The first instruction on prayer and meditation starts with when we retire at night. They suggest I constructively review my day. Often people say they do step 10 at night. Step 10 is designed to be done during the day to immediately unblock me so I can live in harmony with God and the world. The nightly review is in step 11 and basically looks at how well I stayed in conscious contact with God that day and to look at any barriers I placed between myself and God so I can correct my behavior in the future.
They start the instructions on step 11 at night. I don’t know why they didn’t start with instructions in the am. It may go back to their roots in the Oxford group which tried to practice first century christian principles. The people in those times started their day at sundown. It also makes sense that I need to clear myself every evening so I can wake up without still carrying yesterday’s baggage.
The nightly review involves the disciplines of inventory, prayer, and meditation. It starts with the questions about self-will. When was I resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid? The same questions were in my fourth step and on page 84 in the 10th step. Do you think these questions are important! How was my self will manifested during the day?
They next ask me if I owe anyone an apology? Did my self will lead to harmful actions that I need to make right. Then they ask me did I keep anything to myself that I need to discuss with someone else? Remember in step 10 they tell me to do this at once and if I haven’t done that I need to do it before retiring. A daily 5th step if I have any unresolved issues. Discussing with someone can allow me a different perspective so I can be free of the bondage of my self centered thinking. This ties in with the first direction because often after discussing a situation with someone I may realize that I need to make amends. So basically we do Steps 4-9 at night just as they asked us to do steps 4-9 throughout the day. Do you think that maybe these steps and instructions are of paramount importance to maintaining fit spiritual condition?
The spiritual checklist can be very helpful when doing your nightly review. It can be found under resources for recovery. Where did I spend my day? On the self centered side or God centered side. After years working step 10 I can see spiritual growth when I inventory at night. I still have my character defects but see I don’t usually allow them to dominant my thinking and subsequent actions. Over the years I have learned to try to do steps 6-7 right away. I don’t want to spend my days in anger or fear or harming others. I have wasted so much of my life practicing self-centeredness. I have found this inventory process at night to be essential for my spiritual growth.
There follow 4 questions I am to ask myself every night. The first question is was I kind and loving to all? I can see where I wasn’t because those are the moments when I got disturbed. The next question asks me what could I have done better? I use these questions for my nightly meditation. I turn to the back of the check list which has the St. Francis prayer. Looking at the prayer I ask myself was I a channel of God’s peace? When I see where I was disturbed during the day I ask myself what did I bring into the situation that caused the disturbance. Then I meditate on how I could have acted differently. Remember, this is an inventory of me not others.
Then I ask myself whether I was thinking of myself most of the time. It is obvious to me by now that on the days I got very disturbed I was in Michael! Then I ask myself was I thinking of what I could do for others and what could I pack into the stream of life? I use the St. Francis prayer again to assist me meditating on these questions. Was I understanding? Was I self forgetting? Was I forgiving? Was I loving? Was I comforting? What should I bring into every situation the next day?
The authors warn us not to drift into worry, remorse, or morbid reflection. I find that for me doing the practices I mentioned above helps me focus on how I can be of better service to God and others and thus to myself. They want the review to allow me to increase my effectiveness in helping others. It is not to beat ourselves up . That is why the prayer at conclusion of this review is so powerful. It has 2 parts. The first is to ask God’s forgiveness. This allows me to forgive myself. The second part is to ask him what corrective measures. So I ask him what corrective measures I need to bring into the next day.
This may be the most important paragraph of instructions in the big book. The nightly review is how I constantly am seeking through prayer, inventory, and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God. The result is I continue to gain and improve knowledge of how God wants me to be and thus what his will is for me. Then with God’s help I will have the power to carry it out.