The Alcoholics Anonymous Eleventh Step can be easily undervalued or overlooked as one travels their Twelve Step journey. Bill W., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, said in his Grapevine Writings that it took him 24 years to realize its importance. He realized that his twelve step friends were moving ahead of him in their spirituality. This was a wakeup call for him.
The Eleventh 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."
While many of us are used to verbalizing the prayer part; requesting help for ourselves or others, or saying words of gratitude, or acknowledging our creator, we can easily fail to overlook the meditation part or under use it because of our limited understanding of its meaning.
I believe that as this step was originally written, the word meditation was meant to ponder or ruminate, AA’s or other spiritual readings. This is an active and valid use of meditation and a good one. It’s a reflective way of meditating.
Many AA’ers have been discovering and are using another form of meditation called Centering Prayer as a valuable way of seeking "Gods Will and the power to carry it out". This is known as a receptive means of meditation.
The method Centering Prayer is one of quiet and detachment. A wise sage said that “we have two ears and one mouth, because we need to listen twice as much as we need to speak”. Centering Prayer is a practice that disciplines us to listen to the "Ear of our Heart", that deep spiritual center that we all have. We put aside our thoughts and agenda and simply practice listening and waiting for God to present Himself, inviting Him to do so. How will God speak to us?
None of us really knows, but those who practice the Centering Prayer method know that He finds many ways. We just need to keep our spiritual antennae raised to be receptive. Centering Prayer creates that space. When we practice it, we surrender ourselves to our Higher Power [our Ultimate Reality] and let Him work within ourselves, empowering us to carry out His will.
Bill W. had really developed the 12th step of "carrying the message to others" but had forgotten that our spiritual awakening is an ongoing process that needs to be renewed and re-energized and is needed lest we burn out. Taking time out to Let Go and Let God by the use of Centering Prayer can refresh and renew our lives. Twenty minutes twice a day can transform us. We simply need to regularly practice it.