11th Step Meditation Practices
The 11th step of twelve-step programs says we “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.” This piece of the program is often known as the meditation step, as it’s the one step that directly suggests we practice some form of meditation. There are meetings that are 11th step meditation meetings, books and websites all about 11 step meditation practices, and many guided meditations available.
What is the 11th Step of AA?
First, let’s look at what the step is. The step originated with the first twelve-step group, Alcoholics Anonymous. The 11th step in AA isn’t just about meditation; it also mentions prayer. This step is about pausing, taking time each day to pray and meditate.
The chapter on the eleventh step in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions starts by saying that “Prayer and meditation are our principal means of conscious contact with God.” The AA 11th step is one of the “maintenance steps” that we practice regularly to upkeep our recovery. It suggests we continue to investigate spirituality, our relationship with our higher power, and the ability to check in with ourselves and our recovery.
We’ve seen at our house that some people benefit from investigating the role of a higher power in their recovery. Whether you’re religious, agnostic, or atheistic, the notion of a higher power should probably not be taken for granted.
Some people use the simple acronym “Good Orderly Direction” or “Group Of Drunks” to explain “God.” Others may be religious and use the higher power of their religion. If you’re an atheist, you may understand “higher power” as the principle of compassion, mindfulness, kindness, or community. Whatever the case may be, the 11th step is a method of connecting with our values, ideals, and path in recovery.
Working the AA 11th Step
People work the 11th step a variety of ways. Many make it a practice to pray and meditate every day. 11th step meditation and prayer may look different for different individuals. However, the practice is the same. We dedicate time to this step every day, to meditate and/or pray.
It may be beneficial to build some routine. Some people spend a few minutes in prayer and meditation in the morning, while others find it most helpful to practice step eleven before going to bed at night. There’s no right or wrong answer; you find what works for you.
What is Meditation?
Meditation comes in many forms. There are traditions that emphasize meditation, such as Buddhism. There are also forms of meditation in religions such as Christianity and Judaism. Twelve-step literature encourages us to follow the teachings of our religion here if we’re already religious.
If you’re not a religious person, you may find benefit from some guided meditations. Perhaps one of the most useful principles to bring to this step work is open-mindedness. We try new things, see what works for us, and give the step our best effort. For some, meditation means simply sitting in silence for a few minutes. For others, meditation may mean chanting.
11 Step Meditation Practices
Here at Atlas Recovery, we do have some experience with 11th step meditation. For our step 11 meditation, we sit in a few types of practice. These practices are related to mindfulness, concentration, and loving-kindness practice. They are completely secular, offering a way for you to meditate without believing in any particular religion. Below are three 11th step guided meditation practices you can try!
Step 11 Prayer
Although we’ve talked mostly about meditation in this post, it’s important to discuss step 11 prayer. On page 99 of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, the St. Francis Prayer is offered. It’s a great prayer to try working with.
You may also try to create your own prayer. Whether you have a specific religion you follow or not, you can come up with a few words to offer your intention of kindness, care, recovery, and health. You may also try the loving-kindness meditation above. Although not an actual prayer, it is a wonderful way to open the heart and practice something similar to prayer, especially if you’re not religious!