For me, Step 11 of the A.A. program is all about maintaining a a spiritual life. The step reads:
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
I know some people who do not participate in formal religion are put off by all of the “God” in A.A. Although I was part of a religious community at the time I sobered up, I found the “God” stuff hard at first. But then I listened, and read, and listened some more.
Step 3 refers to “God as we understood Him.” I remember many A.A. meetings where someone talked about their struggles with the God part of A.A. They were encouraged to accept anything that they were comfortable with as a Higher Power, even the people gathered in the A.A. meeting. It also meant, at least in theory, that A.A. meeting rooms were an accepting place where you could practice any faith or find your own path and, as long you are seeking a spiritual component, you are working the A.A. program.
Early on in my sobriety – in the first few months, I was able to accept that a Higher Power “as I understood Him” (Her) could help me get sober, and get sane. For me, all parts of Step 11 are about connecting with Spirit and walking a spiritual path:
- Sought through prayer and meditation: Part of living a sober life is making time for prayer and meditation. I don’t participate in a formal religion anymore, and I don’t have a specific time of day or day of the week that I pray. But I do pray: through attempting to live an intentional, thoughtful, contributing life; in the silent meditative conversations I have with my Higher Power; by the prayers I send out for people I know and people I don’t who need some extra love and support in their lives; and in the incredible, energetic connection I can now easily make with Mother Earth – where I find my centre, my most direct connection to Spirit.
- To improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him: For me, walking a spiritual path is all about a conscious contact with a Higher Power. Each prayer, each kind act, each careful step on this earth, keeps me on this spiritual path.
- Praying only for knowledge of His will for us: This is the most difficult part of this step. How do I hear His (Her) will for me? I can only continue to walk a spiritual path, with my heart and my mind and my spirit open (as much and as often as I can), and to try and live my life with intention.
- And the power to carry that out: Despite my uncertainty about my life’s higher purpose, choosing to be kind, trying to keep my heart and my mind open, and connecting to spirit gives me the power to carry out my life’s purpose, even if that purpose is not so clear.
My spiritual path – as informal and undefined and uncertain as it is – brings me great contentment, and peace, and joy. How thankful am I!