Pause for an 11th Step Minute

I have been blessed (or cursed) with the slow, gradual educational variety of spiritual experience as described in the Big Book on page 569. There were no white light experiences, no sudden transformative spiritual awakenings for me. Not that I didn't think I deserved one! My spiritual path in sobriety has been one of learning to use meditation as a tool in every step. I didn't wait until I got the Step 11 to begin trying to figure out what this thing they called meditation was. My meditation practice has grown and evolved, as I have, over the years in my sobriety.

Step 11 - "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contactwith God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Prayer and meditation for me are two companion practices. Two tools to use to connect to my Higher Power. They are not separate in their intent or practice, but may be different in intensity, concentration and in length. The founders of our programs were primarily from Christian backgrounds. I appreciate and relate to the ancient Aramaic language translation for the word "prayer" which 2000 years ago meant “to open oneself” and “to listen to the Divine Presence.”

To me "conscious contact" relates to the quality of the moment to moment relationship I'm having with my Higher Power. Every moment I have a 3rd Step decision to make - do I take the well worn path of my old habits, the path of my defective habits, or , do I take the new, less traveled path toward Higher Power, love and a new way of living? When I am in closer "conscious contact," more connected, I make the decision toward Higher Power more easily and more often.

A tool that I have used to develop my conscious contact is the 11th Step Minute. I can pause, apply the first 3 steps of meditation, anytime, anywhere to open myself up and to listen to my Higher Power.

Step 1: Pause, listen to the breath, detach from the moment. "I relax and let go."

Step 2: Focus on the area around my heart, practice feeling the loving presence of my Higher Power. "I am in the presence of my Higher Power."

Step 3: Then, let go of the bondage of self, ask my Higher Power for guidance, and listen. "I am making decisions to align with my Higher Powers will."

You may try this 11th Step Minute mini-meditation, for 1 minute or as long as needed, and as often as necessary, throughout the day.

Step 1 - We are addicted to thinking and feeling. Our brains are actually hard wired and guided by the deep, unconscious habits of our defects. In meditation we practice detaching from these unmanageable thoughts and emotions in the moment. Meditation helps to re-train our minds and to direct our energies into positive directions.

Habits are the intersection of knowledge, what to do; skill, the how to do; and desire, the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit we have to have all three. The 11th Step Minute is a great tool to continue this re-training to create new habits throughout our day in real-time moments of stress and indecision.

Step 2 - The action of focusing on the heart is vital for the 11th Step Minute to be effective. Scientists have proven that the heart is the center if our intuitive intelligence. Here is a 1 minute video that describes this. When we focus on our heart it helps to override the automatic habitual patterns of our brain, to create a coherence, or a connectedness between our head and our heart, that allows us to access our Creative Intelligence as described in the Big Book. Our heart center is our inner connection to the Universe, our Higher Power, and the path to conscious contact.

Step 3: After we detach from the unmanageable moment and create internal coherence, connect to our Higher Power, we can ask for direction and affirm that we are being provided with the right direction. Many times we just need to pause before making that old defective decision and to shift to doing the next right thing!

The educational variety of spiritual experience for me is a series of mini-spiritual awakenings. Each awakening seems to follow a pattern: a bottom, a shift in perspective, and the awakening. Chuck C. describes spiritual awakening simply for me in his book New Pair of Glasses. “When the ego is gone, you wake up right in the middle of the circle and you’re now a part - not apart from - Life, Good, God. There is no life apart from God. God is life and we are alive, so God is that which we are.” I am slowly waking up to this reality.

Day by day I move a little closer to freeing myself from the bondage of self by practicing my daily 20- 30 minutes of meditation, the 11th Step Minute throughout the day and by applying the 5 "P's" of an 11th Step Meditation practice: Persistence, Patience, Practice, Perseverance, Presence

Here is my 11th Step Meditation intention for us:

Learn to meditate. Meditate every day. Meditate in groups. Help others to meditate.

Randy F.

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