Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
I used to wonder, if God exists and is so powerful and omnipotent, why would He allow man to go so far astray? If God is perfect love, then why do we have to suffer in this life? Why would God allow the forces of nature to kill, injure and destroy our homes and lives? Why wars, hunger, murder, rape, disease and injustice? Why would a just God give so much to a few and so little to the masses? I would also ask, why doesn’t He just put an end to this chaos?
So many whys I started to doubt the existence of God. Once I stopped asking why, and became entirely willing to reinvent my belief system, the angst that had once controlled my chaotic life dissipated, and slowly the Spirit transformed my soul. Daily spiritual readings, along with prayer and meditation, and finally the answers started to fill my mind.
Here we have the worldly option to make choices, but in order to reunite with God we must be willing to align our will with His will. With this comes the recognition that our ego-driven desires are the opposite of God’s will. Everlasting peace only is ours when our wills are identical to God’s will. And while understanding God’s will is possible, comprehension of the mind of God is inconceivable.
My sponsor used to reiterate, “We need to find a Higher Power we can do business with.” This didn’t mean that we could create a God to fit our desires; it meant we must adjust our perception of God to the reality of who he really is. If we void ourselves from the noise of false teachers and vision what a perfect God would be, then and only then can we scratch the surface of the true omnipotence of our Creator.
Now I comprehend the reality of God as perfect love and truth. God created man to share in eternity with Him, not as servants, but as part of Him. For man to rejoin with Him in eternity, we must be as He is. To be part of God in eternity, we must make the perpetual choice to pursue perfect love and truth. God’s granted us free will to make that choice here on earth. Somewhere, somehow, our souls must internalize this perfect love and truth for us to transition from mere humans to the spiritual beings God desires us to be. We must remember that before total transformation only a little has been revealed and the answers will come to us if we work for them.
Step 11 starts: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God…” God-consciousness is not a theory or idealistic jibber-jabber. God-consciousness is realistic, practical and viable in our daily lives. This direct connection with the Spirit heals us instantly from the petty problems that tend to feel overwhelming. The simple words “Thy will, not my will, be done” will bring some relief if we truly comprehend that the reality of God’s will is that we reunite with Him.
The second message in Step 11 says, “Praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out”. When praying for this knowledge we asked ourselves, “What decision is best for all involved?” This will likely bring about the solution we seek as long as it is based on sound, moral principles and therefore God’s will. Praying for knowledge of His will and power to carry it out, requires the not only willingness, it requires strength to take the action required to achieve His will. God’s will is not the answer to a mystery, but an elementary reminder that our purpose in this world is love and service.
By reading more into this massage we can also see that the act of specifically asking for God’s help with petty desires and everyday problems actually reinforces our ego’s desire to constantly remind us that something is wrong – when we are simply experiencing life on life’s terms. Frustration, challenges and even pain are part of being human. Our role as humans is to redirect the focus on humanity to the spiritual reality of our purpose.
Our egos drive us to focus on vanity and to compete for silly things such as the closest parking space at the mall. Our egos tell us that everything in life that is unimportant is important, leaving no time to focus on what is of ultimate importance: God’s love. This conundrum creates noise and chaos around us. By experiencing Step 11 we find peace of mind in the natural flow of life.
What if we don’t get it?
Many religions also profess that God has a plan for us. That is true in the enormous realm of eternity, but God having an exact plan for us in the same world in which we have unaltered free will seem to be conflicting concepts. God grants us infinite possibilities to align with His ultimate plan, but as humans we have free agency to snub God at every turn, as many do. Some would preach that this would anger God and therefore those who snubbed God will be punished. Once again, we are not here to judge.
Life, like addiction, is not changed by threats, preaching and nagging from others. Lessons are, in part, learned from the actions of those we observe. People change based on what they are attracted to, and there is nothing attractive about nagging, preaching people whom vocalize a set of morals that they themselves refuse to follow.
As renowned psychiatrist Henry Stack Sullivan reminded us in the 1930s: “All of us are much more human than otherwise.” So what is real?
We are not here forever…
This planet is time-limited. The sun will burn out or massive climate change will destroy us or man will simply destroy himself. The simply reality of humankind is, we will not last – this fact is real.
Earth has existed for approximately 4.5 billion years. If our planet’s existence were condensed into a 24-hour period, humans would not arrive on the scene until 11:58:43 p.m. It is estimated that the universe has been in existence 13.82 billion years. The time the universe has existed is an immeasurable speck in time compared to all of eternity. And the most recent scientific conjecture is that there was a universe before this universe … but who cares? Science is interesting, but the bulk of our focus in recovery is living in the present.
Life is serious business, but most take it too seriously, often missing the whole point. We fight and die for a patch of land; we focus on accumulation of wealth and material things. We strive for power and victory in the activities we pursue. More is never enough.
Most humans simply seek the wrong agendas. We fall victim to the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, sloth, anger and gluttony. But are they really sins? Think of them not as sins or even mistakes; think of them as obstacles in our paths to eternity. The God of my understanding is not revengeful and wrathful but truly is a God of perfect love and truth. Such a God is void of fear, shame and guilt. They do not exist within Him. All negative traits driven by ego are manmade.
Duality: A misguided belief
Healing does not transpire by petitioning God with a list of wants. Duality is implied when we believe we are separate from God. This separation turns our prayers into petitions asking for things that are many times out of the realm of God’s will. Since we are an expression of God, we merge with God and become aware that duality is part of the illusion created by a misguided belief system.
Another misguided belief is applying human traits to our perception of God. Some perceive that God’s mind is like a human’s: revengeful, judgmental and wrathful. This perception leads to the belief that God would rather have us sacrifice and suffer opposed to God’s intent for humans to be happy, joyous and free.
Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, a teacher of the non-dualistic concept of God based on A Course in Miracles puts it this way: “The First Person in the Trinity, the Creator, the Source of all being of life, the Father, Whose Fatherhood is established by the existence of His Son, Christ, the First Cause, Whose Son is His Effect; God’s essence is spirit, which is shared with all creation, whose unity is the state of Heaven.”
God, spirituality, religion and recovery
In recovery we may reconnect with the religion of our youth if our experience with religion before addiction was rewarding and meaningful. If we have sad memories or lived through any type of abuse, such as emotional, physical and even sexual trauma, we may seek a more personal connection with God. A connection based on love and truth, not based on fear.
Some fundamentalist religions use fear, guilt and shame to intimidate their flocks into adhering to a specific set of principles. These fear-based, maladapted teachings do not set well with recovering people and may have contributed to the addiction process in the first place. Some religions may have become too powerful and seem to seek money and control as opposed to carrying the message of God.
Regardless of past experiences, the recovering person usually finds a closer connection to God in recovery. Acceptance that everything is exactly as it should be, as well as living with awareness of the present, over time heals past wounds and past misconceptions.
Meditation: The key element to step 11
Neurologically, meditation occurs when our brainwaves slow down to between four and eight cycles per second, known as the Theta Range. It is slower than the eight to twelve Hz of the calm Alpha state and slightly faster than the Delta, or sleeping state, of the brain. When a person’s brain is in an Alpha-Theta state, the mind is half conscious and half meditative. The brain and the body heal during this time because good hormones, such as oxytocin, release and stress-driven hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, stay home.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions states, “the greatest reward from meditation is the sense of belonging that comes over us. We no longer live in a hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless.”
Meditation delivers answers to questions we have not yet asked. It is extremely useful to journal after mediation: we uncover what we did not know that we know.
A good start to any day: Read a spiritual message, meditate on the contents, and journal your feelings…
The Eleventh Step Prayer:
Lord make me a channel of thy peace, that where there is hatred, I may bring love; that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; that where there is discord, I may bring harmony; that where there is error, I may bring truth; that where there is doubt, I may bring faith; that where there is despair, I may bring hope; that where there are shadows, I may bring light; that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; to understand, than to be understood; to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.
“There is no strain in doing God’s will as soon as you recognize that it is also your own.” A Course in Miracles
The jubilation we feel by having a spiritual awakening is void of fear and doubt only because we experience it in the moment. The only true thought that one can hold about the past is that it is not here.
This guided meditation starts by a gently stretching your neck. I suggest this be done with your eyes open and preferably outside. However, as with any spiritual exercise you create your own atmosphere and use your own personal technique.
With your eyes open and sitting straight up, focus on the distant horizon. With the jaw relaxed, initiate slow, deep breathing only through your nostrils. Slowly tilt your head backward as you breathe in, timing your breaths to completely fill your stomach with air. Hold for a few seconds and slowly breathe out. Allow your head to reposition and your eyes to refocus on the horizon.
Repeat the process, but turn your head slowly to the left while inhaling, gazing as far left as is comfortable and hold your breath for a few seconds. Start bringing your head back to center, slowly exhaling your breath again until it is totally expelled and your head is facing forward. Repeat to the right, turning you head as far as possible without straining while inhaling. Hold here, then move back to center while exhaling. Now breathe in while allowing your head to come down, resting your eyes on the expansion of your belly. Hold a few seconds; then bring it back to center while exhaling.
As you arrive back at center, the rest of the meditation is done with the eyes on the horizon. As the airflow slowly passes into your throat, lungs and stomach feel the brightness of the sun and visualize a glowing light entering the crown chakra on the top of your head. See the light join the fresh, clean air in your throat, lungs and stomach. The synergy of God’s light and the life-sustaining oxygen of the planet bring you into the presence of your Source. Allow these moments with God and the Universe to give you a glimpse of what awaits when this world is behind you and you are at last reunited with your Creator.
Listening and affirmation
It is often suggested that meditation is a form of listening and our deepest prayers are experienced when we listen rather than speak. As long as noise intrudes upon our peace, whether it is our voice or an outside source, we miss out on the benefits of stillness and silence.
Hearing is simply one of the five senses. Listening, on the other hand, takes place in a holy moment of God-consciousness. Listening can be experienced through any of our senses, and God’s healing may be in delivered in an infinite number of forms. Our role is to focus on awareness of unselfish solutions for the situations we face.
Listening does not mean we are waiting for answers. In the silent realm of quiet listening we create an energy field of intention. That intention is to internalize God’s will, which is the absolute answer to every prayer.
Affirmations are a wonderful substitute for prayer. Positive affirmations reinforce what we know God’s will to be. Affirmations never dwell on the condition that needs healing, instead the affirmation sends a message to the universe that we are whole and the universe mirrors back the same energy that we put forth. This is the reality of God’s world.