Practicing the Here and Now
Being Intentional with Step 11 Using Prayer & Meditation to Work All the Steps
An Excerpt from Chapter 7: Sanity Has Returned
We have been placed in a position of neutrality with respect to our addiction. We are not fighting. Sanity— healthy thinking— has returned. We are living within a spiritual shield— protected, invulnerable to the onslaught of our addiction obsession (imagine the force fields in Star Wars). We recoil from temptation as we would from a hot flame.
This is in direct contrast to being in the grip of our addiction, repeatedly putting our hand on a hot stove, not remembering that last time it burned us (page 24).
We have a new attitude: “We are safe and protected.” We have received the gift of physical sobriety. But we are not cured.
We need to “keep in fit spiritual condition” (page 85). We cannot rest on our laurels or past accomplishments, which is yesterday’s spiritual work. We have a daily reprieve, a stay of execution. Each day has its own work. Psychiatrist Dr. Harry Tiebout confirmed in his pioneering work on alcoholism in the 1950s that Bill W. got it right: the first nine Steps deflate the ego at depth. But the ego has an uncanny way of regenerating itself.
Remember the “dimmer switch” discussed earlier: it is spring-loaded to go backward. We need to lean gently into it, pushing it forward: one notch at a time, one day at a time, one spiritual practice at a time.
How do we grow in both understanding and effectiveness? The Big Book connects Steps Ten and Eleven with this transition. “Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities” (page 84).
Whose vision? My vision . . . of God’s will. The purpose of meditation is guidance, the “knowledge of God’s will for us” part of Step Eleven. Each morning we sit to envision our day, receiving both knowledge and power. We ask in prayer: “How can I best serve Thee— Thy will (not mine) be done” (page 85).
In meditation, we are using our mind to reflect on and receive guidance about this invitation from our Higher Power today. We ask (pray) about our daily activities: “Think about the twenty-four hours ahead” (in meditation). We ask (pray) about operating principles: Who am I going to be today? “We consider our plans for the day” and “employ our mental faculties with assurance” (page 86).
This is the proper use of our mind in meditation. The next suggestion for maintaining our spiritual condition is to “exercise our willpower” along this line all we wish. We decide, with our free will, to seek the truth— the immutable guiding principles of reality; and to align our decisions and actions with these perceived truths— to be in harmony with reality as we see it, to the best of our ability. This is the proper use of the will (page 85).
The body depends on instinct; the mind develops a reliance on intuition. With continued practice, our will learns to receive, trust, and respond to inspiration (spiros— the breath of God in us).
Herb K. was given the gift of freedom from alcohol February 21, 1984. As a result of the application of the Twelve Steps as contained precisely in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, he experienced a profound spiritual awakening in 1988. Since then he has been very involved in carrying the message of recovery through presentations, facilitating workshops, and leading retreats.
He has authored three books to help people access the instructions and confirm the actual process contained in the Big Book for experiencing a spiritual awakening: Practicing the Here and Now: Being Intentional with Step 11 (2017), Twelve-Step Guide to Using the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (2004) and Twelve Steps to Spiritual Awakening: Enlightenment for Everyone (2010). His books are available on Amazon and other locations.
This is part three of a special five part blog series on HerbK.com to help those preparing for an Emotional Sobriety workshop reflect and meditate. It is an excerpt from Practicing the Here and Now: Being Intentional with Step 11. Specifically it is Chapter 7, “We Continue Awakening by Dealing with Internal Disturbances.”
Allen Berger, PhD and Herb K. have been hosting workshops as more people recognize the importance of Emotional Sobriety, especially in long-term recovery. Bill W. first coined the term in a letter written and then published in AA Grapevine in 1958 (see The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety for more background.)
In addition to workshops and retreats on the topic of Emotional Sobriety, Allen Berger and Herb K. have founded the Institute for Optimal Recovery and you can find resources, events updates and more on the Facebook page OPTIMAL RECOVERY.
“We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness.”
— BIG BOOK, page 84
Keep these questions in mind
- Am I aware of my tendency to fall asleep, unintentionally unconscious?
- Am I committed to a daily practice to stay awake, intentionally conscious?
- Am I willing to work at keeping my channel clear to enable – a vital prayer and meditation practice? – a life of compassionate service based on universal principles?
- Am I willing to have a guide or teacher?
- Am I willing to be accountable for my daily inventory practice and my daily behavior?