Conscious Contact

In the eleventh step we seek to improve our ‘conscious contact’ with our Higher Power. We can do that through prayer and medication, er, well, no, sorry. That was before. Now it’s prayer and meditation. Silly play on words, but in fact, that’s exactly what we had been doing before we came into the program. We used drugs and alcohol (also a drug that often mixes well with orange juice) to take us out of ourselves and somewhere else. Only it never quite got us there. Funny thing about conscious contact, you have to be ‘conscious’ to make that contact and the substances caused loss of consciousness and are detrimental to our body, mind and spirit.

What does ‘conscious contact’ with my Higher Power mean for me today? Let me start by saying that it doesn’t mean spending my days in the lotus positon, chanting a mantra and meditating on the meaning of life. I can’t ‘do’ the lotus position. My body doesn’t fold that way. I must have big joints in my hips and knees. My mind never seems to quiet down enough to stop wandering after five minutes and when it does, I don’t meditate, I wake up, about a half an hour later. For me, the only thing close to chanting a mantra is repeating the Serenity Prayer over and over in times of stress until I find some peace and calm. At this time, I guess my mind needs more structure than the free form meditation. Fortunately for me, there are many ways to have contact with my Higher Power.

I believe that what this step is leading us to is the change in our thinking. We learn to filter our thoughts and deeds through what we learn in our program. We seek to think before we act. We stop and ask ourselves what might happen if we were to do this or say that. We look to where it might lead us. We ask how this might affect those around us, our friends and family.  We think about how it may affect us and our program of recovery. Only then make a decision on whether or not to do it.

It starts slowly.  Like everything in our program, it is a process that takes time. At first we become conscious of something after the fact. After we say or do something that is not how we want to act, we realize it later.  Perhaps when doing a review of our day, we acknowledge that we could have done or said things differently.  Later, with more time and practice we begin to realize when we’re in the middle of it. It’s the ‘Oh shit, I shouldn’t be doing this should I,’ experience. We’re in the middle of a defect of character, perhaps anger, and we have a mini ‘aha’ moment. At first we’re so caught up in the moment that we are unable to stop, though we know we should. It part of the process we are learning. Then we will learn to stop when we see a defect and change our tack in mid-stream.

The final part of this process is when we filter our thoughts and action through our program before acting upon them. That I believe is where we begin to touch conscious contact with our Higher Power. We are aware of who and where we are. Anger, jealousy, and fear do not guide us. Our recovery program does.

All of this takes time. Usually we have to do it for every one of our defects. We have backslides and go back to our old way of thinking and doing but we recognize that it’s not the way we want to live and strive to improve. As was told to me, in order to be successful at this, all I have to do is get up one more time than I fall. It takes time and practice.  There are bound to be lots of ‘oh shit’ moments in everyone’s recovery. With time and with ‘conscious contact’ with whatever Higher Power you have, you will get better at it and those moments will occur less and less.

Recovery takes time. Don’t throw in the towel because you screwed up once. You deserve recovery: trust the process and keep plugging away. You’ll probably find that you’re already more than halfway there.

Photo Credit: Rodney Conrad


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