Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out
I like this wording of the 11th Step - using God twice instead of the Him or Her pronoun. As I've shared before, I use the female pronoun alot in my thinking. It helps me think about my Higher Power outside of the old-time, fire and brimstone punishing Old Testament God. It helps me think of my Higher Power in terms of loving, gentle, forgiving, and personally caring about me.
This is what the Big Book of AA says about the 11th Step:
Step 11 suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy in this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it.
-A.A. Big Book p.85-86
And from the next Chapter, "Into Action:"
STEP ELEVEN suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it. It would be easy to be vague about this matter. Yet, we believe we can make some definite and valuable suggestions.
When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. we relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.
What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.
We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn't work. You can easily see why.
If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, we attend to that also. If not members of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one's priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer.
As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day "Thy will be done." We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.
It works--it really does.
As I mentioned in my last post, I was lucky enough to attend a BB Study meeting last week on part of the 6th chapter. This is just one way my HP puts information in my world at just the right time, when I am ready to hear it.
I needed to have someone share about what CONSCIOUS contact meant to them, so I could bring that idea into my life in the form of action.
I have to make an earnest and conscious effort to *communicate* with my HP. This doesn't mean to slap a wish list onto whether I am going to believe in my HP. This means to ask for help, but mostly help with what is my HP's will, not mine. After all, my will landed me in a place where *the process of recovery HAS to SAVE my life.*
The will of a Power Greater than myself is all I can really count on for saving me from my illogical thinking and damage I continue to do to myself and my life, as well as those around me. In other words, it can only get better if I let go and let God.
Since I attended that meeting, I have made a conscious effort to start my day with quiet time and prayer and meditation. The one day that I failed to do this, I really felt the difference. I became instantly irritated as soon as the first person interrupted me (and my job is the type that I have to multitask with lots of interruptions). However, when I take time for prayer and meditation, I am able to stop and think BEFORE I erupt in anger or irritation. I am able to respond with more kindness and equanimity when interrupted for the thousandth time over the smallest thing.
So, you may ask, how does a non-Christian pray?
Well, I have a great respect for Jesus, I just don't count myself among his followers. I ask my HP to help me accomplish whatever I am supposed to do that day (and only my HP really knows that I am supposed to accomplish, so there is that too). I ask to be led to the right places and helped to do the right things. And I ask for my shortcomings to be removed - not by me, because I can't do it - but by my HP. If I just act as if, and try to do the next right thing, this falls into place. Or tries to, unless my will interrupts and disrupts the process.
And when that happens... more prayer and meditation.
I find gratitude helps me get in touch with HP when I am resistant or ignorant or just plain willful.
So, for tonight:
I am thankful for:
1. My daughter's sweet little voice as she plays silly in the next room
2. My dog's unconditional love and appreciation
3. This Program I have been led to by, yes, the alcoholic in my life, my husband, so I guess I am thankful for him too!
4. My older daughter sharing some anti-smoking and anti-alcohol campaign posters she designed for an assignment at school
5. My friends showing me some kindness and caring through the blogs and Facebook
6. Attending an Al-Anon meeting tonight and hearing words come out of my mouth that I did not know were going to come out, including asking to read a reading that I did not know I would, or plan on.... very neat experience!
7. My renewed decision to take better care of myself, including lying down to rest this afternoon and making better food choices
8. The possibility of a snow day tomorrow and the fact that I work a flexible job and my boss does not require me to drive in bad weather (he is from Cameroon in Africa, and does not like to drive in snow either!)
9. The fact that my apartment complex has an INDOOR POOL and if we are snowed in I have the option of taking the girls swimming to get them out of the house for some fun and good exercise
10. The chili I made last night was even more delicious tonight
11. Getting to see my mother and my niece and nephew today
12. Going to pick up the grocery staples we needed (milk, eggs, bread) after my Al-Anon meeting tonight
13. The presence of a borrowed movie, library books and TWO sets of speaker tapes in my apartment so I will be plenty entertained if I get snowed in
14. Internet access and my computer has a new hard drive, double the size of the old one, so it is working even better
15. Open AA meetings where I can learn how to live
Good night, and good gratitudes to you.