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Step 11 – Awareness – Principled Recovery Series



“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.”

As part of this step, recovering clients must commit to some form of spiritual practice. This practice can come in many different forms, including meditation, prayer or reading the Bible once a day. The spiritual principle behind this step is awareness.

A SOZO Client’s Point of View: 

“I have always believed that delivering the hopeless addict/alcoholic to the doorstep of this step, after working diligently the first 10 steps, are the whole point of the 12 step process and the worldwide fellowship of alcoholics anonymous. Millions of hours were devoted. Millions of lives were saved. Millions of pages read. Millions of meetings. Millions of cups of coffee are shared with recovering brothers and sisters. Millions of hours are spent in prayer and meditation. Millions of hours spent “gutting it out”. Millions of non-believers who found “a God of their understanding.” Millions of regrets over those who failed to “keep coming back”. Millions of spiritual experiences.  Millions of moments of formerly impossible spiritual awareness.

Millions of once hopeless addicts/alcoholics delivered to this 11th step that promised us that we now, at last, had experienced a spiritual awakening.

Step 11 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.”

I again sought the bullet-point wisdom of the table of contents in the 12 & 12. It read: “meditation and prayer main channels to a higher power. The connection between self-examination and meditation and prayer. An unshakable foundation for life. How shall we meditate? Meditation has no boundaries. An individual adventure. The first result is emotional balance. What about prayer? Daily petitions for an understanding of God’s will and grace to carry it out. The actual results of prayer are beyond question. Rewards of meditation and prayer.”

I began to see that “spiritual awareness” was not only about my higher power, but it was also about me. How aware was I of my spirituality?  Could the holy spirit inhabit my life?  I saw that thinking only about “material things of this life” was far less rewarding than thinking about things in the spiritual realm. As my ability to pray and meditate improved I felt a fullness that I had never before experienced. No woman, including the wife I loved, no job, including those that I was obsessed about, no success that once dominated my thinking had ever given me this sense of fulfillment.

Was this the meaning of life?

It was staggering to ponder such a question. I couldn’t believe that, if this were the secret to life, why would it be buried deep within the 12 step process that was meant for drunks and dope addicts like me?

And that’s when my friend, James Johnson, saved me from this mental/spiritual dilemma. In a Sunday school bible study at church, James gave a class on man’s limited ability to fully comprehend the mind and intentions of God. There were simply some things that, try as I might, I could not answer. I had to accept my limitations and trust God. My ego was busted. Amazingly, I did not feel deflated or hurt. Instead, I felt liberated. It was at that very moment that I decided to become baptized, join the church, and become a true brother in Christ”.


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) defines the 12 Steps as “a set of principles, spiritual in nature, when practiced as a way of life, that can expel the obsession to drink (or use drugs) and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.”

The 12 steps are a process of getting honest with yourself, cleaning up the wreckage of your past, and learning how to live your life in a better, more meaningful & principled way. Based on the idea of God as each individual understands him, the 12 steps are generally spiritual in nature. 

In this article series, we examine each of the 12 step principles from a  SOZO client’s perspective, as they journey through the twelve steps. Through direct survey feedback, we’ll join various clients and their growing awareness of the spiritual principles behind each step in this series of articles.