Nov 06 2013

Using Step Eleven

Published by at 10:13 am under Using the Steps

“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.”

Welcome to Using Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps in Our Personal Lives from Al-Anon Family Groups. This is a series of podcasts to discuss how Al-Anon members use the basic principles of Al-Anon.

Today we’re going to ask Al-Anon members how they used Step Eleven to help them overcome the impacts of a loved one’s drinking.

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7 comments on “Using Step Eleven”

  1. Mark D` says:

    KBDM and discussion of Prayer in Al Anon

    One thing that hit me as a newcomer to Al Anon was the concept that Al Anon is a spiritual program and not a religious program and yet Al Anon embraces God and prayer. Aren’t God and Prayer religious concepts? I thought so but it turns out that I was mistaken.

    One of the tools in Al Anon used to reach a group conscience is Knowledge Based Decision Making or KBDM. I didn’t know it at the time but in order to clear up my confusion about a religious program and a spiritual program I needed to steer away from my personal opinions and become knowledgeable about religion and spirituality. I turned to KBDM.

    Searching the World Wide Web, I soon learned that God, prayer and meditation are in fact spiritual concepts and not religious concepts. These concepts are embraced by many religions and in their general form are not religious in origin. This is not to say that there are some conceptions of God and some prayers that are specifically religious. There are many specific religious prayers that depart from purely spiritual foundations. Creeds for example are specific religious prayers that go beyond being just spiritual in nature and these prayers would not be appropriate in Al Anon. Certain conceptions of God are specifically religious as well such as the Christian beliefs of Jesus Christ as God and of a Holy Spirit as God; and, being specifically religious rather than purely spiritual these are not appropriate for Al Anon.

    The Serenity Prayer is one of the first things I heard a s newcomer in Al Anon. As it begins with the word God I thought it was specifically religious. Now however, after applying KBDM, I understand that God and prayer are spiritual concepts rather than specific religious concepts and I am comfortable with not only the Serenity Prayer but other prayers as well as being an acceptable part of Al Anon.

    Considerable discussion regarding the Lord’s Prayer has been held in Al Anon over the course of many decades. Many members have questioned whether or not this prayer embodies certain specific religious beliefs that would preclude its use in Al Anon. Much of the discussion is recorded in the CAL approved book Many Voice, One Journey. I am thankful that the discussions are documented there and I learned a lot from reading about them. One particular part of the prayer that is troubling for some Al Anon members asks for God to gives us this day our daily bread. Many people associated this with the Christian Eucharist of Holy Communion which uses a symbolic bread to represent union with God. This is indeed a valid interpretation for many Christians but it is not the only interpretation. In Judaism for example it reflects Manna from Heaven that was given to the Israelites during the Exodus. In a more general, spiritual sense, another interpretation is that if I trust in a Higher Power I will get what I need. For me this interpretation is integrally tied with working the Al Anon program – especially the third and eleventh Steps:

    · Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    · 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.

    Recently in Al Anon we have been asked to consider the Prayer for Today and whether or not it should continue to be part our Conference approved literature. As I now often do, I turned to KBDM for help. The fundamental question for me is whether or not this prayer is a specific religious prayer or contains specific religious beliefs that go beyond concepts that are spiritual in nature. Some members feel strongly that the last line in the prayer, “it is in dying that we are born to eternal life,” represents a very specific religious belief. To me this is an excellent point and I really needed more knowledge before I could intelligently state a view. The fundamental question for me is whether or not Eternal Life is a specific religious belief or a spiritual concept. After much research on the matter I see that the concepts of eternal life, afterlife and reincarnation are actually not specific religious concepts; they are concepts shared by many religions that are spiritual in nature. As such, I see that the Prayer for Today has a rightful place in our Conference Approved Literature.

    Using KBDM I understand that God and Prayer are spiritual concepts, and not specifically religious concepts. In particular I accept that the Serenity Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer for Today embody spiritual concepts and have a rightful place in Al Anon.

  2. Brian says:

    I have been an active grateful member of alanon for 14 years. I came in for a spouse and back for a child. I was very familiar with the 11th step but found in most of my meetings the second part “prayer AND meditation” spoken of in less dept . 11th step meditation has been extremely calming for me and just the absence of thoughts kind of cleans out the closet of bad thoughts i have stored up over time. I think we should have more constructive discussions on the methods of meditation

  3. April P says:

    The “power” to carry it out was the most hard-hitting point. I don’t have the power to do much of anything but, when I am tucked snuggly in my creators hand – I am relying on HIS power to help me carry out my task.

  4. Nicole says:

    Thank you for sharing. I feel better with this Step as a tool that I can use to sort out if I am at fault and need to apologize, or am I just reluctant to accept how others are and no amount of apologies for taking care of myself will change insane, hurtful behavior. Praying to my God is a start to sort it out. Thank you.

  5. J says:

    “His will for us” means He has a plan for me, I have a purpose. What a comfort in times of despair.

  6. Nancy L says:

    Wow, thanks so very much for this podcast.

    My spiritual program has evolved over the past 21 years in Al-Anon — which means what? It means that there are many ebbs and flows. As I grow, I change. When I first started working the program, I was horrified. What? No end? No 6 weeks to better health?

    Working these Steps means a lifetime practice, just as a healthy lifestyle includes daily healthy choices.

    The beauty of this Step is it is a continual practice. As I evolve, my qualifiers have gone in their own paths. My parents passed, my sibling and I are estranged, and my husband enjoys the continual sobriety of 22 years. Sounds good, right? Problems don’t go away with death or sobriety.

    My need for the program is ever bigger. My sober husband is also dealing with a chronic illness. His issues require a lot of efforts on my part. I’m not the caretaker—but I am the caregiver.

    Applying the 11th Step on a daily basis means I choose to take the time to connect, refill my spirit, and regain focus. Without constant application of the program, I’d be in big trouble.

    Because there are no similar support systems for chronic, undiagnosed, yet disabled adults, and no tangible help, I cling to the program. My life depends on it.

    So grateful to return to these pages and find this wonderful set of podcasts.

  7. Louise G says:

    For me the words, “as we understood Him,” were the key to finally being comfortable with a Higher Power. I have always appreciated the fact that we do not discuss religion in our meetings. I don’t have to explain what I believe in to anyone. For me it’s just important that I believe.

    My spiritual program is pretty simple. I am not good at formal prayers, but I talk to my Higher Power often during the day and meditation is just not something I can do. I start my day by saying, “Good morning, God. What are we doing today?” It reminds me that I am no longer in charge and that I am never alone.

    The hardest part of this Step for me was following His will, until an AA friend suggested that if I had made a decision and was calm, then it was God’s will or the next right thing for me–If I had made the decision, but found myself a few days later still rolling it around in my head, trying to figure it out, that I was trying to force my will, again (ugh). This simple awareness works for me.

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