Step 11 involves prayer AND meditation. However, AA members in general are less familiar with meditation than with prayer; or are confused as to what meditation actually is. Meditation means different things to different religions and different individuals. I will share my experience of the three types that I’ve used.
The first doesn’t really have a label – I’ll call it Relaxation Meditation. I’ve done it in multiple ways. For example: lighting incense and put on some chanting “monk music” at night, sitting in a comfy chair. Or lighting some candles, putting on ambient music and lying back in my bed with eyes closed. Or sitting looking out over the ocean on a beautiful day, listening to the waves and the wind.
A second type of meditation I’ve tried out is what is known as Contemplative Meditation. It is the form of meditation that – for example – Christians do. It involves sitting down and reading a passage from a book – e.g. a spiritual daily reader, or the Bible, or some other religious or spiritual text. Then (perhaps with incense, music, candles etc) I’ve thought – in a relaxed way – about what I’ve just read. Either using my imagination, or contemplating the reading gently.
The final type of meditation I’ve used is Eastern Meditation. In the Members’ Area of the group website, one of the books in the Useful Books section is “Sadhana: A Way to God”. It teaches Eastern Meditation techniques. There are plenty of apps now. I’ve used the Calm app, or played guided meditations from Spotify or YouTube. There’s another app called Headspace.
The basic idea of much Eastern Meditation is practicing focused awareness: watching the breath, feeling bodily sensations, watching thoughts, hearing the sounds around you. In religions like Buddhism these are seen as a foundation for more advanced contemplative meditation. For example, once you have done the awareness exercise, you begin to contemplate something with your imagination. I won’t go into this here, but if you’re interested, there are plenty of websites and books which discuss this.
I have kept this article as simple as possible and briefly described the three main types of meditation I’ve tried: relaxation, contemplative, and eastern/awareness. The three are in fact related, and often combined. My focus has tended to be the first and third. But I’ve never been afraid to experiment and find out what is most helpful and enjoyable for me. Step 11 is a broad road!
AK, RTR 2021