by Marko P. (Punanai 2013)
The eleventh step is an ambiguous one for me at this stage of recovery. I am quite sure I know what my Higher Power’s will for me is not, but I often have no idea what his will for me is. That realization doesn’t come automatically; I have to work towards it.
I am not a religious person. In fact, I’d say I’m an atheist, at least in a religious sense. I start my day with a prayer nonetheless because I try to listen to my sponsor, and he simply ordered me to pray. I found that something miraculous happens when I vocalize my need for help.
“I am an alcoholic. Help me get through today without acting on my character defects.”
On a good day I meditate for at least five minutes right after that prayer. When I meditate, my mind often wanders from one idea to the next, and I continually try to bring my attention back to my breathing or to a physical sensation I feel at that moment – basic meditation.
When I’m successful, I notice that my mind stops playing five simultaneous scenarios about the past or the future, and it actually calmly analyzes something that is on my agenda for that day. That’s when I feel like I’ve struck gold – I get to input some data into my “computer” and I let it work. What I get back after the meditation is my higher power’s will for me, free from selfishness, fear, resentment, and dishonesty.
When I’m faced with a situation which brings out fear, anger, selfishness or dishonesty (or a combination of those four character defects), I am grateful for Steps Ten and Eleven. The combination of these two steps allows me to pause, step back for a moment, and realize that if I continue to be driven by my defects, I will invariably feel worse. Then I pray for help, I try to discuss my issue with someone, and I turn my attention to a better cause. I’ve had amazing experiences employing this tactic, and it’s straight from Alcoholics Anonymous!
Anger is a really powerful feeling, and before I harnessed the power of prayer I often suffered for hours or even days. One time I allowed a co-worker to anger me. The anger quickly turned into resentment. I was doing a mindless task and my mind was filled with angst. Nothing else occupied my thoughts. Hours went by before I realized I was fuming. But I somehow remembered the instructions from the Big Book and found the most spiritual place around: a washroom. I went down on my knees, asked for the anger to be removed, and quickly turned to another co-worker and asked if I could help with something. Resentment disappeared in an instant.
There are numerous other instances where I’ve successfully used prayer to remove fear, selfishness, anger and dishonesty from my mind. When thoughts of drugs and alcohol come back, a short prayer removes them incredibly quickly. When I’m faced with an amend, I pray for courage to go through with it, and the courage comes. It’s remarkable.
I realize that if I hope to continue to reap the gifts of this process, I must always put in the work. It’s a completely new set of skills for me and I doubt I will continue being successful with it if I don’t practice it all the time, to the best of my ability. I can’t simply theorize on the topic of fear removal, hoping I will feel better; I have to do the right actions. The more I do these things, the closer I get to the ideal. My conscience, my higher power, becomes a lot more accessible as a result.
If I stop honing the skills of prayer and meditation, my character defects creep right back and separate me from my conscience and my higher power. The paradox of the first drink will eventually become a reality for me, and the link with my higher power will be severed. I do not want that. I pray and meditate so that it will never happen.