The eleventh step in the 12-step recovery process is about making conscious contact with a Higher Power and receiving knowledge, strength, guidance and direction from that power. For someone who is barely more than agnostic – or doesn’t really care to develop their spiritual side – this may seem like a very lofty goal, or even something to be avoided at all costs. After all, it’s almost at the end of the recovery process. Surely doing the first 10 steps, then trying to help others, will be enough to sustain sobriety?
The truth is there is no cookie-cutter answer to what will and what won’t work in recovery. While completing and then continuing to practice the 12 steps is encouraged for all recovering addicts and alcoholics, no, you might not have to turn into some kind of meditating, levitating guru in order to maintain sobriety. That being said, the benefits of developing a closer relationship with a Higher Power, whether you consider it to be divine goodness, a higher consciousness, universal wisdom, or anything else, are many and well-documented.
Benefits of Seeking Wisdom and Direction from a Higher Power
As we have mentioned, some may be turned off from seeking guidance and direction from anything outside themselves because they think it’s…
- We are taught if you want to do something right, do it yourself…except that didn’t work so well with alcohol, drugs and recovery, did it…
- For some people, turning their consciousness over to a Higher Power is reminiscent of asking a Ouija board for answers.
- Many don’t believe there even is a Higher Power, let alone one who is listening and willing to provide help.
But really, like with all the other steps, despite whatever degree of reluctance, fear, or simple laziness we possess, we must be willing to push past such resistant feelings in order to achieve the benefits that come from actually practicing the step. Much like the analogy of expecting to put on muscle mass by thinking about working out, we have to actually go to the gym regularly in order to receive benefits. When it comes to Step 11, those benefits include:
- Spiritual nourishment. If addiction is ‘the realm of hungry ghosts’ where we repeatedly try and fail to fill a ‘God-sized hole’ within us with chemical addictions, then true nourishment must come to the soul from the inside out.
- Emotional balance. Being calm and centred just isn’t possible in the ego-mind, which drives us constantly in our daily lives; meditation slows us down enough to allow for rest in the spaces between our monkey-mind thoughts. Only by letting our feelings rise up can we address them and find solutions that lie outside the hamster wheel of thinking.
- Sense of purpose. One could probably make a life’s work out of self-examination: searching ourselves for who we are, and taking action based on what we find, can provide a much-needed sense of internal peace and purpose, even when the outside world seems to be lacking in both.
- Especially in times of stress, it can be hard to remember we are not alone in a dark and scary universe; prayer and meditation, in which we attempt a two-way communication with a Higher Power, provides an outlet for our problems as well as inspiration and hope of their resolution.
There are so many ways to practice Step 11, to ask for direction and the power to do the right thing each moment of the day. The key is to just begin!