Jan 1, 2016 | By Tim Powers

The Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous: Keeping Conscious Contact

12 Step Recovery Recovery

eleventh step

If you have been diligent in working a 12-step program as part of you recovery, you have no doubt felt a gradual but powerful transition from a life filled with uncertainty, doubt and pain and towards a happier, more harmonious and spiritual life. Some of these changes have hit you like a bolt from the blue while other changes have been more subtle and unspoken yet no less profound.

You may be tempted to gauge how far you have come in your recovery by what you see on the surface, but most of the changes you will undergo in your recovery are often felt deep within and can’t easily be put into words. This is especially true once we tackle the final Steps–and the Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous is a great example.

The Eleventh Step and the Art of Conscious Contact

As with every Step in the program, it is helpful to think of each as revolving around a particular theme. In regards to the Eleventh step of Alcoholics Anonymous, the pervasive theme is one of contact. When we think of “keeping contact” in regards to sustaining our hard-earned recovery, the 11th step of AA is instructing you to keep in constant contact with the God or Higher Power of your understanding through the use of prayer and meditation.

For many who work this step, engaging in consistent and meaningful spiritual practice is their daily reality check that keeps them focused on the present. By taking the time to focus inward, those in recovery are kept grounded in reality and they know the reasons why they have been delivered from their addictive behaviors. Through conscious contact with their Higher Power, those who are in recovery feel safety and security. Additionally, regular prayer and meditation helps those in recovery to maintain their conscious contact with God and they make every effort to try and carry out what God leads them to do. When they follow that path, they feel serenity, peace and acceptance.

Nurturing Spirituality in Recovery

There are many important components that help people achieve long-term recovery. While therapy, life and coping skills training and aftercare programs are very important in keeping people on the right track, the development of spirituality and a sense of purpose is the motor that keeps your recovery machine in motion. Like everything in recovery–and in life–you must continually work at developing your spirituality in order for it to grow. This is an absolute necessity if we are to complete the 11th step.

If you fail to nurture your spiritual awareness through the consistent practice of prayer and mindful meditation, your overall spiritual growth will be stunted and you can easily become stuck in your recovery–and vulnerable to relapse. Ultimately, the lack of a spiritual foundation can throw you for the proverbial loop when the stresses of daily life come to the surface. Left to your own thought and devices, you are more likely to turn to drinking and drugs–and eventually you fall into the never ending cycle of addiction.

5 Tips to Help Cultivate Spiritual Awareness

The Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous fully centers on you developing a strong spiritual backbone so you can sustain your sobriety. If you are having difficulty in cultivating spirituality, the following five tips can help you:


During drug treatment, the learning and practicing of mindful meditation techniques was an essential part of life and coping skills training. Meditation practice is one of the best ways to minimize anxiety and fear, both of which are major relapse triggers. Many meditation techniques are easy to master, can be done anywhere and can take just 15 minutes a day. Simply find a quiet room or place with no distractions, sit comfortably, and focus on the in and out of your breath. If transient thought pop in your head, accept them for what they are and return to your breathing.

Give of Yourself

The truth is that you never truly grow as a person and as a spiritual being if you are isolated from others. When you are able reach out and help others who are in need, your fears and insecurities disappear because your focus is not on you, but on something greater that is outside of yourself.  Serving others is a direct line to understanding a Higher Power. When you feel the result of a good deed, it is its own reward and you will likely feel a part of something much greater.

Staying Positive

It is often said that laughter is the best medicine. It may sound corny and something that you see in front of a Hallmark card, but it is the absolute truth. Being able to laugh is an important part of a healthy mind and body. When you laugh, you secrete neurotransmitters that automatically boosts your mood an as a result it improves your overall physical health. When you have a good laugh, you will often find that your problems no longer seem as big as you made them out to be.  As a result, you feel better about yourself and become more in tune with what is inside you.

Get Plenty of Sleep

In order to develop spiritually, both you mind and body must be in tune with each other. One of  the best ways to achieve this is through getting enough sleep every night. You need to create a daily schedule which allows you to get between 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night. Getting good rest makes it easier for you to focus your thoughts, and having clear thoughts allows you to become more aware of your environment and yourself.

Connect with Nature

If you want to increase your spiritual awareness and understand fully what life is, take time to discover the wonders of nature and observe how the various elements work with each other to create harmony. Once we see this harmony we can begin to understand the ways we need to be a part of this harmony. Be sure to create space in your daily schedule to step outside, take a hike and take in the vast beauty created by Mother Nature.

The most important step of all in cultivating your spirituality is to keep an open mind and absorb as much as you can of the world around you. Your daily experiences are often your best teacher and you realize that your recovery and life is a constant work in progress.

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