A Brief Outline Of The 12 Steps — Step 11

This is the eleventh of a series of posts in which we hope to acquaint our readers with some of the details surrounding the programs that we recommend. There are a variety of other programs, but because we and most other facilities shape our treatment plans around the 12 Step fellowships, those are the ones on which we will concentrate.

Step 11 reads: “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 principle behind Step 11 is spirituality.

Daydreaming Is Meditation

It has been said that prayer is asking for answers, and meditation is listening for them. Whether we believe that the answers come from our subconscious or from God is immaterial. The important thing is that we take time to slow down enough for our head monsters to stop dragging us around by our thoughts.

Folks who are looking for an excuse to find fault with 12-step programs may point to Step 11 as an example of how they are religious organizations. Cults, some people would say. Again, we need to remember that the Steps were written in the late 1930’s. That’s more than 70 years ago. Folks thought differently then, and if Bill Wilson had tried to write about secular spirituality and avoid the mention of God, he would quickly have lost his audience.

Today, some of us understand spirituality differently. Personally, I think of religion as involving dogma, rituals, prayer, a transcendent being of some sort, and a quest for salvation along with an eternal reward. To me, spirituality means the things of the human spirit: love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, a sense of responsibility and of harmony, contentment, and joy — the things that bring true happiness to ourselves and others.

In many respects prayer is meditation. What’s important is that we take the time, every day, to give our minds time to wind down. To clear our minds and listen for those answers. If we fail to do so, it is difficult to come to grips with the changes that are happening in our lives, to maintain self-awareness instead of self-pity, and to generally develop healthy, long-lasting sobriety. Whether we practice walking meditation, pray, contemplate, sit zazen or daydream, the result is the same. That is the underlying concept beneath the wording of Step 11, and it is a practice that anyone should be able to embrace, religious or not.

Daydreaming, by the way, is meditation. See, you already know how to do it!

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