Step 11 - Meditation - A Closer Look

Step 11 - 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 11th Step suggests continued prayer and meditation as part of a way of living; just as was done in the previous 10 steps. There are no requirements or exact instructions, however, AA's Founders did have a certain context in mind. That was a Christian perspective. They had "Quiet Time" in the morning where they would read a spiritual section. Their meditation then consisted of essentially contemplating what was in that passage for a few minutes. Calling newcomers or other members was often part of this. Of course, this varied from person to person but this was the basic tradition passed on. It's a great way to start and / or end the day.

Meditation in the 1930's - 60's had different meaning than it did after the 1960's when Yasutani Roshi, Philip Kapleau, DT Suzuki, Maezumi, Aitkin and other Zen masters introduced Buddhist Meditation to America. 

The formal practice of Zen meditation is described as 
 "Assisting the mind to return to its original condition is the essence of zazen. 
- Eihei Dogen

Zazen means seated meditation. To sit and allow the mind to rest in its natural state has since been adopted as the primary meaning of meditation in the modern age. Although there are many, many different methods, this is the basic, general principle. 

This means there are two general categories of meditation people usually do in AA. The Christian and the Buddhist. This is not to diminish any other tradition but currently, in the United States, these are the two main guiding traditions people turn to when studying meditation (many others are great and worth a look). This is not to say the 11th Step need be religious at all. It is simply to say that there have been millions of people who devoted their lives for thousands of years to these two traditions. This leaves us with a great deal of helpful information to utilize when learning about Meditation.

AA's Founders were very careful to avoid "pouring people into moulds". Hank Parkhurst prodded Bill about this which can be seen in the printers manuscript of the Big Book. Hank noted, "Pour the Mould" when Bill wrote specific 11th Step instructions for "Upon Awakening...".  

Bill also warned about this on the very last page of the printers copy of the Big Book writing, 

"We have been constantly saying that the problem with organized religion is that it tries to pour people into moulds. So, why should we give specific instructions saying, do this or that? It can obscure many alcoholics."

This is the backdrop for all the steps. They are but suggestions. The Founders had 100% faith in each person Higher Power to lead the way that they avoided trying to control everyone's life. Any "specific instructions" on this page are published in this light. No Dogma!

Therefore, the 11th Step is wide open and can be deepened infinitely. This page will lay out the instructions for the 11th Step. It also includes additional reading and instructions of various methods for prayer and meditation. This is but a scratch on the surface and by no means definitive or even suggestive of what a person "ought" to choose for themselves. Each person is encouraged to do what they feel their Higher Power would have them do. 

There is an old saying, "If drilling for water and you keep moving the drill, trying different spots, you will never get as deep as you would with a strong, consistent effort, drilling deeper and deeper into one spot."

That said, some of these methods can be very powerful if practiced wholeheartedly. By powerful, I mean, blow your f***ing mind powerful! Pick one. Have fun. Work it! and if you want to have a sudden awakening, work it like your hair's on fire!

Oxford Group Instructions

The Will of God and a Man's Lifeswork

Big Book Instructions

The Founders Books for Prayer and Meditation

24 Hours a Day Book

Daily Reflections

St Francis Prayer