices. It is through prayer and meditation that we both speak, and listen, to our Higher Power for direction. Step Eleven helps us get in conscious contact with that little voice deep within us that helps guide our path.

Into the Steps is a series of articles that dives deep into the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Into the Steps

Into the Steps is a series of articles that dives deep into each of the 12 Steps. While Guardian Recovery Network is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous, we have been utilizing the 12-Step process in a treatment setting for more than 15 years. We have found that the steps, especially in combination with our clinical therapy offerings, are a powerful tool for  helping individuals transform their lives and find lasting freedom from addiction. 

 It is highly encouraged that you do not attempt to take these steps alone, but rather with a trusted guide called a sponsor who can walk you through them and be your support. Or, you can come work them at a Guardian Recovery Network treatment program. Unlike many other treatment centers, we don’t just teach individuals about the steps, we actively work them. Find a facility here.

Steps 8-10 Recap

In Step 8 we prepared to make amends to people we had harmed. We review our Fourth Step inventory and reflect on our lives. We make a list of all the people we’ve harmed, and how we think we harmed them. There are bound to be people on our list whom have also wronged us, but we put out of our minds the conduct of others and focus solely on our part. We ask ourselves if we are ready and willing to make an amends to each person. When we are resistant, we ask our Higher Power to remove our resistance and give us willingness. When we are honestly willing and ready to make our amends, we move on to Step 9. We make our amends. Whenever possible we make a direct amends, face-to-face. We admit our wrongs, except when to do so would cause further harm. Sometimes we make indirect amends, such as making a financial donation to charity for the amount we stole. When we have finished our amends, or sometimes while we are in the process of making our amends, our sponsor moves us on to Step 10, which is to take daily inventory of our lives. Every day we practice self-appraisal, watching out for dishonesty, self-centeredness, selfishness, jealousy, fear and our character defects. When we make mistakes, we admit them and amend them as soon as possible. Once we are in the daily habit of taking inventory, we focus on Step 11: prayer and meditation.

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Step Eleven Explained

Throughout our Steps we have learned to pray. In our Third Step we pray to align our thoughts and actions to our Higher Power’s will so that we can rebuild our lives and become more useful, loving human beings. In Step Four, we pray for help in facing our pasts and seeing our part honestly. In Step Five, we pray for the willingness to share the darkest moments of our lives with another human being. In Steps Six and Seven, we ask our Higher Power to remove our character defects, which we recognize are standing in the way of us becoming the best versions of ourselves. In Steps Eight and Nine, we pray for the willingness to face the people we have harmed and make amends. And in Step Ten, we pray to see ourselves clearly by taking a daily inventory of our actions, thoughts and attitudes.

By the time we reach Step Eleven, we should be very familiar with the act of turning to our Higher Power for direction and support. Step Eleven is meant to deepen our prayer and meditation practices. It has been said that prayer is the act of talking to our Higher Power, and meditation is the act of getting still, quiet and listening for our Higher Power’s direction.

Depending on what our individual conceptions of our Higher Power are when we reach this Step, this practice might look different. The important thing is that we are trying to connect with a higher consciousness of some type — be it the collective wisdom of A.A., our internal spirit, the external spirit of nature, or a traditional God. The point is we are not relying on our own limited understanding.

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What if I’m Atheist or Agnostic?

For some individuals who still consider themselves Atheist or Agnostic, the A.A. Twelve & Twelve recommends trying to experiment with the concept of prayer and meditation anyways:

“We liked A.A. alright, and were quick to say that it had done miracles. But we recoiled from meditation and prayer as obstinately as the scientist who refused to perform a certain experiment lest it prove his pet theory wrong. Of course we finally did experiment, and when unexpected results followed, we felt different; in fact we knew different; and so we were sold on meditation and prayer. And that, we have found, can happen to anybody who tries. It has been well said that ‘almost the only scoffers at prayer ar those who never tried it enough.’” — A.A. Twelve & Twelve

The Twelve & Twelve also says that using prayer and meditation in connection to our Tenth Step practice — our daily self-examination — can be powerful. Prayer and meditation can change our perspectives, feelings and behaviors so that we begin to act better on a regular basis.

“There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life.” — A.A. Twelve & Twelve

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While A.A. literature does not prescribe one type of prayer or meditation, it does recommend experimenting with tried-and-true prayers and meditations found in other spiritual traditions. There is a wealth of knowledge available on prayer and meditation, and tools such a mediation phone apps, guided meditation videos, prayer devotional books, A.A.’s Daily Reflections book and spiritual books that can help you discover new ways of praying and meditating on a regular basis.

The A.A. Twelve & Twelve also includes one prayer which captures the spirit of the A.A. program — the St. Francis Prayer.

St. Francis Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.

Useful Tools for Prayer & Meditation

Meditation Phone Apps

YouTube Channels for Meditation

Eckhart Tolle – Tolle’s books “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth” have sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and are an excellent introduction to the world of mindfulness.

The Mindful Movement – This chanel shares tips on how to live mindful and fulfilled lives. It features meditations of different lengths, with different themes to suit every mood.

Tara Brach – Brach is a U.S. psychologist, author and meditation teacher. Her channel offers tools for deepening your knowledge of mindfulness, meditation and yourself.

Wisdom 2.0 – Wisdom 2.0 is a global community that focuses on living a more mindful, compassionate and wise life. The chanel features meditations with speakers from different parts of the world

Sam Harris – Harris is a neuroscientist, philosopher and bestselling author. He discusses questions about mindful living, the human mind and our society, and shares useful meditations.

Michael Sealey – Sealey is a trained and certified hypnotist who creates relaxing videos to watch while meditating.

Daily Meditation Books

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    Guardian Recovery Network & Meditation

    Guardian Recovery Network recognizes the benefits of prayer and meditation for individuals struggling with addiction. Prayer and meditation can calm the body and mind, slow down impulsivity, help individuals interrupt negative thinking patterns and develop a sense of self. At all our facilities we incorporate guided meditations into our daily schedule of activities. At some of our facilities, we also offer yoga classes, which is considered a moving meditation.

    We also recognize that for certain individuals, working the 12 Steps in a structured, supportive and professional environment can greatly increase the individual’s chances of success in recovery. By establishing healthy practices while in a treatment setting, an individual has a better chance to apply those habits in the world-at-large. If you or someone you love might benefit from working the Steps in a treatment environment, contact us any time. Our compassionate Treatment Advisors are available 24/7 to help you craft a plan for long-term recovery.

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