“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.”
“The process of enlightenment is usually slow. But in the end, our seeking always brings a finding. These great mysteries are, after all, enshrined in complete simplicity.”– Bill W
BREAKING DOWN STEP 11 OF AA ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
Exploring spirituality in the 11th Step of AA Alcoholics anonymous can be a wonderful and illuminating experience. We now have a solid frame of reference built by the previous Ten Steps of AA. Our recovery has helped us to stay sober one day at a time, and has allowed us to expand our capacity for new information about ourselves, and the world around us. This open mindedness is one of the greatest things about AA. In AA the concept of a “higher power” and “God as we understand him” really affords every single person, from every walk of life, an unlimited choice of spiritual beliefs and actions.
In recovery we find that spirituality really is constantly developing and changing just like us. New situations and new people all have an effect on us and our spirituality needs to grow along those lines. The Step 11 task at hand is therefore finding ways to improve conscious contact and connection with the “God” of our own understanding. We already have a conscious awareness of a “higher power” working in our lives, which we began to develop in Step Two. Working on Step Three we learned to trust that higher power for guidance. In the process of working through all of the steps so far, we were improving our relationship with the higher power.
While working on the 11th step we come to realize that reaching out to a God of our understanding is also simply known as prayer and meditation, which can be one of the most effective means for building a relationship with our higher power.
When we first came to Alcoholics Anonymous most of us realized pretty darn quickly that we needed to change our relationship with the word and concept of “God”. Its more than likely that while using our drug of choice we didn’t understand- or care to understand- anything about a higher power and likely had some very unhealthy ideas about it…unless it was to make a brazen demand along the lines of “Do this for me now and I won’t use again.”
Working on the previous 10 Steps you were forming new ideas that allowed for a loving, caring higher power to be a part of your life, and coming to believe in a power greater than yourself. When I sat down to work on my Fifth Step with my first sponsor, I was filled with a quiet certainty that not only could I trust my sponsor and trust this process, but also going forward I felt the presence of a higher power.
This part of the AA journey is going to be so different for everyone, and there’s no right or wrong God, just as there’s no right or wrong way to improve conscious contact. For some, being in recovery may mean healing resentments that we may have held against religious institutions. For some the religion of their childhood was little more than a community or sentimental connection but can now work really well for them as part of their personal spiritual path.
STEP 11 OF AA: THE SPIRITUAL PATH OUT OF ADDICTION
Exploring our spiritual path in Step 11 means picking up, leaning into and/or discarding various spiritual practices. AA its self does not have any official or specifically approved spiritual path. The AA program of recovery offers a set of spiritual principles, and uses a concept referred to as “God” or “higher power” or “power greater than ourselves” for members to use as a path out of active addiction.
Whether you are solid as a rock in your concept of a higher power and your spiritual path, or if your current state of mind holds no answers for you yet, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because, at this point on our journey we can embark on a search for a better way to understand our higher power.
This process allows us room for adventure, humility and faith. We have the option to visit every place that has anything to do with spirituality that’s available in our community. Some people I know love churches, cathedrals, synagogues and even graveyards as places where they feel divinely in tune. Others find that connection in nature, doing something they love, or through volunteering. It is also highly suggested that as you progress in recovery that you enhance your life with the abundant number of books and publications concerned with AA, spirituality and personal growth.
However, a central part of working Step 11 is not letting our own personal spiritual path take us away from the fellowship and practice of AA. Remember that we need the rooms of AA in order to deal with our addiction; our spiritual path, meditation and prayer will enhance the quality of our recovery but nothing can take the place of AA meetings, service and fellowship. With the 11thstep we are adding to the many ingredients that make up the perfect sobriety pie. Nothing can take the place of the serenity we feel the moment we step into a meeting, or shake the hand of a newcomer.
PRAYER AND MEDITATION: A MINDFUL PLACE OF SERENITY
“In AA we have found that the actual good results of prayer are beyond question. They are matters of knowledge and experience. All those who have persisted have found strength not ordinarily their own. They have found wisdom beyond the usual capability. And they have increasingly found a peace of mind which can stand firm in the face of difficult circumstances.” – Bill W
If you haven’t heard it before, AA is a simple program for complex people. Most members of Alcoholics Anonymous will say this simple suggestion about Step 11: Prayer is “talking to God” and meditation is “listening to God‘s reply.” This collective wisdom succinctly captures the meanings of prayer and meditation so well. It’s also a great reminder that improving conscious contact means building a relationship with God. In order to build any kind of relationship there needs to be a dialogue- and not merely a monologue, in one direction.
SO HOW DO WE ENACT IN PRAYER AND MEDITATION EXACTLY?
When we say that prayer is talking to a higher power, it doesn’t always have to be literally in the form of actual speech. Thinking a prayer, writing it or signing it may work for you. The key is to develop a form of prayer that feels right to you. If you have been attending AA meetings you have experienced saying a prayer. Even if the only prayers you say are the ones at AA meetings, you have been asking a higher power to keep you sober another day, for knowledge and the power to carry it out. These are habits that are helpful, healthy and may one day save your recovery.
Believe it or not, you have already been meditating every time you’ve stood as a community, in a meeting and observed the moment of silence. Every time you were out of your own head and listening intently to the story of another person, you were meditating. I firmly believe that this is one of the reasons meetings are the medicine for alcoholics and addicts; that reprieve we feel from the obsessive mind and that refocusing which brings us to the present moment is a major part of meditation. It is a simple fact that prayer, meditation and conscious contact calms us down and grounds us; usually helping to alleviate the fears that seem to overwhelm and threaten our recovery. That’s one of the reasons that we say “ It works if you work it.”
While actively working Step 11, any of us begin to notice more and more times when there is a presence of a higher power and the magnificent ways it works in our life. The presence of a loving God can be experienced in nature, in the force of the ocean, through the unconditional love of our sponsor and other AA members and through the feeling of being anchored by our program during the storm of difficult times. That connection to a higher power and the intention of wanting to know what God’s will is for us usually shows up while listening to and talking with other members of AA.
If the reason we’ve been praying and meditating is to seek the knowledge of our higher power’s will for us and the power to carry that out, how do we identify what God‘s will is for our lives? I think it’s much simpler to identify what is not God‘s will. In fact it’s a great starting point to acknowledge that it is not God‘s will for us to relapse. Therefore acting in any way that might lead us to relapse is not God’s will and informs us about a whole bunch of behaviors, choices and thoughts that we should NOT engage in. Using all of the knowledge that we have gained from our previous work on steps, about our patterns and ourselves we try our best to avoid destructive patterns.
In “It works: how and why” we read, “ God‘s will for us is the ability to live with dignity, to love ourselves and others, to laugh, and to find great joy and beauty in our surroundings. Our most heartfelt longings and dreams for our lives are coming true.”
STEP 11 QUESTIONS
Our step work wouldn’t be complete without questions that we can seek to answer as we continue to work the 12 steps of AA. Here are some Step 11 guideline questions that I have found the most useful- both in the beginning of Step 11 work and at various intervals in recovery:
How has my understanding of a “higher power” changed since starting my step work?
Do I have a specific spiritual path- and how might it contribute to my recovery?
What is the difference between a religion and spirituality?
What have I done to explore my own spirituality?
How do I pray? How do I meditate?
How do I feel about praying and meditating?
Does prayer and meditation help me put things in perspective?
In what ways have I seen any changes in my life as a result of prayer and meditation?
When do I notice the presence of a higher power in my life? What does it feel like?
What am I doing to improve my conscious contact with a God of my understanding?
What were some situations in my life where I tried to align my will with Gods? What were those results?
Why should I pray only for the “knowledge of God‘s will” for me and the “power to carry that out?”
How am I showing my commitment to working the 11th Step in my recovery?
Did I pray or meditate today? This week? Do I have faith that I will be given the knowledge and courage to carry out my higher powers will?
MOVING ON FROM STEP 11: POWER TO CARRY IT OUT
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now is the time to put knowledge, faith and ideals into action; we can’t pass on something that we don’t have.
Some members of AA find that consistent prayer and meditation helps put a focus on a higher power instead of on them, which is a relief and a freedom. No longer feeling such an urgency to control every little thing in our lives and surrendering that self will run riot, leads to more satisfaction and success.
This is a spiritual awakening. As part of our spiritual awakening we begin to manifest the three elements of recovery in AA, which involves the body, the mind and the spirit. These 3 elements together make up who and what we are and therefore true healing includes all of these aspects of the self. Just like a three-legged stool, our recovery cannot stay upright and secure unless all three legs are equally strong. So we work on and maintain all of them equally.
With this faith, courage and strength fully realized our days of active addiction no longer seem like a tragedy or a waste. We see that our experiences can serve a higher purpose; we are ready to carry the message to the addict who is still suffering. In Step 12 we are going to explore the ways in which we can carry the message of recovery and to help others who are still suffering.
The 12 Steps are kind of like a recipe for a super human special cake, one that brings about a personality change sufficient to allow alcoholics to recover from our alcoholism. When we’ve baked in the spiritual experience and arrived at step 12, it’s time for the best favorite part, the icing on the cake!
Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.
While the Trustees hold final responsibility for A.A.'s world service administration, they should always have the assistance of the best possible standing committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs and consultants. Therefore the composition of these underlying committees and service boards, the personal qualifications of their members, the manner of their induction into service, the systems of their rotation, the way in which they are related to each other, the special rights and duties of our executives, staffs and consultants, together with a proper basis for the financial compensation of these special workers, will always be matters for serious care and concerns.
TOO many of us spend a lot of time thinking one thing and expecting to become something else. Conditions of being are not attained by thinking of their opposites: Health is not gained by studying and thinking about disease; nor is happiness attained by dwelling on the sorrows and misery rampant in the world. We are not so constituted that we can devote our time and thought to one thing and become something entirely different.
Most of us completed our courses under the tutelage of John Barley-corn--even the extra-curricular activities.
To master our course in sobriety we have to think and live sobriety to the exclusion of those things we learned with old J.B.
We are only showing the processes of our own recovery when we spend too much time thinking of our drinking careers; even at its best such contemplation is not good.
EACH of us, in our own way, is attempting to build something better and finer than we've known before. All right then, we should have a blueprint for our sobriety.
If we were going to build a temple, we certainly wouldn't study the plans for a tavern--they are opposites in purpose and design.
In the 12 Steps of A.A. we are given the best tools in the world with which to build our structure of sobriety--but what good are those tools going to do us if we don't study the right plans?
The first and most important thing for us to plan is our foundation--this is going to "have to be good"; it will have to be strong enough to support our edifice against all stress, strain and the buffetings of the winds of Fate.
Here are some of the materials we are going to need in our foundation: First we'll need a large portion of humility--true humility, not the door-mat variety. Another good word for humility (in case you don't care for the word) is teachability--the absence of self-will and egotism.
ANOTHER thing we'll need in goodly amount is gratitude; gratitude to that Power Greater than ourselves--because only with the help of that Power can we again become sane and useful people. And only as we make the most of ourselves can we truly make amends to others.
Tolerance is another material we must have, great heaps of it, because it makes these other things blend well.
Now we'll mix the foregoing materials well and to them we'll add the strongest cement in the world--love.
These are the elements of a most solid and enduring foundation, on which we are safe in erecting our house of sobriety. OK, so we know what we are going to put into our foundation. The next question is, "how big is it going to be?" That we answer for ourselves by deciding what we need room for in our lives. If we are going to practice the principles set down in A.A. (in all our affairs) we are going to need a lot of room in which to grow.
WE have our foundation, let's see what materials we have at hand for our structure. Let us be very sure that none of our materials are faulty; the bricks with which we build our house must be as perfect as we can make them. If we allow our bricks to become shot thru' with the straws and rubble of self-pity, resentment, fear, narrowmindedness, egotism and reservations of one sort and another we are going to find that our whole structure suffers as the result of the inferior materials.
We are all familiar with the ingredients necessary for bricks of lasting value--such as: faith, courage, determination, kindness, understanding, generosity, sincerity, friendliness, self-respect and true compassion. These are but a few, but we can know that if we use plenty of these, our structure will have endurance and beauty.
Keeping our blueprint in mind, we'll put each brick in its proper place and then almost before we know it, our house of sobriety will become a reality--a reality which will show how closely we've followed our own particular blueprint.
We are available 24/7. All calls are confidential. Phones answered by sober volunteers.
November 2022 Special Price
Emotional Sobriety I & II
$10.00 plus tax
Heartfelt contributions to Grapevine magazine that speak to emotional sobriety―a powerful concept first described by AA co-founder Bill W.
Powerful and uplifting, the book Emotional Sobriety: The Next Frontier features stories of sober women and men that depict the personal transformations that sobriety can bring when sober alcoholics practice the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous in all aspects of their lives.
In a 1958 article for Grapevine, the international journal of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. wrote about the ongoing challenges of recovery that he faced long after he stopped drinking, including his struggle with depression. For him, “emotional sobriety” became the next frontier.
In these honest and humble essays drawn from the archives of Grapevine magazine, you’ll discover what emotional sobriety is all about. Many will realize that happiness is a by-product of giving without any demand for return; others learn to embrace the present with gratitude so they may claim moments of real peace.
The stories in this anthology show that when we have the willingness to find solutions, rather than stay stuck in problems, we can let go of fear, selfishness, and resentment, put aside selfish demands, practice outgoing love, and become more connected to our Higher Power and our friends, family, and community.
With unflinching honesty, this collection includes the voices of AA members reflecting on their own emotional sobriety or, as Bill Wilson put it, "a quiet place in bright sunshine."
As of this distribution, services have not been announced for our friends. We will be notified of celebrations once dates are set. Call NOCCO at (714) 773-4357 for updates.
34 Years of Sobriety
September 25, 1988
A Message from Karen's Family:
We have been inundated with questions of what can I do? You all know how much my wife loved being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and how this program saved both of us, our family and so many others. So if you feel inclined, we would love for donations to be made in her honor and memory to our local central office of Alcoholics Anonymous. If this is something you would like to do, here is the website and you can donate online at https://www.aanoc.org/online-contributions/ - or mail a check to NOCCO - 1661 E Chapman Avenue, Suite 1H, Fullerton CA 92831.
The Meyers Family
Do you have something special to report for our monthly neighborhood notables? Please email birthdays, celebrations, sober activities and other odds and ends email@example.com.
InterGroup Meeting - Nov 9 @ 7:30pm
Please join us at the next NOCCO InterGroup Meeting. InterGroup Meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm.
To help support local essential services, the General Service Conference suggests that individual groups, through an informed group conscience, adopt a specific contribution plan. Click below to see all of the Group Contributions from previous periods.
Each month, NOCCO provides accounting detail of income and expenses to indicate net profit or loss over the last month. This information is available to any group or member. Click below to see the financial detail from last month.
Even though meetings, 12-step services and operations have shifted to a hybrid environment, expenses continue as we navigate the re-opening of meetings, which underscores the importance of practicing the Seventh Tradition. We still stock literature, handle 12-step calls around the clock, and assist those with a desire to stop drinking. Your generous support is critical and appreciated.
Hardcover Jacketless Format for Big Book and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
We are delighted to announce a new hardcover format of our most popular books:
A new jacket less format of the hardcover Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous (Item B-1)
A new jacket less format of the hardcover Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Item B-2)
These formats will become available for ordering in late November 2022.
As we have been updating everyone throughout these unprecedented times, supply chain disruptions throughout the worldwide paper, manufacturing materials, printing and trucking industries continue to unfavorably impact the production and distribution of A.A.W.S. literature and other items.
A historical note from the G.S.O. Archives
This is not the first instance that printing supplies have necessitated adapting the format of the Big Book. During World War II, to conform with directive from the U.S. government to all publishers to decrease paper consumption in their publications, the Big Book's trim size was reduced in 1945. Samples of this "wartime Big Book" edition are on display at the G.S.O. Archives in New York City.
With this jacket less adaptation of our hardcovers, starting with our beloved "bestsellers" the hardcover Big Big and hardcover Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, we in A.A. are once again showing great resilience in the face of obstacles posed by world events!
2025 International Convention
A.A. Member Engagement Survey
As many of you may know, planning is already underway for the 2025 International Convention that will be held July 3-6, 2025, in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Given the impact and uncertainty of the Covid-19 virus, it is vital that we obtain feedback from the Fellowship as it relates to domestic and international travel, attendance at large events, and thoughts regarding an in-person event with a partial, limited virtual component, and incorporate the feedback in our planning. We anticipate that the following survey will be one of several dispatched during the planning process so that we may remain current with the thoughts of the Fellowship.
Kindly take a few minutes and answer the questions in the link below. Your responses are of great value in helping us to better plan for the International Convention. (All responses are anonymous.)
The 90th anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous will be celebrated at the 2025 International Convention in Vancouver, BC, Canada, July 3 – 6, 2025. Registration will begin in early 2024.
It is suggested that those who believe they have some past legal incident, such as a DUI or felony that could inhibit their attendance at the 2025 International Convention, seek assistance/information by accessing the Government of Canada link noted below.