Society sees the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as the Bible for anyone looking to recover from an addiction. The program has an estimated success rate of between 8% and 12% according to addiction specialists. Furthermore, AA has approximately 2 million members worldwide. Nonetheless, regardless of your thoughts on the program there are valuable lessons we can learn from their text. Above all, each step offers a different gift to an addict. In this series we take a subjective look explaining the benefit each step brings.
The Gift of Growth
Step Eleven: 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. They call Alcoholics Anonymous a spiritual, not religious program. This is where spirituality really comes into play. Now that we’re operating on the solid foundation built by the previous ten steps we are ready, one day at a time, to expand our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Personal understanding is one of the most appealing things about this program. The concept of “God” or a “higher power” is limitless in variance, depending on a person’s understanding.
One of the most beautiful things recovery teaches us about spirituality is that’s ever changing. Our spirituality grows with us as we grow personally. New people and environments impact how we develop and how our spirituality shifts. The action item of Step Eleven is finding how to improve our conscious contact with the “God” of our understanding. Most of us have had an awareness of a “higher power” our entire lives, however we begin a conscious awareness through Step Two. We learned to trust that “Higher Power” during Step Three. Through working the steps thus far, we improve our relationship with our “God”.
What this Teaches
In Step Eleven we notice that reaching out to a “God of our understanding” is done through prayer and meditation. These are the most important tools in building a relationship with our “Higher Power”. We realized pretty quick that something needed changing in regard to our relationship with “God”. Over the course of the last ten steps we’ve developed new ideas that allow a loving, sympathetic “Higher Power” to come into our life. Step Eleven teaches us how to build ourselves spiritually, it gives us hope and provides meaning to our struggles.
We become so hopeless in active addiction, that we’re desperate to put our faith in something greater than ourselves. Most of us have been disappointed most our lives. Through developing a higher power we can put our trust in something that isn’t going to disappoint us. Important to note: there’s no right or wrong “Higher Power”, similarly there’s no right or wrong way to improve our conscious contact. Some people may find that being in recovery heals resentments they’ve held towards religious institutions, while others may find the religion of their childhood was simply a community and this allows them to open their connection to a spiritual path.
I’ve been told that prayer is like talking to God, while meditation is listening to him. Anyways, we don’t mean it literal when we say communicating with a “Higher Power”. What’s important is developing something that feels natural to you. Prayer, meditation, and conscious contact soothes the obsessive mind; which is why the program, “works if you work it.”
Why This is Important
This is important because the more we consciously work Step Eleven, the more we notice the presence of a higher power and see the miracles he puts in our lives. I believe “God” always speaks to us and that we are responsible to listen. In my opinion we miss “God signs” more often than not, some of the most incredible occurrences can come out of God moments. These moments, connecting with a “Higher Power” often show up in conversations with other addicts. Maybe you’re wondering how we recognize what’s God’s will for our lives. It’s easier to start with what God’s is not, and it’s not God’s will for us to relapse or use.
One of the greatest benefits of regular prayer and meditation is that it helps put a focus on something outside of ourselves. It lifts the obsession where we feel compelled to control every little detail in our lives, leading to a greater feeling of satisfaction. This satisfaction is a spiritual awakening. It transcends the physical plane and we feel it in our body, mind, and spirit. Through improving our conscious contact we no longer see our path of active addiction as bad, but simply as being the path we needed to walk. We find meaning in our experiences and understand that they can serve a higher purpose when we carry the message of recovery to the still suffering addict.