Soul Silence: A Unique Approach to Mastering the 11th Step

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9780757315305: Soul Silence: A Unique Approach to Mastering the 11th Step

For many people in recovery―whether newcomers or veterans with years in the program―the 11th Step (seeking through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God . . .) can prove confusing and elusive. What
exactly does it mean to pray and meditate? How does one go about making conscious contact with a Power greater than oneself? What does one do if he or she is not religious? Soul Silence: A Unique Approach to Mastering the 11th Step
outlines a comprehensive program that answers these questions and offers clear definitions and instructions for prayer and meditation, teaching you how to listen within for spiritual insights that are key to ongoing sobriety and abstinence. Part guidebook, part memoir, Soul Silence is written by Peter Amato, M.A., a meditation master and psychotherapist with sixteen years of sobriety. His tried-and-true approach to prayer and meditation is the cornerstone of his Inner Harmony Workshops, which have helped thousands of men and women develop a new understanding of the 11th Step, recommit to their recovery, and enjoy lives filled with peace, passion, and purpose.

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About the Author:

Peter Amato, M.A., is a psychotherapist, meditation master, and yoga instructor who has received certifications from Deepak Chopra, M.D., Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., and Yogi Amrit Desai. A student of world-renowned Buddhist monk, teacher, and Nobel Peace Prize-nominee Thich Nhat Hanh, he has also worked with and received private blessings from the Dalai Lama. Peter Amato is founder and CEO of the Inner Harmony Group, a Pennsylvania-based consortium of companies specializing in holistic health, addiction counseling, educational enrichment, personal growth, leadership development, and business consulting. His enterprises offer cutting-edge programs for individuals, corporations, academic institutions, and corrections facilities.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction:

Addiction and the Eleventh Step
All man's miseries derive from not being
able to sit quietly in a room alone.
—Blaise Pascal

Prayer and meditation are as old as the earth's ancient religions, but the idea of using them as part of a systematic program of recovery from addiction is relatively new. In 1935, when alcoholics were routinely locked up in sanitariums and asylums, two physically, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt alcoholics figured out that admitting complete defeat and asking a higher power of their understanding for help was the only way to overcome their addiction.

These pioneers—a businessman named Bill Wilson and a physician named Robert Smith—also understood that the only way they would stay sober was to continually share their message with other alcoholics, ensuring they themselves never forgot to seek a connection to their higher power.

Bill W. and Dr. Bob's small meetings of ragtag alcoholics steadily grew into a fellowship called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which, according to the group's World Service Office, now serves about 2 million members at 113,168 meetings in more than 180 countries. AA, a nonprofit, member-run organization, also reports that today scores of offshoots use AA's Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions as a foundation for helping people recover from addictions of all kinds.

In addition to alcoholism, Twelve Step meetings serve people seeking relief from drug abuse, overeating, anorexia, gambling, codependence, sex addiction, Internet addiction, workaholism, compulsive debting, and chronic hoarding to name a few issues. Even people who are perpetually late and suffer from severe artistic blocks have turned to the Twelve Steps for help.

Making Conscious Contact with a Higher Power

Most mental health and addiction professionals acknowledge the unparalleled effectiveness of Twelve Step programs, referring clients to 'the rooms' for their combination of ongoing peer support, structure, and nondenominational spirituality. It turns out that spirituality—the quest for a connection with something greater than oneself—is a powerful tool that helps free addicts from the grips of addiction.

Why? No one is entirely sure. Some theologians and religious believers say it is the work of God. Some scientists, atheists, and agnostics suggest the Twelve Steps introduce recovering addicts to new ways of thinking—create new mental pathways—that override brain chemistry that has evolved over millennia. And, of course, there are plenty of people whose opinion falls somewhere in the middle.

While it is helpful to explore the reasons why the spiritual aspects of the program work, it is more important to understand the fact that they do work. Recovery professionals and recovering addicts acknowledge that addicts who connect—that is, make conscious contact—with a higher power, however they define it, are more likely to stay sober, abstinent, and serene for longer periods. They move forward in their recovery, not backward. The quality of their lives improves.

Conversely, addicts who struggle to find a meaningful understanding of, and connection with, a higher power are likely to falter in their quest to stay sober or abstinent.

Looking for Clues

I have been blessed to be able to dedicate the past two decades of my life to spiritual inquiry. I have studied with some of the world's greatest spiritual masters, who have imparted powerful and effective tools and techniques for making conscious contact with a higher power of my understanding. I even went so far as to 'check out' for seven years so I could meditate and pray with little interruption—that is, until some wise friends convinced me it was time to return to society to give back what I had learned.

So, I made a commitment to service. Since then, scores of men and women in recovery have approached me in my role as a meditation master, yoga teacher, and psychotherapist—some ashamed

—saying they haven't a clue how to practice the Eleventh Step. Some can't identify a higher power and others don't know how to connect with the one in which they already believe. Some people have an aversion to any kind of spirituality because they associate it with a particular religious tradition. Others are atheists or agnostics who, without tangible proof, cannot abide the idea of a God or even something as noncommittal as a higher power.

There are those in recovery who have studied meditation, but the techniques they learned didn't resonate with them, or they just can't sit still long enough to experience the miraculous healing these practices can bring. As one AA member put it: 'When you walk into a meeting, no one hands you a manual explaining how to do this stuff.'

Of course, that is not entirely true. Bill Wilson includes material on prayer and meditation in Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as AA's 'Big Book.' He also wrote an inspired chapter on the subject in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (often called the Twelve and Twelve). I strongly encourage you to read both books in their entirety. Furthermore, some Twelve Step programs and publishers specializing in recovery books offer pamphlets about Step Eleven. But there is scant material that explores—in depth—nonreligious, nondenominational ways a person working to overcome addiction can find a higher power and learn to pray and meditate.

Wilson himself acknowledged that when it comes to prayer and meditation, AA itself has its limitations, advising in the Twelve and Twelve that AA members seek outside guidance on the matter. 'Aided by such instruction and example as we can find, [prayer and meditation are] essentially an individual adventure, something which each one of us works out in his own way.'

 

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